Bahamas Sept 2007

 

01/27/09

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Sept 2007

In recent months I have renewed my zest for SCUBA diving.  Having recently completed my PADI Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver, I decided to give myself an early birthday present and take a live aboard dive trip to the Bahamas.  I signed up for a week long trip with Blackbeards Cruises.

I flew out to Freeport, Grand Bahama on the 19th.  It took 4 flights and about 12 hours to get there.  I am amazed that my luggage made it after flying Tucson, Dallas, Ft Myers, Miami then Freeport.

I got in to Freeport at about 2130 hours and caught a cab out to my hotel.  I stayed at at the Flamingo Bay Hotel on Taino Beach.  Nice old hotel with an agreement with the Taino Beach Resort to utilize the beach and festivities of the resort.

The next morning I enjoyed the patio dining on the beach.  had a nice breakfast with the scent of the ocean and even caught the sight of a waterspout just off shore.

I was not to report to the boat until Saturday the 22nd so I thought I would go see the sights, hit the beach and do a Caribbean chillout.  Not much in Freeport/ Port Lucaya.  Even less in hurricane season.  Not to many tourist round while I was there.  A few shops were open so I bought my souvenirs and gifts.

I then still had to much time on my hands so I started to imbibe on a bit of the local flavor... of RUM.  See, there are these very evil little things called "Buckets".  Well the one that found its way to my pallet was called Pirate Juice.  All I remember is it is about several gallons of RUM squeezed into a small bucket with a splash of something fruity for color.  Well number one went down very well... and I remember ordering number two, taking one sip and next thing it was empty...

I was most sick

I thought I would not be able to make it to the boat the next day since I woke the next morning to dizzy to stand.  Well, I managed to pack my goods and get a taxi to the boat.  It was a rough couple of days but I was able to actually eat my first solid food soon after heading out to sea.

Blackbeards runs a fleet of 65 foot sailboats built to carry a max of 26 passengers, crew and dive gear.  It is equipped with a dive air compressor, galley and several heads.  It was not luxury, but it was well suited for a barebones dive boat.  The boat we were on was the Sea Explorer.

I reported aboard on the 22nd about 1300.  To bad I didn't know there was a BBQ at the pier or I would not have spent $14 on a BLT  that I could not choke down.  I was shown to the boat and was given my berth in the very most forward compartment.  Cabin 1 was about 6 feet long, triangular with the foot end about 6 feet wide and the aft portion about 8-10 feet wide.  There was 4 berths in this cabin and luckily only 3 guys staying in there.  The head was in the adjoining compartment so we would not have to go up on deck then over to another compartment... that was nice.  The racks were tight and not all that comfy while the boat was sitting still.  They became more comfortable in the rolling sea since you were being "massaged" by it and moving so much you would not develop pressure spots. 

After loading up and introductions, we headed out to sea and were diving within a couple of hours.  My pictures are spotty thorough the trip.  I am still getting used to the thing and it has inherent battery problems.  the camera battery basically only lasts one dive.  I did have 2 batteries but did not always have tome to get things dried off, the case opened and the batteries changed.  I mad a few dives with a dead camera, dying during or didn't bother all together.  I think I got some cool shots.

Most dives were fairly similar... all coral heads that were either tall or short, big or small or deep or shallow.  Most of the life there was contiguous from site to site so I'm not sure where most shots actually were taken.  We did do a few wrecks.  The big wrecks were saved for the end and unfortunately we were weathered out.  The crew decided to call off the last day of diving.

Well to the diving... Most people came aboard in couples or at least dive pair buddies.  I had none so found another solo traveler and we decided to dive together. His name is Bill Mixon from NC.  Bill had been on several Blackbeards so it was great to learn the ropes from him. 

 

There was so much to look at and take pictures of... I took over 400 photos.

Unfortunately not all turned out to well...

I just was addicted to all the colors of the Coral...

The fish... still don't know most of their names...

Big Barrel Sponges

Brain Corals

Spotted Eel, Sting Rays and Lobsters

Little blennies poking out of the sand

Wrecks... This one is the Hesperus in the day

Cool conglomerations of corals, color and texture

Bimini Road... the theory is that it was the road to Atlantis

Lost anchors...  Hum, maybe lost in some horrible storm?

didn't see any "cement shoes"

Port Call in Alice Town, Bimini

 

Shark Feeding dive!  this one was quite a gas.  The site is called Bull Run and the blackbeards cruise feeds the sharks here on each trip. they have the system quite set so it is relatively safe.  All the divers suit up and get ready to go.  We all get in the water in rapid succession and get down to the site.  The site is a group of large coral heads that form a natural amphitheater type area. There is a mooring point in the middle that the divemaster secures a line and a float to the surface.   Once all the divers are in place and settled on their knees the float is sent up, the bait ball is attached and pulled down in to the ensuing frenzy. It was quite interesting to see about 5-6 reef sharks, several large grouper and tons of smaller fish attack the bait ball.  The big grouper seemed more aggressive than the sharks! There was one huge white grouper that would make a quick move in on the bait and all the other fish would scatter.  The Shark with the hook in his mouth was seen on several of our dives that week... wonder if he was looking for handouts...

 

In many dives other divers had seen the sea turtles.  Bill and I had not seen any o any dive and I was bummed.  I don't know why we were not seeing as much... maybe we didn't stray far enough from the mooring to get to see them. 

What turned out to be our last dive for the trip was by far the most incredible.  We did a night dive on the Hesperus wreck and were treated to many many sea turtles as they were returning from feeding in the deep water.  They come to the wreck to sleep for the night. 

The turtles were being quite bothered by the plethora of Remoras that accompanied them.  One of the big guys was being brutally harassed by one that kept trying to bite at his neck.  He was trying to do everything to knock them off.  He even was swimming  into the sandy bottom to try to shake them.  The turtles that managed to get close to the wreck buried their heads in the creases and under debris to get some shut eye.

 

In the wreck we also found a rarity in these parts... Lion Fish.  The Lion Fish is not indigenous to this area and is parasitically infesting the area.  They are bright colorful and have fins that are quite long and feathery.  They also are very toxic.  It is believed that they were introduced to the Carolinas area from private fish tanks and have no natural enemies in this part of the world.  The research finds that nothing in this area will eat them.  This is quite concerning for the health and welfare of the area.

More about the Lion fish and research

 

Once the night dive on the Hesperus was completed, we all bedded down for the night.  The weather started kicking up so the crew had a long night dodging squalls.  Partly motoring and setting sails for the smoothest ride possible.  When I awoke the next morning it was dead calm... we had motored into port.  We tried to head out once but is was still quite rough.  The Boat tied up in Freeport and we just hung out there in the market place.  Made for quite a boring day.  Few people decided to leave the boat and check into their hotels early.    I mostly napped and got my dive gear rinsed off, dried and ready to pack away.

The morning of the 28th we were back at Blackbeards dock and it was time to go.  I walked my luggage back down the street to the Flamingo for the night since I was flying out on the 29th.  The flight home was uneventful except for running into a friend that was returning from a dive trip to the Cenotes in the Yucatan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

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