We left Cape Santa Maria after less than 48 hours because it was so buggy. Sand flies (a.k.a. no-see-ums) practically swarmed into the boat since there was no wind. They are worse than mosquitoes because they are so small that can fly through the screens and OFF doesn’t keep them from biting you. We made the short 20 mile sail to Conception Island and anchored in West Bay.
Beautiful, uninhabited, pristine beaches, secluded, bird sanctuary, serene…all words that describe Conception Island. This has definitely been my favorite anchorage so far, and we stayed for a week. We snorkeled at the Southhampton Reef (where David was chased back to the dinghy by two barracudas), explored the creek that runs through the middle of the island, relaxed on the superb beach, AND helped catch turtles so they could be tagged.
A researcher from the University of Florida happened to be anchored nearby us and asked if we wanted to help him and his two student assistants. Normally you are not supposed to touch sea turtles because they are endangered so to be able to be up close and personal with them is something I will never forget. They are beautiful animals! David and I took our dinghy and met Steven, the researcher, in the saltwater creek where the turtles sometimes hang out. He gave us a few guidelines and off we went to chase them down. I stood at the bow with a net while David steered. Spotting them wasn’t too difficult but chasing them down until they tired out was a little tricky. Several of them gave us the slip in water too deep and murky, but I was finally able to catch one. David pulled all 17.6 kilograms (or 39 pounds) of him out of the net and laid it on its back in the boat. When I put my hand on the shell, I could feel it move when it took a breath and could also hear its deep exhale. I kind of felt bad for wearing the little guy out and detaining it, but I know the data that is collected from the process helps the turtles. We brought it to Steven’s boat where he measured, tagged (or cleaned the tags if already tagged), photographed, and then released all the turtles that were caught that day. This experience is definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
There was a 3-4 foot lemon shark that patrolled the shore in West Bay. I briefly saw it when I was snorkeling the first day we got there but wasn’t 100% sure (maybe 95%) if it was a shark since it was overcast and water visibility was low. Although I was really close to shore, David was out in deeper water, and I panicked a little bit and yelled to him to get out of the water because that there was a shark. I know that it was more afraid of us, and odds are that it wouldn’t do anything. But still, it’s the first shark (besides a nurse shark) I’ve seen while in the water. It takes some getting used to. We saw it the next time we went to the beach and then saw it the third time we went. It was about 10 feet from shore in waist deep water, and I went out a couple feet and was able to get this picture:
On June 14th, we celebrated our two years of being together, and what a whirlwind those two years have been – moving to Seattle, getting engaged, getting married, moving back to Texas, buying a boat, and now living a nomadic life at sea. I wouldn’t change any of it and couldn’t ask for a better partner to go through life with!!