We’d exhausted the dive sites right by the bay, so we convinced Lee to drive us a little further to a site called Car Pile. The draw is that someone had sunk a number of classic cars just off shore. Unfortunately, when we arrived, a local we ran into who happened to be a dive instructor told us that the cars had all washed out to sea, so while the dive was still worth doing, we shouldn’t expect cars. So we set up in the nice parklet in front of a beach bar.
On the way into the water, we passed under a couple of mooring lines, and Jazz found one with a bunch of ragged ropes hanging down. She posed for this photo with “mermaid hair”, and bemoaned how all our time in the water had wreaked havoc on her own locks. The “stupid hat” is an attempt to mitigate the damage.
The reef wall started out pretty typical for the area, with lots of hard coral and some excellent sponges. The water was a warm 84F, but the whole time there was a thermocline just below us, a temperature differential making the water shimmer. At some point we dropped into it, just to see, and noticed a sharp difference. Andrew’s watch read 81F. You may notice Jazz in the distance in the last picture: she was counting distance and making a bee-line for the car pile, just in case our impromptu tour guide was wrong. (He was not.)
Some of our favorite sponges were this encrusting sponge, left, and this big barrel (touch-me-not sponge?) that put us in mind of a steampunk take on a Turkish teapot.
Maybe twenty minutes into the dive, we came across a big field of discarded construction materials, like a smaller and shallower version of Armageddon in St Croix (sadly also with fewer sharks). It’s been there long enough to have picked up a good thick layer of coral, but not so long that the structures have started to break down.
On the way back, there were plenty more surprises waiting for us. Like this big colony of candy cane coral, left, or these two big feather duster worms right next to each other.
From the department of rare swimmers, Jazz spotted this reef scorpionfish, left, and a terminal-phase redband parrotfish. Both of these are firsts for us.
Here’s a big brain coral, and a bouquet of Christmas tree worms.
On the way back into the harbor mouth, we were treated to two different schools of small fish. First, chromis, then a bait ball of unidentifiably-small juveniles.
And finally, there was this flounder, who we caught in the act of diving into the sand, making a big messy diversion for its quick escape.
Incredible photos! They just keep getting better!