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Snorkeling at Green Cay
07-Jan-2009, Orient Bay, St. Martin

CURRENT LOCATION: Anchored in Orient Bay, between Green Cay and Orient Beach
18 05.132' N, 063 00.844' W

"What should we do today?" The question usually comes up after breakfast. Sometimes, if reading and writing activities are sufficiently engrossing, the question may not arise until after lunch. Today was just such a day. After a simple meal of macaroni and cheese, we decided to act upon Sheryl's suggestion for the day ... swimming over to explore around Green Cay.

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Anchored here between the beach and Green Cay, we experience a tremendous current from the direction of the big reef. Once you jump into the water from the boat, be prepared to swim or you will be swiftly swept away. It was this current which was our greatest foe in this aquatic trek. We were armed with our snorkel fins; however, Sheryl often had to resort to arm motion as well, just to maintain forward momentum (my bigger fins give me a slight advantage here). We finally made it over to the sand spit, only 0.2 miles from the boat, but the battle against the current made it feel much, much longer. From here, we had a great view of Prudence and of the yellow parasols of Orient Beach.

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Our guidebook had stated the following:

"The snorkeling around Green Cay is excellent with many seafans and other soft corals. The easiest place to start is along the north coast of the island."
Still hoping to find something which could compare to the snorkeling we experienced in Culebra and the Bahamas, I was slightly disappointed. The coral here just isn't as healthy as one would hope to see. Sheryl, however, is always eager and able to find a diamond in the rough, and took some nice photos of finger coral (see lead photo) and of several colorful anemone.

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We had thought about swimming across (south), to the point of land extending off of Orient Beach, but once we got back around the sand spit, the current was just too much for us. With a good angle now on the boat, we turned and swam/drifted back toward home. Our foe had become our ally.

Near the boat, Sheryl found a beautiful sea star lying on the bottom, which gives you a fair idea of just how clear the water is around our boat (yes, that is an underwater photo):

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Once we were back aboard, Sheryl declared that her time for R&R had finally arrived. So, I left her to her devices and dove overboard to swim to Orient Beach (sans mask and fins). I drifted lazily along the shallow waters off the beach, then walked out to the point that we had been aiming for in our failed attempt to swim across from Green Cay. A beach dog joined me in my stroll along this rocky path, and he stuck right at my heels with the exception of an occasional detour into the brush to chase something which could only be identified by the scurrying sounds the creatures made (I suspect that they were lizards). Once I got to the point, I wished I had brought along a camera. The waves breaking along the big reef were absolutely incredible. Were it not for this protection, we could not anchor where we are. Also, in their absence, Orient Beach would be a clothing optional surfing destination.

Upon the transition from rocky path back to beach, my new canine companion became everyone's friend, and I continued solo at a leisurely pace back along the beach, out to a floating platform, and eventually onward to the boat. It had been a good day, with lots of exercise. That should help me sleep better tonight in our bucking bronco of a bed. Tomorrow may be another busy day of exploration. Only the eventual answer to the question, "What should we do today?", will tell for sure.





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