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Tripppin In The Bahamas – The Depth Dance

August 11, 2013

A continuation from my earlier post, http://wp.me/pKtoE-bF.

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Source: Google Earth

After unpacking the boat everyone decided to go for a check-out dive and get our first underwater adventure in the books. I had mixed feelings about heading out in Tripppin because I was going to be the guy navigating these shallow, clear Bahamian waters with no clear idea of where I was going. I’d done it thousands of times before in many countries, but never with this many people, and never without some form of local help. I went down to the dock to play with the chart plotters while Lane looked up some dive sites online. He came out a half hour later to let me know that we had a nice reef just around the corner from us where it looked like we could use a mooring ball to tie up.  

 

The plan was to go just outside of Man-O-War Cay and see what we could find. We loaded up, and took off. The boat did amazingly well considering we had 9 divers and a belly full of fuel headed out to sea. I saw the markers for the Man-O-War Cay channel and proceeded out. After getting into “deep water” which seemed to be anything over 20 feet we started looking for the reef. We idled along the outer edge of the island for a good 20 minutes with little to no luck of seeing a mooring. The only thing that was apparent was the boat’s keel being about 6 feet off the reef with solid 2-foot fluctuation in depth from the onshore rollers.  We abandoned the search and quickly turned away from Man-O-War heading back out into the ocean. It was right about now I wished that I could channel my inner Captain James. Local knowledge is invaluable, especially when you’re navigating shallow reef.

 

Common sense tells you that if you have to second-guess the depth and your boats ability to clear a reef that you need to turn around. Well, I’d managed to waste a good hour of everyone’s time screwing around looking for this mystical reef. Feeling defeated we hit the plotters and noticed that a marine sanctuary wasn’t far away and we’d be able to do some diving in about 30 feet of water.  We motored out into deeper water and came to the front of Fowl Cay. We attempted to come into the reef from the outside of the island. Once again the plotters showed we would have depth, but we learned quickly that we would not be able to make it from the outside of the island.  

 

After idling around for over an hour with little to show for my efforts I was feeling pretty defeated as the captain of the boat. The Abacos has a way of humbling you fairly quickly when it comes to navigation. The waters aren’t marked like they are in the U.S. or more populated countries, and the depth is very deceiving. After coming back into the Sea Of Abaco we pushed out around the back of Fowl Cay and finally saw the reef. We were even greeted by a few mooring balls that let us know we’d in fact made it.

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