Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thunderball Grotto

We left Georgetown after a crazy night of howling winds, and wondered why we climbed the monument and didn't leave yesterday instead. The anchor was up and we were moving before 06:30, out into the swells in Exuma Sound. The sail was good, we were running with the high winds, and as the swells built with it, we had to slow down a little. The trip included going through a cut, a passage between the ocean and the shallow banks on the east side of the Exuma chain. These cuts have wicked currents, and when this current flows into big swells and high winds, the waves pile up and stand tall. These standing waves and opposing currents are dangerous, and can cause a loss of control. No, not bladder control, although that is a possibility, we are talking boat handling control. These cuts are narrow, and rocky too, so control is important not too get turned sideways and founder. So, we slowed down, and went through Galliot Cut just at the end of the incoming tide, and it was a breeze.

The sail to Staniel from the West side of the island, was great, we had 18 knots of wind and the boat was flying along at 7 to 8 knots, fastest we saw was 8.3 for a while. We dropped anchor in a small anchorage just off the entrance to Thunderball Grotto, and ran Guincha to shore for a break. As we were ordering a post-sail beer, we ran into Scott and his wife Narrissa, and their baby Gordon! Scott is the son of our friend Jeannette from Long Island, and he works not far from here on Overyonder Cay. What a small world, we fished with Scott the day we went tuna fishing!

Way back in 1965 there was a movie made here in the Bahamas, and a portion, a very small portion actually, was filmed right here in the underwater cave that is known as Thunderball Grotto. Yes, you guessed it, the movie was a James Bond film called Thunderball, starring Sean Connery as James Bond.
The movie is about international outlaw group Spectre having gotten their dirty rotten hands on a couple of nukes, and then demanding a Brazilion British pounds for their return. Somehow, the moviemakers decided to hire none other than Tom Jones (remember "What's Up Pussycat", arghh! ) to perform the intro song for the flick. It is miserable, absolutely the worst Bond song ever, but the silhouette of the nude girl swimming aimlessly around in circles during the song and opening credits helps a lot. Anyhow, I am not sure if it was called the Thunderball Grotto before the movie, it was probably just called Grotto. After the movie came out, they changed the name to Thunderball Grotto I am guessing. But later, they brought Bond back here for the filming of another flick, "Never Say Never Again", and they didn't change the name to "Never Say Never Again Grotto", even though the Grotto got a good deal more movie time in the second film. Who decides these things anyway, go figure.

It is important to enter the Grotto at slack tide, as there there is a strong current that enters from one side or the other, as the cave has several entrances. Two of these are exposed at low tide, so you can swim, or preferably, snorkel right in without doing the Aquaman routine through the entrance to gain access to the open area inside.
Once inside, the cave is round, like a rotunda, with an intersting domed ceiling that is probably 30 feet high. The roof has several openings in it, that let the sun beam down, lighting the inside in an eerie random fashion. There are lots of fish inside, and they are used to curious swimmers feeding them scraps, so we brought along some bread which they swarmed instantly. The areas outside the grotto were better lit, and the rocks were hosting a huge variety of soft and hard corals, as well as lots of tropical fish. It was definitely a worthy visit, and we would come back here to "Thunderball-Never-Say-Never-Again-Saltrun-Grotto". Check out our latest video, an underwater look at Thunderball Grotto!

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