In August, PADI Dive Centers throughout the Bahamas weathered the ravaging 115-mph winds and torrential rains of Category 3 Hurricane Irene, most reporting minimal damage and no injuries. In fact, many resumed normal operation just days after the storm. Sport Diver spoke with several Bahamas dive operators to find out what it was like to ride out the storm.
On New Providence, Stuart Cove of Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas says Nassau “just got a brush,” from Irene. “We did tremendous preparation and moved all the boats, as we always do, and everything is perfect,” he explained. “I did a dive yesterday (Sunday, Aug. 28) on Ray of Hope, and it was tremendous, lots of sharks and grouper.”
A similar report came from Linda Osborne at UNEXSO on Grand Bahama. “We were so fortunate. For us it was a non-event. We’ve had worse thunderstorms,” she said. “The visibility is already calming down and on Saturday morning the dive boats went out.”
Some of the outer islands didn’t emerge so unscathed, experiencing wind damage to buildings and grounds and continued power outages.
“We took a pretty hard hit, with some damage to roofs and the grounds, but thankfully no damage to the marina or any vessels.” said Elizabeth Vance of Stella Maris Resort on Long Island. “We typically close this time of year anyway, but we’ll have to delay our reopening from October 7 to November 1.”
Conditions are improving on a daily basis, so learn the status of your favorite Bahamas dive operator at www.bahamasdiving.com/irene.html. And check this quick rundown of how some PADI operators fared:
Andros — Small Hope Bay Lodge: Minimal wind damage. Operations resumed on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Bimini — Bimini Big Game Club / Neal Watson's Dive Bimini: No damage to boats or dive center. Operations resumed on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Eleuthera — Cape Eleuthera Resort & Yacht Club: Minimal wind damage, boats unharmed. Electrical service remains down; resort will reopen with power returns.
Grand Bahama — UNEXSO: No damage to boats or dive center. Operations resumed on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Long Island — Stella Maris Resort: Damage to roofs and resort grounds, dive boats unharmed. Resort is currently closed for the season; will reopen Nov. 1.
New Providence/Nassau — Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas: No damage to boats or dive center. Reopened for business on Saturday, Aug. 27