Our week began Sunday morning with a beautiful sunrise. We started our dive at a shallow reef called Periwinkle. I was certifying my son-in-law’s mother and this site was a perfect introduction to open water dives. Located just off Rose Island – about 10 miles from Nassau – the reef’s three large, colorful coral heads sit in 18- to- 20 feet of water. We encountered a huge variety of small tropical fish, stingrays and a very friendly school of sergeant majors.
After enjoying the reef, we made our way to the Exuma Islands, where we found great barracuda, schooling Atlantic spadefish, a couple of Caribbean reef sharks and a beautiful, spotted eagle ray. We finished the day on Flat Rock Reef, where guests enjoyed a night dive full of marine life and more octopuses than I think I have ever encountered on one dive. Before we realized it, we had over an hour of bottom time in, and the hot chocolate – we knew was waiting for us topside – was calling our name.
David R. Vineyard
Dive day one onboard Carib Dancer and a Dive with the Owner’s charter. Great find by guest David Vineyard. Fingerprint Syphoma on dive site Flat Rock in the Exuma’s! Sunny skies and calm 85 degree water are the ingredients for a great charter.
On Monday, we visited a staff favorite, Dog Rocks. The amount of hard and soft corals, the variety of marine life and the swim thru’s and canyons excited our guests. “I believe that was my best dive ever,” said Donnie after he exited the water.
Over the next few days we enjoyed the reefs and walls the Exuma Islands has to offer, and saw a few sharks. But, it was now time to see lots of sharks. The wreck of the Austin Smith was the best choice. The top of the wreck sits in about 35- to- 40 feet of water, and while the wreck is fun on its own, we see up to 12 Caribbean reef sharks on it. A few guest enjoyed up-close and personal encounters when sharks swam only inches away.
On this dive, my student even completed the remaining skills to get her Open Water Diver certification! In Aggressor/Dancer tradition, we, of course, ‘made her a cake’ once back on board. This is a team effort of all staff and guests to top the newly certified diver with flour, eggs and definitely, chocolate sauce!
After visiting the sharks, it was time for an adventure from Mother Ocean – the Washing Machine Dive. This is a drift dive between Highborne Cay and Oyster Cay when the tide is rising. During this rising tide, the deep water of the Exuma Sounds make their way to the shallow, Great Bahama Bank forcing it through the small opening between the two islands. It makes for a fun underwater current to ride. The contour of the bottom spins the diver around like being inside of a washing machine.
One of the things I love about being in the Bahamas is the diversity of what it has to offer. We made our way to a nice beach area just off Big Major Spot and swam with Pigs. Yes, that’s right. As guests entered the water near the beach, pigs would swim out to greet them in waist deep water, which for the pig was over their head. It’s a wonderful encounter that only few get to enjoy, as we normally only make it this far on our ten day charters, and this was a 7-day.
After swimming with the pigs, we made way to one of our staff’s favorite dive sites, Jeep Reef. The depth around Jeep Reef averages about 24 feet, and the reef is scattered with colorful coral heads surrounded by a bountiful array of tropical fish.
Next, we visited another favorite for a double dip. We had some much fun with the sharks on the Austin Smith earlier in the week that we just had to visit it one more time. It was as thrilling as the first!
Our last dive of the week was an early morning dive on the Blue Hole. As we slowly descended inside, we saw several pairs of reef butterfly fish darting along the wall to find their breakfast. We also saw the small, grey reef and nurse sharks that make the Blue Hole their home, as well as large stingrays laying in the sand and a large variety of angelfish hanging on the coral heads.
This week was one to remember. We had some of the best weather I have ever encountered for an entire charter. Seas were nearly flat calm, and the water temperature was 85 degrees! Now it is back to ‘work,’ repacking for charters to Belize and Turks & Caicos next month.
To dive with the owners, visit www.aggressor.com/dwo.php.