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Captains Log - Bahamas Aggressor
October 22nd - 29th 2016
Guests - CJ, Eric, Philip, Craig, Steve, Jerry, Mike, Dave, Dennis & Bruce
Sunday - Periwinkle Reef, The Lost Blue Hole & Pillar Wall
Monday - Hole In The Wall, Cut N Run & Tunnel Rock
Tuesday, - Cobia Cage, Monolith Wall & Knucklehead Reef
Wednesday - Cut Thru City, Primo Wall & Cave Rock
Thursday - Kraken, Jakes Hole, Split Coral & Tunnel Rock
Friday - Barracuda Shoals
Water Temperature 27-30 Degree C / 80-85 Degree F
Exposure Suit - Optional
Bathing Suit - Required!
Saturday October 22nd, 10 eager divers watched from a bar balcony as we made the final preparations to the boat then with cheery smiles we welcomed them aboard. A group that had grown from Jerrys initial interest in diving, captivating his industry colleagues imagination, spurring them on one by one they achieved their certification, for some this was their 15th Annual trip and we were privileged they had chosen us, The Bahamas Aggressor.
Busily they went about setting up their equipment and once they had settled into their staterooms, we gathered in the salon for a welcome meeting with drinks and scrumptious snacks, past stories were recanted and humour flourished, continuing until the chime of the dinner bell.
Chef Rob had prepared a delicious meal, seared pork loin with carrot puree sauce, sautéed green beans and garlic roast potatoes, his Italian flare brought to each delicacy he delivers, though satisfied each of them made room for a smallish slice of handmade chocolate cake, topped off with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and coconut.
This lively bunch, unusually an all male group headed up to the sundeck as we eased out of our home port, headed 10 miles east of Nassau to anchor up close to our first dive site. The journey was calm with a light breeze, laughter and frivolity danced on the wind, as the sun set the stars twinkled in the night sky all consuming.
As is often the case a spectacular sunrise greeted us as we awoke, the warmth from the sun and the fresh scent of salt water on the breeze. Travelling less than a mile we anchored at Periwinkle, a shallow site in Bahamian shallow seas, Baha literally means shallow seas, a perfect location for our check out dive, time to get reacquainted with equipment, new dive toys and brush up on buoyancy skills.
Periwinkle boasts two large beautiful coral pinnacles which are carpeted with an assortment of coloured Christmas Tree worms, Anemone and Corkscrew Anemone, are in abundance. A breathtaking site without shelter had championed against Hurricane Matthew. One of the Anemone shared its treasure, a shy Anemone shrimp crept forwards for photos. Hidden in a gully a Yellow Ray snoozed whilst above Porcupine and Scrolled File fish busied themselves with their morning activities, a ginormous sleepy Channel Clinging crab was nestling itself into a rather small space, no doubt after an eventful evening out on the reef. A Whiptail ray was posing for final pictures just underneath the boat as we made our ascent.
With Anchor up and lines in, warm muffins straight from the oven were devoured as we travelled but a short distance to the Lost Blue Hole. This site is completely unprotected, a deep cavern 180 ft deep and 100 ft wide literally in the middle of nowhere, a scattering of coral heads and turtle grass surround it and are likened to an oasis in a desert, the plethora of marine life is outstanding, never a disappointment, we are greeted by a family of nurse sharks and reef sharks cruise by wondering upon the commotion, Rough-tail and Southern rays carefully navigate landing and taking off not unlike a busy airport, a dark shadow blocks the sun for just a moment as a Loggerhead Turtle passes by.
Divers return from the deep, smiles beaming and hurry to discover what magic they have captured, such potential for excellent footage from unique models, little editing needs to be done, the bell beckons once again and lunch is served, with full bellies our divers retire to the sundeck to soak up some sun.
Two fantastic dives in, ladders up and engines purring we head almost 3 hours and 35 miles Southeast. The Exumas run along the Eastern edge of the Great Bahama Bank and are splint into 3 regions, the Northernmost, the Exuma Cays, is where we are headed. The interior or West waters are protected, shallow and calmer with the Eastern being the deep ocean water. Captain Dave carefully navigates Highborn Cut and the crew pick up the mooring at Pillar Wall, the first of our Exuma wall dives, delving into the deep Caribbean Reef sharks cruise by checking us out curious as to what is invading their watery kingdom.
After the night dive and true to the weather report the East winds are picking up, we leave the Exumas behind and travel further East, 3 hours and 30 miles to Eleuthera Island, Wemyss Bight where we seek shelter and protection whilst we explore her exquisite dive sites. Eleuthera is a large inhabited island which in Greek means freedom. Picking up the mooring at Hole in the Wall, the guests and crew retire to bed for a delicious nights sleep.
Daylight breaks, delving into the inviting crystal waters, gliding effortlessly through large swim throughs which cascade you out into the big blue, as you glance back to view the magnificence of the wall your breath is taken away as you sense the enormity of it all.
Searching around the top of the reef we are greeted by a very friendly and photogenic spotted moray who is more than happy to have several pictures taken, bathing in the limelight, turning just in time to see a juvenile Hawksbill cruise past with a very perplexed look upon his face, we must look quite curious to him! Making our way back to the boat we glide over the top of a snoozing Southern Sting Ray, leaving him to relax we make our accent, just in time to hear the lunch bell ring calling the guests to the sundeck.
Arriving at Cut and Run we brief the guests on the origins of the site, previously the Bahamas had been a haven for drug runners who would often deliberately crash a small plane laden with illegal contraband into the sea and once they knew it was safe to approach they would dive for their loot, a great Boys photo op!
Onto Tunnel Rock for our afternoon and transition dive into the night dive, as the sun sets the night creatures begin to stir, Hermit Crabs the size of footballs start their march across the sand, Yellow Headed Jawfish dance in the moonlight, Spotted Lobsters creep out from their hide away holes and begin their hunt, Yellow Sting Rays hover, glide and reverse with precision, flamingo tongues gently sway as their coral fans are rippled by a gentle current, Brittle stars come out to play as the Groupers begin their hunt for snacks, leaving them to their evenings activities its time for a hot shower on the back deck and a comfortable bed to relive the adventures of the day.
Morning is here again, and Cobia Cage beckons, a huge stately construction devised to contain Cobia, it had been a successful project which was unfortunately halted when the cage was destroyed by a previous hurricane and all the stock was lost, nevertheless the structure is impressive adorned with Arrow Crabs, Fire-worms, Banded Coral Shrimps and Lettuce Leaf Slugs, as you glance up dozens of Atlantic Spade Fish circle, a photographers dream is born, whist at the base the unique looking Blue Parrot fish potter around, there is a magnificent wall to view, if you can tear yourself away.
Off to Monolith Wall, a stupendous wall dive, splashing into the waters, free falling into weightlessness reminds one of skydiving, descending down to where large Rough-tail rays glide over the sand and Garden Eels pop up like prairie dogs, Spiney and Spotted Lobsters hide in plain site and out of the corner of your eye a 2 inch Saddled Blennie is spied, a gentle ascent and safety stop give pause to gaze upon the passing Hawksbill Turtle.
The remainder of the day is spent at Knucklehead, the reef is dusted in sand, not unlike a fresh sprinkle of snowfall, the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and yet as nightfalls squid play in the moonlight, they ink at one photographer who gets too close, fortunately he captures this spectacular footage which we viewed post dive.
Bright and early we head to Cut Thru City, a maze of cuts that meander out to the supreme wall and later onto Primo wall, each wall is unique in its own way, the terrain is vast and the potential to catch site of an Eagle ray and Black Tip shark is promising, ending our day at Cave Rock, a mountain rising from the sea bed, crustaceans found in each nook and cranny.
First splash of the day is at Kraken, several coral mounds housing all the usual suspects with Yellow rays hovering in the sand, next onto Jakes Hole which is awash with colour, a tidal reef abundant with diversity supporting a plethora of marine life, magnificent Nassau Groupers mingle amongst the Tigger Groupers and where Yellow Snappers huddle together in alcoves, a splash of Blue Chromis flutter upon the coral heads as the Creole Wrasse dash by, catching a glimpse of an antenna we find a cluster of Banded Shrimp hanging upside down.
The highlight of our itinerary is our shark dive which is hosted this week at Split Coral, we are immediately surrounded by Caribbean Reef sharks, an opportunity to get up close and personal to these energetic creatures, cameras are ablaze attempting to keep up with all the action, juvenile and adults compete for attention in this fast paced dive sensation, as if this could be topped we are given a surreal display of 2 young Green Turtles later on that night at Tunnel Rock and a monster sized Spiney Lobster strutting proudly around his territory showing serious attitude.
The end of the week arrives in a flash and our final dives are spent at Barracuda Shoals, a vast city of coral pinnacles, shallow diving allowing for extended bottom time to savour the last few hours, ablaze with an assortment of Green and Hawksbill Turtle, Southern, Rough tail and Yellow Rays all buzzing around frolicking and playing, consumed in their own world they pay no attention to our presence until we come across a very large Cow Fish acting all coy, we end our final dive just as a massive Channel Clinging crab ventures out for the day.
Ascending from the last dive, all the gear is washed and put out to dry, as we travel back lunch is served and preparations made for the Cocktail Party which is a chance for the guests and crew to reflect on the weeks adventures, a vibrant crowd of great friends whom we hope to have the pleasure of entertaining again, thank you for the bubbles…………
The crew of the Bahamas Aggressor