Bahamas Stories and Tips

Blackbeard's Experience pt.1

ooooh, Barracuda!!! Photo, Bahamas, Caribbean

Saturday, January 31, 2004

It's here! It's finally here! It's time to get on Blackbeard's!!!!

When I'm checking out of the hotel, I run into another diver, Brent, headed for the boat, so we share a cab. Brent has done the Blackbeard's thing a few times, so he knows what is in store for him. I don't.

We board the boat, are told to set up our dive gear and take all non-collapsible luggage to the holding bin, which will remain in Miami until our return. I get a lower bunk in the front of the boat - seems OK to me!! My roommate, Pam, has already arrived - she has the top bunk. Brent's room is right across the "hall" next to the bathroom. The room size is teensy. Basically, I have a 3/4 mattress on a platform and there are 2 feet between the edge of the mattress and the wall of the room. The live-aboard I did in Australia is now looking roomy and luxurious!!

The captain briefs us on what to expect (2-4 foot seas), safety regulations and tipping (which is brought up again and again during the week - a 10% tip is basically expected at the end of the trip).

Then we leave Miami seaport. The rain begins. The passengers mill about, meeting one another. There are two passengers from France, one from Germany, another Canadian (Fred from Montreal), a couple from California, Brent from Utah, Mark from North Carolina, Rich from Missouri, Pam from West Virginia, and a group from Arizona. Seems like a good mixture.

In an hour we are starting to hit what I thought were rough seas. HAAA!!!!! After another hour I decide to eat supper. I barely make it up out of the main salon before I puke all over the deck. The boat is tossing and turning, the waves are hammering the bow (front of the boat) and it is now dark. Nice!!!!! I sit in my new waterproof outfit (that I paid many dollars for) completely soaked through. I am not impressed. At 8:30pm I decide that I am feeling better and I will go down to my bunk, take off my wet clothes and try to sleep. I lay down for maybe 15 minutes before I have to run up the ladder to be sick again. I swing open the door to hit the head of the guy from France who is facing me (after having run up his ladder) and puking. I join in the fun!! In a minute I hear Adam, from Arizona, yelling to me.... "You better keep on going because I'm coming up too!!" I scurry up the last few steps just in time for Adam to puke all over the deck.

At this point I decide I will stay on deck for the duration of the trip. The captain informs us that we are changing course and heading to North Bimini - only 5 hours of sailing left!! Yahoo!!! He tells us that we will be able to have hot showers once we dock - Yahoo!!!! It is so rough after this that people are unable to remain on the seats of the boat - we end up sitting on the deck bracing ourselves so that we don't slide into the water. Are we having fun yet???? By the end of the trip, I feel as if I am in a comedy sketch - the one where you see the captain at the helm with someone off camera throwing buckets of water. But it's just not funny!!

We get into North Bimini at 1:30am. I can barely wait to get to the wharf so that I never have to set foot on that damn boat again. I am soaked to the skin, shivering cold. I am not a happy camper-at-sea!!! But it's incredible what a 25-minute hot shower can do for a wet sailor. I love Weeches' showers - I have never been happier to be in a public washroom!!!! Under normal conditions, I would be turning up my nose at this semi-grungy shower, but tonight I jump in and love it!! After the shower I head back to my damp little bunk and fall asleep immediately.

Sunday, February 1, 2004 Superbowl Sunday!!!! Yippee!!! I could care less - let's go diving!!!

But the weather is still not cooperating (seas are still rough) and we are to be land-based for the whole day. I start off by walking around the island. It is 4 miles long and maybe 1/8 mile wide. I walk to the various touristy places

*The phone booth from which Hannibal Lecter called Clarice in Silence of the Lambs. The one where he mentions that he is "having a friend for dinner with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
*The Compleat Angler bar, where Hemingway hung out.
*The Bimini Museum, which is the smallest museum I have ever been in, but very informative.
*The beach.
*The End of the World Saloon, which is the most friendly local watering hole, and the location where many visitors feel the need to remove their underwear (which is then hung from the ceiling)
I also wander the island looking for a coin laundry. I find one, however it is closed on Sunday and won't open for the onslaught of passengers with damp, puke encrusted clothing. We end up getting help from the local hotel's maid. She washes and dries the laundry for us without stating a price. What a great gal!!!

On the rounds about the island, I run into Piccolo Pete - an 83 year old man who has a CD to sell and a "dance bar" to fill. He tells us that he meets everyone who comes to the island. Chances are he doesn't tell all his stories to everyone, but Mark and I feel like we heard them all by the time we part his company.

By 330pm the sun is out in full force and the seas have calmed down. But the passengers are too spread out, all over the island, to get them together for a dive. So those of use who are itching to get in the water decide on a snorkel. The crew takes the tenders to the mangroves near the dock and we jump out. Actually it was an interesting snorkel - I photographed one sea life form that no one could identify and we all saw some mangrove upside down jellies. One group saw baby nurse sharks. But the water felt very chilly to us all.

As it was Superbowl Sunday and I was with a bunch of Americans, I decided to take part in the annual event. We all headed off to the End of the World and watched as the football players played and then all saw Janet Jackson's nipple in the half time show. Exciting!!

You can see more photos at http://www.pbase.com/kiml/black

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