...You can take a picture of your anchor and chain while standing on the boat in 10 feet of water. It also helps that the water in the Bahamas is so crystal clear. No I didn't cheat and take these pictures with my underwater camera! They were taking while standing on the boat looking over....
the STERN! Not the usual place to see you anchor!!! The current was swinging the boat around and taking it's nice sweet time. With no wind to push the beast or to even make ripples on the surface of the water, it was easy to spot the anchor at the back of the boat beside the dinghy!
Blue holes are a fairly unique thing to see. They are places where the depth drops suddenly. The dramatic increase in the depth makes the water very blue.
Dean’s Blue Hole is located in a town named, Dean, on Long Island. Actually town is not the right word. Dean is more like a small section on the Queen’s Highway without any stores, businesses, or even a gas station. If it weren’t for the sign, you wouldn’t even realize it was there. Its claim to fame is its blue hole, which at 663 feet, is the deepest in the entire world.
The best part of this particular blue hole is that the cliff surrounding it extends for about 100 yards and protects it from the ocean. That means there is never a swell or even waves to deal with. You can come and swim almost any time except during a strong outgoing tide. Then it creates a whirlpool effect that can suck you down under the water. Three people who died here are memorialized with these statues.
This picture gives you a view of what the cliff protecting the hole looks like.
Notice the dramatic color change. As you can see it is only a few feet from the sand to the big drop off. The drop is so steep, you have to put on all your snorkel gear while you are sitting in the sand and then crawl or walk like a duck to the deep part.
The white structure in the center is a diving platform that has several lines leading to the bottom. I am not sure how they were able to secure the lines on the bottom. Going down 663 feet with dive gear is not possible, so I have to wonder how did they do it??? Every year they hold a free diving competition here. They say it is easy to dive down because the air compresses in your lungs as you go deeper making you sink quickly. The tricky part is the fight to get back up. You have to kick hard to force yourself back up while your lungs are screaming for air.
We snorkeled the area. There is about a 30 foot drop off that rings the deep hole. The fish like to swim in the shallower water as there are a few corals growing here. If you look back at the first picture, it is easy to see. The water over the 30 foot drop is a lighter color. We took that picture before we snorkeled. After this drop , it drops again straaaaight down. No way to touch the bottom here!
This is a “Lookie Bucket” aka an underwater viewer. Bascially it is a five gallon bucket with the bottom replaced with clear plastic. When placed on top of the water, it acts like a snorkeling mask allowing you to see what is underwater. Sure you could just put on your mask and look, but then your face gets all wet. If I am going to get wet, I want to make it worth my while. I want to see something pretty.
While we were at Conception Island, I swam underwater and took this picture looking up through the bottom of the lookie bucket. Dad was standing in the water looking down through the bucket. Notice his dry hair. :-)
It is especially handy when the water is clear and you want to check your anchor. In the Bahamas the bottom is often sand and grass. While sand provides good holding, grass can have very poor holding because your anchor can’t dig in. Each time you anchor, you need to check to be sure your anchor is dug in and will hold you. No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night to discover they are dragging, esp. in anchorage with other boats around. When Don and my Dad went to check out the anchor in Long Island, they discovered that the anchor was on top of the grass just sitting there looking shiny. NOT conducive for a good night’s sleep. We obviously moved to a better spot with less grass.
Here is what our anchor currently looks like. As you can see the bottom is a mixture of sand and grass. The anchor has dug in and will hold us nicely in place.
The lookie bucket has other sweet uses as well. You can check out the bottom to see if there are rock ledges that lobster might hide under or if there is coral with fish. This is what the water looked like at Lee Stocking Island. Looking without the bucket, you can tell that something is there, but is it grass, coral, rock or something else?.........
Turns out it was two submerged tanks with coral starting to grow and fish swimming all around. There were even a few sea anomies.
I confess I'm a wimp and I'm just a tiny bit scared of heights. (I did master going to the top of the mast on my sailboats. :) But, NO way would I ever climb up a steep rock ledge and jump through an opening barely wider than the width of my arms spread open....Especially when that opening is jagged rock! But a few French Canadian teenagers were brave enough. They climbed tot the top lickity split and jumped right on through and then rushed back up to do it again. The braveness of youth!!! I was inside of Thunderball and used the underwater camera, which also does video, to video their jump. For a low megapixel camera, I thought it did a nice job. Check it out!
Caribbean lobster are very different from Maine lobster. The most obvious difference being that the Maine lobster has claws while the Caribbean lobster does not. The claws are the sweetest and best part, imho. It is what Mainers use to make their delicious lobster rolls.
To catch a Maine lobster, you put out a baited lobster trap. Then you haul the trap up and oh so carefully remove the lobster and put bands on the claws so you don't get pinched. No one gets in the water 'cause it is just way to um shall we say ch-ch-ch-chilly. Most folks just run to the store and buy a couple for dinner. Not a biggie.
Here, you could buy them from a local fisherman, but that takes the fun out of it. To catch one, you must go swimming. The water is warm enough so that isn't a problem. The hard part is that the lobster like to hide under rocks and ledges. You aren't allowed to use a tank, dive down and walk around to find them. You must swim around looking for a rock or ledge, hold your breath, dive down and look to see if one is hiding. Then you come up for air, dive back down, aim your spear and shoot. Hopefully you got him. If not it is up for more air, hold your breath and dive down to try again. It is not easy to do, trust me.
We went out for our first try at Black Point. Pay Dirt!! Don got four lobster!!!! He has been officially nicknamed, Don, da mon!!! We shared two and ate two. We steamed the tails. Ummm! Ummm! Yummy!!!
Can't wait to try again on Long Island!!
Nordhavns have definitely been all over the Bahamas in 2013! We met up with Jim and Julie on Just Believe in West Bay and traveled together all the way to Georgetown. Randy and Rebecca on Argo met up with us in Big Majors as did Nigel and his family on Silver Spray.
Thunderball Grotto is a small cave on an island near Staniel Cay. It is a wonderful place to snorkel at slack tide. The current rips through here, so going at slack tide is a must. We like going at slack low. As you will see even at low tide there isn't much room between your head and the jagged rocks that come down. At high tide, you would have to swim down under the water to get below the rocks and go through the opening~ Not something I want to do! There are beautiful corals and fish both inside and outside the grotto. It is fun to swim through the grotto and around the island. If the tide starts to pick up even a little, it is a quick drift dive giving you the desire to do it multiple times. A few crazy folks decided to climb up the rock to the top and then jump through the hole at the top which is only a few feet across. For all you James Bond fans, yes, this is the place where they pulled 007 up through the hole in the top with a helicopter in the movie Thunderball.
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is an exciting place to be. With trails to hike and lots of snorkeling sites, there is more to do than is possible in a week. Here you tie up to a mooring ball and just hang out with friends in between exploring. We had a blast with Jim and Julie on Just Believe and Barb and Mike on Goosebumps.