Bahamas Information of Interest:
The JPI 830 was getting my full attention as I heading offshore near KPMP climbing to 7,500. The IO360 had just been overhauled with about 8 hours so far. With about 450 overwater miles to go, watching the CHT temps rise and fall during engine break in was a bit nerve-racking. The Mooney was headed southeast to San Salavador Island, the furthest east you can fly in the Bahamas. It's out there, and you start to feel a little lonely by the time Cat Island is on your tail. The ever changing engine temps had me thinking about the legendary service record of my Lycoming engine...which I hoped to uphold this fine morning.
My mission was to shoot video for Riding Rock Resort, an inviting, well run family business. Customs was easy, but please note there is a new fee in place. You now pay a $50. “processing fee” when you enter the country, filling out the usual C7A form. On leaving you pay the $25. per person departure tax. That made the total customs cost for my solo trip $75.
Riding Rock Resort is located just yards from the airport, so I quickly checked in and learned I had to shoot a beauty contest that night. Expecting a somewhat modest event, I was surprised to experience a full blown production, gorgeous women, and a crowd going wild. I started to question if I was on the right island... It became a night to remember, with the stunning winner going to Nassau to compete for the Miss Bahamas crown.
The resort has a world class dive operation, and the next morning I was swimming with hammerheads, groupers, and sea turtles in 100+ water vis, about 110 feet down the wall. I used a gopro for the underwater segments, and my trusty Cannon 5D Mark III for all the rest. After the dive and a delicious lunch, the Riding Rock manager Michelle informed me she just received a photographer request for some guests arriving the next day. The kicker was they were arriving by Sea Kayak at the marina, by way of South Africa! The last land the intrepid couple had seen was the Canary Islands. They had spent the last 72 days rowing across the Atlantic!
Starting as a faint white dot on the horizon, it slowly grew to reveal a small boat, with a tiny nose cabin. Seated in the middle were two South African lawyers rowing with vigor. After their dramatic landing, I had the pleasure of dinner with Riaan Manser and Vasti Geldenhuys. The diving guests at Riding Rock peppered them with questions. We were told stories of near collisions with giant container ships, the boat rolling over in a storm, and Riaan even being left behind while swimming, as the wind pushed the boat away faster then he could swim back. Their excitement and enthusiasm was contagious.
The next morning they rowed back out to sea so I could shoot aerials of their boat, “The Spirit of Madiba”. Looking down from the Mooney, they appeared tiny but determined, rowing over the sparkling blue waters of the Bahamas. They were going to continue their trip to New York City, which was still a good way up the road! My visit to San Salvador provided inspiration, beauty, and some of the nicest folks I've had the pleasure of hanging out with. My 10 hour flight back to New York seemed long, until I started thinking about Kayak speed...then I felt pretty lucky, sitting in comfort at 9,500 feet watching my engine temps.
Craig Peyton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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