Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas at Small Hope Bay Lodge

Small Hope Bay Lodge is now preparing for our New Year's Eve party and celebrating going in to our 53rd year!!! Can you believe it? 53 years is an incredible feat and we plan on commemorating it with a great party.

We just wrapped up a fantastic Christmas, filled with old and new friends and family. We got to enjoy some exceptionally sunny and warm days and spent the time diving Over the Wall AND a Shark Dive. Other guests took a field trip to Captain Bill's Blue Hole, played some beach football and relaxed on some of our coziest beach hammocks. What could be better than that?

Here is little video of how we spent our Christmas . . . 

And our wonderful Shark Dive . . . 

This will be our last blog of 2012. We send all of you our warmest wishes for the new year. Love from all of us at Small Hope and enjoy your New Year celebration!

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pea Soup N Dumplings

Winter has officially arrived and for all of you who are looking for something delicious to warm you up after a long day out in the cold here is the perfect recipe.

 Bahamian Peas Soup N Dumplings 

Vegetable oil, as needed
2 small onions, small dice
1 sweet pepper, small dice
2 tomatoes, small dice
½ cup tomato paste
2-16 oz. can coconut milk
2-16 oz can Pigeon Peas (beans can be substituted for peas if preferred)
Water, 3 qts.
4 tbsp. browning
2 Sweet potatoes, medium dice
2 tbsp. Thyme dried
salt, and pepper as needed
Dough for dumplings (recipe below)
1 lb. Ribs, already boiled separately
1 cups smoked Ham, already boiled and cooked separately, then diced into medium cubes

  1. Sauté onions, pepper, and tomatoes in a pot with a little vegetable oil until a little brown and tender.
  2. Add tomato paste, cook until aroma rise, and brown a little.
  3. Add coconut milk, and pigeon peas to pot, and stir.
  4. Add Water to pot.  Season with thyme, salt and pepper.
  5. Add a little browning to water.
  6. Let come to a boil, and reduce down to a simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes to let flavor develop.
  7. Add sweet potato to pot, and continue to cook on low simmer until tender, 15 minutes.
  8. Add the meat to the pot.
  9. Turn heat up to medium.
  10. Add dough by pinching off small pieces of dough and spreading with hands, until a flat piece, and drop straight into hot soup.  Add until all dough is gone, or enough in pot for your liking.
  11. If not thick enough, add cold water to the mixing bowl that you did the dough in and pour into soup.
  12. To finish cook just until dough is cooked all the way through.  Take off the heat and serve

Dumpling recipe:
2 cups Flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ cup. shortening (or vegetable oil, shortening best)
liquid, as needed (use some liquid from the pot to mix dough)

  1. Flour, salt, and pepper, together.
  2. Cut in shortening until look like cornmeal.
  3. Add liquid slowly until dough comes together, soft, smooth and pliable.
  4. Let rest at least 5 minutes and then add to soup by spreading thin and dropping into hot soup
Enjoy this classic Bahamian dish this holiday season and bring a bit a the Bahamas to your dinner table!
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jonathan Bird's Blue World Comes to SHBL

Jonathan Bird's Blue World is an Emmy Award winning underwater adventure series. Hosted by the charismatic underwater cinematographer Jonathan Bird, this show explores all areas of our world's oceans. Jonathan and his crew travel the globe filming marine animals small and large, from the tropical waters of the Caribbean to the frozen waters of Antarctica. Episodes focus not only on the marine life that live in these incredible places but also on marine research and the scientists involved, underwater exploration of ship wrecks and caves and shedding some light on the recent discoveries within the oceans. Jonathan Bird's Blue World is both educational and exciting and perfect for viewers of any age. The Oceanic Research Group is the principle partner in the production of the show along with Jonathan Bird Productions and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.  The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation funds inspired scientific research and innovative educational programs to encourage conservation and practices for sustainable marine environments.

Todd, Cameraman Tim and Jeff Birch with a loaded truck ready to head out to Stargate!Back in 2010 Jonathan brought his team down to Small Hope Bay Lodge on Andros Island in the Bahamas to explore the underwater caves systems that exist within the many Blue Holes on the island. Jonathan, along with cameraman Tim and Mike Hornby of SHBL packed up their gear and headed for the Guardian, an inland Blue Hole with an extensive cave system.  Jonathan and Tim both had an incredible time filming in the cave and got some great footage for the first episode of their third season.

It has been nearly two years since the film crew has been here at the lodge but early in December they were back again and eager to start filming for their fourth season. This time Jonathan, Cameraman Tim and tech diver Todd came to Andros hoping to dive the incredible Stargate Blue Hole located on South Andros. This blue hole took the team through sulfur layers and past large stalactite and flow stone formations. It is a beautiful dive and no doubt gave the crew some amazing footage. We are all eager to watch Small Hope Bay Lodge on the episode which should air summer 2013. 

 All of us here on Andros Island would like to send out a big thanks to Jonathan and his team. It was great to have the Blue World crew back and we look forward to their next trip. Perhaps they will explore the Ocean Blue Hole next. 

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Hawksbill Turtles in the Bahamas

A Great sighting at Small Hope Bay Lodge

The divers at Small Hope Bay Lodge, after a few days of higher then normal winds, woke up Thursday morning to a perfectly calm sea and they knew it was going to be a great day. Giant staircase, a wall dive, was on the docket for the morning. This dive would take the group over the edge to 120 feet to cruise along a beautiful section of the wall, and then bring them back up to the top of the wall at approx 65 feet to hang out exploring the corals for the remainder of the dive.

The dive started off great, after getting down to their maximum depth of 120 feet a couple Caribbean Reef Sharks cruised by to say good morning. Everyone felt great after seeing the sharks and they would have been more then satisfied with that. Little did they know however that another surprise was waiting for them at the top of the wall.

Once they all made it back to 65 feet an extremely curious Hawksbill Turtle was there to greet them. This turtle was not phased at all by the divers and came very close to say hello and give everyone an opportunity to take some great pictures, and in the case of divemaster Dennis some wicked video footage!

Divers Paul and Axel admire the beautiful Hawksbill Turtle
The Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata is classified as critically endangered on the IUNC (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Redlist of Threatened Species. They are migratory marine reptiles that are found in tropical and subtropical waters. Hawksbill sea turtles, like other marine turtles, have a flattened body shape, a protective carapace or shell and flipper-like arms, adapted for swimming in the open ocean. They are however easily distinguishable from other sea turtles as they have a sharp, curving beak

There are many challenges facing this beautiful species, some of which include;

Direct take: both eggs and adults for food, adults for the tortoiseshell trade
Fishing Impacts: accidental capture and entanglement in nets and long lines
Beach Front Development: alters or destroys nesting beach habitat
Pollution: Injestible platics in the ocean are a huge threat. The turtles will either mistake the plastic for food and injest the harmful trash or young turtles will find themselves entangled in the plastic and unable to get out, they will continue to grow around the obstuction causing restrictions and mutations to their shell.    

Hawksbills are also threatened by the loss of coral reef communities which act as their feeding sites.  Ocean conservation has never been more important then it is today. Our oceans are threatened by pollution, climate change, exploitation and development. If we want to continue to have amazing sightings like the one our divers had at Small Hope Bay Lodge  we need to do our part to protect our oceans and coral reef systems. 

Find out how you can help!  
Visit these sites and do your part to protect our seas and those that inhabit them! 

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Andros Island Is The Place For Celebrations!

When a special time, a special place and the special people in our lives come together, it's a celebration. Recently Small Hope Bay Lodge was honored to share in the celebration of Julia DeNamur and Sean Bishop's wedding ceremony. 

The bride and groom, wanting no muss or fuss decided that a beachside wedding would be the perfect way to say "I do", and Small Hope Bay Lodge with it's relaxed and carefree atmosphere  was exactly what they were looking for. 

Sean and Julia arrived at the lodge a few days before the ceremony to relax and enjoy their island paradise. They 
went biking, diving, beach combing and even enjoyed a relaxing massage by the beach. The folks arrived a few days later and before they knew it the big day was upon them. 

A simple and intimate celebration was what they were looking for and it is exactly what they got.  The ceremony was beautiful and even had Sean tearing up after they said "I do". A lovely reception followed with the parents and their new found friends from Small Hope. To top off a perfect day the bride and groom gave a wishing lantern to every couple in the resort to release off the dock. Everyone made their wish and watched as their lantern was taken up and away, a truly beautiful sight. 

 Small Hope Bay Lodge was very honored to be able to share this special day with Sean and Julia. From all of us here we would like to wish them all the best for the future and the happiest of lives together. As a return trip has already been scheduled we are very excited to see everyone back again next year for Thanksgiving! 
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving on Andros Island!

Thanks! It's such a simple word, and one we use so often. However, on our day of Thanksgiving, we try to think of exactly what it is we are thankful for. As always friends and family are on the top of our list. 

This year at Small Hope Bay Lodge our culinary crew prepared a magnificent feast for everyone. A delicious turkey with all the trimmings; stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and of course gravy and cranberry sauce. To complete this wonderful meal was the more than 25 desserts, many of which were prepared by returning chef Scott, who came specifically to lend a hand for Thanksgiving. There weren't any leftovers after this meal as the food was so good everyone went up for second and third helpings. 


The guest list for the Small Hope Thanksgiving included of course our fabulous guests, our dive staff, Peter Douglas and his wife Gabrielle from ANCAT (Andros Nature Conservancy and Trust), friends from the island who brought their families along, and who could forget Small Hope's Commander in Chief Jeffrey Birch! It was a great night and we are all looking forward to next year and another great Thanksgiving 
at Small Hope Bay Lodge!

Louis enjoying his turkey!


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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Small Hope, the Nature Conservancy and Lionfish!

This week at Small Hope we got to be involved in two different environmental efforts, one addressing the growth and health of our reef, and one focused on controlling the lionfish population that threatens the marine life here in the Bahamas and other Caribbean areas.

At Small Hope, we take the protection of the environment very seriously. We have enacted several ecological programs around the lodge for this reason. From our recycling program to the water saving procedures to our reverse osmosis water treatment, Small Hope has continued to develop plans and programs that help to safeguard the beautiful and unique environment of Andros Island, Bahamas.

Andros is home to the Andros Barrier Reef, the third largest barrier reef in the world. The reef is full of hard and soft corals, sponges and a variety of sea life. The reef itself is in good condition, but due to various global conditions and effects there is more algae on the reef in recent years. 

ANCAT (Andros Conservancy and Trust), which was formed with Small Hope Bay Lodge and of which Jeff Birch is secretary has developed a new coral farming program and this week Small Hope got to be a part of their efforts. Felicity, of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos branch of the Nature Conservancy led the group which also included Kemit-Amon Lewis, the Coral Conservation Manager from the US branch, Stopher Slade of the St. Croix branch and Eric Buck of the St. Thomas branch. The group came to Andros with the goal of setting up Coral Nurseries. They set up 5 blocks of new-growth coral, each featuring three different types of coral in each block.  These Coral Nurseries will grow the coral and can be used for future coral transplanting to any damaged areas of the reef!

We were also lucky enough to host Indira and Nichola, who came to Andros as representatives of  the Bahamas Department of Agriculture to work on their study of lionfish. Lionfish are a venomous fish native to Indo-Pacific waters and considered an invasive species in the Bahamas as well as the rest of the Caribbean. The beautiful striped fish are known to have a voracious appetite, an indiscriminate palate (devouring many different species) and reproduce at a high rate. Many organizations and governments have started to take a more active role in the control of the spread of lionfish population.

Indira and Nichola came as part of a study evaluating the changes in populations of lionfish in various areas - places where they were being actively hunted, as well as control groups - and to report on their findings. 

The spiny fish are often killed with spear guns by scuba divers and are considered quite tasty. Our own chef, Don Goodman made up some tasty lionfish fritters from a catch brought in by a few of Small Hope's guests . . . 

 . . . Delicious! Pin It Now!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Andros Island Is Perfect for a Holiday Season Vacation

The holiday season is enough to wear you out! Hustle and bustle is the order of the day with shopping, social obligations and crowds everywhere; except here on Andros Island in the Bahamas

The only hustle and bustle we’ve experienced lately is on the reef as clouds of Creole Wrasse jockey for position with the Blue and Gray Chromis for the best position on the coral heads. And there was some commotion at the Shark Emporium as a dozen or so Caribbean Reef Sharks forgot their manners in the rush to get at the chumsicle on the other day. 

Otherwise, it’s been the usual routine of leisurely diving, lots of hammock time interrupted by the occasional island tour and cocktail hour (and conch fritters) at 6:30 daily. Sorry, but we don’t have any snow. Only lots of sunshine that never requires a shovel! Every day is a holiday on Andros Island at Small Hope Bay Lodge!

So, why not come down to the Bahamas for the holiday season? 
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Diving at Dawn

At Small Hope Bay Lodge we have many different dives sites. Walls, caverns, wrecks, blue holes, shallow reefs, there are so many to choose from. One particular site is called 'Over The Wall' and SHBL has been running this dive since the early 60's. 

Reef Sponges - Diving on Andros Island Bahamas with Small Hope Bay Lodge

The wall begins where the ocean floor ends - a vertical drop-off where the continental shelf plummets to the Tongue of the Ocean 6,000 feet below. The Andros Wall begins around 70 to 90 feet, and that's where we set anchor. At this site divers take the plunge and experience one of life's most exhilarating feelings, plummeting down to an ice age shore line at a depth of 185 feet

This week at Small Hope Bay, Fred Calhoun and Peter Donahue are back for yet another visit. These two have been coming to Small Hope for many years and have put their own spin on our signature wall dive. Fred and Peter prefer to do the dive at dawn. 

As they make their way out to the site the sun is just beginning to rise, the ocean is perfectly still and a more beautiful view out on the water would be difficult to find. 

The divers gear up, jump in, descend and have a spectacular dive gazing down at the depths of the Tongue of the Ocean. A shark cruises past to say good morning while their sitting on the ledge at 185ft. As the divers make their ascent over the top of the wall the sun is rising and lighting up the reef before them. Already it has been an amazing day and it is not even 8am yet. 

Back on the boat the Fred and Peter, and the rest of the group enjoy some juice while deciding what to have for breakfast once back at the lodge. 

Watch the video below of our Over the Wall dive at dawn and see for yourself what a truly amazing experience it is!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Beautiful Night at Small Hope Bay Lodge

Now that hurricane Sandy has passed us here on Andros everyone was excited to get back out on our patio and enjoy the calm weather. The patio looked especially nice the last couple of evenings as we approached the October 29th full moon. Cocktail hour was made extra special with this amazing view captured by divemaster Fede. Guests and staff enjoyed Claudius's delicious drinks, yummy conch fritters and great conversation. 

Yesterday the view was spectacular as well with the full moon rising. This view had everyone out snapping pictures! Happy Birthday again to our guest and new friend Daren who celebrated with us yesterday out under the beautiful moon...we hope you had a great night Daren!!

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Great Day of Diving in The Bahamas

We Saw a Manta Ray!
 The day started out great when our dive staff and a few of our guests were treated to an amazing sighting out on the dock. While gearing up to go and dive our signature "Over the Wall" dive a manta ray came cruising by to say good morning.

We Went Over the Wall! 
If the manta ray sighting wasn't enough our divers then had an awesome time diving Over the Wall. There is nothing like nitrogen narcosis while sitting on an ancient beach and looking down at the 6000ft drop of the tongue of the ocean! A curious reef shark decided to join us at 185' to check out the view. A truly magnificent dive!


Plane Wreck! 

To top it all off our divers were lucky enough to be the first to officially dive our brand new site "The Landing Strip". This is a project that the staff of Small Hope Bay Lodge worked hard on this summer and it is great to see the guests enjoying it. Everyone got a little goofy and posed for some great pictures with the wreck! 


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Laura's Delicious Brownies

With Small Hope being closed for annual renovations and maintenance the live-on staff have been taking turns getting creative and making delicious dinners for everyone to enjoy. One of our divemasters Laura has been honing her baking skills to the delight of all the staff who have been testing her cakes, cookies and most recently her brownies! Now we are sharing the recipe so you can enjoy them as well.

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time : 30-35 minutes
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass or light-colored baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.
4. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. You do not want to over-beat the batter here or the brownies will turn out more cake like. 
5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.
7. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 4 days.
1/2 cup butter, softened 
2 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/3 cup half-and-half cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cocoa powder
1. Cream the butter in a small bowl.
2. Blend in the cocoa powder (the amount desired for a light, medium or dark flavor), vanilla, confectioners sugar, alternately with the cream.
3. Beat with an electric mixer, until the desired texture is achieved.
Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Season At Small Hope Bay

Another Season Come and Gone...

This year was filled with many great memories. We made new friends and reunited with old ones. We shared many laughs, many beers and many conch fritters! 

Some highlights from our 2011-2012 season

Jeffrey Birch being goofy over Christmas

Crab Fest 2012! 

We adopted another potcake named Izzy!

We created an artificial reef by sinking a plane! 

Ben finished the list...success!

This season at SHBL we were treated to not only one but two of John Rice's famous margarita parties. We enjoyed countless Black Monkey nights at the bar and even got to witness Ben aka 'Evil' become the first to complete every drink on the extensive Small Hope drink menu, not to mention the extras that were thrown in there just for fun! 

We went diving with sting rays and hammerheads, reef sharks and turtles. A pod of dolphins joined us at the Blue Hole and under the dock. We successfully sunk a plane and christened our second new dive site of the season. We watched our crazy divemasters play it up for the cameras on the day dives and dance in the beautiful bio luminescence on our nights dives. We bid farewell to two dear friends and fulfilled their wish of a burial at sea. Patrick Laing and Jim Spencer are missed and will forever be in our hearts. 

Petter, Sam and Laura with instructor Fede 

We went fishing, biking and kayaking. We swam in the blue holes and relaxed in the hammocks. We laughed at our crazy interns, who taught us how to "Bruk it Down" and what NOT to do when driving a golf cart on the dock! In turn they were taught how to rescue an unresponsive diver at the service during their Rescue Diver course, or how to conduct a correct dive briefing during their Divemaster course. 

Wedding party dancing the night away

Our spontaneous dance party was a highlight of the Spring and during the Summer we had one heck of a wedding reception! We battened down the hatches and rode out Tropical Storm Isaac, playing Backgammon and Jenga in the lounge as the rain poured down outside. When the storm cleared we finished out the summer with beautiful weather, spending days snorkeling or beach combing.

It was a great season finished in true Small Hope fashion with a wonderful and hilarious staff party. It was a year of friends, family, and fun and like every year at Small Hope Bay Lodge it gave us memories to last a lifetime. 

Watch this video and re-live some of our more memorable moments from the last year

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Annual Small Hope Bay Lodge Staff Party

Nassau Here We Come

Every September Small Hope Bay Lodge closes temporarily to undergo maintenance, repairs and inventory. The first order of business however is the annual staff party. 

Whether it is at Captain Bill's Blue Hole, Somerset Beach, or right at Small Hope the staff party is always a ton of fun. This year Jeff decided to fly everyone over to Nassau and hold the party at Traveller's Rest, a beach side restaurant run by his mother, Joan Hanna. 

Austin, Nicky, Fede, Dale and Tony on the Pursuit

On the morning of the party everyone woke up and headed to the airport, except for a select few who elected to go to Nassau in The Pursuit, Small Hope's 21 foot V-hull. 

Tony and Inez cutting the rug

Arriving in Nassau everyone dispersed for a couple hours to do a little shopping before meeting up at Traveller's for some food, some drinking and of course some dancing. With a live band playing throughout the day there was always someone on the dance floor. Alvin, Jardie and Tony especially enjoyed dancing the day away. 

Alvin gets the dancing started

The food was of course delicious and once everyone had digested a little it was time to hit the water. 

having fun out on the water
There was not a dry seat in the house as everyone had a blast riding on the tube! Fede and Jeff were excellent captains...they only dumped a few people off. 

All in all is was a great day in Nassau and a terrific staff party, one we will not soon forget. A big thank you goes out to Jeff for planning such a wonderful day and leaving everyone with some amazing memories. Annual renovations and inventory are now getting underway at Small Hope,  everyone is getting excited for October and looking forward to the new season!

 Highlights from the 2012 Small Hope Staff Party

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