Marie Donker's Blue Hole Date: 3/6/2010 Diver: Brian Kakuk Location: Sandy Point, Abaco, Bahamas Site: Marie Donker's Blue Hole Time: 11:38 AM Max Depth: 62 feet Bottom Time: 55 minutes Mode: Open Circuit Side Mount Gas: EAN 28, two side mount cylinders
I was invited to check out this small marine blue hole opening in the mangrove channel behind the home of Marie Donker, a resident of Sandy Point, the southern most settlement on Abaco Island.
Marie's friend Rick, had a bone fishing skiff moored at the end of a very small dock in a dense mangrove channel, close to the blue hole, so he offered to give me a liftout to the site about 600 feet away.Once we got anchored near the site, I dropped down into some unusually chilly water.The Bahamas is known for it's warm water temperatures, often near 90 degrees in some of the marine caves here in the summer time, but this time of year the strong cold fronts had chilled down the very shallow bank water to a very icy 60 degrees!I know the northeastern divers are rolling their eyes right now, but this is very cold for an island boy after 23 years in the Bahamas.Itís hard to believe my coldest cave dive ever, was right here in the Bahamas.
Once I got over the chill, I dropped down into a vertical fissure where the cold, clear water was emerging, and a few small snappers were freaking out at the sight of the noisy bubble generating intruder disturbing the ebb and flow of their daily living.
A very convenient tie off at 20 feet made for a quick start of the dive, At least until I got to the bottom of the fracture.There was one small, odd shaped opening with a flake of rock sticking right into the center of it, leaving me no choice but to remove one cylinder to get through.I tied off to the flake, pulled out some slack and locked off the reel, then dropped it down through the small hole.Following on of my removed cylinders, I squeezed down through the entrance with out too much hassle, landing on a mangrove leaf covered floor at a depth of 45 feet.
A small oval passage with clear water led off into the flow. This passage was only 4 to 5 feet in diameter, and was covered in colorful, filter feeding animals that gathered their food from the reversing currents that flow through the cave. White, blue, brown and orange sponges were scattered on the walls and ceiling, while the floor was a jumble of light gray organic muds, redish colored rock and loosely layered mangrove tree leaves.
The passage continued in a southeast direction slightly dipping to depths between 55 and 60 feet.There were several squeezes through mud and eroded formations along the way, but each time the passage opened up again on the other side of the restrictions.Eventually the passage began get smaller, and the sediments were slowly getting closer and closer to the ceiling.
Knowing I was going to be coming back through each of the odd shaped restrictions in zero visibility, I decided to stop the dive with 25 feet of line left on the reel.I tied off to one of the only solid wall projections I could find, cut the reel free and dropped a line arrow at the end, which is 695 feet from where I had entered the cave.
The first 4 or 5 minutes of the swim out were in nearly zero visibility making the odd shaped restrictions a bit of a challenge, but the water cleared up much faster than I had anticipated, giving me plenty of opportunities to look into some of the half dozen side leads I had seen on the way in.As I got closer to the entrance, I decided to tie off and check out one of these leads just to empty the reel.
By this time the tide had changed and the water was now siphoning into the cave.The lead I picked seemed to be paralleling the original passage, but I was stopped short of any more exploration when the line ran out on the reel.
My fingers were complaining in the colder than usual water, so I decided to head out and check out the different entrance openings at the front of the cave.After passing back through the original entrance restriction and replacing my cylinder, I could easily see another passage with light at the end of it off to the right.A short, 30 foot swim through this tunnel and I reached a vertical, 4 foot diameter solutional opening where dozens of small snappers were fighting to stay on one place in the strongly siphoning current.I pulled my way into the sunlight, past my bubbles, which were going the wrong way, and back into the small shallow bay where my newly found friends were waiting in the skiff.What an amazing dive.This cave has plenty of exploration potential left, but I think it will be done when the water warms up in the summer!