Well, it finally came and went. The trip of the year. The long awaited vacay. The much needed respite from the realities of a day job. The getaway to paradise arranged by Tom at Leaird’s Underwater Service.
Was it all that? It was all that and more! Don’t worry though, we still don’t believe that diving is all about the pristine conditions or big expensive trips. But they do have their place and we’re here to bring some of the Bahamas back to you.
It started with the typical long day of travel. Checked bags and carry ons. Layovers and plane changes. Board and deboard. Customs and baggage claim. But we arrived and we had everything. So that was a big relief.
Once all that was complete, we stepped out in the hot island sun and set off on a bus for Orange Hill. Talk about a short trip! It as less than 10 minutes from the airport and right across the street from a beautiful beach. The hotel used to be a plantation that grew a variety of different things in the hot Bahamian sun.
For those interested, the word Bahamas comes from the Spanish “Baja Mar” which means shallow sea. Which it is. Until it isn’t anymore. We dove several sites on the tongue of the Atlantic which is basically where the shallows around the island of 60-80 feet drop off a ledge and go to about 6,500 feet.
Anyway, we hauled everything up to the room and got set for the upcoming three days of dives we had planned. We knew there would be opportunities to grab lunch at Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas where we’d be diving and dinner at the hotel. We didn’t want to spend all our cash eating out so we decided a grocery run would be in order. They say never grocery shop when you’re hungry or you’ll end up buying everything that sounds good. So we struck out to find a restaurant nearby. It being Sunday, a lot of places were closed so we settled on a little Italian cafe and HOLY COW WE PAID $50 FOR THREE HOT SANDWICHES AND SOME SMOOTHIES! The grocery run began to look better and better.
A quick aside, the exchange rate is basically one to one with US dollars so spending your cash is easy and you end up with a rainbow of different monies in your wallet.
We hopped the number 10 bus into town with one of our dive buddies and GOOD GRIEF WE PAID $100 FOR PBJ STUFF, A PACK OF HOT DOGS, A BOX OF GRANOLA BARS, A CASE OF WATER, AND EIGHT RED BULLS! Ouch.
We all seemed to sleep well that night after a dip in the ocean. Neither of us had dove in the ocean yet in our 100 plus dives so we weren’t sure what to expect. There was always the question of getting seasick. What would the current be like?
The next morning we woke up to Ben’s alarm which basically sounds like a nuclear warhead is about to be launched. I could have thrown a pillow at him but reached in the fridge for a Red Bull instead. We had some granola bars and Dramamine for breakfast, then schlepped our dive gear down to join the rest of our group and wait for the bus.
Even on island time, the bus was fairly prompt. The drive to Stuart Cove’s seemed to take forever but in the coming days we realized that this was more of a first day anticipation thing than an actual distance thing. We pulled in and hauled the gear out. The check in and waiver signing was fairly quick given the size of our group and all the different divers running around.
One of our hometown divers, Allie, was doing her internship with Stuart Cove’s. Allie had spent the previous summer with Captain Slate down in Florida and apparently had a blast there too. That experience is definitely on our short list. We were very fortunate on this trip though - we had 13 divers total so we had the boat to ourselves. The dive shop was kind enough to send Allie and our other divemaster, RIcardo, out with us everyday. We even had the same boat captain!
Once we all get acquainted and assigned to our boat, we assemble gear and get a briefing. Ricardo and Allie handled the lines and we were off to our first dive site - The Anthony Bell. There were actually two sunken boats here. The Anthony Bell and The Willaurie. The Willaurie actually sank and the crew made it off and swam to shore. Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas supervised the sinking of the Anthony Bell some years ago to create an artificial reef and dive site. Both are sitting in around 50-55 feet of 86 degree water.
The second dive was at the David Tucker, then over the edge of the tongue of the Atlantic. Visibility was excellent! Watch the blog and our Facebook page for more videos from this dive and the rest of our trip. Including sharks coming soon!
Special thanks to Bobbi Leaird for her excellent topside photography work!