Sea Monkeys?

Aside from larger boat projects, and prior-mentioned provisioning for our upcoming passage, there is an incessant list / de-list process aboard Fayaway. Planning and executing starts slowly, and then nudged along by a small amount of pre-departure anxiety we move more quickly toward moving the sticky notes over to the “completed” side. We are now in the T minus a few days countdown, so we are speeding right along.

Stop completing tasks, and start living them.

John Stewart, Comedian, To graduating class of 2020.
Pre-passage tasks move slowly from left to right as they are completed.

We’ve filled the fuel cans and tanks, re-tested/upgraded our Iridium account for offshore use, updated our ditch bag, cleaned screens and changed filter cartridges (water maker, engine primary & secondary, raw water, etc). We re-rigged our downwind reaching pole and spinnaker, etc. The list goes on. For some tasks we’ve been purposely waiting until closer or just before departure, such as “roll-up / stow dinghy”.

Pursuant to completing one item two days ago, I jumped in with my snorkel gear for some underwater cleaning. Due to quarantine rules we’ve been anchored in the same spot now for eight weeks, allowing ample time for sea creatures to become accustomed and give our floating sanctuary another purpose. Our recently-painted bottom is in pretty good shape, and so I had only found a dozen or so barnacles. (Of course, I still sliced a couple knuckles in the process of scraping them off). However, unpainted (unprotected) surfaces were a bit more fouled with soft growth. Fayaway’s three-blade bronze propeller looked like a fuzzy mop. Ok, I’ll touch it a bit now with the brush, but it really should get more of a scotchbrite treatment later.

Anchored in about 25 feet of water, our Rocna plow has been holding well in the sandy bottom. But from standing on the bow deck we could clearly see a continuous mop of various fuzzy stuff all the way down the chain to the bottom. That sea life won’t slow us down, but imagine the smell of our chain locker after rotting in the dampness for the next couple weeks!? We clearly had to do something.

Before cleaning. Second time since being anchored in Culebra.

Before jumping in with brush and scraper, we saw several fish, ranging in size from six to twelve inches long, feeding around the chain. I wonder what’s so yummy there? I would soon find out.

With Kelly slowly cranking up the chain by hand, I worked at scrubbing between the links. I have no idea what all the various organisms were, but the cloud of organic debris slowly drifted downwind, and the fish had a lovely feeding frenzy. What were they so happily gobbling? Not noticing at first, a slight tingling began on my chest, and then on my legs. Looking carefully, removing my cloudy mask, I realized little shrimp-like creatures (sea monkeys?) crawling and desperately searching for something on which to cling. I immediately swam away, flapping my fins to quickly propel through the cleaner water, while brushing my body and shedding the attackers. Did I get them all off? All seemed tolerable enough for now to return to the chain-cleaning task.

Clean chain means happy anchor locker

With a clean chain now dropped back into the water, I spent another 45 minutes or so swimming around under Fayaway. Between playing tag with the dozen or so resident school of 6-8” fish (some type of “Jack”) I searched and destroyed several more barnacles. Meanwhile the little fish would follow, and dart back and forth toward, and then just as I’d put out my hand, zoom quickly out of reach. I could imagine them daring and shoving each other to get closer (to the large scary human) before running back for safety. Realizing how curious they were about me, I asked Kelly to drop a couple crackers into the water. They’d nibble a bit, but were evidently full after attending our recent chain-cleaning sea-monkey banquet.

Having reached a pinnacle of prune-iness, I climbed the swim ladder and began rinsing with fresh water. Hundreds of tiny shrimp (or sea-monkeys, to use the technical term) began un-clinging and falling beneath onto the deck. Realizing the extents of their desperation to reattach themselves I immediately dropped my swimsuit to see how extensive was this invasion! After much more rinsing and brushing, it seemed most of them were gone. Phew!

So, this afternoon I’ll go back in to play again with my fish friends, as I scour the prop. No doubt they’ll enjoy my presence, or maybe more so the cloud of tasty organic matter left from my scrubbing. I’ll miss those little guys, and I’m sure they’ll also miss being under the shady playground we call Fayaway.

Dreams will drive you, and let you overcome…

Stephen Spielberg, American Filmmaker.
Also found this little guy ~1cm clinging to topsides just above waterline. (thankfully not on me!) Anyone know what species?

8 thoughts on “Sea Monkeys?

  1. nhcarmichael

    Another great post! Picture looks like a newly hatched spiny lobster to me but I’ll defer to smarter people on that one. Dip it in melted butter and see how it tastes?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom Perry

    Answer from a Woods Hole fisheries biologist:

    “I don’t know what species this is, but I’ll throw out a guess as to what type of animal it is. I try to take the position that unless you can prove definitively otherwise, what you see is something completely expected and common for the area. That having been said, I count five “legs” or four legs and a claw – that means brachyuran crab. It looks like it’s in a very early stage of life. Crabs usually have a planktonic larvae stage which looks radically different than the adult. This looks like it’s starting to turn into an adult but has probably not yet transformed into what the final shape will be. A clue (IMO) is that it was discovered “just above waterline”. So…look for adult crabs on the shoreline of that area, perhaps rocks, that are near water but above the waterline. Maybe with a red or mottled red color, although this I am not so sure about (color is not always reliable).”


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carol Carroll

    Love reading about your adventures. You make even cleaning interesting! Let us know when you set sail and what route you are planning so we can follow along. Happy sailing!

    Liked by 1 person

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