AQUA CAT DIVE EXCURSIONS
When we weren't busy eating, we were busy diving. And what a week we had diving around the islands of Eleuthra and Exuma. The Bahamas' dive sites had names as interesting and full of life as the islands themselves. We visited Flat Rock Reef, Crab Mountain, Lobster No Lobster, Dog Rocks Wall, Amberjack Reef, Cut Through City, Danger Reef, Wax Cay Cut, Fire Coral Reef, Hammerhead Gulch, Jeep Reef, Black Tip Wall, Wreck of the Austin Smith, Blue Hole and Periwinkle - names that definitely stir a diver's interest.
Day and night, diving consisted of a combination of shallow, mid, and deep dives. We also did a shark dive at Amberjack Reef and fed frozen chum (bits of bloody fish parts that attract sharks) to about forty reef sharks that showed up for the handout.
Throughout the week, my dive buddy Rodney and I found eagle rays, nurse sharks, giant crabs and tiny octopi. The octopi were so small that they fit in the palm of my hand. Jeep Reef was a shallow afternoon dive where we spotted an eagle ray, a sleeping nurse shark, loads of small fish and hard and soft corals. The visibility was fantastic on this dive and the maximum depth was approximately 40 feet. It was so fabulous that I would have liked the opportunity to do more than one dive here.
We also did a few drift dives (diving as a group and allowing the current to carry you-- the dive boat follows so the divers do not have to swim against the current to return to the boat,) and we looked like a military drill as everyone geared up, took their places at the various jumping off points and waited for the countdown to "dive, dive, dive."
On one of our drift dives, we came upon two sleeping nurse sharks that awoke and took off in opposite directions. One shark came up on an underwater grassy-sandy bank and started rolling and moving along the bank as if it were scratching its back. At the end of the drift dive, we grabbed the rope that the divemaster held out for us and waited for the Aqua Cat to come and get us. What a surreal sight, hanging out in the water and watching the huge boat approach us.
One of the worst night dives that I have ever experienced happened during my week on the Aqua Cat. My dive buddy decided not to dive on this particular night, so I went with one of the crew and another diver. The current was so strong that I was literally pulling myself along the bottom, grabbing turtle grass as I swam, just to get to the dive site. Once upon the dive site, we were bumping into each other and the reef. The only enjoyment of this dive was finding one of the largest hawksbill turtles I have ever seen. The sheer frustration of trying to maintain control in the strong current, however, overpowered this amazing find. After about 15 minutes of being out of control and bumping into my fellow divers and the reef, I had had enough and signaled that I had to surface. We attempted a surface swim back to the boat only to realize that we were too far away; the current continued to take us in the wrong direction. We finally signaled for a pick-up and waited while the crew got into the motorboat (one of the two safety boats tied to the back of the Aqua Cat), and came to get us.
Although diving is the main form of entertainment on this vessel, the Aqua Cat goes to great lengths to offer non-diving activities as well. These include snorkeling trips, kayaking, excursions to private beaches, a visit to the Exuma Land & Sea Park, and a trip to see the iguanas on Allen Cay.
This was a wonderful trip, with great food, great company and great diving. The large ensuite accommodations are much more luxurious than those on most other dive-excursion boats, the crew is fun and knowlegeable, and the organizers provide a diverse array of activities during non-dive times. The choice of dive locations and the variety of dive types also make this a special trip. I only wish the crew would stabilize the ramp at the Paradise Island berth; it's steep at high tide, not secure, and frankly, quite scary.
Learn more by visiting AQUA CAT CRUISES.