Thunderball Grotto and Pig Beach

We arrived to Staniel Cay, Bahamas on August 22, 2017.

We were preparing to anchor when I noticed that our anchor remote wires had come loose. While John was rewiring the remote (not an easy task), I had to keep the boat in place…not fun.  The current was strong, and the boat kept shifting off course. There were shallow waters and rocks surrounding us, and I was seriously scared. John finished wiring the remote, after what seemed like a lifetime, and took over the captain’s chair.

We were making our way over to the marina to find fuel when we hit bottom. It was a hard hit on rock. John yelled for everyone to check the bilges. We all ran below and checked everything out. There was no water rushing in thankfully.

A man with a rather large motor yacht was parked at the marina and saw what had happened. After we dislodged from the rock, he helped guide us in close to the marina where we could anchor and check the bottom of the boat for damage.

John, Liam, and Glen put on snorkel gear and went in to assess the damage. The water was clear and the skies were sunny which made for easy viewing. Luckily, there was no damage. They came back on board just in time. Several nurse sharks and a barracuda came swimming up at that time and made themselves at home in the shade of the boat.

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Nurse Sharks off the stern of our boat

 

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Nurse Sharks under the boat

The fuel was not to be found at this particular dock, but there was tons and tons of sea life.  After a time, we decided that we would head to Pig Beach where there was supposed to be a good anchorage. We took our time and had lookouts at both front corners of the boat for shallow spots and rocks. Without incident, we made it to Pig Beach and anchored successfully.

It was getting late at this point, but the boys wanted to hop in the dinghy immediately to go and see the famous swimming pigs. I took advantage of their time away to clean house. Upon their return, we had dinner and went to bed early in preparation for the busy day ahead.

The next morning, we spent some time at Pig Beach. It was really amazing watching the pigs swim, dig their snouts in the dirt for shade, and follow people around for food. Overall, they were very friendly creatures. Erik got a little too close for one pig, and the pig told him so. Erik responded with laughter.

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Erik checking out Pig Beach
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John petting a friendly pig
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Liam and his new pig friend
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Glen’s new friend that he named Mr. Piggy Piggerson
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Erik laughing after the pig told him that he wanted to be left alone

After our visit to Pig Beach, we decided to dinghy around the island to see the sights. There were caves everywhere. The dinghy was too big to enter the caves, but people were kayaking in and out.

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Liam practicing his driving
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Caves near Pig Beach
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Varekai from Pig Beach
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Varekai
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A good view of our parachute air conditioners on Varekai

We took the dinghy back over to Staniel Cay marina to fill up our diesel and gasoline jugs. The dinghy motor was acting very strange at this point, so our trip over there was extremely slow. It took awhile, and with the clattering coming from the motor, we weren’t sure that we would make it. John had to climb a very tall ladder up to the fuel dock and then hand the five gallon jugs down to me in the dinghy. The dinghy was sitting pretty low at this point with five diesel jugs, one gasoline jug, one full gasoline tank for the dinghy, five people, five life jackets, and snorkel gear.

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Thunderball Grotto from the fuel dock

We took the overloaded dinghy to Thunderball Grotto and anchored. We had read that snorkel gear was optional for the grotto, so the boys and I opted NOT to put ours on. John was the only one that wore snorkel gear. We had gone at low tide which was supposed to make it easier to get in and out of the entrance. The current around the dinghy wasn’t so bad, but as we got closer to the entrance to the grotto, the current started picking up.

Erik was wearing a life jacket because we were in fairly deep water, but he got a little frightened and was having some trouble with his snorkel. I took him back to the dinghy to readjust, and then we slowly made our way to the entrance holding on to each other. John and the big boys were already in the grotto when Erik and I got to the entrance.

The current was so strong. I was able to push Erik in a little ways, but I was having trouble getting myself in the entrance. A lady that was just paddling near me offered me her fins, but I declined. At this point, I was really wanting my full snorkel gear. I managed to get Erik in all the way and was holding on to a rock when I felt John’s arm reach around the rock and pull me all the way in. He had no trouble at all getting in with his fins. I am a very strong swimmer, but Keens don’t cut it at Thunderball Grotto.

Currents in the grotto varied by location. I found a spot that wasn’t too strong, so I hung out around there and took some photos.

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Ceiling of Thunderball Grotto
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Thunderball Grotto
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Thunderball Grotto

 

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John enjoying his fins in Thunderball Grotto
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Ceiling of Thunderball Grotto
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John and Erik at Thunderball Grotto
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Liam at Thunderball Grotto
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Glen at Thunderball Grotto
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John’s fins at Thunderball Grotto

There were many small fish swimming around us in the grotto. They nibbled on us, and I found one little fish to bite a little too hard. The boys thought this was funny.

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Lots of fish at Thunderball Grotto
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Snorkelers at Thunderball Grotto
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Liam and Glen at Thunderball Grotto
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Thunderball Grotto
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Sunlight through the water Thunderball Grotto
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Thunderball Grotto just inside the entrance
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Thunderball Grotto

We found a little section of the grotto without any current at all. Erik was adamant about taking off his life jacket so that he could swim to the bottom. We finally gave in and let him take it off. He swam and swam and swam. There was so much for him to see.

 

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Thunderball Grotto
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Erik exploring without his life jacket
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Erik so happy to be free of the restricting life jacket

It seemed that the water was rising after we had been in the grotto for awhile. We decided to go ahead and make our way back to the dinghy. Getting out of the grotto was so much easier than getting in. It almost seemed to push us out…like force from a water slide.

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Thunderball Grotto entrance – Keens are not the proper attire for this outing

On our way back to the boat, the boys wanted to stop one last time at Pig Beach to say goodbye to their new friends. John and I stayed on-board. We did get to see the man who comes and refills the water tanks for the pigs. The boys said their goodbyes, we spent one more night anchored near the beach, and left the next morning for Nassau, Bahamas.

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Erik telling his pig friend goodbye – The man in the boat is in the process of filling up the pig’s water tanks
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Glen found a Conch shell just off Pig Beach
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John and I in the dinghy – Liam took this photo while he was wading around looking for sea life

Erik

My trip from Georgetown to Thunderball. We got to Thunderball and got in the dinghy. We went to Pig Beach. Glen named a pig Mr. Piggy Piggerson. I named two pigs Black Spot and Big Ears. We got in the dinghy and went home. For dinner we had burgers. We went to a cave. I saw fish. Mama thought that a fish was eating her toe. The current was too much.

Glen

After we sailed to the hurricane hole we went to a place called Pig Beach. The day we got there, it was already night. We just headed out to see the pigs and I saw one that I called Mr. Piggy Piggerson. In the morning, we all went to the beach I saw Mr. Piggy Piggerson and gave him a banana. The beach had a hut and tourist who came to feed the pigs every day.  Later that day, we went to eat burgers.  Later we went to the Thunderball Grotto where they filmed 007.  I can see why.  It was extreme. I should have brought my flippers, because the current was really bad. We could barely get in. Inside there were little fish that would bite you. It was a dome with a hole in the top. People jumped in from the roof. It reminded me of the Baths. I think that was the only time I ever wanted a life jacket. After leaving, it was very clear that we needed a dinghy ladder. We came home and ate sandwiches for dinner and went to bed. 

Liam

We left Great Exuma and sailed to Staniel Cay. We came into the dock and were told it was too shallow. We still attempted to get into the dock. We almost made it through, then BAM! The boat smashed into a rock and bounced up and down. These people on a sport fishing boat were looking at us like we had flown down from Mars. All was well though. We slowly backed out and found a safer spot. Our dad was worried and told us to ‘Go check the bilge!”

There was a beach called “Pig Beach.” It was a beach with pigs. How creative. We rode the dinghy over to Pig Beach, and we fed the pigs. There was a few little pig trays full of scraps of food people had left for the pigs. The next day we went again.

Later we all went to a place called Thunderball Grotto. It was like an underground cave that had been flooded. We came up to the cave, and we saw a bunch of fish. It was really hard to get into the cave, because the current was pushing us back really forceful. Once we got in, we took a few pictures and swam for a while.
After that, we went to Pig Beach again, and we swam with the pigs. Glen found a conch shell. I tried to get a picture of a stingray, but I was unsuccessful.

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