Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac

Tropical Storm Isaac visits Andros Island

Small Hope dock as the wind began to pick up
For those of us in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Isaac has been a hot topic the last few days. The storm has kept us all on alert and as it changed course multiple times Small Hope Bay Lodge, like others in the Bahamas took the necessary precautions to ensure we were ready for Isaac’s arrival.

a little soccer before starting storm preparations
Nice one Tony

Early Saturday with conditions clearly unsuitable for diving, preparations began. A top priority was the safe transfer of our guests to Nassau while the staff worked tirelessly to ensure Small Hope was protected from whatever the storm could throw our way. With the cabins boarded up and sandbags in place, the dock sufficiently secured, and the boats safe and sound in Davis creek, Isaac arrived.

Protecting the lounge
Dennis, Davis and Claudius preparing for Isaac

The lounge 

 As the wind blew strong and the rain came down outside the staff of Small Hope Bay rode out the storm together in the lounge challenging each other to games of dominos, backgammon, jenga and the largest game of apples to apples Small Hope has ever seen.  Renauldo cooked us all a delicious meal, and the sound of Isaac outside was soon drowned out by the laughter and conversation inside!

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]The wind and rain continued throughout the night, but as the sun came up this morning we were happy to find that the damage done by the worst of Isaac was very minimal. 
A few palm branches and coconuts down but otherwise Small Hope fared very well through this storm. Today we are experiencing wind and scattered showers, the newest models for Tropical Storm Isaac show that the worst has passed us here on Andros Island. We are expecting conditions to improve over the next couple days, with the wind dropping considerably by Monday and Tuesday. Small Hope Bay Lodge will be closed Today, Sunday August 26 and then back in action Monday August 27.

High tide and big swells

Here comes Isaac

Small Hope Bay Lodge and all of Andros Island were very lucky not to have received harsher conditions throughout this storm. From all of us here at SHBL we would like to send out our love and best wishes to those who were more seriously affected and those who Isaac has yet to affect. For the residents of Haiti, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic who were hit hard by Isaac, our thoughts are with you.

As Jeff Birch would say “Small Hope would like to send out BIG Hope” for the families affected by Tropical Storm Isaac! 
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Discovery of a New Dive Site

Al's Cooler
A New Dive Site for Small Hope Bay

A new dive site has been officially added to the Small Hope Bay Lodge site roster. A multilevel dive, this site takes divers South along a beautiful section of the wall then comes up to a large sand patch and some lovely plate coral. Both sharks and turtles have been spotted out over the wall but the real attraction at this site is the old 'fish pot' that is now and will forever be known as Al's Cooler. Here is a little history about the discovery and naming of our new site.... 

Al and Alison Scheflow have been coming to Small Hope Bay Lodge for many years. Ever since their first visit in the summer of 2003 they were hooked. Avid divers, they have been diving everywhere from the Florida Keys to Bonaire, but when they were looking for some more diversity and the opportunity to experience some different dives they decided to try the Bahamas. Andros Island, home to the third longest barrier reef and just minutes from the tongue of the ocean was the perfect choice. So they packed their bags and took the short flight over to the beautiful and secluded Small Hope Bay Lodge. 

The diving at SHBL is unlike the diving found in other places. Whether it is a cavern, a wreck, a wall or a blue hole you are never disappointed and as Al and Alison discovered there is always something new to see. This was particularly true on their latest visit to the lodge as they were given the opportunity to explore some never before seen areas of the reef with a few of the Small Hope divemasters.  

It was on one of these exploratory dives that they happened upon the new site. The plan was to anchor and travel along the wall until they found an interesting spot. It was clear however that where they anchored was just perfect. They cruised along marveling at the beauty of the wall and at the magnificence that is the tongue of the ocean. Few things are as spectacular as a 6000 foot drop to the bottom of the deep blue. As the divers came up over the top Al and Alison made the discovery of an old fish pot that had long since been forgotten. Everyone knew that they had found a wonderful site.

But what to call it? Many different names were tossed about, however after some consideration the name that seemed most fitting was Al's Cooler. 

To understand how the site got its name "Al's Cooler" it is important to know a little more about the Scheflow's and their time at SHBL. As members of the Small Hope family Al and Alison have implemented their own Small Hope traditions whenever they come. Al, a serious advocate for drinking only seriously cold beer not only created the Small Hope Beer Koozie but also the tradition of serving beer out of a cooler of ice at the bar.

 "Straight from the cooler to the koozie and the beer stays colder longer".

So when Al discovered the old fish pot on the mystery dive he said it was like finding himself an underwater cooler. Divemaster Dennis joked that he could have cold beer...even on a dive! Believe it or not that is just what he did. To christen the new sight Al and Alison brought down a few beer bottles to put in the "cooler" and even cracked one open and took a sip before tossing it in. Everyone had a great time finding, naming and making the new site official. 

Small Hope would like to send out a BIG thank you to divemasters Dennis, Sam and Laura and especially Al and Alison Scheflow for all the their help with the new site. Last week the first official group tried out the site and all the divers agree it is a beautiful place! 

Check out The Christening of Al's Cooler here and watch how Al and Alison pay tribute to the new site! 
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Andros Marine Life

                                                                 From Nudibranchs to Hammerheads
 There is Always Something to see at Small Hope Bay

Whether you are snorkeling under the dock, kayaking in Davis Creek, fishing the flats on the West Side or diving 140 feet down Whip Wire Wall you are sure to see some amazing creatures here at Small Hope Bay on Andros Island.


   Given that Small Hope is located on the third longest barrier reef and just a 5 minute boat ride from the 6000ft drop that is the Tongue of the Ocean it is no surprise that you would see many things while out diving. Our divers marvel at the graceful spotted eagle rays that cruise past them out over the wall or the impressive hammerhead shark that swims by to smile at the camera. As the divers come up over the top of the wall it is always a treat to be greeted by a curious hawksbill turtle or 'Frank' our resident mutton snapper who loves the spotlight and is a huge camera hog. The shallow dives prove to be just as abundant in marine life and always give the divers something to get excited about. You could be searching for blennies and nudibranchs at Central Park in the morning and then find yourself caught in a school of chub or creole wrasse in the afternoon on your dive to Brad's Mountain. 

It is not just while diving that you will be thrilled by the life in the ocean. Simply snorkeling or kayaking Small Hope Bay and Davis Creek is a great way to experience the marine life in the Bahamas. Count how many sea stars you find in the bay or go see the checkered puffer fish that live in the creek. Perhaps give the Mangroves a snorkel as well. As a breeding and nursery ground for the fish that live out on the reef it is abundant with juvenile parrotfish, damselfish, surgeonfish and even the beautiful honeycomb cowfish.


Small Hope dock has been proclaimed by many as their favorite snorkel site as it is home to large schools of grunt and snapper. Not to mention lobster and of course our resident octopus! Watch out though, you may find yourself being followed by the ever curious barracuda.

 A pod of friendly bottle nose dolphin come by every now and then to say hello, just last month they joined a group on their discover scuba diving course. It was a great first experience for the divers to say the least.

   Just like the reef and the bay  the bonefish flats all around the island are always abundant in marine life. You are sure to find many fish such as permit, tarpon and especially bonefish. The flats will not disappoint. 


 The marine life in the Bahamas and specifically Andros Island is thriving. Laura, a Small Hope divemaster says that, "Never has there been a dive or a snorkel where I didn't see enough. I will never get tired of seeing red lip blennies, reef sharks, or Frank my favorite snapper".

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