Water covers 75% of the earth’s surface, allowing us to ride in pretty much any place imaginable. It seems like every spot has its benefits, but all too often we take our surroundings for granted. We get accustomed to our habitat and at that point it just becomes normal. The one thing that we tend to forget about is what’s below the surface of the medium we use as our playground. If you want a change in perspective, then make your way to the Bahamas.
For the past five summers I’ve been doing wakeboard trips to Nassau for a week at a time. The family that I stay with loves wakeboarding and they operate a massive dive operation called Stuart Cove’s, which gives me an opportunity for more and more incredible experiences every year. Everything about their lives completely revolves around the water (and I’m jealous). Why wouldn’t it? The water is crystal clear and warm year-round, allowing for some of the most amazing riding (and diving) conditions imaginable.
After a full day of coaching, we were getting ready to put the boat away and as soon as the kids left the entire ocean glassed off. I knew that I had to take advantage of the situation and go for a quick set. As soon as I stood up I cut out on my heels and positioned myself so that I could look straight over the nose of my board. It was a surreal experience. I felt like I was floating above another world. Coral heads, starfish and rays were passing just below me. I tried to actually ride, but the clarity of the water that day made it a little difficult to determine where my landing was. It was incredible. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
On the last day of my trip, I wanted to explore more of the world below the surface. If you haven’t been diving (or even snorkeling), I highly recommend that you give it a try. It is a completely different world. In the past, I’ve done quite a few wreck and shark dives, but this time we made our way out to the “Tongue of the Ocean,” which is a wall that drops from about 100 feet to 6000 feet. We made our way down to about 120 feet and explored vast amounts of coral. The amount of life thriving around us was astounding. There were small tropical fish everywhere, an abundance of lion fish, the largest lobster that I have ever seen and a few sharks here and there that seemed to be interested in what we were doing. What an escape from the regular abundance of noise and technology.
As soon as we got back to land, one of my friends invited me to go spear fishing with him out at the Berry Islands, which was about an hour boat ride away. I happily accepted the invitation and the next thing I knew we were back on a boat making our way across open water. We spent the next few hours snorkeling, shooting spears and collecting our dinner. I didn’t have the greatest aim with a Hawaiian sling, but we still managed to catch enough to fill out bellies that evening.
So on our way back to Nassau, we experienced something that was simply amazing. While we are cruising, a large pod of dolphins came up to the boat and were riding the bow and launching out of our wake. They were playing with us and I decided that we needed to stop and go for a swim. We were in open ocean, no visible land, 6000 feet of water below us and dolphins all around. It was incredible. They would come over and swim right next to us. I would dive down and they would dive down to mimic me. At one point we even decided to toss out a rope and drag behind the boat. They swam right next to me until I almost lost the camera and was forced to let go.
Well we fully lost track of time and the next thing that we knew it was dark. We hopped back into the boat, set our GPS coordinates and started making our way directly towards a massive lightning storm. My heart sank. We were in 26-foot boat heading towards something that looked like a violent strobe light and we couldn’t see land. What do you do in that moment? Blast some music, pin the throttle and just hope for the best. It was an intense ride in, but we obviously made it and immediately celebrated by throwing the fish on the grill and enjoying a nice little feast.