The Drop-Off

The water in Les Saintes is a bright, deep blue. First time we came here we kind of crapped ourselves. Sorry. Still, the bay is relatively deep and the mooring buoys are set at about 15-20 metres. Too far down to see the bottom.

Nervous bottom noises – from us this time. There is something about not seeing the sea floor when you swim. Waving your feet towards a distant unknown becomes an act of faith. Gulp, fart and float.

For the last week, we’ve had a mooring buoy on the inside of town. Just underneath the fort. At the bottom of the hill is an upscale hotel with average WiFi. We went in for a coffee. The French lady at the bar made good coffee, but she served it – hmm, how can I say this? Without any happy flavouring.

Might have had something to do with roosters. This is because every morning at 4am, the rooster symphony begins right by the hotel. It’s one of those, ‘can you imagine spending 400 Euros a night and having roosters crow outside your window at 4am’ situations? I have to admit, it’s provided us with a solid week of laughs. The hotel guests staggering around zombie-like from the lack of sleep.

There’s a bit of a reef by the hotel – just in swimming distance of Quest. It’s not the healthiest reef – a fisherman comes every night and happily fishes it with a strong torchlight. Pretty standard in the Caribbean. Still, this reef has something very cool. It has a dramatic drop-off. Shallow swimming until the ledge disappears into a steep incline. Like an elevator shaft going down.

I can never hover over the edge of a drop-off without thinking of Finding Nemo. The manta ray teacher taking the kids on a field trip to the drop-off. It is as adrenaline-pumping as when Nemo sees it in the movie. Cue bottom noises.

But we’ve been swimming it everyday in the afternoon – going over to the reef and hovering over the drop-off. It’s been fun to practise the hold-your-nerve game. We’re so close to shore, it feels safe enough – like a maritime amusement ride.

There is something about staring into this empty space too, and imagining. Creatures floating into view. Just making sense of the space itself. The ocean is mighty, but underneath the water is different again. The drop-off makes it feel like an inverse blue mountain. We can only dangle at its blue bottom. There’s that word again. Bubble and float.