Always up for adventure and excitement I signed up for the Bahamas Dive Club trip to Andros Island. It was a whole day affair leaving early in the morning from Stuart Cove’s and encompassing a 3-tank dive.
We were expected to be punctual and arrive at Stuart Cove’s for 8am, not 8am Bahamian time. There was a total of 17 divers in the group. The usual suspects from the dive club were there and a few other new faces that I didn’t know. We soon were ready to depart and we were heading South by South-West towards Andros. Although this was going to be a pleasure trip, I had work to do. I was taking one of the dive club members, Sharleen, for their Advanced Open Water Course and the plan was to complete 3 of the adventure dives today, certify her as an adventure diver and then complete the remaining two open water dives that she requires to become advanced at a later date.
Our first dive was to be at a blue hole and this would be Sharleen’s Deep Adventure Dive. The deep adventure dive is one of the compulsory adventure dives that make up the advanced course. So as we were doing three dives today it made sense to do the deepest one first. The blue hole wasn’t that much of a hole but more of a crack with some swim-throughs. We descended nice and gradually checking the variation of the colours as we went down. As I had never dived this location we followed the main group as they went in to the swim-throughs. We made a short stop at 30m before slowly coming back up and swimming around the blue hole. We saw a HUGE loggerhead turtle and a very green moray eel. But there wasn’t much life to be seen so we just practised some hovering skills and then ended our dive.
The second dive site was about 8 miles away so the engines were fired up and we started towards the AUTEC Buoy. This is part of the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre. It belong to the US Military and is used in training their submarines. It is a blue water dive – this means that you can’t see the bottom and there are no sides – it is in the middle of the ocean. Usually there is a lot of wildlife around the buoy and we had planned to do the AWARE – Fish Identification adventure dive but after I dunked my head in to take a look it was apparent that all the fish had vanished. I changed my plan and briefed her for the boat adventure dive. This had always been part of the plan, as we didn’t know what we would find at each dive site we had prepared all of the adventure dives that we were planning to do. That way we would always have an option. Sharleen has a good knowledge of boats and was able to tell me what each side was called and the best method for entering the water. We talked about rolling-backwards entries and I showed her how to work the radio and GPS systems. The we jumped in for our dive.
It was quite strange swimming around the buoy. There was quite a bit of current and with not many visual references we had to keep our wits about ourselves. It would have been easy to have been swept away or to have descended to far into the abyss. We did manage to see a few interesting fish. There were jacks, king fish and a silky shark even made a brief appearance.
Our last dive was on the Edward Williams. This was an old Bahamian Patrol boat and it has seen better days. We completed our briefing and then made our splash. The plan had been to swim along at the top of the wall, drop down to 30m to see and swim through a fantastic arch, then back up and assess the wreck. Unfortunately there was a very strong current that we had to swim into. This put our plans of going to the arch on hold so we swam to the wreck and assessed it for hazards. There weren’t many hazards outside of the wreck other than the usual sharp pieces of metal, but inside was a conglomeration of wires and pipes – a diver’s nightmare. We were joined by a few sharks and barracuda on this dive. There were also plenty of lion fish as well. They are quite a majestic looking animal but they are vicious and it is clear to see that they are having a negative impact on the reefs.
Soon we were back aboard and it was time to celebrate our three dives. Beers were promptly dispersed amongst the dives and we were soon toasting to Sharleen’s accomplishment and a successful dive trip.
I am really pleased with how the dive trip and how the dives with Sharleen went. Both were spectacular. I can’t wait to finish off her Advanced course, hopefully that will be next weekend.