Picking up where I left off on part one of my trip report.
Nov 11th Pics
Being that it was still too rough to dive the reefs on the ocean side of Stocking Isl, we again go to the sheltered cove on the SW side of Stocking Island across the harbor from G-town.
There is this dive site called Mystery Cave that is just a few hundered yards from Angelfish Bluehole where we dove the previous day.
This bluehole goes down to 70 ft. This time we do NOT go any deeper into the cave and are always in an area where we can not only see light, but can surface immediately in an emergency.
There are a TON of fish at the entrance (20ft deep) and a bit further down we see a stingray or two. It is interesting look into the side passages of the bluehole too as there is no shortage of marine life there either.
When we return later that morning, I decide to arrange a rental car and go explore Little Exuma. I make my way across the bridge where the ferry is and find the enterance to a nice beach that I had marked the night before when I was on Google Earth.
WHen I reach it, sure enough there is not a single person in sight anywhere along the 1/2 mile stretch. With the wind being very strong out of the Northeast, I quickly notice that I am being sprayed with fine drops of seawater even while 10 yards or more from the water!
No wonder it was too rough to take the boat past the cuts!!
After spending about 90 min there, I continue SE and go looking for Tropic Of Cancer beach. Having been there before in 2010, I figure I know the way, but my memory is wrong as I thought it was along the main highway. (I later found out you have to make a few turns off the main road to get there)
I hike up a short trail to a monument near Williamstown and get some more pics about 80 feet above sea level. Such nice view of the blue water!
Nov 12th Pictures
I decided to take the day off from diving as it was still rough (Ughhh) outside of the harbor as I'd already dove what was inside of it.
Instead I rented a boat from Minns and went in search of some sandbars in Elizabeth Harbor as it was coming up on low tide an hour or two later. Even in the protected harbor, it was still rough and I had to take it slow even being in a 19' Whaler. I make my way straight across to an area about 1/2 mi south of Chat N Chill and then hug the coast down the harbor where it is most sheltered from the wind.
Eventually I find what looks like a sandbar, although it is still about 8 inches underwater so I do my best to anchor the boat into the wind with the hull remaining over the deeper water. Once secure I walk around the area for about an hour and as I'm making a circuit in knee deep water or less, I notice an exposed area of sand about 80 ft long and 15 ft across located about 100 yards away. Since its the start of Low Tide, I still have time until it is covered again.
I then get back to the boat and motor it around to a spot about 50 yrs downwind of it and walk/swim over to it. The water is chest high to start, but then quiclly gets shallower up to my knees making walking easier.
I made it uneventfully and just chill for a while there. I wish I had had a few Kalik's with me but no such luck.
From there Jeff and head on over to Chat N Chill and have a Kalik followed by a Sands. After that, I get some more shots "Corona Style" of a Kalik bottle right on the edge of the water along the beach. I then go off and check out the ocean side of Stocking Island Beach.
As luck would have it, this beach is VERY CROWDED with a mob of 6 people in sight!!
Hey...........that is very crowded for a beach in the Out Islands!!
Before ending the day, we take to boat to one last snorkel spot where there are a few reefs on a beach about 1/4 mile southeast of Chat N Chill.
Nov 13th pics
Again, its too rough to dive on the ocean side as the relentless Northeast wind continues :-(
This is starting to drive me mad!
I'm kicking myself even more because 10 to 14 days in advance one of the more reliable weather models (GFS for those familiar with Meteorology) was showing a strong high pressure area south of Nova Scotia Canada with a pretty tight isobar gradient to its south.
Not only that, but the GFS was consistent in showing this on a run to run basis, even well over a week beforehand. In hindsight I should have insisted to Jeff that we change plans and dive out of Hawks Nest on Cat or Cape Santa Maria on Long Island where a NE wind is sheltered much better. Something for all of you to keep in mind when planning a dive vacation between October and May.
At least you can learn from my mistake!!
So once again we dive Angelfish bluehole one last time down to 90 ft, but do not go in past that point having learned my lesson 3 days earlier about not diving in an overhead!!
That afternoon we go and explore the long sandy beach across from the airport just before it gets dark. I walk a bit over 3 miles up and back and get some much needed pictures. Looking off in the distance there are a lot of rainshowers so i make sure to use my waterproof camera even though it is dry where I am (knock on wood).
We finish off our stay on Great Exuma by having dinner at a nice local spot on the opposite side of Lake Victoria from "downtown" G-Town.
The next day its 143 miles of flying off to Nassau where we will do 8 tank dives over 4 days.
Nov 14th pics
We get a bit of a late start departing G-town as it takes us longer than thought before to load the plane. As soon as we start her up, I ask the control tower at Exuma Intl if they have our flight plan in the computer to Nassau and luckily they do. Finally good to go!
After running through the checklist on plane to make sure everything is working, we depart on the southeast runway and then make a 180 left turn on course to Nassau. This has got to be one of the most beautiful routes in all of the Bahamas as the path between G-Town and Nassau happens to take you right along the entire necklace of the Exuma Chain!!
As nice as the view is, I don't have as much time as I like to savior it because we have our hands full making sure we remain clear of the clouds as we are flying under visual flight rules (VFR) even though we are both qualified and equipped to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR)
Not only that, but there are some substantial cloud buildups (towering cumulus clouds) with rain coming out so we have to dodge and weave a bit to avoid the worst of it. Out here, there is no weather radar like is in the USA and no air traffic controllers to give you advisories so avoiding the bad weather is done on a visual basis on your own.
Like you've gone back in time 50 or 60 years in time!!
We fly through a pretty heavy rainshower at 1000 ft about 5 miles south of Musha Cay which reduces the visibility quite a bit. Even though we get soaked we actually have an exceptionally smooth ride. Free planewash courtesy of Mother Nature!!
The heave rainshower is only 3 or 4 miles across so in less than 2 minutes we are out of it. Then just north of Staniel Cay we enter a lighter shower again which only slightly reduces visibility and lasts all but 45 seconds. Once passing over Wardwick Wells Cay, it becomes sunny which allows us to climb up higher which is a good idea as the last 30 miles to Nassau will be over the open ocean. Even though we have a liferaft, vests, etc onboard, it still better to be fly higher as this simply gives you more time to deal with any problems in flight.(engine issues, etc).
As the Nassau air traffic controllers are steering us to land we fly over the same area to the SW of New Providence Isl where we will be diving the next day. I can see where the underwater wall drops off as the color changes suddenly.
Pretty soon we made an uneventful landing to the East (runway 9) at NAS and taxi to Executive Aviation about a half mile from the airline terminal where we park. We are able to quickly get a cab to the Atlantis where we will be staying for the final 3 nights. When we arrive we are pleased to learn that they have upgraded us from the Beach tower to the Coral for no additional cost! Yeaaaa! This also saves us a ton of walking as its pretty far from the enterance.
We spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool and enjoy some much needed Rum Punch! When I am ordering my second drink, much to my surprise I am asked for ID. I just assume that they want to make sure the name on my DL matches the name on my Credit Card, but the lady tells me that she wasn't sure about me age!!!
OMG, you have no idea how FLATTERED I was! That almost never happens in the USA when I'm buying alcohol, let alone somewhere where the legal age is only 18!
We spend the remainder of the day taking in all the Atlantis pools and landscape. Even though Nassau/PI is far from my fav place in the Bahamas (Rum Cay takes the crown for that), I am still liking the Atlantis despite the sky high price on everything.
Stay tuned for the underwater world provided by Stuart's Cove next...........