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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Southern Girl

With the family visiting us we thought it would be nice to do one of those things that people rarely get a chance to do, which is a sunset cruise out the the Sandbar and interact with the rays. Given that my folks (currently) are not qualified divers, the Sandbar would be an ideal introduction to come face to fin with willing rays.

The timing was perfect as apart from four other people, we had the whole catamaran to ourselves with Captain Tilley, Chris and Eddie from Red Sail Sports making sure we could want for nothing and that we we well looked after.

Captain Tilley strikes a dashing pose on the dack of the cat
After a slow motor out into the bay, the sails were unfurled and we were well underway. Northward ho! It didn't take us too long to get to the Sandbar where there as only one other boat and three people there, so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, which was epic.

If you kiss a frog and it turns into a prince, what happens when you kiss a ray??
This also meant that my folks, who were a bit hesitant about the whole thing didn't feel crowded and didn't have to worry about nutters on jetskis and other water craft being a nuisance. After a bit of coaxing, the family started to get into the swing of things and got right into interacting with the rays.

At no time were the rays coerced, badgered or man handled into doing anything they didn't want to do and they were more than happy to interact with us humans on a equal footing. This I feel is the sign of a good operator, as with many previous visits to the Sandbar and Deep, I have seen some horrible things done by other operators that cause the rays a lot of distress, not to mention distress to the visitors as well.

Tilley, Chris and Eddie set a good example of how people should be conducting themselves around the marine life and making sure their guests have the best possible experience so maximum kudos to them.

Who's that handsome man with the camera rig in the background?
The Sanbar was awash with dasyatis americana of all sizes and were more than happy to participate in a bit of playtime with all of us, darting in and out and offering big sloppy wet stingray kisses.

It's nice to see so many rays out as the numbers had been in decline for a little while so here's hoping that things are starting to turn around fro them.

We don't think the family could have had a better time if they had tried with the encounter leaving them humbled and extactic to have spent some quality time with these amazing creatures. Not to mention drinking the fresh made cocktails in front of one of Mother Natures finest sunsets. It just doesn't get better than this.

Many thanks to our friends Captain Tilley, Chris and Eddie from Red Sail Sports for providing first rate service on the cruise and to everyone else out there, if you're ever visting the island this is probably the best experience you can have interacting with the magnificent marine life in the wild (the turtle farm and the dolphin prison camps don't count and should be avoided at all costs).

I know this visit to the Sandbar is something that my family will remember, treasure and talk about for many years to come..........

Sunset over Stingray Sandbar.