Sunday, April 12, 2009
A Week Gone By Too Quickly (long post!)
We have had so much fun this week! Wednesday was our chill-out day since we knew Thursday and Friday would be action-packed. We enjoyed lounging on the boat and reading. We checked out the Green Parrot bar and grill next door at the Hurricane Hole Marina and caught a gorgeous sunset while introducing Mom to Martin's favorite drink: the Miami Vice aka Pain In The Ass.
Thursday we went out with Stuarts Cove on a snorkel excursion. The bus came at 8:00am to take us to the opposite end of the island. We snorkeled 3 sites. The first was Mom's favorite - the reef dive. She has a good eye too and pointed out a lion fish in the reef. This is an invasive, non-native fish that is wreaking havic as it pushes out native species. They are amazingly pretty (and poisonous! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionfish). We saw a lot of yellow-tail snapper, sergeant majors, blue tang and parrot fish. The second site was a bit less exciting but it was interesting to see a small plane wreck. Then we went to see the sharks. The site is over a large ship wreck, about 40 (I think) feet below. They put out a line and you get in and hold on. You're instructed not to kick and splash or make any loud noises. The yellow-tail snapper swarm around you (as they do at all the sites) because they know they'll get fed. There were several, at least 7, large reef sharks swimming below. They stayed down at the bottom for the most part while we floated above. After you get out, they feed the yellow-tail snapper and the fun begins. These fish, about 10-12 inches long, swarm around and splash and go crazy. This attracks the sharks that come up from below and eat the snapper. That's when you get why you're not supposed to splash and yell - yikes! It was really cool! We were all very proud that we were able to get into the water and glad that we did - they are amazing creatures. The day was fantastic and we found ourselves back at the boat early afternoon. We spent the rest of day warming up (the water was COLD) and chilling out.
Friday was Mom's birthday and our Powerboat Adventure day. We headed out at 8:30am on a fast speedboat. We left for Allen Cay, about 30 miles SW of Nassau. Allen Cay is known for its iguana ("Bahamian Dragons") http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclura_cychlura_inornata. We were given 20 minutes and several grapes. You go onto the beach where dozens of iguana are waiting, and you feed them. I loved these guys and couldn't help but post way too many pictures of them. Then we took a quick trip over to Ship Channel Cay which is owned by the Powerboat people. They have a nice facility there where they serve you lunch and there's an all day open bar. We discovered another tasty tropical drink called "Mango Madness". They had the afternoon packed with activities that you could participate in.
The highlight for sure was the stingray feeding. You line up in a row on your knees so the water is up to about your hips or waist. They give you strips of raw fish that you hold between your fore and middle fingers. When the stingray swims close you put your hand in the water palm down and the stingray swims over your hand and sucks the fish up. It's AWESOME! The rays are pretty big, about 3 feet wide and gentle. They brush against you and feel like soft rubber. One kind of swam up and sucked on my leg! Kind of scary and very cool. They don't suck very hard - no hickey :)
Next was the shark feeding. They take the wahoo (fish) scraps (from our lunch) and thread them on a rope. They throw them out and the sharks come in and eat them. They grab the rope and it looks like they are "shark wrangling". This is mostly for the benefit of the video they shoot but it also pulls the sharks up into 2 feet deep water and you see them very close up. There were a couple of nurse sharks, several reef sharks and a very large lemon shark.
Then we did a drift snorkel. The current is very strong between the 2 cays there so you enter the water and then drift down to the end. You have to kick pretty hard to get out of the current and to the island before the current runs into the sea. The snorkel was pretty but you move really quickly so you don't see as many fish. Of course you Do see lots of sharks because they just got fed and a few are still hanging around. We were actually closer to sharks on this snorkel than the day before!
Afterward, we had lunch and hung out on the beach. We got to see the island pig, Stoner and the goats that live on the cay. They had a nature walk after lunch but we opted to chill out and read on the beach. Then we headed home. It was such a great day! And we got a video of the afternoon that is awesome - showing us feeding the stingray and snorkeling... I was really happy that Mom got to see a bit of the Exumas and the more "natural" parts of the Bahamas as well as the busy urban area here at Paradise Island/New Providence Island. We took a lot of pictures - up on the pic of the day.
An added benefit was that we also got to see the passage to Allen Cay and the anchorages there. This is exactly where we'll be going when we get back from our visit home - yay - now we know to bring grapes :)
Saturday was a sad day because Mom left in the morning. The airport here was insane since it was the end of spring break for kids and a holiday as well. Thankfully, Mom got home no problem. My only regret is that the week went by way too fast and I wish Mom could have stayed much longer...