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Sailing with Charlie: Immerse Yourself into Another World

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One of the pleasures of Caribbean cruising is being able to jump into the warm clear water and take a relaxing, therapeutic swim. Charlie encourages all his charter boat guests to take the plunge at every opportunity. “But what about the sharks? I saw a program on TV… ?” Charlie’s response is always: “You’re more likely to give birth to a two-headed goat than suffer a shark attack.”

Confidence may be slightly restored, as Charlie advises to take a swim to another level and don a mask, snorkel and fins for a glimpse into another world.

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

Most lifestyles don’t offer the opportunity for you to immerse yourself into another world, except in the movies. Snorkeling is indeed fascinating but many have a preconceived idea of what a great snorkeling experience should be.

Charlie has often heard disappointing comments like, ‘There’s nothing there; where are all the big fish?’

 But there is so much more than ‘big fish.’ Charlie is prompted to reply, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”  The colors, shapes and sizes of all the corals; the staghorn, elkhorn, pillar and star corals are just a few; the soft corals like the beautiful purple sea fans and the gorgonians. There’s the disappearing Christmas tree worm, the feather duster, the sea urchin; Then there’s the flounder – master of camouflage; the sting ray, sucking its food from the sand; the spiny lobster with its prehistoric fascination – the list goes on.

Sailing Blind

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One also has to wonder at what the underwater life thinks of us – the obtrusive visitor into its world.

Probably it doesn’t think about it at all. After all, our existence is nothing but a calamity compared to the lives of the species of the underwater world. We drop anchors and chains on their habitat, we pollute the water, we take certain species to eat; we even throw junk food into the water for them to feed on, not realizing we’re probably slowly killing them. But do they bear us a grudge? Are they hostile to our senselessness? The answer is no. Underwater life is not equipped with reason, sentiment or emotion. It instinctively hunts to eat, to preserve its life and to procreate – that’s it!

No, Flipper isn’t always smiling at us – that’s just the way he looks. Barry the cuda isn’t vicious, that’s just the way he looks. And whatever happens to the underwater world, it just takes it all in its stride, whether it be good, bad or ugly.

The human race has made monumental strides in the last 150 years. We shoot ourselves into space and we talk and see each other across the world by video link. We know what’s going on in almost every corner of the world and we’re able to clone ourselves (except that it’s illegal). We have learned how to make annihilating weapons… BUT we haven’t learned how to live with each other in peace and harmony. We’re too smart for our own good.

Charlie always marvels at the tranquility of the underwater scene; nothing aggressive here. So, for neophyte snorkelers and SCUBA divers just remember – nothing will attack you under the sea except perhaps by mistaken identity. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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