Our travel wish list was 6 hours of sailing with 2 snorkel trips per day, but when Mother Nature turned off the winds it gave us the unique opportunity to explore the underwater world of the Spanish and American Virgin Islands in depth. While we motor sailed from St Thomas to Puerto Rico and back, our sea companions included turtles, dolphins, hump back whales, jumping rays, and so many other friends. During each travel period we were catch and release fishing with a snapper, whose back half was eaten by a shark while being reeled in, being the most interesting catch.
We were able to snorkel more than 60 sites and saw so many different species that we stopped in Culebra to purchase a more detailed fish and coral identification book. By day eleven we have checked off more than 200 fish, corals, and sponges. Impressive sightings of octopus swimming and crawling across the ocean floor, cuttle fish, puffer fish, schools of blue tang, yellow tail snappers, trunk fish, spotted eagle rays, turtles, and a coral fan forest, which looked professionally planted, were our delight. Shane shot exquisite pictures and videos of a porcupine fish puffing and showing quills, a small stick looking crab called an arrow crab, a Spanish lobster, color changing trumpet fish, a lobster clapping its antenna, and of course the New England snorkel team.
On the rare occasion we surfaced it was to dine on Shane’s delicious gourmet meals and homemade bread and in the evenings we watched videos and photos of the day’s highlights.
Onshore activities were turned down for the most part by our crew in favor of underwater explorations, but we enjoyed the water side viewing of the Rhesus monkeys on Monkey Island. As we approached the anchorage, the monkeys scampered across the rocks to the sandy shore and watched us watch them as they gave a loud howl as a welcome. Luckily, monkeys do not swim and people must stay 30 feet from the shore, otherwise it would have been unnerving thinking about being overrun at night by pirate monkeys.
Our group has been on almost 45 charters and all but 5 have been without a skipper, so coming aboard the Guiding Light was a bit different for us. Luckily, Shane is a gracious host who anticipated and met our every request. His flexibility and enthusiasm made our trip better than we could have ever imagined.