Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sonya's Praise

We recently received this email from Sonya, who visited us in July:

I was a solo diver with limited experience, looking for a nurturing dive environment where I could gain the practical knowledge and confidence I lacked. I decided on SHBL as part 2 of my dive vacation but did not sensibly plan how I would get there from my first destination, Aware of my dilemma, Jeff Birch, Very Graciiously offered to pick me up as my best other option would have been taking 2 planes approximately 8 hours apart.

Instead of showing my appreciation my first words to him were "where is the rest of the plane", when he showed up in the single engine cessna 182 pictured on the website. Wondering if it would be safer to swim to the lodge, I eventually boarded the plane and there began my relationship with the soothsayers of SHBL. Sometime after takeoff Jeff convinced me to open my eyes and something shifted at that moment. I don't know whether it was his calm demeanor or the the beautiful scene spread out below me, probably a bit of both, but my fear of flying in that "pint sized plane" was replaced by my gratitude for the sublime experience.

One by one, my fears were challenged. While diving, Ashley calmly and unhurriedly coaxed me through caverns that I had initially refused to enter. I set my depth goal at 90 feet and achieved 185. WOW!!! I dove with sharks, and the Back of the Blue Hole is an under water experience that I doubt I will ever surpass. But thats OK, as long as I get the chance to do it again.

I had a personal underwater guardian angel in Alex, always there when I needed him. And Danielle was the angel on land. I began my underwater photographic experience with the advice and guidance of Loren. "Thanks so much, Loren." Chef Renauldo went beyond expectations to accommodate the special requests of his guests. My inability to tolerate those weight belts was no problem for Amanda whose technological prowess had her whipping up an alternative in no time. Tonya is fun and spirited and Moose exhibits such calm and competence that I basically stuck to him like glue during my 185' dive. I hear Mike is "the man", but I didn't have the pleasure of diving with him. Looking forward to it in the future. Congrats to dive master Dennis, who I also look forward to diving with.

The guests are at least as lovely as the staff and interns. The British Padmores and the Mississippi McCalls really went out of their way to embrace a solo traveler and I look forward to seeing them again in the future. What great luck that there was another solo diver, Wes, that became my dive buddy for the rest of the trip.

When I compare my dive competence and level of comfort pre SHBL to post SHBL I can hardly believe it. These people are nothing less than bonafide Dive Whisperers!
I highly recommend Small Hope for a fantastic dive vacation and don't forget to bring your "extra baggage", I am sure you will leave a lot lighter. I did.

Thank you Jeff and the entire Small Hope Staff!

Sonya Preudhomme
@SHBL July 2009

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Small Hope Staff Party

To celebrate the close of the 2008-2009 season, the entire staff at SHBL had their annual meeting and staff party. The entire staff - dive, maintenance, kitchen and housekeeping got together to enjoy a delicious Bahamian meal and a fishing expedition.

First, we had to take care of the serious stuff and Jeff went over the customer exit surveys for the year. We learned that for the fifth year running, we have scored 100% in the customer service category! Thank you to everyone who returned a survey this year. We do read them and we do learn from them!

After the business was taken care of, the staff split up onto two boats and headed out to the reef to do some fishing. It was a tight competition between the boats to see who could haul in the most catch -- it was especially tight between our two best fisherman, Austin and Terrance!

We then all moved to Goat Cay for some music and relaxation. Gearing up for our 50th season is keeping us busy so the staff all enjoyed our day in the sun!

See you soon!
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

SHBL On Destination Truth

In February, the team from the SyFy channel show Destination Truth came to SHBL to film an episode for their third season. The paranormal and crytpozoology show was in search of the mythical lusca, which is the half shark-half octopus that is claimed to inhabit our inland blue holes. The Nassau Tribune wrote an article on the filming, which can be viewed here. If you missed the original airing of the show on SyFy, which was September 16, you can view the rewind on SyFy.com here. Pin It Now!

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Instructors at SHBL

Jeff and everyone at Small Hope Bay Lodge would like to congratulate Brian and Ashley for successfully completing their PADI Instructor Examination this past weekend.

Many of you are already familiar with Ashley, who started out at SHBL last April as a young Bahamian intern. After working diligently over the last 18 months, Ash completed all of his certifications necessary to reach Divemaster, Assistant Instructor and finally, PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor!

Jeff's son, Brian, came down from Canada to participate in the Instructor Development Course and the Instructor Exam. Growing up on the shores of Andros Island have its perks and Brian flew through the exams with flying colors! Now that he is an instructor, he'll be leaving us to go back to college, where he plans on studying abroad in Germany for 18 months.

Now that Ash is back as an Instructor, we have six full time PADI Instructors on staff -- Loren, Amanda, Moose, Ashley, Mike and Jeff -- along with new PADI Divemaster Dennis! Whatever our level of certification, we all are here working together at being the best Small Hope Bay Divemasters that we can be, providing the best level of service for our awesome guests!
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