Friday, March 3, 2006 Waderick Wells
In the morning, we dinghied over to the Exuma Park HQ to pay for our mooring and to look around. Our plan was to leave at around 9 or 10am to look for some diving sites that we heard were excellent. At the Park HQ, we made some new friends called bananaquits, who were happy to jump right into our hands to get some bread crumbs. John and Elaine paid for a wireless connection, with which they phoned their kids and parents in South Africa using Skype.com. What an amazing world we live in, that way out here, in the middle of nowhere, they can use their computer to call across the ocean for just pennies.
When we returned to the boats, we fired everything up and moved an hour or so down the islands to Bell Cut, where we anchored just east of Bell Island. We used this anchorage for the afternoon to do a couple of dives in the area before we moved on a little further south to anchor for the night. The first place we dove was at a beautiful reef, complete with a crashed airplane. We had a great time swimming all around the wreck and along the reef, both of which was full of tropical fish. John, who has been a SCUBA instructor for over 20 years, spent some time with us doing drills to be sure that we could handle any emergencies. We learned to clear the water out of our masks by using the bubbles from our regulators to displace the water and to clear the mask. We also learned to buddy breathe so that in the case that one of us lost air, we would be able to share one demand valve and make it back to the surface. While we were diving on the wrecked plane, we were visited by a huge spotted eagle ray, about 6 feet from wingtip to wingtip - what an amazing site. After we had enough of the plane reef, we moved on to a dive called the Sea Aquarium, which was absolutely awesome. The coral and fish were abundant and colorful, and we helped the experience along by bringing a little food for the fish. We had a blast swimming up and down, in and around the massive coral stands, with fish of all colors and descriptions coming out to meet us. Incredible!
Saturday, March 4, 2006 Rocky Dundas
After the dives, we headed back to the boats to cover another 6 miles heading south. We anchored in the northeast anchorage of Chicken Cay, just west of a place called the Rocky Dundas. We planned to spend the next morning exploring the caves that were supposed to be at the Dundas, then do some diving nearby, before heading a little further down the islands.
Waderick Wells, Exuma Park headquarters -taken from the top of Boo Boo Hill
The mountain of mementos on the top of Boo Boo Hill, Warderick Wells
Some friends of ours from Beaufort, NC
Our little addition
Mike feeding the bananaquit from his hand
Huge hermit crabs with turban shells
The view from the park headquarters
Tomorrow moored at Warderick Wells
Skeleton of a 52' Sperm Whale
On the way to the next paradise, John & Elaine on Didit
The airplane wreck site off of O'Briens Cay
There was a float tied off to the airplane and we followed the line down to the bottom
The current was ripping through here
The wreck was 25ft down
Mike investigating the wreck, the plane was upside down - Not Good!
The inside of the wreck was filled with the most beautiful corals, and thankfully no sharks!
You can see the exhaust pipes on top
Mike and Kate at the airplane, looked like a single engine
You have to hold your breath so you don't get bubbles in your pictures
Elaine on the Hookah
The international sign for "let me take a picture of you"
John and Elaine
Notice John has only a snorkel
Kate getting braver all the time
The current was ripping through here, it was hard to stay down even with the weight belts
Thank God for our wetsuits! It allowed us to stay down much longer than we would have been able to otherwise
Mike learning to clear his mask
Moving on to the next reef, Sea Aquarium
A Nassau Grouper is in the middle of the picture, he has stripes to camouflage him
Sergeant Majors were not timid!
Kate trying to feed the fish and stay down, by holding onto the mooring line
They loved the granola bars!
Mike hand fed them until he got nipped
Kate is holding onto the mooring ball line with her legs so she can stay upright and feed the fish
We had a blast doing this, too bad the granola ran out
The Sea Aquarium - Perfect Name!
John tied chains around his waist to use as a weight belt, it worked great
John & Elaine at the Sea Aquarium
Tomorrow at anchor on Chicken Cay
Sunset at Chicken Cay
There were beautiful reef fish and they were not timid either
A huge Elkhorn Coral formation in the Rocky Dundas
Mike and Kate inside the South Cave at the Rocky Dundas
This cave was huge and there was a hole in the top where the sunlight could peek through
A chiton, an ancestor of the trilobite, there were lots of them inside the caves
The top of the cave about 100ft up
Another variety of starfish
John & Elaine in the South Cave, Rocky Dundas
The limestone inside of the caves was very smooth, unlike all of the other craggly limestone we had encountered up to this point
Some seals hangin' out in the South Cave
There was a coral reef all around the Dundas
The North Cave was full of Stalactites and Stalagmites
A snorkelfish in the North Cave
The hole in the top of the North Cave
The ceiling in the North Cave
Mike & Kate in the North Cave
The view of the entrance to the North Cave from inside, you only hads six inches of clearance, so you had to dive under the ledge
Parrotfish on the reef at the Dundas
Peacock flounder has the best camouflage, can you see it??
Elaine on the Elkhorn reef
The elkhorn coral was massive, it almost reached the surface
This coral looked like perfect snowflakes, sorry to mention snow
A huge ball of grooved brain coral
The rainbow parrotfish
Mike, I would love one of these!
Didit at anchor on Chicken Cay just before we split up
Bonvoyage Didit, it was great hangin' with you!!