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mantastrip1 mantastrip2 mantastrip3 Manta Ray - Flower Gardens, Gulf of Mexico 2000 dutchwestindies From Arkansas to the Dutch West Indies 2007 miscstrip1 Misc Strip 2 Misc strip 3 Misc strip 4 All images © Copyright 2009 Michael Tierney


Swimming in liquid topaz

Dive Log 8:
Blackbeard's Cruise: The Bahamas
Bimini Chain -- June 24, 1999
Nodules Reef Wall -- Drift Dive
Victory Reef
Wreck of the Sapona
Bimini Road (to Atlantis)/Gun Key

Nodules Reef Wall -- Drift Dive

The last day of the cruise started with a drift dive along the Nodules Reef Wall, another dropoff into the deep ocean. A drift dive is the easiest dive of all. You just let the current carry you along, and the ship follows and picks you up later. I decided that I'd make this my deepest dive ever.

A couple of thoughts on this. First, I'm not suggesting that anyone else ever do any of the foolish things I've done on some of my dives. Scuba Diving is a potentially lethal hobby. As far as how deep you should go, for sport divers using regular air, 100 feet is the deepest recommended dive. For professionals using regular air, 200 feet is the maximum depth. Lower than that, and you neeed a special mix to breathe.

There are a couple of good reasons for this. One is because when you drop below 100 feet, you do feel a sense of euphoria resulting from Nitrogen Narcosis, sometimes referred to as Diver Madness, and common sense can be forgotten. Another reason is because every 33 feet down is the equivalent pressure of another atmosphere. At 66 feet, you're consuming your air at twice the rate you would at 33 feet or less. At 132 feet, your air supply is reduced by 75%. So the greater the depth, the less bottom time you have before you need to start your decompression stops on the way back up.

Knowing all this, I headed straight down. Originally I meant to only go to 120, but the narcotic sense of well-being drove me even deeper. At 143 feet down, I was tempted to take it all the way to 200, but that's when I saw the crewmember of the Blackbeards assigned to follow the group starting down to retrieve me, so I signalled that I was starting back up.

Took my time coming back up on this short, 30 minute dive, expecting to be running low on air when I got back up. Surprisingly, back on board a lot of the other divers who'd stayed well inside the safety range were talking about how their tanks were empty at the end. Don't know what they were doing to suck up all the air.

I still had 1200 P.S.I. left.

Drift Dive 1 Drift Dive 2 Drift Dive 3

Victory Reef

Victory Reef is a good sized area that was voted by Skin Diver Magazine as being one ot the top diving spots in the Bahamas. We dove the section known as Rainbow Reef. It was a 60 minute dive to a depth of 81 feet.

But there was an unusual element about this dive, when the Blackbeard's Divemaster gave the warning of: "If you hear me banging on the ladder (that we climb back aboard with), don't look around. Don't hesitate. Head back to the boat as fast as you can and get out of the water. Skip your safety stops."

I'd never heard an instruction like that, either before or since. When pressed for a reason, Yolanda wouldn't answer. About the only thing I could figure was that something dangerous, like a Tiger Shark, had been spotted in the area.

The dive proceeded without incident. As advertised, there was a lot of beautiful coral life to be seen. But there weren't many fish. It was like they were hiding.

Victory Reef 1 Victory Reef 2 Victory Reef 3 Victory Reef 4 Victory Reef 5

Wreck of the Sapona

During World War I, twelve Liberty Ships were constructed of concrete. They built them as fast and as cheap as they could. After the war, the Sapona was sold during the age of Prohibition to the infamous gangster Al Capone, who turned it into a floating Casino and Brothel.

Eventually wrecked by a hurricane, the Sapona became a part of the legend of the Burmuda Triangle on December 5, 1945, when training flight Flight 19 disappeared, as well as the rescue flight sent after them. The last message heard from each group of planes was that they'd sighted the wreck of the Sapona. As shallow as the waters are in the surrounding area, you have to wonder how or why their wreckage has never been found.

With the water only 17 feet deep, I dove for a little over an hour, and finally got bored and surfaced with half a tank of air still left. One good thing about that was I missed the 'Brown Trout' encounter one of the bored non-divers gave the next diver up.

Sapona 1 Sapona 2 Sapona 3 Sapona 4 Sapona 6 Sapona 5 Sapona 7 Sapona 8 Sapona 9 Sapona 11 Sapona 12 Sapona 13

Bimini Road -- The Road to Atlantis

Since this was a free dive, with no use of equipment, I didn't put this dive down in my log, so I'm not sure on which day it occured. Like with the Windjammer Cruise, on the Blackbeard's Cruise we would often kill time by taking the dingy onto deserted beaches.

The legendary Bimini Road is a series of very large stones sitting in a line in thirty-some feet of water, so it's an easy snorkle exploration. They are also known as the Road to Atlantis, because noted pyshic Edgar Cayce once predicted that evidence of lost Atlantis would be discovered at this spot.

These are not native stones, and there is no way a sequence of same-sized stones could be naturally placed in a perfect line. But my examination made me think that this wasn't originally a road. Instead, they reminded me more of the breakwater barriers constructed around shipping ports. And, in past millennia, the ocean levels were much lower.

It was a blast to physically touch and explore what might be a part of antideluvian history.

Bimini Road 1 Bimini Road 2 Bimini Road 3 Bimini Road 4

Gun Key and other deserted beaches

Atlantis wasn't the only side excusion made on this cruise.

We also stopped at abandoned islands like Gun Key, a light house ruined by a hurricane, and then occupied by gun runners, until the Coast Guard cleared them out.

The last couple of pictures of me show how I cannot keep away from the water. When on the boat, I'm swinging off on a rope to do a canonball. Even on a beach, I'm still standing in the surf.
Gun Key 1 Gun Key 1.5 Gun Key 2 Gun Key 3 Gun Key 4 Gun Key 6 Gun Key 7 Gun Key 10

It was a shame when the trip was over. After a solid week of diving, I felt really in shape, like I'd been to an NFL training camp.

One thing that always happens to me after spending a whole week at sea is that once I'm back on solid ground, I almost get landsick, my body having adapted so thoroughly to the constant rocking motion of the ocean. Found myself swaying a little, just to compensate. And the first time wearing shoes is very unpleasant.

Had a smooth trip back, with no trouble at customs, and even caught an earlier flight out by going on standby. I'd booked my flights separately from the rest of the group, and it turned out to be a good move, as bad weather stranded all of them overnight at the airport.

More dive logs still to follow, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch West Indies of the Greater Antilles, and a return to the shark-infested waters off Grand Bahama island.

Dive Log 9:
April 2000 CBLDF Cruise: Caba San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta
Gulf of Mexico: Flower Gardens, West Bank -- July 2000
Flower Gardens: East Bank, Stetson Bank/Galveston 393B Oil Rig Platform
The Most Dangerous Photo I've Ever Taken

Manta Ray 11

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