Bahamas Aggressor Captain’s Log August 12th -18th , 2017
Air Temp: 82-97 degrees
Water Temp: 82-89 degrees
Second Captain Matt
Video Pro Gabi
Photo Pro AQ
Erin, Audrey, Shannon, Jill, Karyn, Ken, Mary, Robert, Bob, John, Anne, Alice and Helen
Day 1 August 12, 2017
Once again Saturday had come after a full day of prepping and painting and the crew welcomed 13 new divers aboard the Bahamas Aggressor at 4pm sharp. The group consisted of seven people who had known/dived with each other all around the world, a family of four, and a couple. All guests were return Aggressor addicts but none had ever gone out on this itinerary. During the initial welcome briefing, guests expressed their excitement in swimming with sharks while the crew was equally eager to provide them with a good show.
At dinnertime, we dined on board at the marina. Everyone was impressed by Chef Marco’s improvisational skills by catering to the dietary needs of many different individuals.
By 9pm everyone was checking emails and text messages, trying to get in their last minutes of internet before a week without cell service. In the wheelhouse, Captain Dave and Second Captain Matt were monitoring the wind and weather reports to chart out the best course for the week ahead.
Day 2 August 6, 2017 Sunday
The sun started to rise as the Bahamas Aggressor set sail towards West End. The water was flat with the temperature already in the eighties as breakfast was being served. About an hour after leaving the dock, we arrived at the first dive site Sherwood Forest.
Tiny little Headshield Slugs and Arrowhead Crabs were spotted inside little tiny crevices. Guests were pleased when a Caribbean Reef Shark swam right besides them. It was an auspicious sign of things to come.
The next dive site we went to was Silver Fox Ledge. A small Hawksbill turtle swam around the mooring line once all the divers were conveniently diving by. Lone Nassau, Black, and Yellowfin Grouper were in and out of the gullies as a group of 30+ Topsail Chubs swam around the divers east and westward.
The weather was calm enough that guests had the opportunity to dine alfresco during lunchtime while we were en route to the next dive site of Red’s Ledge. Once exiting the water, most of the chatter was about the reef and lemon sharks that were seen swimming around the surface rather than all the sea creatures that were hanging around the dive site. In addition to the sharks, divers got to see barracuda, spadefish, chubs and a variety of snapper.
For the late-afternoon and night dives, we decided to end things on a high note by taking the guests to one of our favorite sites: The Sugar Wreck. While a small current drifted through the wreck, divers could still steady themselves enough to take photos and videos of the vast schools of grunts and snappers that linger on the remaining bulkheads and railings. A few stingrays swam by the outer areas of the wreck, while up to ten puffer fish were seen going in and out of the cracks by the stern. “Sharks were EVERYWHERE!” Exclaimed Anne, who was diving with her husband and two daughters.
For the night dive we had a total of eleven divers heading back to the wreck. Within minutes, one of the two resident Loggerheads swam by the crowd of people ready with cameras to snap all the underwater action. Another turtle was seen trying to sleep while Pugsley, the green turtle, swam around the ribs and eventually tucked his head under a beam, not interested in the commotion going on around him. The second Loggerhead was seen under a crack towards the bow alongside a nurse shark. Brittle Stars were in various areas with their tentacles moving in and out of sheet coral.
Looking underneath the wreck, spotted eels peaked their heads out to showcase their sinister fangs; margin snails could be seen ducked under the flooring while crabs and lobsters picked at food and clawed at their spectators. To end the dive on a high note, at least eight stingrays were passed en route back to the ladder.
Once reaching the surface, huge smiles were plastered across every divers face. They were all made bigger once the hot towels and hot chocolate with Bailey’s were served.
Day 3 August 14th, 2017
A calm night transitioned into a beautiful calm morning out on the Atlantic Ocean. Guests awoke to the aroma of French toast coming from the galley while traveling to the dive site El Capitan.
Staying there for two dives, we hoped to ensure that divers would get a chance to see Eagle Rays. We were in luck! Eagle Rays glided out from behind the deep coral heads that lie to the northwestern section of the site. While it was the Eagle Rays that were the stars of the dive, some reef sharks made an appearance, as did schools of jacks and spadefish.
With the weather peaking at 97 degrees, we made our way to Shark Paradise with divers dining inside in the comfortable air conditioning.
All afternoon divers took nice long dives while the metal triangle used to bait the sharks did its job to a T. Many lemon and reef sharks weaved their way around divers who chose to stick around in the sand. As for the divers who chose to explore the reef, they were able to see Queen Triggers, Ocean Triggers, Rainbow Parrotfish, and even a Golden Spotted Eel sticking its head out from behind a small patch of coral.
With the water being more calm than usual and the divers liking Shark Paradise so much, we stayed on the mooring for the rest of the night.
Divers jumped back in around dusk getting their chance to see sharks once again. With the triangle having been taken out after the fourth dive, the sharks were not as plentiful, but still maintained a presence throughout the majority of the dive.
With the water being so tranquil, a common reaction to the dive site was “It was so calm down there.” Five big black groupers were seen and also a Southern Stingray who did not shy away as a diver got right next to it. As the night dive transitioned from dusk to night, crabs and lobsters started to appear. But it was the squid that impressed the majority of the divers who had the opportunity to see them.
Day 4 August 15th, 2017
Once again the sea was flat calm as we made our way towards Gary Woods Wonderland. Upon our arrival, it was determined that the visibility was too poor for our divers to get the most out of the dive, so Captain Dave decided it was time to move elsewhere.
The next place we tried was El Dorado, a staff favorite. With large schools of barracuda and a long reef sandwiched between a shallow and deep sand patch, El Dorado offered plenty of fish both big and small.
With the current having changed, the boat was facing west (usually facing south); the stern typically over the northern part of the reef was now located over turtle grass. Once swimming west, it was possible to see areas north of the mooring pin that our divers often don’t get to explore due to the current moving in that direction.
We stayed there for both morning dives and on the second divers got to see Eagle Rays. Alice, here with her family, was close enough to take detailed photos on her camera of their wings moving up and down. All divers exited the dive extremely satisfied.
With only a slight breeze, a lunch of BBQ burgers and hot dogs was served alfresco on the sun deck before moving to the next dive site.
Arriving at Hogfish Reef, the current stayed at a bare minimum. This was the perfect opportunity for both afternoon and night dives to take place and it gave us the perfect opportunity to stay on the reef, closer to the action, and not move to the shallow bank to anchor.
Large pieces of fish bait were placed in the metal triangle. Twelve reef sharks came by and stayed around it all afternoon. On the reef itself, divers swam with ocean triggers, schools of wrasse, and both juvenile and adult Hogfish.
During the night dive, the reef came alive with stingrays, lobster, parrotfish and sharks. A few divers expressed their minor uneasiness of being in the water at night with sharks swimming around, but that fear transformed into excitement once they spotted not one but two octopus! Changing colors wherever they went, the octopus transformed from green to blue to orange when slithering over various coral and sponges. With the octopus slithering around, rays gliding over the sand every which way, and many other creatures moving in and around the reef, the divers hardly even noticed the sharks.
Once heading back up onto the dive deck, divers soon dried off and viewed their underwater footage in the salon pleased that the sharks served as a perfect addition to their epic night dive.
Day 5 August 16, 2017
The day started off a tad earlier than normal. The first dive was to be a drift at Mini Wall II. Unsure of what the current would be like under water, we wanted to prepare the divers for what could be a quick drift or possibly a slow one.
In the past, we have drifted Mini Wall II in a total of 25 minutes, the current being a swift one. Today it was completely opposite. With almost zero current, the dive lasted almost 50 minutes and we were able to slowly explore the site, going in and around swim-throughs that we are normally unable to get to when the current is ripping.
Over the course of the dive, guests had a chance to see five reef sharks, a Scorpion Fish, Spade fish, and jacks. An Eagle Ray swam quickly by with only a few divers getting a glimpse of its tail, but more were to come later on.
The next dive took place at Mini Wall I. We lowered a massive tuna head inside the bucket some fisherman had given us back at the marina for us to save for our baited dive. Reef sharks swarmed around the bucket while under water for the entirety of the dive. But it wasn’t until the 40-minute mark when the real surprise came to fruition: the coveted Tiger Shark. For weeks we had gone to various dive sites without seeing a single Tiger but this week, one came back and stuck around. We were so happy to be able to have guests see one that we stayed for a second dive hoping to see it once again. While a second sighting did not occur, more reef sharks appeared as did a handful of lemon sharks. They stayed around the bucket and even hung out around the surface as divers exited the water.
Guests this week had the opportunity in getting to see a brand new dive site that we just created. In the little bit of free time that we had in between dives, two crew members were finally able to explore a dive site called Stobart’s Ridge we had installed a few weeks earlier, but were unable to dive due to unfortunate weather making the site impossible to dive.
Here a few mountain-like coral heads start around 30ft/15m and slope down to nearly 90ft/28m. There are a few swim-throughs and cavern-esque spaces where crustaceans and lionfish keep themselves hidden.
During the mid-afternoon dive, divers had the opportunity to swim with seven Eagle Rays, reef sharks, a Hawksbill turtle, and Ocean Trigger fish. The guests exited the water exhilarated by all the ocean wonders that we decided to stay here for the night dive.
At night various crabs and spiny lobsters poked their heads out from behind nooks and crannies. Divers also had a chance to see reef sharks lurking behind the coral heads, and a plethora of standard Caribbean fish including: porgies, banded butterflies, angel, trigger, and parrotfish. Also at least two spotted eels could be seen quickly creeping over the reef in search of dinner.
Both divers and crew were thrilled over this new dive site and couldn’t wait to start the next day by having the chance to dive it once again!
Day 6 August 17, 2017
On the last full day of the charter we hoped to kick it off by diving Stobart’s Ridge one last time to see some more Eagle Rays. Unfortunately the current picked up and we could no longer dive it safely. But leave it to the crew to turn a speedy current into an opportunity: drift dive.
We headed over to Mount Olympus with second captain Matt leading the dive and Chef Marco shepherding from the rear. The deep site offered breathtaking views of large coral heads and a planetary sandy landscape located over 100ft/30m below. Ocean triggers and schools of creole wrasse swarmed around the top of the reef. During the dive six silkie sharks came out to say hello as well as a few reef sharks.
On to the next dive site, we went to Gary Woods Wonderland. The site is located on a bulging coral wall that starts off at 40ft/12m and drops down to over 80ft/24m. There are a few large cracks in the reef that allow for amazing views when looking upward due to the dramatic shapes and shadows created.
At one point over a dozen ocean triggers circled half the group around 70ft/20m below. Our metal triangle was hanging over the bow and attracted over half a dozen reef sharks and a couple lemons. At the end of the dive once divers exited the water, we noticed two Tiger sharks swimming around the stern. This gave us incentive to stay longer.
After adding bait to the triangle and bucket, the tigers hung around the boat making for a memorable third dive for the guests. For almost an hour, divers stayed below the boat watching as both tiger sharks circled around them then going back and forth from the wall.
With all the excitement generated by the presence of tigers and not knowing when we would see these amazing creatures again, we opted to stay at Gary Woods Wonderland once again for the mid-afternoon dive. The tigers stayed only a short time more, but reef sharks hung out around the triangle for guests to spend their final afternoon marveling at their beauty.
When the dive was finished it was Helen and Erin who had their moment to shine. Both ladies had participated in their 200th dive so the Bahamas Aggressor crew decided to make them a cake in celebration. What we didn’t mention was that instructors James and AQ would dress up in mermaid attire and make them the cake by pouring flour, eggs and chocolate over them before they jumped back into the water. Congratulations Erin and Helen!
After the dive we headed over to the Sugar Wreck for guests to have a great final night dive. The current picked up quite a bit from the afternoon, but that did not stop divers from seeing the massive Loggerhead turtles, Pugsley the green turtle, slipper lobsters, crabs and over a dozen puffers. At one point, a golden spotted eel was seen under a small opening violently shoving a fish into its gullet.
Once divers came back from the dive, the exhilaration from the nights creature show was felt by all. “That turtle was the size of a small car,” Robert exclaimed as he and a number of other spent time comparing notes on the size of the loggerhead. Some of the ladies had a fun time chasing some sharks, or maybe it was the other way around. Either way, laughs and stories over hot chocolate with Bailey’s. By 9:30 most guests were in bed having spent a long day playing with sharks and many other under water creatures.
Day 7 August 18, 2017
The morning started early with us heading over to El Capitan. This time it was to do a drift dive. Everyone was happy they did from the second they entered the water, Eagle Rays hung out with the divers for the entirety of the dive! Never on one dive (let alone this whole week) had we seen such an influx of Eagle Rays so both guests and crew were overjoyed!
After another hour and a half of travel, we ended back to where we started at Sherwood Forest for a final dive of the charter. Guests had their final taste of reef sharks, triggers, and typical Caribbean sea life before they exited the water to make their long journeys back home.
We had an excellent week going around the West End of Grand Bahama. The water was unusually calm for the entirety of the trip making it an added bonus to not have to contend with any finicky weather. While many of the guests already knew one another, it was nice to see everyone interacting, sharing stories and videos, and bonding over their shared passion of diving.
At the evenings cocktail party, Awards were presented to the following divers
200 Dives Milestone Awards to:
Erin and Helen
Iron Diver Awards Presented to:
Alice, Mary, Robert, Karyn, and Erin
Day 8 August 19, 2017
At 8am, a fond farewell from the crew to all the guests leaving the Bahamas Aggressor.
Log written by AQ on behalf of Captain Dave and the Bahamas Aggressor crew.