Bahamas on the Juliet: Sharks! Turtles! Conchs!


AS DIVEBOATS GO, THE JULIET IS UNIQUE.  A three-masted schooner built in 1974, and a liveaboard since 2003, it carries only 12 divers, sailing out of Miami to cruise the waters around Bimini and the chain of small cays stretching southward. The sea bottom here is mostly sand, punctuated by coral heads large and small and dive sites with names like “Bull Run,” “Krispy Kreme” and “Head of the Grouper” (did not see any groupers or their heads). “The Strip” is an amazing site, a low wedge of coral in the midst of the sand, about 200 feet long and 25 feet wide and overflowing with fishes in the daytime. At night, the fishes are mostly gone and other reef denizens come out.

I’ve been diving since 1993, and I encountered more sharks, turtles, stingrays, lobsters and spotted eels on this trip than on any other. And many species of fishes. I suspect that since the coral heads are essentially underwater oases in the middle of a sandy desert, life gets concentrated on them — making for excellent marine life sightings.






The Sapona was one of 19 freighters built out of concrete by Henry Ford during World War I, at a time when steel was in short supply. Eventually, it was sold to Al Capone, who used it as a casino and brothel in Miami, and for bootlegging during Prohibition. Eventually, it ran aground and during World War II the U.S. Navy towed it to its present location near Bimini for use as target practice. It’s in about 15 feet of water, a shallow dive. Above water it’s deteriorating badly. Below the waterline it’s basically an intact cement wall.


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