Sunday, April 19, 2009

Benures Bay, Norman Island, BVI

Footprint in Benures Bay

[Kyle]Our first morning in Benures Bay, I decided to dive again on the anchor to check it was secure. The first thing I saw upon jumping into the water was an 8’ barracuda with 2’ of jaws. That was a little unnerving, but he seemed content to leave me alone. Barracuda aren’t inherently dangerous if you leave them alone, but you certainly don’t want to provoke them, pretty much the same way you’d treat bees. I lingered for a while and eventually he moved slowly off and I felt comfortable checking on the anchor. I was not completely happy, the bottom was not ideal, so after a brief consultation with Maryanne we decided to move to a better spot. On the way back to the boat, I found myself distracted by a sea turtle, which I swam with for a few minutes before returning. Back at Footprint, I found the barracuda had returned to its post, so I got out of the water very carefully.

Since the only two boats left in the anchorage at this point were Grumpy and Footprint, it was pretty easy to motor over and find a good secure spot for our anchor, still well clear of Grumpy. Maryanne and I then piled in the dingy to set ashore for a hike along the island’s primitive roads.

Views from Norman Island Hike

We enjoyed some great views from both sides of the island along the peaks. We kept cresting hills and finding new bays and even more road/trail, which we both decided we had to keep following. This lasted most of the day. We were surprised to find that although our bay (Benures bay) only had 4 or 5 boats each evening, the adjacent bays (the Bight, and Soldier Bay) were jam packed with occupied moorings and a cruise ship day kind of feel. [Each has a fairly famous bar, which attracts plenty of visitors].

At one of the prominent look out points over our bay, Benures Bay, in the mid-afternoon as boats were arriving for the evening, we noticed that every time a boat approached the bay, Grumpy would leave his cabin, stand at the highest point on his boat, completely naked, and full frontal view, silently staring until the visitor backed off to a more distant anchor spot or left the bay entirely. We witnessed this 7 or 8 times, the only time he came out of his cockpit was when he realized a boat had entered “his” bay. We were really starting to not like this guy.

We continued our walk and eventually found ourselves back at the dinghy and rowing back to Footprint. We heard grumpy yelling at a new arrival about their generator “polluting the environment”. Interesting since we know he ran his engine for 2 hours the previous night. As the anchorage got more crowded and people were necessarily getting closer to grumpy, once the nudity didn’t work, he’d make one excuse after another for why people could not be near his boat. We really, really didn’t like this guy.

[Maryanne]Oh Grumpy! You’ll notice we do not disclose his boat name (it was from Florida). I’m not a particular fan of male nakedness, I’m really not that bothered, each to their own and all that, but this guy was only using it in an aggressive manner. He was rude, unfriendly, and deliberately alienating everyone. Even topless sunbathing is illegal in the BVI, so he was clearly pushing legal limits in addition to common decency. Cruising is a family activity and he was chasing off boats with kids aboard - a totally unreasonable man.

Originally, I’d deliberately directed Kyle to the spot beside him to anchor since he was flying the burgee (flag) of the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA). We are also members, also flying our burgee. The point is the SSCA is a club, designed to help you meet and befriend fellow cruisers, why on earth would you join such a club AND fly the flag if you wanted to be left alone?

[Kyle]All hot from our extensive walk, we were keen to jump in the water again and snorkel the reefs of the bay. From our previous visit, we knew it to be full of fish (as did the many resident pelicans). As it was nearing sunset the fish were again schooling in large numbers. Veritable undulating carpets of fish were completely obscuring the seabed below. Deeper water had larger and more widely spaced fish (mostly tuna) and as the water shallowed, the fish became smaller and more tightly packed. Every now and then, as I was swimming along in the shallower water, I’d feel a splash and look to the side and see the bottom half of a pelican scooping up a beak full of fish. This site has lots of different corals, anemones, urchins, sponges, and mollusks, along with an abundance of grass patches acting as nurseries for the smaller fish. It really is a cool site to snorkel, no wonder the pelicans love this spot.

Pelican balances in a tree keeping an eye out for his next easy meal. Benures Bay, Norman Island

The beach nearby seemed to be home to about two dozen pelicans and a handful of boobies, none of which needed to travel more than 25’-30’ for plenty of food. Once back at the boat, we rinsed off and had dinner in the cockpit along with a cheap bottle of nasty Spanish white wine. We slept well that night after our long hike.

Sunset at Benures Bay, Norman Island


Mommy Dearest said...

It's quite clear now what you mean about Grumpy, Maryanne. Maybe the pelicans will take his naked manhood for an easy meal? Snack? Tiny appetizer?

kate said...

an amuse-bouche?