Return to the Blue Hole

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

It was with cautious excitement that I returned to Long Island this winter. My last trip to Dean’s Blue Hole—for the Vertical Blue competition in April 2010—was extraordinary: diving with my favorite training partners (Winram and Nitsch), and setting three new American records (including my first 90m dive). Could a trip in winter—when cold fronts typically drop the visibility near zero, making the Blue Hole black at depth—measure up to that? Had Hurricane Irene—which pummeled Long Island last August—damaged the reefs or the Blue Hole?

Long Island rarely disappoints, however, and this winter was no exception. Rather than cold fronts, we had week after week of fair weather, and water temperatures typical for May. In spite of Irene’s 10m/30’ waves and 100 knot winds, the island looked the same (only the tree trunks inside the reef serving notice of the storm’s violence). The diving platform in the Blue Hole was rebuilt, even larger than before (no doubt with this fall’s Vertical Blue competition in mind).

So, comfortably in 3mm and 2mm suits, I focused on technique. After a year out of the water in 2010-2011 (to complete a Masters in Finance), I was rusty at last year’s world championships: a 6th place overall finish in Constant no Fins didn’t blind me to the need to hone technique prior to reaching my next objectives. No deep dives on this trip: only compression and equalization training as a foundation for future competitions.

There was time of course just to enjoy the sea—Long Island is too beautiful just to train. Good viz days spent taking photos, and for shark dives. Early mornings were perfect for swims with eagle rays, stingrays and sea turtles.

The best part Long Island, though, is usually the chance to spend time with good friends. Daan Verhoeven and George Miller from London were my housemates and training partners. Both are a charm to dive and hang out with, and Daan’s a dedicated photographer: my gallery page benefitted heavily from his inability to put down the camera! And as always, Will and Brittany Trubridge were wonderful hosts, stopping by for visits and inviting us to dinners of fresh local cuisine (both are excellent cooks, and Brittany a good baker as well).
Like past trips to Long Island, the only downside to this excursion was departure day, softened somewhat by the knowledge that I’ll be returning this fall for Vertical Blue.