This time, our alarm worked! Not that it mattered as much, since we had plenty of time this day. We were able to get up and get showered and dressed at a much more leisurely pace than yesterday. Once we were ready to go, we headed back to the hotel to meet with a fairly large party of about 25 people. It mostly consisted of friends of James and Braden and their parents and siblings. Once we were all grouped together, which was no small feat, we were shuttled in three trips to a marina a few miles up the coast. The group was then herded onto a replica pirate ship, and we set sail on the open sea!
We were to be on board for about 4 hours (I had a thought we might have a similar fate as Gilligan, but then I remembered that he set off for a 3 hour tour), making a few stops to swim, snorkel, and eat lunch. The friendly captain introduced the crew and explained the rules as we cruised out from the dock. The bar was opened shortly, and music began playing. The fun was immediate and shared by all. After cruising for about a half hour, the captain parked in some fairly shallow waters. Many of the guests donned flippers, snorkels, and goggles to explore the area around the water. We got in the water straight away and swam around. The water was excellent and there were tons of beautiful fish, though the winds and current were fairly strong. It took a bit of effort to stay near the boat. After a time, our captain Tito honked a great big horn, signaling everyone to climb back on board so he could take us somewhere else.
The next stop was at the Atilla shipwreck. Tito explained the history that caused the ship to end up on the sea floor. He explained the best method of viewing the wreckage which was to swim up-current away from the ship we were on, and then to let the current drag us back as we looked over the ship. Mandy stayed onboard, while I donned all the necessary gear and hopped into the water. I began viewing the shipwreck almost immediately, but I did as Tito suggested and swam away from his ship until the wreckage disappeared into the murky depths. It seemed that most of the other snorkelers did not heed this advice, and I felt rather isolated so far from the boat. Looking down into the ocean gave me a mild feeling of thalassophobia, so I kicked a little harder for a couple minutes to get a little closer to the ship. The wreckage was closer to the surface here anyways, and thus easier to view. Some people were swimming through parts of the shipwreck, so I took a deep breath and plunged downward. As I approached the historic steel, I felt the immense pressure in my ears and was barely able to touch the tip of it before I had to swim back up. It was not extremely painful, but I did not want to risk injury and I have no real training on how to dive properly. I gained a deep respect, and maybe a mild jealousy for those who were able to swim through the old ship. I did not want to push my luck. I continued to look over the ship from the surface, and thought about what it might have been like, back when it could still float. I eventually made my way back to the boat and rejoined our group to relay what I saw down there.
Soon, we were back underway toward our third and final stop. Here, we were moored in much shallower waters, probably about 15-20 feet deep. One of the crew setup a rope swing off the bow of the ship, and soon a line formed for those who wanted to enter the water in a more fun way. I waited patiently until I was told it was fine to enter the water. I just jumped off the side of the boat from atop the ladder to climb back on. I got to be the first one in the water, and watched as people began swinging in from the front of the ship. After grabbing some pictures from the water, and realizing how difficult it was proving to be to both tread water and snap pictures, I climbed back on and joined the line for the rope swing. My first attempt was probably the closest I got to completing a backflip off the rope. I had a blast trying time and again, though! Even when I landed flat on my back, which stung like heck. While Rob was off playing in the water I jumped in myself for a short swim and then spent the remainder of the time on board enjoying the open bar and capturing all of the rope swing jumps on photograph.
It seemed we’d be parked here a while, so I grabbed some flippers again and a snorkel, and I cruised around viewing the aquatic life. I heard reports that there was a lot more to see closer to shore, so I headed over there. There was a tiny alleyway between some boulders and the coast, so I paddled through there. It was a little unnerving how the tide was tossing me around; I thought I might get smashed into one of the jagged rock on either side of me. The fish didn’t seem too worried about it, though, so I surmised I would be fine. After I saw all there was to see, I headed back towards the boat. Along the way, I tried my best to pick up some trash I saw on the ocean floor. Unfortunately, I was only able to collect three hair ties. I grabbed what looked like a goggles strap, but it slipped out of my hand as I was resurfacing, and then it disappeared. I saw an empty beer can, but when I dove to grab it, I breathed at the wrong time. I resurfaced to try again, and then it was gone. Oh well, I did my best.
When I got back on board, lunch was served. There was grilled chicken, grouper, rice, and veggies. It was all tasty, and although it was a light meal, it was just what we needed. We did a little bit more swimming before the TOOT TOOT to get back onboard. Tito skillfully navigated us back to port, where we disembarked and thanked our whole crew. We caught a shuttle back to the hotel with everyone, then we went back to our own place just down the street. We unloaded and unwound a bit, until we were ready to head back out again.
This time, we just went a couple blocks to the grocery store. We picked up some dinner items, including a bottle of wine, and some stuff for breakfast tomorrow morning, and some snacks. In the grocery store, we had found some stroopwaffles, which we wanted, but we only wanted one each and the smallest package contained ten. We figured we could share the remainder with James and Braden and their friends. So we hopped on the bikes provided by our host, and we pedaled the few minutes to their hotel. We didn’t really have a good system of communicating, so we just parked the bikes at one end, and started walking towards the other end of the resort. We had almost reached the far end when we found everyone near one of the pools. We distributed stroopwaffles to anyone who wanted one, and we got our one each. There was one left, so I had two. Then we said, “See ya later!” and rode back to our place.
We got back and assessed the kitchen, then began preparing dinner. We sliced and spiced some brussels sprouts, and got the necessary utensils out. We put the wine on ice and brought everything out onto the shared patio area, next to the pool. Mandy set to work manning the grill, and I read the newspaper and sipped some white wine. It was super relaxing and the dinner came out amazing. After we cleaned up, we brought the remainder of the wine with us as we slipped into the pool. Our host, Rik, joined us for a few minutes. He was super friendly, and just wanted to check in with us and make sure we were content and had no issues. We informed him that everything was perfect, and we had no complaints. He left us, and we worked our way through the rest of the bottle of wine. When we were feeling a little water-logged, we went to our room to rinse off and head to bed.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.