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Swimming in liquid topaz

Dive Log 4:
Blackbeard's Cruise: The Bahamas
Bimini -- June 20, 1999
Piquet's Rock
Moray Alley
Bimini Strip
Bimini Strip: Night Dive

For my next trip in June of 1999, I took a Blackbeard's Cruise. Unlike the Windjammer cruise, which features a variety of activities, this was a journey focussed mainly on scuba diving through the whole day: morning, noon, afternoon, and sometimes night.

This was a trip organized through a local dive shop, so it was the first time I took a trip where there were other Arkansans on board. But the dive shop made the start difficult by having us meet at the airport two hours before the ticket counters even opened. In the early morning hours, no one was hungry, but by the time we finally reached stormy Miami in the late afternoon, we were all starving.

On the dock next to the boat, under a canopy in the rain they were grilling hamburgers, and everyone scarfed them down. I had three.

We all regretted it later, when the 60 foot boat left Miami in the storm and crossed the Gulf Stream, headed to Bimini. It was a very rough crossing, as the boat bounced violently up and down the whole way. Everyone tossed up those hamburgers, myself included. The next day they had to hose down the decks.

As soon as we docked in Bimini, two other divers and myself immediately headed off to look for a bar and wash out the aftertaste of those burgers. The moment we stepped onto the island, three young ladies pulled up their shirts, flashed us, and yelled; "Here it is, boys!"

At the time, we were still too nauseated from the crossing to follow. But by the time we got a couple of beers in us, we were wondering where the flashers had gone. Fortunately, Bimini is a party island (this is where one-time Presidential front-runner Gary Hart was caught on a boat named Monkey Business while cheating on his wife with a girl named Fawn). There were lots of attractive foreign women at every bar.

But what the islanders brag about are all the places where Ernest Hemingway sat, drank, and played while living on the island. Here is where he wrote a novel about "The Old Man and the Sea," where a man who hooks a fish bigger than his boat. At the same time, Hemingway was doing some deep sea fishing of his own.

Blackbeards1 Blackbeards2 Blackbeards3

These pictures were taken of the ship later in the cruise, which explains all the clothes hanging on the railing. I forget the name, but think that Blackbeards has since retired it. The ship's captain was a woman from Arkansas, who'd taken a similar cruise and decided to stay and make a career out of it.

Since this was a dive trip, creature comforts are non-existent. If you want something soft to sit on, you'd better bring a cushion of your own, because everthing is desinged for heavy equipment being banged around. And the seats with a little bit of shade under the canopy were always filled. So packs lots of sun screen.

Three of the other diver's brought their non-diving girlfriends/wife. This was a mistake. Not only were they uncomfortable and eventually bored, the only fresh water is drinking water. At the end of the day, you shower down on the deck with liquid dishwasher detergent and a hose that sprays condensation water runoff from the air conditioner.

The toilets were all hand cranked, dumping straight into the ocean waters. By the end of the cruise those non-diving women were so unhappy, one 'accidentally' gave her boyfriend an encounter with 'brown trout' when he surfaced.

Bimini: Piquet's Rock

The first dive of the day was a shallow 37 foot dive for 43 mintues off Piquit's Rock, a gigantic stone that sits well out of the water and is named after a captain who crashed his boat into it.

Piquet9 Piquet8 Piquet7 Piquet6 Piquet5 Piquet4 Piquet3 Piquet1 Piquet2

Moray Alley

The second dive of the day was a 50-footer for 50 minutes into Moray Alley, obviously a site known for Moray Eels. But didn't see any. Did get a good shot of a Parrot Fish eating chunks out of the coral. This is how sand is made. Yep. Sand is Parrot Fish doo-doo..

Moray Alley 9 Moray Alley 8 Moray Alley 7 Moray Alley 5 Moray Alley 1 Moray Alley 2 Moray Alley 3 Moray Alley 4 Moray Alley 6

Bimini Strip

The third dive of the day was a shallow, 43 foot dive that lasted 55 minutes. Like all the Bimini dive sites, there were large schools of fish and the usual Baracuda. This one was the largest I'd seen so far. The lobster was a pretty good size, too.

Bimini Strip 10 Bimini Strip 9 Bimini Strip 8 Bimini Strip 7 Bimini Strip 6 Bimini Strip 5 Bimini Strip 4 Bimini Strip 3 Bimini Strip 2 Bimini Strip 1

Bimini Strip: Night Dive

We'd stayed anchored at the Bimini Strip, and did a Night Dive on it. This would be a pattern that would repeat itself, as night dives were always done on a site that we were already familiar with.

You do see different life on a night dive. The lobsters and crabs come out of hiding, and you see some unusual creatures that I still haven't identified.

Bimini Strip Night Dive 1 Bimini Strip Night Dive 2 Bimini Strip Night Dive 4 Bimini Strip Night Dive 3 Bimini Strip Night Dive 5 Bimini Strip Night Dive 6 Bimini Strip Night Dive 7

Dive Log 5:
Blackbeard's Cruise: The Bahamas
Gingerbread Ground -- June 21, 1999
J.D.'s Hill
Dark Star
Swiss Cheese
Swiss Cheese: Night Dive

Swiss Cheese 3

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