Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Annual Small Hope Bay Lodge Staff Party

Nassau Here We Come

Every September Small Hope Bay Lodge closes temporarily to undergo maintenance, repairs and inventory. The first order of business however is the annual staff party. 

Whether it is at Captain Bill's Blue Hole, Somerset Beach, or right at Small Hope the staff party is always a ton of fun. This year Jeff decided to fly everyone over to Nassau and hold the party at Traveller's Rest, a beach side restaurant run by his mother, Joan Hanna. 

Austin, Nicky, Fede, Dale and Tony on the Pursuit

On the morning of the party everyone woke up and headed to the airport, except for a select few who elected to go to Nassau in The Pursuit, Small Hope's 21 foot V-hull. 

Tony and Inez cutting the rug

Arriving in Nassau everyone dispersed for a couple hours to do a little shopping before meeting up at Traveller's for some food, some drinking and of course some dancing. With a live band playing throughout the day there was always someone on the dance floor. Alvin, Jardie and Tony especially enjoyed dancing the day away. 

Alvin gets the dancing started

The food was of course delicious and once everyone had digested a little it was time to hit the water. 

having fun out on the water
There was not a dry seat in the house as everyone had a blast riding on the tube! Fede and Jeff were excellent captains...they only dumped a few people off. 

All in all is was a great day in Nassau and a terrific staff party, one we will not soon forget. A big thank you goes out to Jeff for planning such a wonderful day and leaving everyone with some amazing memories. Annual renovations and inventory are now getting underway at Small Hope,  everyone is getting excited for October and looking forward to the new season!

 Highlights from the 2012 Small Hope Staff Party

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Sinking a Wreck at Small Hope Bay Lodge

Another Awesome Dive Site

Small Hope Bay Lodge takes pride in the diversity of our dive sites and we are constantly on the lookout for new ones.

A friend of Jeff Birch, Anthony Fowler had a mishap with one of his rental planes earlier this summer. The plane was headed for the junk yard when it was suggested that it be used by Small Hope.

Early start, going to pick up the plane

Jeff loved the idea of creating an artificial reef and a sunken plane would make for a very interesting dive site. Jeff sent a crew out on the boat to retrive the plane and bring it back to Small Hope. Once at the dock, small repairs and adjustments were made to the plane to ensure that she would be safe and secure once at the bottom of the blue. 

From left; Tony, Abba, Fede, Austin, Lonnie, Eddie, Byron

Early last week the Small Hope crew took the plane out on Big Boat to the carefully selected site and made the drop. It was not an easy task by any means however with a little ingenuity they were able to land the plane in exactly the rght spot. 

The new site, which features a number of small sand patches surrounded by beautiful coral gardens is in approximately 30-40 feet of water. Baraccuda and quite a few angel fish have been spotted hanging around the wreck.

The site will be used as one of the shallow dives, as well as for the dsd and open water dive students.

Our plane on it's way to the new dive site!

everyone is very excited about the site, officially named "The Landing Strip" and can't wait to start diving it next season. 

Click here to see the plane's journey from junk yard to dive site!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Duke Hanna Remembered: Part One of Two

A Husband, Father and Dear Friend

   Leroy 'Duke' Hanna came into the family of Small Hope Bay Lodge in the early 1960's when the Lodge was in it's first years of operation. Almost immediately Duke fell in love with Joan (former wife of Dick Birch- founder Small Hope Bay Lodge). Duke, with Joan by his side became a father to many, a friend to everyone and a bedrock of Small Hope Bay Lodge and Androsia.

"We lost a part of the history of Small Hope and of course the greater Bahamas in the death of my father Duke. He was a wonderful father, mentor and friend and will be forever missed."   - Jeff Birch 

    It was common to hear the sounds of Duke around Small Hope...even when he wasn't there. As a former president of the Bahamas Musicians and Entertainers Union it was no surprise that he should possess musical talents. One of the few bands successful in finding and securing work in the Bahamas was Duke and His Caribbeans. The band even recorded a few records. The album, entitled "A Perfect Day at Small Hope Bay" was always playing around the lodge or during cocktail hour. Jeff managed to secure a few of the last remaining records and has complied the songs to share with everyone and allow the memory of this great man to live on forever through his music.      

Follow the links below to download all of Duke's music

  Duke was a exceptional man who cherished life and loved his family. As the founding president of the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB), he worked hard to make a difference everyday. An excerpt from a tribute to Duke says;
"He had spent his adult life fighting for the rights of the Bahamian workers. Duke did what he did for working people to help improve their lot and their dignity because he knew it was the right thing to do."
"Words of condolence cannot begin to approximate what this separation must mean to Joan and her family. We can only exult in the honor that this great and noble, sovereign Bahamian did his duty and has quietly departed to a better place. Sleep on Sovereign warrior." 
 click here for the full tribute
   Life itself is very fragile and very short. It is important to cherish the moments in your life and the people that surround you. Family, and the belief that there is nothing in this world more precious has always been the cornerstone of Small Hope Bay Lodge. Small Hope lost a dear family member with the passing of Duke Hanna. He is not one we will soon forget and we are comforted in the fact that his memory will live on forever in the hearts of all who loved him. To Joan and all of Duke's family our hearts are with you in this time of grief. 

Mr. Leroy Stephen 'Duke' Hanna

"Duke has fought a good fight, he has finished his course, and he has kept the faith. May his soul rest in peace." - Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson   full tribute here

Click here for memorial video of Duke

A Perfect Day at Small Hope Bay with Duke Hanna
Right Click and select 'Save As' to download any song
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Small Hope Reunion

Together Again!
A Small Hope reunion was held this summer on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
      John Rice and Kay Baldwin have been coming to Small Hope Bay Lodge for many years now. John an avid bonefisherman and Kay a serious diver found themselves quite at home here on the bay. Over the years they have introduced us to many others; fishermen, divers, enthusiastic relaxers and the group has grown to the size it is now. This year everyone met in Michigan for a little reunion before they meet up again at Small Hope Bay for the holidays.
    Small Hope Bay Lodge is home away from home for this ever growing group and everyone has a fantastic time when they’re on the bay. Whether they are goofing off underwater, casting a fly out on the flats, enjoying an afternoon nap in the hammock on the dock or just chatting over conch fritters it is always great fun!
    And speaking of fun…everyone at Small Hope is very excited for the return of Margarita John and his famous Margarita Parties!  Better be sure to get your order in fast before they are all gone. Christmas and New Years are sure to be a blast with this group making yet another return visit.

Looking forward to December.....

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friends and Family

Small Hope Bay Honors Two Very Dear Friends

 Small Hope has been around since 1960. It was built by Dick Birch and the Birch family still owns and operates the resort. Family has always been a fundamental part of life at Small Hope. The Birch family has grown and grown since Dick first arrived on Andros. And it continues to grow to this day. This is because once you come to stay with us you are part of the family here. We are lucky to be a part of so many people’s lives. Like all families we have our share of good times and bad, but we go through these times together.

Small Hope Bay Lodge recently helped to remember and celebrate two very dear friends. 

The Laing’s have been coming to Small Hope for decades. Patrick Laing was a diver, a father and a good friend. His daughter Elizabeth has come to fulfill his final wish of being laid to rest with Small Hope in The Tongue of the Ocean. His ashes and plaque will be placed near Whip Wire Wall and we hope his spirit will roam the ocean forever. Watch Patrick's final dive here and see as he is laid to rest in the Tongue of the Ocean Memorial Dive

Jim Spencer was another good friend of ours. He and his wife Lynndale made us a part of their lives and shared many happy moments here at Small Hope throughout the years. His ashes and plaque will be laid to rest in the ocean Blue Hole, one of his favorite places in the world. His wife, children and grandchildren all came to Small Hope to celebrate his life and say goodbye.

All of us at Small Hope feel so proud and privileged to have been a part of such special moments. That these men loved Small Hope and our beautiful ocean so much that they have chosen to spend eternity with us says it all. We are moved and so thankful to have touched the lives of these families.
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