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Swimming in liquid topaz

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

Dawn of the second day found us at Gingerbread Ground, Northwest of Bimini, and due South of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.

Gingerbread Ground is no ground at all. If you do a google search, you'll find nothing but a pin sticking out in open water. It's pretty much the same thing in real life, because this is an area of shallow shoals that are perfect for scuba diving. You tie the boat to a bouy marker (don't want to damage the coral by dropping an anchor), and are surrounded by nothing but water. There's no land in sight.

I've mentioned about how when the ships get smaller, the food gets better. An additional bonus when sailing on a dive boat is that all your drinks are free, both soft drinks and beer. This is unique when compared to any other type of cruise, because on a dive boat they want to keep you hydrated. This helps prevent getting the 'bends.' So you can drink all you want with no limits, not even on beer. However, once you do switch to alcohol, your diving is done for the day. As anyone can tell by reading my logs, I never miss an opportunity to dive. First in the water and last out. So you save your beer drinking for the evening. I have to say that alcohol mixes very nicely with the nitrogen bubbles that have been building up in your blood. It's a buzz like no other.

After the upcoming mis-adventure of my Gingerbread Ground night dive, the alcohol would be especially tasty.

J.D.'s Hill

J.D.'s Hill is a mound of coral caves that was named after a free diver (no equipment) who died at this location when he had a shallow water blackout.

Did a 61 minute dive to a depth of 45 feet.

I went exploring through the caves, which was probably foolish, considering I had no idea where they went or what might be waiting inside, and they were too small to turn around in.

J.D.'s Hill 1 J.D.'s Hill 2 J.D.'s Hill 3 J.D.'s Hill 4 J.D.'s Hill 5 J.D.'s Hill 6 J.D.'s Hill 7

Dark Star

This site used to be named Shining Star, until renamed by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead rock group in 1997 during his dive trip to the spot.

Did a 45 minute dive to a depth of 55 feet. Like J.D.'s Hill, the coral was filled with caves and grottos.

Did more exploring of the coral caves.

Dark Star 1 Dark Star 2 Dark Star 3 Dark Star 4 Dark Star 5 Dark Star 6 Dark Star 7 Dark Star 8

Swiss Cheese

Did a 52 minute dive to a depth of 56 feet. There were large sea turtles and more cave grottos to explore.

Had another shark sighting, but couldn't get close enough to get a good picture.

Sure enough, I finally ran into a dangerous situation exploring the coral caves when I reached an exit on the other side of the coral head, only to find the biggest Barracuda I've have ever seen blocking the exit. It was over six foot long. After the two of us watched each other for a while, I dolphin swam (all body undulations, with arms to the side and legs held together, using only my ankles and fins) above and past the Barracuda. It never moved.

Once I was clear, I had to turn and take a picture.

Swiss Cheese 10 Swiss Cheese 8 Swiss Cheese 7 Swiss Cheese 6 Swiss Cheese 5 Swiss Cheese 4 Swiss Cheese 3 Swiss Cheese 2 Swiss Cheese 19 Swiss Cheese 1

Swiss Cheese: Night Dive

There was lots to see on this night dive; lobsters, crabs, stingrays, tiger cucumbers, and even a Hog Fish, although in Arkansas it's called a Hawg Fish.

Had my first equipment problem on this dive, and it was my own fault. I spent so much time upside down, peering into crevices under the coral, that some of my expelled air got into my wetsuit. The next thing I knew, I'd gotten bouyant and, even after emptying all the air out of my Bouyancy Control Vest, went popping up to the surface like a cork. The diver I'd been buddied up with for the dive said he'd thought I was having spasms of some sort when I was trying to get the air out of my suit, and struggling to stay down. He'd figured I was a goner and continued on his dive.

Popping up to the surface that fast is a good way to get the bends. I cleared the air out of my wetsuit as quickly as I could and went back down. Bounce diving like that is never a good thing, but I wanted to get my decompression time in when I slowly resurfaced.

My log shows this as a 52 foot dive with a bottom time of only 43 minutes.

The diver who'd thought he'd watched me die was surprised when I was the last one back on board, and headed straight for a beer.

Swiss Cheese Night Dive 1 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 2 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 3 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 4 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 5 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 6 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 7 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 8 Swiss Cheese Night Dive 9

Up next, I finally accomplish my goal of swimming with the sharks... lots of them, as the dives and my reckless streak combine to get progressively more dangerous.

Dive Log 6:
Blackbeard's Cruise: The Bahamas
Grand Bahama Island -- June 22, 1999
Theo's Wreck
Lucaya Caves
Shark Alley

Shark Alley 5

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