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Bahamas Aggressor- August 5th-12th, 2017
Air Temp. 77-84+ F
Water Temp. 83-86F
Captain: David Patterson
2nd Captain: Matt Rutledge
Engineer: James McKenzie
Instructor: Alexandra Quint
Instructor: Caitilin Tincher
Chef: Marco Moroni
Kim, Alex, Joe, Robert, David T, Andrea, John T, Carrie, John S, Ilsia, David H, Patricia, Fred, Pete
Sunday- Hogfish Reef (2), Mini Wall (2), Sugar Wreck (1 + night dive)
Monday – G. Woods Wonderland (1), Shark Paradise (2), Sugar Wreck (1 + night)
Tuesday – Mount Olympus (drift), El Capitan (2), Shark Paradise (1)
Wednesday- Silver Fox Ledge (2), Hogfish reef (Night)
Thursday –El Dorado, Shark Paradise (2), Gary Woods Wonderland (1 + night dive)
Friday – Reds’ Ledge (1), Sherwood Forest (1)
Day 1 August 5th
The Bahamas Aggressor enthusiastically welcomed 14 guests aboard the vessel on Saturday August 5th at 4pm. While most of the divers knew each other previously from their dive club, the other four were welcomed with open arms and soon found themselves amongst a group of members who considered them part of the club.
The evening started off with a dinner of barramundi accompanied by a mildly spiced tomato-based pasta, followed by a panna cotta prepared from scratch by Chef Marco. Afterwards, the crew and guests bid farewell to Grand Bahama and made their way into the open ocean. Atop the sun deck, guests were treated to dazzling views of their port-of-entry getting smaller with each passing knot, as a setting sun filled the sky with colorful rays and a gentle breeze blowing out of the east. It was a perfect end to the start of a week full of anticipation and adventure.
Day 2 August 6, 2017 Sunday
Starting off the day on the early side, the Bahamas Aggressor left the overnight anchorage site towards West End. Guests had the opportunity to watch the sunrise before Chef Marco served them a hearty breakfast made-to-order.
After watching the introduction deck briefing video, instructor Caitilin jumped for the mooring at the first dive site, Hogfish Reef. While a bit of current and wind made for a bit of a bumpy start, divers were greeted by lemon and reef sharks upon their first entry into the water. Great visibility allowed divers to swim with Ocean Triggers, schools of tiny Damsels, Creole Wrasse, and of course, Hogfish.
After the second dive, one guest, Robert, celebrated his 500th drive Aggressor style by the captain making a cake out of him as the other 13 guests looked on in laughter.
During lunch, everyone was treated to a feast of curried chicken, seasoned eggplant, rice and salad.
After lunch, we headed over to Mini Wall where a Goliath Grouper was waiting below the boat for guests to marvel and take pictures of its colossal size.
For the evening and night dives, we headed to one of the most popular sites on the itinerary, the Sugar Wreck. During the afternoon, massive schools of snapper and grunts gathered around numerous areas of the wreck. Due to its maximum depth of 25 feet, the sunlight overhead created beautiful light patterns on the wreck’s and hull.
It was the night dive where the wreck awakened with life as its resident Loggerhead Turtle made an appearance, surfacing for air, then swimming back down with divers spectating all around. Spotted moray eels poked their heads out of the nooks and crannies, while sting rays crept by in the sand. Slipper lobsters were spotted hanging out around the wreck’s stern while some large puffer fish slipped in and out of site amongst the wreckage.
Around 9:15pm once all the guests were out of the water, the crew wrapped each diver in a hot towel, fresh from the dryer, then were offered the signature after-dinner-drink of hot chocolate and Bailey’s.
By 9:30, the boat headed over to its nightly anchorage for everyone to get a good night’s sleep.
Day 3 August 7, 2017 Monday
The morning started in a typical fashion. The Bahamas Aggressor left the shallow anchorage site and headed towards Gary Woods Wonderland, a dive site the crew installed the week before charters began in Grand Bahama last April. Located on the western side of Mini Wall 2, guests were treated to a drift dive that took them almost a mile, passing coral heads and small swim-throughs.
They saw three reef sharks and various schools of fish swimming in and out along the top of the reef. Lone spade fish were seen weaving inside sandy gullies, and a few schools of large Horse-Eye Jacks made an appearance right before everyone did their safety stops.
The next dive brought everyone to Shark Paradise to hang out with sharks and explore the reef. The metal triangle was filled with bait, hung off of the starboard bow, and soaked into the sea for the sharks to circle around, all for the viewing pleasure of the excited divers.
Half a dozen reef sharks hungrily circled round the triangle surrounded by schools of snapper. Along the reef, spiny lobsters poked their heads out of holes as juvenile Damsel fish swam around, making it difficult, but not impossible for the guests and the boat photographer to snap the sparkling blue spots located all over their tiny little fish bodies.
After the Mexican-themed lunch, guests and crew took a small siesta. Before the next dive, the triangle was filled with more bait, in the hopes that more sharks would appear. The gamble paid off: lemon sharks hung around the triangle and in the sand, all to the surprise of many of the guests who had never seen a shark in real life before this trip! They especially liked the tiny cleaner fish swimming in between the shark’s jaw and teeth giving the shark a mistakenly sinister appeal—jawesome!
In the late-afternoon, small storms swept through the path of the boat. For the safety (and delight) of both guests and crew, we moored up at the Sugar Wreck for the second afternoon and night dives. During the day, divers made their way south-east to a second area of the wreck they had not discovered the previous evening.
Finally, it was the night dive that brought the most diverse of creatures. Within minutes of jumping in, divers got to see a Scorpion Fish and a Loggerhead Turtle descending the surface after getting a quick breath of air. During the dive, two more Scorpion fish could be seen hanging out in the middle of the wreck. Large and small Puffer Fish that normally stuck around the wreck’s stern were popping in and out in various different areas. The Loggerhead showed up to swim with divers before retiring underneath one of the fallen rafters to have a good night’s sleep. Two more turtles, including the small Green Turtle, Pugsley, were seen going up and down from the surface. Around 30 minutes under water, Video Pro Caitilin and Photo Pro AQ spotted the wreck’s octopus, slithering along the wreck’s starboard side, stretching its tentacles and blending in with the surrounding coral.
Guests happily exited the water around 8:45pm to hot towels and hot chocolate with Bailey’s. En route to the night anchorage, very few divers were still awake to share stories about their day. Most were in bed, looking forward to more exciting dives to come.
Day 4 August 8, 2017
As the sun came up over the sea, guests eagerly awaited their coveted morning drift dive. Once a dive site with an actual mooring, Mt. Olympus has become a fun drift dive site ever since the line was taken. The current ranges from barely a sweep, to rip-roaring. On this day it was right in the middle.
Instructor Caitilin followed behind the group of 13 in the dinghy, newly minted The Chariot of Care, for almost one nautical mile as the divers made their way through the deep site. Passing by coral heads, and a deep sandy drop, looking overhead divers saw sites that can only be compared to landing on a planet or the moon. Eventually, a lone Eagle Ray about 4ft in diameter passed by almost 30 feet below the divers.
Back on board Chef Marco baked up a lovely treat of banana bread that both guests and crew helped themselves to multiple portions.
The second and third dives (before and after lunch) took place at the dive site El Capitan. The goal was to see more Eagle Rays and enjoy one of the few deep reef sites in this area of the Bahamas. It was the third dive where divers saw another Eagle Ray in addition to barracuda, lobster, spade fish, graysby, Nassau and Tiger Grouper.
In between dives, Instructor James turned the salon into the Aggressor Boutique. Divers had the opportunity to dress themselves or gift family and friends with the latest Aggressor apparel.
For the afternoon dive, the marinating bait was let loose (dropped in the water via the metal triangle) for divers to enjoy the much awaited shark dive at Shark Paradise. Massive amounts of snapper swam around the triangle where a Marbled Grouper, reef and lemon sharks weaved all around the hanging apparatus.
Once the dive ended, Instructors Caitilin and AQ invited divers to the bow to witness the shark feeding ceremony. Pulling the triangle out of the water, the ladies opened it up, pulled out the remaining fish carcasses and threw what was left overboard. Sharks both large and small eagerly swam and fought for the coveted chum, but many were dismayed, as the wily Marbled Grouper was the victor.
After dinner Captain Dave, Second Captain Matt, and Instructor James gave a rousing rendition of the British hit, Amarillo, to the delight of the guests and displeasure of the rest of the crew.
The night dive started off with the best intentions but was unfortunately cut short due to inclement weather. Guests and crew spent the rest of the event reading, recording dives in their log books, and catching up on sleep.
Day 5 August 9, 2017
Early this morning the Bahamas Aggressor headed towards the dive site Silver Fox Ledge. It was the first dive site installed in Grand Bahama for the summer season here in West End back in April.
The dive site starts at approximately 65ft/19m. Going west includes a slope that filters off into a sand patch resting at almost 100ft/30m below the surface. Eastward is a solid mini wall and in between is an assortment of big and small coral heads. While there are bigger creatures that have been known to swim in and out of this area, this site is a great spot for spotting tiny creatures, using a macro lens camera, or a wide angle function.
Over the course of the two morning dives, divers had a chance to see a stingray slurping up a garden eel while a margate and porgy were unsuccessful at catching that meal for themselves. Other creatures included jacks, spadefish, barracuda, nudi brancs and arrowhead crabs.
In the early afternoon, the boat headed back to shore to work out some minor technical functions, safety being our number one priority.
Back at the marina, the crew and guests engaged in a rousing game of trivia, watched movies, and snacked on homemade bruschetta.
Once everything was back to tip-top capabilities, we headed back up north for a dusk dive at Hogfish Reef. Divers hopped in off the back and sides while a pink and orange sunset cast lovely hues on the ocean below. Upon entering, they encountered four Caribbean reef sharks. Down below, three Hawksbill turtles were spotted, a green moray, and even a couple of sting rays! Towards the end of the dive while making their way to the surface, the intrepid night divers swam with a few lemon sharks before making their way back onto the dive platform so they could be engulfed in hot towels.
Day 6 August 10, 2017
On the final day of the charter, the weather decided to be rather fickle. The wind and rain picked up considerably, but that did not deter our intrepid divers from hopping in the water, nor was it strong enough for dives to be seriously affected.
The first dive site of the day was El Dorado. A long strip of reef with holes in the mid-section, this site is great for barracuda watching. A school of over 30 swam around the divers at the 35ft mark. But the best surprise was two Spotted Eagle Rays that swam pass divers.
During the next two dives, we went back to Shark Paradise for the divers to get a final taste of the Grand Bahama shark-fest. A number of Caribbean reef and lemon sharks swam around the dangling triangle and then wondered off over the reef. In addition, Blue and Raindbow Parrotfish were seen hungrily gnawing on the coral for sustenance.
For the late-afternoon and night dives, we made our way to the dive site Gary Woods Wonderland. Typically we go there as part of a drift dive, but we wanted to treat the guests to a deep night dive and have them acclimated to the site while the sun was still out.
After the final dinner and dessert of the week, Instructor Caitilin presented her video she had been working on in her free time. Guests were pleased with the outcome and surprised at how much she was able to capture and display over the course of 6 days.
The intrepid divers entered the water and then were surrounded by sharks once the sun went down. No small fete for one of our guests who took the plunge and made this site as her first night dive. Way to go Kim!
While the divers entered the water later than usual, we managed to get under way right around 9pm and head for our nightly anchorage and arrive by 9:30.
Day 7 August 11, 2017
For our final day at sea, we had the opportunity to show guests two last sites.
The first was the dive site Red’s Ledge, a deep coral wall with the pin starting at 50 feet. Once on the coral head, the wall slopes down into an area with small mounds of coral that filter off into a sand patch that lies at almost 100ft/30m.
For the final dive of the trip, we traveled a little over 2 hours to the dive site Sherwood Forest. Similar to Silver Fox Ledge in its make up, Sherwood Forest has lots of coral heads that start off around a sand patch, which becomes more dense once heading south. The maximum depth goes to about 60ft/18m. While there are not as many sharks here as there are at Shark Paradise, divers still got to spend their final dive aboard the Bahamas Aggressor swimming with the reef sharks that roam through the gullies of Sherwood Forest.
Bahamas Aggressor arrived into Old Bahama Bay at midday. Guests enjoyed the afternoon relaxing.
MANATEE……….A manatee visited the boat and a few guests swam with this friendly and graceful animal. The manatee stayed for half an hour. The guests fed it lettuces and it drank lots of fresh water by hand via a hose.
A Cocktail party was made in the late afternoon. The following awards were presented.
500 dives milestone award – Rob
Iron Diver Awards- Rob, Dave, Joe, Dave
We had an excellent week going around the West End of Grand Bahama. Some of our guests had many dives under their belt and others were practically just starting their dive careers. Over all, we were happy that guests had the opportunity to see some great creatures, both large and small, swim with sharks, and get to spend their vacation on board with us for a week. We also want to give special recognition to our guests Alex and Kim for coming on board and celebrating their 10th Anniversary. Cheers to many more years to come guys!
Written by Alexandra Quint on behalf of Captain Dave and the Bahamas Aggressor crew.