June 10, 2016
After bidding farewell to all our Nordhavn friends, it was time for a family visit. My (Kathy’s) cousin Bri and her daughter Katie, came for a visit. Katie earned her Girl Scout Silver award two years ago, doing a project on coral reefs. That interest in the reefs led to her getting her Scuba diving certification and she wanted to see some coral reefs up close and personal. Bri is also a diver, though it had been more than 15 years since her last dive. With three sets of dive equipment on board, this meant that Bradley, a certified Rescue Diver, would lead dives with Katie and Bri.
After a 4am start to get to the airport in Orlando, where they would connect through Miami and Nassua, Bri and Katie arrived at Staniel Cay by late afternoon. We picked them up in the tender and headed right to the boat where we prepared to go snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto. The Grotto is a fabulous coral reef and cave, famous for the James Bond movie Thunderball, which had some scenes filmed here. It is truly spectacular and we all enjoyed it. We also visited the famous swimming pigs, who enjoyed the fresh water we brought them even more than the food most people bring.
The next day we went back to the Grotto for the first dive – in shallow water where Bri could reacquaint herself with diving and Katie could practice her buoyancy control while enjoying beautiful scenery.
From there, we took the big boat about 15 miles north into the Exuma Land and Sea Park where we did two dives on Jeep Reef, a beautiful coral reef with an old Jeep sunk nearby. These dives have to be be timed to coincide with tidal changes – ideally at “slack water” which it the period during which tidal flow changes from incoming to outgoing or vice versa. During slack water, current is minimal, but during the peak of tidal ebb or flow, the currents can be significant, meaning it is impossible to swim against. So we planned carefully and timed the dives just right. Each dive lasted just over 45 minutes and by the end of the last dive, Katie breathed a big sigh of relief and broke into a big smile. She had been quite apprehensive about diving, but had learned a great deal so was able to relax and enjoy herself on that last dive. It was great to see her go from anxious novice to a more confident diver, able to control her buoyancy and really enjoy her underwater time! Likewise, it didn’t take Bri long to get back into the swing of things, looking like an expert by the third dive.
We also played hearts and rummy, Bradley and Katie played some chess, we enjoyed some good food (recently caught Mahi-Mahi, grouper and snapper, a roasted chicken, pork roast, and some wonderful desserts), and spent some time hiking around Staniel Cay.
Our time in the Bahamas is at an end and we are now heading back to the US. First stop will be St. Augustine, FL.