A Perfect Day (Fishing, Snorkeling, Conch Salad)

A few weekends ago, I enjoyed A Perfect Day.

It was a weekend morning and absolutely beautiful.

Morning sky.

Leaving with friends, we piled into a boat and headed out to sea just before 9:00 a.m. for some fishing.  Into the deep water on the east side of the island, we baited the rods with ballyhoo.

Ready to cast.

The boys fished off the stern, and the girls lounged in the sun on the bow.  After we had trolled along for a while with no luck, we pulled in the lines to check them.  Sure enough, somebody had stolen our bait but avoided getting hooked.

After a sea creature’s stealthy snack.

We re-baited, re-cast and resumed our respective fishing and lounging positions.  Even on the sea, it was a hot day.  (It’s been above 90 degrees lately.)  We girls were ready to cool off after our sun-bathing.  However, trolling through water several thousand feet deep, we didn’t want to be shark bait!  So we used the on-board saltwater hose to rinse off a little.

Eventually, still having caught nothing, we headed back in through one of the cuts to the protected banks on the western side of the cays.  No worries, Mon!  Fishing is just an excuse to get out on the water, and there’s always the next day to stock up on groceries from the sea, so we were just enjoying being out.

As we entered the cut, we saw the freight boat cruising along nearby.

Bow sitting high means it’s not holding much freight at the moment.

We rounded the corner, and I breathed a sigh of pleasure as the spectacular hues of the shallower water came into view.

Sandbars and water of differing depths creates the palette.

We were still several miles from home, but enjoyed cruising through the cays.  Unfortunately, not everything is pure pleasure around here.  One of the little rock formations hosts a cross as a memorial (and cautionary sign) to boaters who wrecked there, with severe injuries and death.

Side view of the cross.

We were going to stop for lunch at a neighboring island but realized none of us had money on us!  So we went home for a quick re-group.  I let Angel out to potty and gave her some attention, while Beau gathered up our snorkel gear, and I remembered to get the underwater case for my camera.  We grabbed some limes and an onion to assist with a seaside snack later, and we were off again!

We cruised along the island chain to a nearby cay for lunch at their marina.  Tasty!  On our way back, we stopped off to snorkel at one of the amazing underwater caves.  On the heels of the winter months, I haven’t been in the water much.  On this hot day, it was delightfully refreshing and starting to warm up as summer enfolds us.

All the little fish swarming us when we first jumped in.

Yours truly, just under the surface.

Inside the cave now, with streaks of sunshine through the water.

On the other side of the cave, a barracuda cruises by.

My beau is a seasoned pro and hovers upside down as he checks something out.

Above the water’s surface, looking up at the cave.

Yours truly, holding on and taking a rest from swimming – the current was strong that day!

Another entrance/exit hole underwater.

More fish.

Above the water, near the cave’s entrance.

Coral, just outside the cave, thus the better underwater lighting.

After the refreshing swim and beautiful underwater scenery, we clambered back into the boat and headed for home.  Regrouping at the dock, my Beau brought out some conch that he’d saved.  “Saving” conch means punching a hole through the shell, stringing a line through them to hold them in place, then dropping them into the water and tying them up in some shallow hiding spot, keeping them alive and fresh for a day or two.

Sorry, I was letting the dog out for the beginning of this process, so I didn’t get any pictures for you! If you don’t know what a conch looks like, check here.  It’s pronounced CONK.

Bringing out the conch shells, my beau used a hammer to knock in just the right spot to make a hole in the hard shell, slid his knife in to deftly sever the muscle from the shell, then reached in the opening to pull out the meat.  This is a true art – looks far easier to do than it is! – and deserves its own post one of these days.

The hammer to make the hole.

After pulling the meat, my Beau and our friend cleaned the conch and began to dice them up into small bite-sized pieces.

Slice and dice.

Conch on left, diced up above the knife.

Up close.

Into the bowl went lots of diced tomatoes and sliced onions.

Adding the diced conch.

Lots and lots of fresh lime juice.

Next is the oh-so-important pepper for flavorful heat – the number of peppers depend on the group’s tolerance for heat.  These are bird peppers, native to the island, and a little goes a long way!

Chopping up the pepper.

Bird peppers, up close.

And the final hurrah, adding some “sour” orange.

Squeezing the fresh juice into the bowl.

Give it a good stir and the conch salad is ready and delicious!  Locally, this is referred to as “scorch” which is short for “scorched conch” or “scored conch” (as in scoring it with a knife).  Visitors will sometimes refer to it as ceviche, which it is, but if you want to sound like a local, don’t call it that.  🙂

After a light snack, we cleaned up and regrouped yet again for dinner:  conch salad, lobster (from the freezer since it’s out of season) and mahi mahi (from a catch last week since we came up empty-handed on this day).  With plenty of good wine and conversation.  A Perfect Day!

4 Responses to A Perfect Day (Fishing, Snorkeling, Conch Salad)

  • Sarah says:

    Fabulous! I can taste the scorch looking at these pictures!

  • Dawn says:

    Wonderful! So glad the very taste came through the internet. 😉 Thanks for your comment.

  • Lois Hughes says:

    Love the photos, especially of the light blue sea. Love seeing you in the water and all the fish. I've always loved snorkeling, have done it many times in the Caribbean. And I've also had conch many times while there as well. This post transports me to a different and beautiful way of life…and completely relaxes me. Thanks so much, Lois

  • Dawn says:

    Lois, thanks so much for your comment! Sounds like you have great island memories – glad to help transport you back for a little mental escape! 🙂

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