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Long time in shallows
Surface Water Temperature:
Bottom Water Temperature:
FOWL CAY PRESERVE, ABACO ISLANDS, BAHAMAS
Linda, Janel, Johnny, Francis
Froggies Out Island Adventures
Lambert calls out that the dive should end at 45 minutes, and we all get in the water. Francis leads us first to the entrance of a swim-through cave, and we all snake our way through. In the middle, it is pitch black. About ¾ through, there is a small opening 10’ up in the cave that allows light from the surface. The effect is gorgeous as the beams of light dance in the water column and on the sandy floor. The cave exit is actually pretty narrow and emerges into the surgey shallows – interesting.
Francis and the teenager are in the lead and fin much too rapidly for our taste. So we explore and stretch ourselves out to slow the pace a little. The swim takes us basically around the perimeter of a very large coral head – there is lots to see and we wish we had more time. At one overhang there is a huge school of silversides. As I shoot some video, first a big grey angelfish comes by, and then a large jack zips through. Nice.
There’s another cute group of 5 or 6 spotted goatfish all perched on a rock together. Back near the dive boat, I find a dug-in peacock flounder and take some closeup video. We’ve been down about 39 minutes but Francis relays a message from above that Lambert is calling us out of the water. As we rise up beneath the dive boat, we spot a huge 6’ long barracuda hanging out in the shadow of the dive boat. Yikes!
The dive boat quickly takes us back to our little runabout. We’re just happy that it is still anchored where we left it! We thank Lambert for taking the trouble of picking us up – the dives were great. He also says to just call us later and provide a credit card number for the dives. What a friendly way to run a business – the way it should be.
We head straight back to the Settlement marina and make it there - I bet we’re on fumes! It’s time to exhale and pat ourselves on the back, so we all head over the Nippers for a lunch/dinner and happy hour. Linda enjoys the Goombay Smashes again, while this time I try out a “Nipper,” made with a little bit of punch and whole lot of every clear liquor there is, providing a good wallop. The plates are great, Linda with breaded and fried conch, my wahoo, and the kids’ dolphinfish. Tasty!
It’s about 3:45pm and we’re chatting with one of the Nippers’ owners. We tell her a little about how we’re having fun with our rental boat and are practically out of gas. We ask her if she knows whether the station will be open tomorrow (Sunday). She says no, and you only have 15 minutes to get over there before it closes today.
We leave in a hurry and scream our golf cart down to the docks. Johnny and Dad will move the boat over to the pumps, while Linda takes off with the VHF in the golf cart trying to rouse an attendant. Johnny and I are just leaving the pier when we hear a very loud radio voice calling, “Watertoy to Orchid Bay! Watertoy to Orchid Bay!” The noise is coming from the radio of the ferry, docked nearby waiting for passengers. There is an undertone of urgency in that voice – help! Johnny looks at me and grins, “Is that Mom?”
We motor over to the pump, but it is deserted. Linda finally cruises up in the cart and relays that an attendant will be by around 4:30 or so. Johnny and I tie up and wait at the pier for a while, and finally meet up with a young man who comes by to read the pump meter. He’s not allowed to pump gas, but suggests we come back tomorrow morning around 8am or so.
DAY 9 IN THE BAHAMAS: Linda and I start the day locating the gas attendant and tell him we’ll bring the boat around in 10 minutes. Our boat motor, however, has other ideas, and this morning it decides not to start. We try the choke, the hand pump, and other combinations in vain. Eventually the battery tires and we are dead. I look around for a pull rope but none is onboard.
A nice guy by the dock sees our situation and produces a pull rope. We quickly learn he is “CMJ,” the guy we’re supposed to contact if we get in any trouble. It takes only about 4 pulls for him to start up the engine, and he says the float in the line got stuck closed. We rev the engine a while to charge the battery back up, and finally head over to the gas pumps.
We get another 12 gallons plus a quart of oil ($50 – yowza). The attendant is a really friendly fellow and Linda and I talk with him for a while. He’s got a teeshirt on and in big letters it says, “DON’T BE CAUGHT DEAD WITHOUT JESUS”.
Taking our time this morning, we eventually make it back down to the boat with snorkeling gear, kids, and lunch ready to go. We head south again today and return to Fowl Cay. It is a small pristine island part of the Fowl Cay Government Preserve and is uninhabited. On the sound side, the waters are brilliant unbroken turquoise and there is a crescent cove on the southeast end, where we anchor our boat in about 4 feet of water. The other side of the island faces the ocean and the reef sites we dove yesterday. There is one other boat here today, a couple doing a little snorkeling.
We lounge on board for a half hour and enjoy cheeseburgers, cold Kalik, and the great breezes. Can it get better than this?
Grabbing our snorkel gear, we swim to the beach, then start a long snorkel around the end of the island to the ocean side. The scenery gets pretty good on the ocean side. We exit onto the beach facing the ocean, a little bit tricky since the bottom is hard, very shallow, and chock full of spiny sea urchins. Johnny is reluctant in his soft booties, but ends up managing OK.
We all then lounge for the next hour in the gorgeous cove waters, while I also continue to cruise around snorkeling. I find another huge starfish, lots of conch shells and sand dollars, and a few other pretty shells. We eventually make our way back to the boat, then head further south to Man-O-War Cay. The water in front of the ocean pass north of Man-O-War is rough for our little boat and we take it slow and keep the bow into the oncoming swells. We go all the way to the southern end of the island, then cut across the bay to Sandy and Garden Cays to explore.
The ride back to Settlement is calm and smooth as we learn to travel the bay away from the ocean passes. Janel takes the wheel for most of the trip back – looking good! The tide is super low and we mildly beach the boat while trying to dock (and we’re halfway out the pier!) I have to jump out and push us off the sand. We then, of course, get the anchor and lines and knots perfect before leaving.
We return the boat keys to CMJ (Donna is off the island). It’s our last day in the Bahamas, so Linda and I head over to Nippers for happy hour. Multiple Nippers and Goombay Smashes later, we’re feeling no pain. Another evening in paradise gazing out at the Atlantic.
We finish the day with steaks for dinner and then a rousing 7-card stud game, where Mom is the big matchstick winner.
DAY 10 IN THE BAHAMAS: We catch the sunrise from the widow’s watch this morning.
We’re fully packed up and ready to go by 7am. Donna Sands (the golf cart lady) comes by at 7:45 to help us lug our stuff to the dock, and we settle our bill with her ($300 for the week’s rental – more than a rental car!).
It’s a long trip back. First the ferry ride to Marsh Harbor. At the airport, several fellows come out and quickly grab our luggage, ask what airline, then say they’ll take care of all of it. We find out that is a mistake, for the fellows then come back later to the desk with the measured weights. The listed weight for our luggage is about 20 lb more than when we arrived, and we’ve consumed probably 40 lb of the food we brought in. They want $60 for the overweight. We explain the error to the desk attendant and suggest that the weights are incorrect. She is lazy and unhelpful – a heifer – and insists on the payment. It’s smells like a routine scam. It’s not a lot of money, but my guess is that she’s siphoning this loot off to the luggage fellows.
Note for next time: make sure you drag your luggage all the way to the desk so you can personally see it weighed.
The little 8-seater takes a quick trip north to Treasure Cay and picks up 2 passengers, then takes off for Fort Lauderdale. Linda converses a lot with the pilot about different Caribbean islands, and he describes Dominica as the most beautiful. Hmmm…
Mares Avanti Quattro
U S Divers Matrix
80 ft3 Al
SeaQuest Spectrum 4
Body of Water:
U S Divers
Sony DCR-TRV11 digital handycam in Top Dawg housing