She arrived at morning tea. I think in The Hobbit, they call it ‘elevenses’. Love elevenses – our mid-morning snack. The turtle somehow knew it.

She’d followed Jack in Edna back to Quest. He’d been out, visiting s/v White Arrow. In the last week, Jack has started teaching diving again – with Gavin on White Arrow. They’re going through the PADI Advanced Openwater course. It’s nice to watch Jack go back into diving instructor mode. I wont lie – part of the initial impetus for this trip was to see if we could run a family dive business on a coral atoll somewhere! Ha! Keep dreaming. Ok then.

Gavin is doing five learning dives – deep dive, wreck dive, navigational dive, night dive and uhh, one other. He goes through the course material in his own time. Delph meanwhile is ready to do her Openwater course. And Lu and I are finally going to do our Rescue Diver training. It’s true diving has definitely stepped up a level for us. Thanks to Barbados.

The turtle had tailed the dinghy back to Quest. Once she was at our stern, Jack called for us to see. We came out to see her nibbling on the swim ladder.

‘Do we have any food?’

We had hot dogs. Fred and Sarah from the red boat had given them to us as bait for blue runners. Though we haven’t fished so much recently. It got to a point where it seemed Jack had caught all the decent-sized fish.

Maybe turtles like hot dogs? I got them out of the fridge. The turtle was waiting. A bunch of small, yellow-tailed snapper also waited underneath.

We broke the hot dogs into small pieces. The first bit hit the water. The turtle unsurprisingly was a bit slow. Oh dear. Keeping up those turtle appearances. Most of the fish got to the hot fog first.

‘Let me hand-feed her,’ Jack said.

He held out a piece of hot dog. The turtle approached. She picked it out with her beaky mouth. Jack watched his fingers. We all stood watching, with our jaws on the cockpit floor. A wild sea turtle eating out of human hands? What was going on?

We wondered too if this was the same turtle who’d just finished laying her eggs on the beach. If so, it made sense she’d be hungry. She was about the right size for it – though she looked completely different in water then on land. She’d looked brown and dull on the beach – decidedly non-appetising. In the water, she was now shining as brightly as a jewel.

Our hearts skipped. What a brilliant creature to know to come to us for food. We’ve seen turtles having relationships in Barbados with fishermen. Being omnivorous, turtles are known to hang around fishing boats for scraps. Still, she hadn’t been to Quest before. We hadn’t fed her before.

I got a tin of sardines out. Then another tin. She definitely liked sardines better than the hot dogs.

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