I could still taste the coffee as I retraced yesterday’s steps up the wooden jetty to Echo 2.
Tass and Eddie were getting ready for our snorkelling adventure, and Tess told me that Echo 1 had been just about to roll out of the boatyard when a hurricane struck, and she was wrecked before she got in the water. Owner Tom immediately commissioned Echo 2. Tess confided that she thought he was something of a perfectionist, which judging from last night’s selection of cheeses, I didn’t need to be told.
Eddie’s son waved us off – I was amongst a group of guys from Ohio who’d fled South to seek adventure and heat. Much jokey talk of sharks before we jumped into the water at a reef some way off the southernmost point. I’ve not snorkelled before, so it was one of those moments where you have to put your faith in the rather crude bit of technology keeping you alive and just go for it. I got caught unawares by the occasional swell, but so long as you get comfortable with the idea that you might have to wait a few seconds longer than you expected to breathe in, it’s fine. I had more trouble with the buoyancy – usually I sink like a stone but with the salt water and a foam noodle under my arms to show my location, I couldn’t do the deeper diving I’d have liked – but hey, it was my first time out, so next time I’ll be ready for it. Sharks – we saw none, or at least, none that were dangerous. And sadly, despite scouring the bay, no dolphins either, but I’ve been on dolphin watches before, and always worried about harrying the poor things. If the turn up – fine, but if not, nature has already come up trumps this week, and I couldn’t ask for more, especially with Tess keeping the Malbec coming and stories about the various sorts of bear in the USA, and what they are likely to do to you (hint: kill you).
It’s one of the appealing things (to me anyway) about the States: the outdoors is never far away. As Ralph, one of the guys, put it, ‘When you’re outdoors in bear country, you’re third, fourth down on the food chain.’ Perhaps the dolphins got eaten by bears?
Eddie and Tess – who in a quiet moment had me perfecting my thrown bow line – couldn’t have been nicer people. We swapped stories, talked boats, and I was sorry to say goodbye. But it was lunch time, and I stayed on the waterfront to have oysters and salad. Practically a health food, I thought of my oyster, before washing it down with a frozen Margherita.
After a laze by the Marquesa’s pool, an early dinner reservation loomed. Louie’s back yard sounds like a low key sort of joint, the main dining area out the back facing onto the ocean, the waiters in matching Hawaiian shirts so that you can pick them out from all the other Hawaiian shirt-wearing customers. The food is similarly unfussy, twists on American classics, done superbly. I asked what a conch looks like when it comes out of it’s shell. The waiter gave a vivid description, ending with ‘you look at it and you don’t want to eat is,’ bit as this one was battered flat and breadcrumbed like a schnitzel, I ordered it all the same, with a beet salad and shrimp and grits to follow, all held together with a Sancerre. Just delightful, it all balanced beautifully, while the sun obligingly set in a riot of pinks and mauves into the sea. Who needs a dolphin anyway?