Sunday, June 5, 2016

Surprises at Clarence Town

If there's one sure thing about this cruising lifestyle, it's the unpredictability of it; you never know where your day will take you. Unfortunately, that's not always a good thing. Some days start out normal enough, but then they just unravel and you end up doing something totally unplanned. Take for example the day we were hove to in 10' seas rebuilding our bilge pump hundreds of miles from our destination. That was bad unpredictable.
But then other days, like yesterday, you end up having one of those days that takes your breath away with its beauty and yet pushes you out of your comfort zone all at the same time.
We'd arrived in Clarence Town at 6:30am after an uneventful overnight from Matthew Town. We anchored near a buddy boat we hadn't seen since Puerto Rico and laid down for a little nap. At 10:00am the VHF crackled, "Thistle, Thistle, Madhatter" and we leaped up prepared for a typical "in-town" day: fuel, water, ice, groceries, lunch.
But Chris had other ideas.
He suggested we meet on shore, go to a blue hole, and check out the church. We quickly agreed and after a briefing at the mini market we piled into a taxi and arrived at - you won't believe this - Dean's Blue Hole! 634' deep, created thousands of years ago in this ancient karst landscape, site of the World Record Deepest Free Dive, and I know cruisers use this word all the time, but it was awesome!
After the initial jaw drop, all seven of us quickly tossed off hats and flip flops and dove into the turquoise shallows. Ten strokes later we were over the deep blue of the hole staring down at the dive rope disappearing into the darkness. While we tourists paddled around and lounged on the beach, the serious divers continued to practice their free diving.

Soon we decided to hike up to the cliff and leap into the blue hole. There was a well-used path and Chris led the way with brave, brave 6-year-old Pia right behind him. Eventually we all pushed past our fears and made the 25' jump; some more than once. (That's our fearless Captain caught mid-leap above.) If you ever decide to do this, take Pia's advice and "do pencil" (hands tight to your sides) so your arms don't slap on the surface. And screaming is good - scream all the way down if you can.

After that experience the church was like icing on the cake. The austere little church looks like it belongs in Greece with its round domes and bright blue trim. Once inside, we climbed up two flights of stairs and three claustrophobic ladders to the top of the tower where we were rewarded with a great view of the harbor.

Later we had lunner at a nice restaurant, played in their pool a while, finally got that ice we'd planned on, and putted back to Thistle in our floppy, sinking dinghy.

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