Lost Girl Field Trip: Andros Island-Part 4Adventure Travel, Andros Island, Bahamas, Blogging Your Trip, Health & Safety, Hotels & Resorts, Travel Philosophy — By Jen B on February 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Jen: While I wouldn’t trade my position as 1/3 of The Lost Girls writing team for anything in…well…the world, I recently spread my journalist wings and accepted my first solo assignment: a 9-part web series on Andros Island for the pop culture travel site, Jaunted.com. But even though I temporarily flew away from the nest, I felt compelled to bring my stories home to you, my favorite TLG readers. So enjoy my fourth post and stay tuned each week for a new entry!
“The Great Wall (Dive) of Andros”: I’ve hurled myself out of a plane in Switzerland…repelled down rock walls in Ecuador..and conquered three bungee jumps in a row in New Zealand. But those were mere child’s play compared to my most adrenaline-inducing endeavor — diving to a staggering 185 feet below sea level in Andros Island, Bahamas!
Since my 7 day scuba package at the Small Hope Bay Lodge was just about up, I decided it was now or never to take the ultimate plunge. Earlier that week, I’d broken my standing depth record of a pitiful 65 feet, by upping it to 90. And then came 110…then 130…and finally, all the way to 140 feet. But like any addiction, once you get a taste of the goods, you gotta have more. Not to say that I took the decision lightly. But as I realized during my previous deep dives, if I followed my trained underwater professionals, stayed calm and paid attention to my time and air, it was pretty much smooth sailing, err, floating.
And unlike some scuba sites around the world, where going for distance doesn’t necessarily have any aesthetic or experiential benefit, its quite the opposite case with Andros Island. Why you ask? Well, it’s simple. The Andros wall, which begins where the ocean floor ends, is a vertical drop-off where the continental shelf plummets down to 6,000 feet into the Tongue of the Ocean. No, I did not add an extra zero to that figure by mistake. It really is 6,000 feet. And I was about to fly head first over the wall and down to an ice age shoreline to see the great wonder of the world for myself.
Under the expert tutelage of Small Hope Dive Master, Amanda Lee, my dive buddy Mark and I were as ready as we’d ever be. The process was amazingly simple. Descend to the edge of the wall and drop fast as hell until we reached a sandy alcove. Without letting Amanda’s fins out of our eyesight for even a second, we made it from 0-185 feet in less than two minutes.
Borrowing the standby scuba analogy that scuba diving is like being in outer space, arriving on the underwater beach seriously felt like landing on the moon. It was absolutely other-worldly. And then, thanks to a touch of nitrogen narcosis (aka â€˜getting NARCed), which is pretty much guaranteed at this depth, it felt delightfully silly. Without getting into the science of it all, I was thoroughly enjoying its “Martini Effect” – which humorously likens NARCO diving to downing a few of 007’s favorite libations (shaken vs. stirred not specified). All day leading up to the dive Amanda warned us that if we saw the elusive chicken fish, we were NARCed for sure. So when she pulled a pre-hidden rubber chicken from the sand and waved it in front of me and Mark, it was pretty much confirmed.
As we hung mid-air staring into the vast 6000 foot abyss below (did I mention it was 6000 feet!), my inner monologue went something like this: “Awww, Mark’s gonna geeettt iiinnn troouuuble for going too close to the edge. Hee hee! Ooh, I just laughed under water. That’s funny. Hee hee! Glub Glub! Ooh, look, bubbles. That’s really funny. It’s so nice on this little beach. I really like it here and…”
My mega deep thoughts were swiftly interrupted by Amanda who motioned that it’s time to begin our ascent. “Goodbye strange space world. I’ll miss you,” managed to eek out of my brain just before we hit 135 feet and I returned to normal. Well, relatively speaking anyway!
After such a seriously mind-blowing experience, the only thing to do was throw high fives all around, grab a seat at the outdoor bar and brag about going 185 feet to anyone and everyone within earshot. As we re-played the events of the day, Amanda mentioned an article that Esquire.com ran earlier this year entitled, “60 Things Worth Shortening Your Life For” and guess what was ranked #30? Narco Diving in Andros Island!
And I have to say, I thoroughly agree!