The Start Of An Obsession
My first snorkel experience was on a Caribbean Christmas cruise with the family some years ago. We stopped at a number of islands and opted for excursions at most of them, 2 of which involved putting on a mask and snorkel. I had bought a cheap disposable underwater camera and to be honest when I got my head under the water and saw the amazing sights, sincerely wished I had spent a bit more and got a better quality one. On both of these occasions the time we were given to snorkel just wasn't long enough and I reluctantly left the water wishing that I'd had a few more hours to enjoy the reef.
Our last stop before heading back across the Atlantic, was to St John in the Virgin Islands. This time we decided not to take an organized excursion and just head to a nice beach; hopefully with some more snorkeling opportunities. We hired some equipment and headed into the water.
The reef was a few hundred meters from the beach but easily accessible and from the moment I put on my snorkel and mask, I was lost in my own little world. My husband and children headed back to the beach after about 20 minutes or so, but I opted to stay out for a little longer. I was mesmerized by the beautiful fish and amazing coral and for me it felt as if I was completely at one with the sea.
Now, when you are on holiday and you are staying nearby, it doesn't really matter how much time you spend in the water. However when you are on a cruise and your accommodation is about to sail away, time takes on a whole new meaning. I have no idea how long I was out on the reef, but as the minutes ticked by and I showed no sign of returning, my family started to get a little worried - not about my safety, because they could see me in the distance - but whether we were going to make it back to the dock before the ship sailed. Apparently all three of them were jumping up and down and waving and shouting for ages. I never heard them or saw them because I was so wrapped up in what I was seeing under the water, it just never occurred to me to raise my head and have a look at what was going on above!!
Eventually, despite the blazing sun, I started to feel a little cold and it finally occurred to me that maybe I ought to check how much time we had left. When I looked towards the beach, all I could see were my family hopping around frantically waving at me. As I swam into shore I could hear them yelling "quick, quick, we're going to miss the boat". I don't think I've ever swum so fast and as there was no time to dry off, my clothes went on over my sopping wet swimsuit. We made it back to the dock with only minutes to spare and all my children could talk about from that moment on, was how mummy nearly made them miss the ship. All I could talk about however, was the amazing sights I'd seen under the water.
Since then, I've had virtually no opportunities to snorkel, until this year. I'm now retired, divorced (completely amicably and absolutely nothing to do with the near miss incident in the Caribbean) and my children are all grown and leading their own lives. So it's time to snorkel.
In June of this year I spent 10 happy days in the Red Sea, Egypt only coming out of the water to sleep and eat and I already have 2 more snorkeling trips planned; Roatan, Honduras in 2 weeks time and the Galapagos in January.
I've bought myself a good quality prescription mask, fins, wetsuit and snorkel and most importantly - a proper grown up camera and underwater housing, so should be able to get some really nice shots - once I've learned how to use it!!!
I'm so happy to have found this site, because as they note on the home page - everything on the internet is geared towards divers and I was starting to feel like some kind of poor relation. So thank you Galen & Nicole - keep up the good work.