And I saw a lot of seaweed

Today was a very good day. I woke up early, and I was lying in my bed, unable to go back to sleep because of these huge black birds that call out to each other in a way that’s as effective as any alarm.  They start to shrill out to each other just before sunrise, announcing to their whole world that another day is starting, and as the sky just started to lighten, I realized that I had an opportunity. An opportunity to see the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea, and to take a picture so that I could post it, and it would then seem to all of you that I am the sort of person who gets up for the sunrise.

sunrise 2015-02-24

See? Doesn’t it look exactly like I’m the sort of pure spirit who gets up and does that? Sure it does.  (I will admit to doing one tiny sun salutation on the beach, but hell. How could you not?)  The rest of the day marched along smartly, with one major development.

snorkleknit 2015-02-24

Miraculously, today I got really comfortable with snorkelling. Mum and I tried it for the first time last year, and she was really good, and goes out alone all the time, and she’s starting to look pretty savvy out there. Me? My attempts have largely been successful, though have been punctuated by episodes where I inexplicably screw the whole thing up, draw a large lungful of air, and then near drown myself just offshore.

Today was different. Today I got the hang of how to clear the thing, and how to get it on your face so it doesn’t leak, and how to keep it from fogging up – it went really well.  I don’t have any fins, so I just swim along, and I don’t make good time, but I am a very strong swimmer, so I can stay out a long time.  Today I remembered I’m a good swimmer, and I got the mask on right, and figured out what to do if the whole system fills up, and once I had that all sorted, it was really fun. It was… peaceful, and weird to be floating along with your face down in the water, and still be breathing. (Trick number one to snorkelling. Convince yourself that you can breathe, even though your face is underwater. It’s harder than you think.  Instinct is a powerful, beautiful thing.)   Today it was all going so well, and I saw some pretty fish that were blue and yellow and black, and some that were just black and white, and many fish that I know are Barracuda, and then a fish that was as long as me – and about seven of his friends, all lurking around on the bottom of the sea, trying to look innocent, even thought they all had great pointy teeth.

The moment though – was when I was cruising along, and suddenly a great chunk of the ocean floor moved. I wasn’t in very deep, and I was in a place where the sand rose up, in a small underwater hill, and below me, only a metre or two away, a big thing was going. I don’t see very well, and I didn’t have my glasses on (obviously) so I kept swimming on, and only when I was right on top of the thing did I realize it was a big stingray. I froze.

I stopped swimming entirely, and didn’t move a muscle as it winged by right underneath me, and I tried desperately to remember what I knew about them.  Did they really sting? Was that a myth? What made it sting? What about that Australian guy? Was there anywhere to go? Was this dangerous? How do you run away in the ocean?

I realized quickly that he was going his way, and I was going mine, and I couldn’t think of any reason we would hurt each other if we were both quiet and sorted, and off it went, with its great long tail trailing behind it.  It was huge, and it was beautiful, and I am very glad I am learning to snorkle.

Then about 5 seconds later a piece of seaweed touched my leg and I just about had a heart attack and drowned myself.

It was elegant.  Knittter out.

147 thoughts on “And I saw a lot of seaweed

  1. Did you know you can get masks with special lenses so you can see? They are a little expensive and I think I ordered mine, but worth it if you’re going to snorkel every year (I’ve had mine for 10+ years).

    Here in Australia we see stingrays all the time. Very unusual to have someone killed like Steve Irwin – don’t stand on them or grab them!

    • I second the recommendation- I’m practically blind without glasses, but we were fortunate enough to find a place in Hawaii that rented masks with correction built in, and I found that I adored snorkeling- so beautiful, and just brilliant to be able to see it all clearly.

      • I third the recommendation! I bought a regular mask at a snorkeling/diving store and took it to my opthomalogist’s office to have it fitted with correction lens. It wasn’t too terribly expensive, and it’s been great!

    • I was just coming in to post this very thing. Many rental places have prescription adjusted goggles. You don’t need your prescription – they just let you try on goggles until you find a pair that lets you see the best. I can’t recommend them highly enough!

    • Prescription masks are great! What ever you do, DO NOT try and wedge your glasses into a regular mask, have a lens pop out and float away, then spend the rest of your vacation stuck with wearing a pair of glasses with only one lens! (Not that I am speaking from personal experience or anything)

  2. I’m still back on your mum swimming alone. As a semi-pro drowner myself, my scold light is flashing. Steve Irwin is the guy you’re thinking of, and yes it did sting and kill him so that was scary to read. Thanks for the seaweed punchline, but I think you’re in a sweet plot to make me content with eternal snow.

  3. Bare arms and legs on the sand. In the sun. I can just feel the warmth coming off that picture all the way up here in the frozen north. So happy you can bask. And snorkel with the stingrays.

  4. Corrective goggles are your friend. Like would freak out because I couldn’t see the shore and the prescription goggles changed things immensely. If this beach thing will be an annual event, they are probably a worthwhile investment, as are a pair of cheap flippers!

  5. We just came back from an unexpected trip to Hawaii (my husband got awarded a prize by his company and the prize was a trip for 2 to Hawaii.!!) We didn’t get a chance to snorkel and I’m not sure I would have as I’m a terrible swimmer. But my point is that even though we came home to record low temps, it was a great restorative and I’m enjoying your posts even more because I can actually relate. And I did get up with the sun because of the 5 hr time change. But we were on the wrong side of the island for sunrise.

  6. Oh well played Steph. Glad you only almost drowned. What an experience to see the stingray so close! Freezing was probably the best thing you could have done.
    loved yesterdays pictures. Birkis y pies y bueno tierra.

  7. Someone needs to tell the “human checker” that it is a treble clef symbol, not a musical note. That said, it looks like you are having a wonderful time. Enjoy every second with your Mum.

    And if you are ever stung by a stingray, DO NOT pull out the barb, let them do that at the hospital.

    • okay, the plan of what to do about the barb sounds way too much like my plan for when my truck goes off the bridge into the river….the “when” part, instead of “if”. i love the part where i know what to do, but then i realize i seem to be expecting it to happen! (when the kids were little, i had a whole plan of how to get us out…i think it was the fierce mother protecting her offspring in my brain, because i have lived my whole life in portland with bridges being just part of life, and never thought about going off one before.)

      • I did exactly the same thing! I used to have nightmares about driving into water with my daughters in the car. So I used to rehearse the process of what to do to get us all out safely every night before I went to sleep and pretty soon the dreams stopped! isn’t the psyche a strange thing?

  8. Stingrays are basically, though not completely harmless. Their stingers are only used in self defense and they have to be on the floor to lever them up to try to hit anything with them. So, usually only hurting humans when they get stepped on. Steve Irwin really got struck by lightning with his freak stingray accident.

    They aren’t aggressive, they hide under sand like big floppy carpets and will swim away from people unless they are used to being fed for tourists. I think stingrays are really gorgeous and would love to see them in the wild.

    Seaweed on the other hand should not sneak up on you like that!

  9. Steph,

    I just love you!! You made me laugh on a rather bleak day and I’m not referring to the weather. Have a wonderful time with you Mum.

    PS: I would have freaked out with the seaweed too!.


  10. I went snorkeling in Bermuda and ended up in a school of squid. They were amazing and beautiful and so balletic. Such a great memory. Have fun!!

  11. OMG! I really did LOL! Thanks, Yarn Harlot, I needed that laugh and the reminder that warm air exists somewhere in the world. And hey. Watch out for those phantom seaweeds

  12. Your reaction to the seaweed gave me several out-loud belly laughs. You are such a wonderful writer that I could picture you flailing and sputtering. I hope you headed directly for dry land and a margarita to calm down.

  13. Sounds like you had a lovely warm day, whereas I have spent hours today shoveling the driveway in the cold. Feeling a bit jealous.
    Steve Irwin was not “stung”, he was stabbed through the heart by a stingray that he was no doubt annoying by handling it inappropriately.

  14. I love snorkeling. Just seeing all of the life under the water is just purely spectacular. I hope you are able to see sea turtles, star fish, and conchs! Enjoy that warm water, the sea, and the sun!

  15. Gah! Things like seaweed are why I’m not a good snorkeler. I can’t see what’s behind me and I wouldn’t be able to run if something did come at me and I just get all twitchy. Sounds really lovely, though, and so wonderful that you get to do this with your mum!

  16. Thank you for making me laugh, Stephanie. 🙂 You have such a knack for making word pictures! Write on! And enjoy the sunshine! It’s snowing and blowing outside right now in Welland. Ugh.

  17. As one who is terrified of water and a very weak swimmer, I know exactly how you feel about breathing while your face is underwater. I hold my breath in the shower!
    Once I got the handle of clearing my snorkel, I learned that I LOVE snorkelling. I just float and let the current take me along.
    My family and friends are amazed that I can be so calm and peaceful in the water when I normally freeze f the waves go over my knees. (see shower comment above).
    I purchased a mask that fits my angular face (actually a “Youth” mask) and take it on every southern vacation.

  18. My husband was stung on the ankle by a sting ray several years ago and it was an excruciatingly painful experience for him. The “cure” is to soak in really hot water until the pain stops. The venom is protein-based and you essentially cook it out. I totally freak any time I have a brush with seaweed. ‘Cause you know, it could be a sting ray in disguise!

  19. What a fabulous experience – though I totally understand the fear and I just love your wit in ending your story with the punch line of the seaweed. 🙂

  20. Perhaps the birds are boat-tailed grackles? Very common in both Arizona (where I’ve lived) and Cozumel (where I’ve visited) and probably everywhere in between. Very vocal, loud, and multi-lingual with all kindsa “jungle bird” sounds. Sound right?

    YAY YOU AND MUM on the vacation!! Hope you’re soaking every minute of enjoyment out of it!

  21. One of Mt most favorite things to do on beach vacations is to wake before sunrise, brew a pot of coffee (it’s the only time I drink coffee with any regularity) and head to the beach, camera in hand, to see the sun come up. Those are special moments.

  22. OMG…I laughed right out loud with the seaweed comment!! I went snorkeling in Hawaii earlier this year, for the first time. It was empowering to overcome the whole “Jaws” fear that has lived in the back of my mind. It took me too many false starts to trust the whole breathe through your mouth with your face in the water, but when you get it…you totally get it and it is magical. I am still giggling over the seaweed … thank you for sharing your story.

    • Oh, the Jaws fear. After seeing that movie as an impressionable child, I couldn’t take baths (in the tub!) for quite a while, and couldn’t eat spaghetti either. Thankfully, I’m over both, but I’m still not keen on swimming anywhere near where sharks might live.

  23. I could spend hours watching stingrays move. They’re so fluid and graceful. Unfortunately the only place I’ve seen them is in an aquarium. Sigh. Excuse me while I knock the frost off my glasses.

  24. I don’t know about the services in Mexico, but in Hawaii masks with corrective lenses and flippers are rented, pretty cheaply. I think I paid $20 for both, for a week.

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation. Stingrays won’t get you if you leave them alone.

  25. You did the right thing – Steve Irwin was, apparently a bit too close to the stingray that killed him, and it was feeling threatened. But maybe you were also lucky – too many sharks in the sea for me to put even one toe in the water anymore. Despite having spent 10 years as a child growing up on Bondi Beach. Not any longer…..

  26. Hoorah for Steph’s Mom! I know it must have been difficult to keep your own wits about you, but to successfully steer The Yarn Harlot through an earthquake proves you get results when you sing “Bibbity-bobbety-boo!”

    Oh, and Steph??? The Blog doesn’t care what time you wake up, as long as you do wake up. Why?? Because the day you don’t wake up is the day there will be such weeping and gnashing of teeth around the globe that one might be forgiven for thinking St. Elizabeth of Zimmerman had died a second time. . . !

  27. Steve Irwin was indeed killed by a stingray, but that’s because he was ignoring the basic rule of all living things: ‘don’t annoy them and they won’t annoy you’.

  28. I discovered last year that you can hire snorkels that have prescription glass. This was perfect for a woman like me who can’t see her feet clearly without glasses.

  29. Sounds lovely. I am a terrible swimmer but love to snorkel anyway. Flippers are a “sinker’s” best friend. Even the sharks have left the Cape for the winter, but seeing a warm beach gives me hope.

  30. In the same situation as you encountered, there would have been a sudden warm flood in the general vicinity. It reminds me of walking through the woods behind my home when suddenly a greenbrier finds its way up the leg of your jeans- run now, look later.

  31. It never ceases to amaze how your thought processes are so like mine – I would have done the exact same mental scramble when the thing started moving, and gone right to Steve Irwin, etc. And then the seaweed! Ha! That is exactly what I would do. Must be a knitter thing. Glad you are safe – and in the meantime that must have been so cool!!

  32. What a wonderful vacation. My uncle was stationed on Guam near the end of WWII, and used to swim with the stingrays. He said they were very gentle, and didn’t mind if you hitched a ride. Of course, he’s very good with animals and knows not to annoy them.

    • You may mean Manta Rays. They are very gentle, not twitchy at being touched, and you can hitch a ride on them they are large enough (10+ feet) and very strong. Not so for stingrays. I had an opportunity to do a night scuba dive in Hawaii with Manta Rays and it was amazing (but hitching a ride was not allowed, which was understandable).

  33. I so look forward to your posts, so you’ve made my morning. And I so would have screamed at seaweed touching my leg (and do, even in lakes in Ontario where, hopefully, stingray don’t lurk).

  34. next up – SCUBA!! thanks for the morning chuckle. I may not have been out on a beach watching the sunrise, but I was in my Orange Theory class at 0515! enjoy your vacation, enjoy the time with your mom. Loved the post about the ground beneath your feet and the birks! (I love mine, saved many a toes!) Thanks for the well-written humorous post!!

  35. Just seconding the recommendation for a prescription snorkeling mask. I bought mine for a snorkeling excursion several years ago and still use it. It was well worth the cost to be able to see the fishes properly.

    • That levitate tricks works wonders, doesn’t it? I love the water, I can deal with freshwater creatures but I am not a sea dweller- even the crabs freak me out.

  36. I love hearing about your adventures in Mexico, just having returned from there myself last week. I’ve been a knitter for over 50 years and a snorkeller for about 20 years. It made a world of difference to my enjoyment of snorkelling when I got prescription lenses in my mask, done at the dive shop here at home. I also recommend an anti-fog solution for the lenses – we’ve been using Sea Drops and one bottle has lasted for years. After feeling too cold a half hour into the swim, I’ve bought a wetsuit, which extends the my time in the water to over an hour. This year I also added little stretchy gloves which seemed to keep me a bit warmer and protect against jelly fish. We found short flippers in a Mexican dive shop and they fit well into a suitcase and really help with swimming against a current or tide. Enjoy swimming in that huge, natural aquarium.

  37. LOL LOL I had a hard time learning to breath underwater too. I’ve been at it about 15 years now and it find it more relaxing than anything else in the world. So I have a similar Manta Ray story. We are snorkeling along…. 2 miles north along the beach and about 1.5 miles back south in chest deep water, I looked up in time to see a big open mouth. I froze until I recognized it for a Manta Ray. It effortlessly glided around me to come face to face with my best friend and his daughter. It just went around both of them too. It was a baby, maybe only 5′ across and the same long. Beautiful. We are lucky enough to live in South Florida so we often see amazing sights right off the beach like schools of tarpon, giant yellow sea stars, nurse sharks, lobster, octopus, and squid. Squid are very playful so if you see one come toward you, don’t freak out.

    On another note… Here’s a link to a warm bike ride. It’s for fun and not a cause, but you might like it. I’m not involved and I haven’t participated yet. I am planning to attend this year.

  38. Great sunrise picture! You would be amazed at the difference in your experience if you used flippers. I highly recommend them. Also, not so good to snorkel alone. Keep your eye on her as if she’s a five year old. Have fun!

  39. “Then about 5 seconds later a piece of seaweed touched my leg and I just about had a heart attack and drowned myself.”

    Dude. You do NOT even know how many times I’ve done this when I used to go to the beach in Florida. Glad you’re having a grand time!

  40. I totally get the breathing underwater thing. The only time I tried snorkeling, I just COULDN’T make myself breathe!
    Oh, i see an underwater camera in your future. Do they still sell the disposable film kind?
    And seaweed is just yucky!

  41. OMG! I am right there with you, not being able to see while swimming! I might as well as wear a blind fold without my glasses so I just close my eyes while swimming. That is until I purchased a pair of swim goggles. I paid a bundle for them but so worth every cent!

  42. Calm, fascinated, reasoned response to the sting ray, then terrorized by the kiss of seaweed. I can so-o-o-o-o relate to that! Loved your post.

  43. That last paragraph is exactly how I feel about the ocean and snorkeling. Last time I tried it was 20 years ago on my honeymoon. I do not miss the panic. At.All. lol

  44. I have no doubt you are a match for the stingrays and the seaweed, but what’s with the toothy shark-type things hanging around on the bottom? The Harlot may like snorkeling with sharks, but it’s hard on the Blog.

    Enjoy the warm weather! I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like.

  45. That happened to me once in Cuba. We were snorkling and i looked down and the sand seemed to come alive. There is something very creepy about sand morphing into a creature like in those movies i like to watch. I thought “Im going to die!!” Fortunately the water was shallow enough that i was able to stand up and run to shore. It is amazing how fast you can be when you are running on fear–even with flippers.

  46. I am glad you enjoyed yourself, and I envy you getting up close and personal with such a fascinating and different fellow citizen of our planet. That said, I continue to feel that water is for drinking and cleaning up, less so much for recreation. 🙂

  47. Love this! Sting rays can be scary but they don’t get huge. If it was really big it might have been a Manta Ray, they are harmless and super fun to swim with!

  48. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had was rising early and watching the sunrise on the coast of Maine. Beautiful, surreal, and spiritual all at the same time. Makes me want to do it all over again.

  49. It’s really easy to see the sunrise when you live in a Midwestern state that wants to pretend it’s an Eastern state so it uses Eastern Time – and then goes and adds another hour because it thinks it’s “saving” daylight. You don’t need to be a pure spirit at all to be up at 8:30!

  50. The times I went snorkeling near Cozumel, I loved it. And the crew of the boat got a huge laugh at me for swimming one armed…because the all-inclusive resort I was staying at had put a holographic wrist band on me. There were barracudas patrolling the reef below me…and I knew that bright, flashy lures is what we used to fish for them in FL! So I had one hand wrapped around that band!!!

    Glad you are enjoying snorkeling…kind of sort of!

  51. When you’re walking in the water, shuffle your feet – this way the rays will hear you coming and move out of your way – so you don’t end up stepping on one by accident. As you surmised in your story – he/she is just as happy as you that you are going your separate ways.

    I like the corrective mask idea – my eyes have gotten to the point where I mostly “swim” with my glasses on.

  52. I’m sorry Stephanie…but I laughed like hell…and then felt bad because I know that was such a supremely scary moment…but it was funny

  53. Great shot; sunrise on vacation is always special. I’m normally not a morning person, unless getting up and to a plane towards a sunny beach.
    Great story; been there, done that – except my version included a reef shark in Turks and Caicos. (Don’t ask.)

    As a (blog) friend, though have to say – snorkeling / scuba diving alone – sting ray or not – not necessarily the best of ideas. They teach the buddy system for a reason… Have fun but be safe out there!

  54. Get corrective lenses! Mine were about $100 and worth every penny! I do take special care with them and love what I see! I wish I could have taken my Mother snorkeling before she died! She would have loved it!☺️

  55. I am reading this while I eat lunch in my office and I SNORTED at the seaweed part…That is what life is really like my friend…trying to be reasonable inside your head when any small bit of reality can push you over the edge…Precious! And funny!!! Thanks for sharing!

  56. That is a beautiful sunrise. But if you hadn’t told me, I would have assumed it was a sunset, because that’s what I usually see! I did spend early mornings on one trip to Hawaii stalking a moonset, which coincided with the sunrise. So beautiful: But I didn’t see the actual sunrise because it was behind my building (and mountain).

    Prescription snorkel masks are a great gift; I don’t have one yet because I’ve always snorkeled with contact lenses, but I’m wearing contacts less and less these days. Time for a new mask. (My prescription is too much a specialty item to be able to rent it.)

    Do you think the birds start squawking just before sunrise because they’re a little higher than you are, and can see the sun sooner? (Musings…so fun.)

  57. As a poor swimmer with an intense fear of drowning, I’m going to say I shouldn’t try to learn snorkeling. Thanks for learning so I can at least read about it 🙂

  58. About those “pretty fish that were blue and yellow and black” – those should be the colors of the stripes in the next socks you knit!

  59. Aggghhhh. Seaweed.

    I also would say corrective lenses for your mask if you continue to enjoy snorkeling! I also find it difficult sometimes to convince my brain that – yes – you can can actually breath underwater. Especially since I’m used to nose breathing! haha

    Have fun, and take care.

    Katie =^..^=

  60. hahahahahaha!! I’m with whoever said they only swim in water that has chlorine! My Mum didn’t swim and unfortunately instilled a fear of the ocean in me – we just “paddled” as kids; for non-brits, that’s playing or walking in water only as deep as your ankles…and Seaweed is creepy- gah!

  61. I was totally done at the seven or eight huge toothy fish – add one ray, and I’m levitating out of the water, back to the beach, toes in the sand, needles in hand, and one big ol’ margarita. You are amazing.
    Your risk-averse admirer…

  62. I am a loyal reader but I’ve never commented before… but I couldn’t help it when I read about the sting (manta?) ray. 2 years ago I was swimming in the Amazon in Brazil and got stung. They always warn you to shuffle your feet in the sand to avoid them but I was deep enough that I couldn’t touch the bottom. Out of nowhere I got a pain in my foot and thought a fish had bitten me. It quickly developed into the most severe pain I have ever felt (I’ve never given birth so we’ll see in a few years how that compares) and the villagers I was staying with told me it was a sting ray. They took me about 45 minutes away in a motorized dug out canoe to where we could get a bigger boat and go another hour to a health post. During the boat ride I remember focusing all my attention on trying not to throw up from pain and concocting a plan to convince the doctors to cut my foot off so the pain would stop (I was completely serious on this one so I must have been losing it a bit). But all’s well that ends well and now I just have a scar and a cool story to tell.

    In short, you weren’t silly to be scared because they CAN attack in open water too!

  63. It is highly unusual that a ray would attack. Steve Irwin’s death was tragic – and very unusual. I personally love snorkelling and cannot imagine giving it up. What you did – staying still and letting the ray go on about his business – is exactly what you should have done. I looked into a corrective mask for my mother some years ago and they were not prohibitively expensive and they do last a long time. Disposable contact lenses are another option. What you get to see underwater is so fabulous, I would want to see it crisply. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  64. Oh, I am SO glad I wasn’t drinking anything while reading this post as I’m pretty sure it would’ve come out my nose by the last paragraph! God love ya!

  65. What a wonderful sunrise photo. Love that you captured the bird right in the middle of the sunrise – sweet!

    Knitting on the beach – yes.

    Snorkeling with potential stinging and drowning – no thank you.
    (disclaimer – I can’t swim nor float – smile)

  66. BAHAHA! Oh Steph…you are such a goof! Well the good news is that at least if you peed your swimsuit (after the seaweed touched you) no one would have noticed.
    Hey, to unfog your mask?…spit in it, swish around, and then rinse it out with salt water. Works a treat.
    Disfrute su vacacion!

  67. A long time ago, I was snorkelling with my family in Mexico. My niece, who was diving without a snorkel and therefore coming up for air, could hear my panicked breathing whenever a fish swam by in my peripheral vision and startled me.

    I’m afraid I was not a good example of grace under pressure to her.

  68. Hi Stephanie,

    I’m so delighted to hear you’re enjoying snorkeling! Your post brought back wonderful memories of when I snorkeled just off Cozumel Island.

  69. Such bravery! I haven’t been able to convince myself that the tiny narrow tube would supply enough air to keep me from freaking out. I am so impressed about the sunrise. You really are that person. Enjoy!! and thanks for sharing.

  70. What a wonderful story!! (Especially to one caught, unawares and unhappily, in the suddenly frozen landscape of North Carolina. Several snow days later and expecting 8″ (or – GASP! – possibly more) tonight… Wishing I were with you being startled by stingrays and seaweed.

  71. 1st of all: God I love you! You make me laugh (and often cry 🙂 when I read your blog!

    2nd-ly: Snorkeling is AWESOME!!! I love it and highly recommend it to everyone and I’m so happy that you’ve mastered it (well…75% mastered it

  72. Hysterical! We are on the Big Island of Hawaii with our 5 yr old grandson and our 7 month old grand daughter and our daughter, their mother…. Our 5 yr old grandson is snorkeling in the ocean (as opposed to the bathtub) for the first time. He is nothing short of miraculous. We have discussed that bit about when water goes in the top of the snorkel or when the current is going where you don’t want to go… One word! Invest in a pair of good, well fitting fins!! I am a good swimmer and I always stuck my nose up at fins. They seemed like a lot to carry etc. They will save your life when things seem not good for a variety of reasons: rip currents, weird (predatory) fish, stuff…. Get some and use them. You will learn to love them.

  73. I was stung by a very small ray last summer on the North Carolina coast. I stepped off a sand bar into a tidal pool in the wrong spot. Rays sting as a defensive measure. I invaded this little ray’s space. I didn’t even see it and wouldn’t have known what had happened except a woman near me commented on the ray swimming away. To me it felt like a bite. A sting ray is a like a bee — it punctures you and releases venom. So I had a puncture wound that was bleeding and then intense pain as the venom damages the muscles. I still have a spot on my foot that looks like a bruise. The way to treat it is to soak your foot in as hot of water as you can stand for 20 minutes or so. It took mine about 30-40 minutes before it felt better. It took a few days for the puncture wound to heal.

  74. Along with strongly recommending the rx goggles, I’d urge you to rent the flippers too. I’m not a strong swimmer and was amazed how far and fast I could go with them. As a strong swimmer, you’ll be just jetting around the bay!

  75. Oh Stpehanie! I am delighted! I teach Marine Biology and am an avid snorkeler and diver. I find diving and snorkeling give me the same sense of tranquility as when you are really focused on “just the right amount of difficult” knitting! Just FYI nothing is going to hurt you unless a boat runs you over or you decide to step on it or pick something up you shouldnt. I was lucky enough to dive with rays in the Caymans. They brush against you like cats! Steve Irwin was an amazing exception. Imagine you upset a ray it spears you with it’s stinger, the stinger goes between your ribs and into your heart. If thats not God looking down and yelling “You!!! Out of the Pool!!!” I don’t know what is! Happy snorkeling!!!!! Pattye

  76. So scary,yet so funny, all at the same time. Glad you are ok. I would have freaked out, not that I’d be in the ocean……
    Hope you had a nice stiff drink when you got back to dry land.
    Nice pic of the sunrise.

  77. I snorted out loud whilst hubby was reading his nook. I had to ask permission (his) to read him the snorkeling part of your post. Priceless. And yes, I would have screamed when that seaweed touched me. I’m sure the guys would have done they same, they just wouldn’t tell anyone they did.

  78. I was an excellent swimmer-so comfortable in the water you’d think my fingers n toes were webbed.
    Then my vision changed. I could only see 20 inches in front of my face without lenses. Which you can bluff your way around on land and no driving. But water became an uncertain world.
    I am so very proud of you and the number of challenges that you overcame.
    (So is there a team ironman in your future?)

  79. Sorry, if someone already posted this, but if you spit on the inside lens of your goggles, (and then wipe off the excess spit 🙂 they will not ever fog up. I grew up in Hawaii and this was a useful tip.

  80. How terrifyingly exciting to see a huge stingray and all those wonderful underwater things. I’ve never snorkeled but it seems wonderful. This looks like a lovely, relaxing trip. I’m a teensy bit jealous, being freezing here in upstate NY, but it helps to see these pretty pictures and dream of when it will be warm again!

  81. Oh my. I had a similar snorkeling experience – if never feeling comfortable and having a leaky mask is “similar.” We snorkeled for the first time in Hawaii. I am a competent swimmer and have no fear of the water, but I am not a fan of “the wild,” preferring pools. I was OK until the ocean floor dropped away and below me there were only … wait for it … eels. UGH! I didn’t freak out until some guy bumped into me, and due to the lack of peripheral vision allowed in a dive mask, I took the term “freaked out” to a new level. I beat myself up for a day or two for not enjoying the experience until we had dinner with some native Hawaiian friends. That night one of our friends said, “Snorkeling?!? In the ocean?!? I hate the ocean. I will only swim in proper swimming pools.” I no longer apologize for my preference to be able to see the bottom of my swimming environment and to swim in a space shared only with my own species. My daughter, OTOH, is a certified scuba diver. At least I didn’t pass my phobia on to the next generation. Good on you for enjoying snorkeling!

    Your Fox Paws, by the way, is stunningly gorgeous and inspiring. I could have gotten a metric crap-ton of work done over the last couple of days if I had not been trying to find color combos that would do the pattern justice. Brava!

    Ciao from Lugano, Switzerland (or Switaly, depending on your perspective), Carroll

  82. The second panic attack of my life was last summer when my daughter and I were on a cruise and snorkeled in Jamaica. I got water in my mask or something, and lost it. Totally! I went back to the pool (a proper one, with sides and bottom and real chlorine) and after I stopped crying I went in and gingerly tried snorkeling there. It was so much easier than with the waves, etc, and I was the only one in the pool. I may try it again sometime, but the water would have to be just perfect. I was so scared!

  83. It has taken me about eight months to even be able to LOOK at a picture of the ocean without shuddering. My adult daughter had a run in with a six foot bull shark while boogie boarding in waist deep water last spring in Florida and was extremely fortunate not to have lost her entire leg below the knee. It was touch and go for awhile and after many operations and PT, she’s finally on the mend, although she still has a ways to go.
    Hardly seems fair that the odds are better for winning the lottery over getting bitten by a shark…and yet the universe chose the shark for her rather than a few million dollars.
    I LOVE and am obsessed with Fox Paws but it is WAY beyond my level of expertise, sadly.

    • Ooh, so sorry about your daughter! It is unfair, but glad she is now healing.
      I snorkeled a couple of times in my 20’s and enjoyed it (one time was in Hawaii and, like someone commented above, when the floor dropped away and I saw the eels there were some moments of talking myself down, but overall positive. As I got older and had kids, beach trips became less relaxing as I worried about everyone out there in the ocean – not just my family. Now I would rank myself with those who prefer to swim in the pool. I also enjoy walking on the beach in cold weather, when no one is swimming.

  84. Oh, that would have sooo been me with the seaweed freakout after being brave. The bf calls me Little Buddy or Gilligan at moments like that…

  85. Congrats on getting comfortable snorkeling! Second all the suggestions to buy your own gear if you plan to do it much in the future. You can get a much better mask fit that way. An alternative to perscription masks is to wear contacts. I have done this for years, diving and snorkeling, and am very much not alone.

  86. Including the school’s athletic director is also helpful if it is arrangeable.

    Here are some investment rules and strategies to follow when signs of deflation appear.
    Helment and pads are not required in flag football, as it is
    a less agressive version of American football.

  87. Gads, I got chills at the the sand moving part. and then more with the seaweed touch. I do agree with a few above – fins are stunning. Although I am a strong swimmer, fins give me more equal footing (pun) with waves, tides, wind, etc., BTW the picture looks staged – did you hire that bird?

  88. Gracias for the posting, Senora Yarn Harlot! Last year I was so envious of your photos of Cuba that this year we made a trip to Mexico as soon as the kiddo’s ‘spring break’ started. We arrived home two days ago, but I couldn’t blame our luggage for taking it’s sweet time coming back to New Hampshire. Knew we wouldn’t need most of the contents of our luggage right away (especially our snorkeling gear– including hubby’s prescription mask which we had shipped to us from our camp in Maine when someone shoveled off our place’s roof there…which we had hiked into last ‘spring break,’ another story). HOWEVER… I’d finished all my carry-on knitting and was a bit fiddly waiting for my checked-knitting to catch up– especially because delayed luggage also meant delayed laundry and unexpected free time. Amazing trip. Just the escape we needed from this deep winter. Snorkeling got a whole lot more enjoyable when I forgot that it was weird to breath under water and just enjoyed what I was seeing– especially in a Cenote where there were bats above and fish and scuba divers below. Knitting and beaches are as well paired as knitting and good hot wood stoves. Both are to be reveled in. Love your footie photos. How ’bout a fin photo? Safe travels to you, your mom, and your yarn!

  89. By the way– I never saw a ray while we were there, but Mexico was hosting many Canadians and Americans, like a wonderful block party with our neighbors from up and down the continent!

  90. I thought I was the only one who had issues snorkeling. It’s so hard to convince my brain to take a breath underwater, then my breathing pattern gets messed up and I have to stop for a minute, LOL.

  91. Lovelylovelylovely all about Mum & sunrises & snorkeling & rays! What I want to know is what yarn is on your needles for those handsome sox? Those of us who cannot replenish our souls in tropical places want to do so with our sock knitting! Thanks for sharing. luvc

  92. I was snorkeling off Slaughterhouse Beach (yes really) in Maui on my honeymoon ages ago and was about to grab a rock to steady myself when it opened its eyes…

    The hub heard me scream underwater (as did everyone (thing) ) within a 100 yard radius.

    Was grateful later that I managed NOT to grab it as it was a highly lethal lionfish and would have probably killed me. Bought dive gloves and was WAY more careful after that.

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