“Do you know where I can beach this thing to go ashore?” the somewhat frazzled driver asked, “I keep getting yelled at that I’m not allowed to bring this thing near a beach, how the heck do you get to a beach around here?” It appeared our friend had gone from bay to bay in search of sandy toes, but was having no luck. Scott pointed out where he thought would be okay, and with that he put putted away.
That should have been my first clue that something was amiss. Turned away, from a beach? Hmmm….
We’d sailed over to St. John after breakfast to meet up with our friends on s/v Mary Christine (Where the Coconuts Grow) and s/v Necesse (It's A Necessity) to celebrate Jody’s birthday. Any excuse to head over to the beautiful island of St. Johh and meet up with good friends to enjoy a delicious meal (fresh caught lobster!!) is good enough reason for us, so we made the short hop over from Soper’s Hole. Jody and Peter have become experts at the USVI’s and know all the hot spots and great anchorages, and this one didn’t disappoint. The water, the views, and the beach were about as perfect as it gets and the next morning I decided I was going to attempt a re-do of my ill-fated mother’s day snorkel. I put the babies down for their morning nap and armed with my snorkel gear and our underwater camera I hopped on the paddle board to see what I could see.
“If you paddle over to Trunk Bay, there is an ‘underwater hike’ with numbered buoys and everything” Scott told me, “It should be just around the corner and is supposed to be really nice”.
Underwater tour? Perfect. I now had my destination.
I started paddling away, mesmerized by the incredible water around me and having one of those, “pinch me, I’m dreaming moments”. Being alone on water so clear I could see the colorful fish below me, surround by incredible views of island ridge lines in the distance - all against the backdrop of a lush, palm dotted hillside under the glorious tropical sun was enough to bring a tear of joy to my eye. It’s not all perfect living on a boat in paradise, but sometimes it is - and this was one such moment. Gratitude was overflowing. #thankyouuniverse
I basked in the quiet solitude, listening to the waves crash on the reef and the gulls chattering overhead, when I slowly rounded the corner to the next bay.
There before me was a beach so full of people it could have been on the coast of southern California, life guard stands and all. Dozens of snorkels dotted the water off the shore, kids ran around and built castles in the surf, couples played paddle ball under the shady palms, and at least fifty or sixty sunbathers lounged in chairs. And it was only 9:30am! I was shocked by the sight as it was such a deviation from our quiet, sleepy little bay just around the corner but, whatever, no big deal. I've been a bonafide city girl for much of my life so the energy of crowds is something I enjoy from time to time. I paddled forward toward the beach in search of this illusive underwater snorkel tour when suddenly I heard a muffled, but very loud, male voice over a megaphone.
“ATTENTION PADDLE BOARDER”
What the..??? Surely he wasn’t talking to me? I stopped paddling immediately and looked around. Sure enough, I was the only paddle boarder in the bay, and apparently I was breaking some sort of rule.
“ATTENTION PADDLE BOARDER” he yelled again, this time with a little more gusto. If they weren't already, I have no doubt that most everyone on the beach stopped what they were doing to look up to see what this delinquent interloper of a paddle boarder was doing.
“THIS IS A SWIMMING AREA ONLY,” the voice continued slowly and purposefully "IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO APPROACH THE BEACH YOU MUST USE THE GREEN AND RED CHANNEL MARKERS. DEPART THAT AREA IMMEDIATELY”.
Um…yeah. If there was a chance I was heading to the beach on this particular excursion, that chance was quickly murdered by the booming voice on the loud speaker.
To add insult to injury, he continued...
“I REPEAT: USE THE RED AND GREEN CHANNEL MARKERS IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO APPROACH THE BEACH”. His enunciation was impeccable.
It suddenly became very clear to me why our friend in the dinghy looked so frazzled the day before. If I was getting this sort of treatment on a paddle board, I can only imagine what he got driving a motorized dinghy into this designated "swim area".
Horrified and embarrassed, I waved my hand in compliance and turned around to paddle out of view of the militant lifeguard.
I would not, in fact, be taking an underwater snorkel tour on this day.
As soon as I rounded the corner and was back in my own private world, I jumped off the board, tied the line around my waist and suited up for a lovely snorkel. I even got another video of “Dory” for Isla. And I was still technically in the swimming area. Take that lifeguard man!