As we do every now and then, Mrs Thomson and I took a week off from our real lives to go scuba diving at an undisclosed location. This time, we spent a week on a liveaboard dive boat in the sunny south and while not exactly far from land, we were far from any distraction. For the first time in years – since the last time we were aboard the same boat in 2014 actually – we were disconnected from email, the internet, social media, tv and every other distraction, annoyance and what have you of modern life for seven days. Very refreshing! So if you were wondering why I’ve been quiet lately, that’s the reason.
We saw plenty of my favorite fish, the reef shark, and my second favorite, the nurse shark. When I get around to working on the video I took, I’ll post a really neat shark swim-by on the Sanddiver Books youtube channel. There’s nothing like a curious 7 foot long reef shark coming within touching distance. On a less joyful note, the place we visited was struck by two hurricanes last year, one of which went straight over a few beloved reefs near an uninhabited cay. Those reefs were almost completely destroyed by Mother Nature. The difference between 2014 and this year was stunning. It’s as if a giant scraper turned lush life into an underwater moonscape. They will recover thanks to being in a protected area far from human habitation, but it might take more years than I have left on this Earth before they’re back to the way I remember. Thankfully, the reefs around that cay were the only ones so hard done by. Those on the islands’ leeward sides survived almost intact.
However, the hospitality, cheerfulness and hard work of the boat’s crew was unchanged even if all of them save the captain and the cook (a legend in his own right in the diving business) were new to us. Although we did five dives a day, enough to burn off calories, I’m sure I gained weight from all the food. And of course, below is the obligatory scuba diving author pic, taken last Thursday. If you look closely, you can see how bare the reef is, courtesy of two hurricanes in a row. I was the only object of interest for Mrs Thomson’s camera on that dive!
I did put Without Mercy aside for the week, although by the time we left, I was a tad over 75% done. That should turn into 100% for the first draft in the next two weeks.
The return from our trip to warmer climes has dumped us into one of the more notable cold snaps in recent memory. It’s a small mercy that our part of the Great White North escaped the snow “bomb” that left North America’s east coast with more white stuff than anyone wants. Fortunately, warmer days are in the forecast (relatively warmer, but still well below the freezing point), perhaps even warm enough to risk the odd cross-country ski run without courting frostbite. At least I still have a few warm memories to fall back on as I venture out into our sub-arctic world to take care of the odd errand. Though I confined myself to video during our trip, my lifelong dive buddy took pictures, including a few of me, such as this one:
Trust me, the fish and sea critters were a lot better looking!
I’ve made reasonably decent progress on No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6) since our return last Monday – the first draft is now 25% done, but it’s been a wee struggle to get my mind back into full-time author mode. Being self-employed does not insulate one from the usual post-holiday impulse to procrastinate. But with no other outings or events on the horizon for the remainder of this winter, I’ll have nothing to distract my focus, except watch heavily bundled people walk by outside. Mind you, as much as I’m not a fan of winter, or cold weather in general, I would likely find life in an environment where the seasons are stuck on summer to be just as enervating. Sort of how spending a few weeks on a tropical island sounds nice but living on one full-time could quickly become stale. The grass may be greener on the other side, but a life where one sees only green grass would likely seem too stifling, at least for an easily bored soul such as mine. And that’s why I always heed the ancient bit wisdom that cautions you to be careful what you wish for, since you might get it!
Last week, Mrs Thomson and I took a few days off from our respective travails and indulged in an impromptu visit to one of our favorite places so we could leave the surface behind and blow bubbles over pristine coral reefs. It was our first time there during the off-season (we usually go in the spring), and we experienced the eerie quiet of a place less than one quarter full. But the lack of visitors meant the staff could pamper us all the more, and we were glad once more to see faces that have become very familiar over the years. The water was almost bathtub warm and I dove without a wetsuit all week. And, of course, we over-ate, over-slept and generally indulged in the gentle art of farniente.
In a departure from my usual underwater pastime, I shot video exclusively and took not a single picture. It was just as well that I did, since we encountered so many nurse sharks that I lost count. This fine specimen bade us a fond farewell on our last dive, almost precisely beneath the boat.
The image is an extract from the video I shot of the encounter. You can watch said video on You Tube at the following link Nurse Shark. And yes, in case you’re wondering after seeing the video, it passed within a few inches of me, close enough to touch.
I even managed to write a whole chapter of Without Mercy (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 5) on the airplane while flying to our destination, but couldn’t muster the energy to do more. I’ll be getting back to it shortly.
And now to enjoy the weirdly late summer’s warmth we’re experiencing in my portion of the Great White North.