Every year in or around July we run a trip to the Bahamas. Coral Reef has been doing this for the past 22 years. They are always on Blackbeards, Aqua Cat or for the last 2 years the Cat Ppalu. We have had many memorable trips from the early days of doing the crossing from Miami to Bimini to the more recent itinerary of picking up the boat in Nassau and cruising down to the Exuma Keys. Last year we did this itinerary on the Cat Ppalu for the first time; it was just fantastic. It was hard to believe that any other trip could be that good. This years trip was that good and maybe even a little better. Once again our group and the crew blended perfectly. The theme for last years trip was the Pirates of Coral Reef.
When we boarded the boat on July 13 the first order of business was to decide where in the Exumas we wanted to dive. Naturally I let Captain Bill know I preferred wall dives. Everyone kind of went along but there was a mutiny brewing among some members of our group. For years there had been an effort to head the boat far south to Staniel Caye to observe and interact with the famous swimming pigs. Previously I had always fought against going to see the pigs because it meant losing a couple of dives. Alas, this year the pig afficianados had enough votes to head the boat south.
The diving going down was spectacular. Blacktip Wall in particular was so good we did it twice. Our schedule was two walls in the morning with two shallow reef dives in the afternoon. After Mondays walls we headed off to see the pigs. I had pictured small little pigs like the ones some people have as pets. No, these were the 400 pound monster variety of feral pig that a farmer had deserted on the island. Armed with apples to feed them our fearless group got in the water with them. It did seem a little unusual to be standing waste deep in water feeding apple chunks to swimming pigs but hey you have to try different things during your life. One thing you don’t want to try is getting out of the water on the beach with the pigs. One member of our team, Amy, did just that and was promptly attacked by a pig aptly named Chocolate Chip. Luckily she managed to disengage herself and only suffered minor injuries. I’ll try to post video as soon as I get it because it was quite hilarious. Another of our group, Jeanette, was amazed to see a giant rock moving in the sand. She pointed it out to her brother, Scott, who informed her the rock she was about to step on was a big southern stingray. After that we had our theme for this year “Pigs, Stingrays and Pirates”. To see the pigs and stingrays go here.
As we turned to head back north on Tuesday the seas had picked up on the east side of the islands so walls were out of the question. We did have some good drift dives on Jeep Reef and the Washing Machine. However, the highlight of the trip back was our shark dive at Amberjack Reef. To see what all the excitement was about follow this link.
Unfortunately these trips are always too short, but we’ll be back again next year. This time on the Aqua Cat, but I think we will go check the pigs out again.
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