Web photos by David Benz
Underwater images copyright 2000, Michael Lawrence

Michael Lawrence's life has been a twisting, turning path of wildly divergent careers. He was "a musician for more than 25 years, playing jazz guitar, doing studio and orchestral work, stage shows, arranging and conducting and doing anything else I could to turn jazz pennies into real dollars."

In 1980, Michael did a gig on a cruise ship. Soon after, he learned to dive. "I knew as soon as I stuck my face in the water that it would change my life," he says. Now the camera is his instrument and dive travelers are his audience. He started writing for Skin Diver in 1990 and to date has written more than 150 articles for the magazine.

Michael is also the author of Lonely Planet Diving and Snorkeling Guide to Dominica and is currently working on a new Dive Guide to the Bahamas.

  • February 5, 2000...Day 5

    View of the beach from Xanadu.
    We have entered the mouth of Devil's Head and returned unscathed! Ahhh, that's a bit dramatic. We actually just floated around the lips.

    The boil hole Michael and David dived in.
    After the fiasco yesterday, we made a careful plan to arrive at the boiling hole known as Devil's Head early, around 9:00 am, to be certain to catch it at high boil. Once again, remember what I said about plans?

    After the boil hole dive.
    Around 8:00 am David Rose called Louie and said, "You'd better hurry. There's a north wind and the hole is already boiling. It's gonna turn fast." We decided to forego breakfast, grabbed our gear, jumped into the car and raced over to David's house. He hustled us into the boat, and we were off to the blue hole.

    The silhouette of a diver in the opening of Devil's Head.
    Conditions couldn't have been better. There was a slick on the surface from the outflow, and the water was crystalline blue and gin-clear. Hell, for all I knew it could've been gin! David (Benz) and I slipped on two wetsuits each. For some reason, probably because the water is held inside the earth for some time, the temperature is at least 10 degrees cooler than the ocean, making the water pretty chilly. We sat on the gunnel of the boat, each politely allowing the other the privilege of being the first to hit the water and come up screaming.

    On the first day, when I hit the flow going into the hole it felt as if I was overweighted. I sunk fast, and it was only when I saw bubbles being sucked down past me that I realized the hole was pulling me into its mouth. Today, on the outflow, I could barely stabilize myself. Each time my fins hit the flow, my legs were whipped around. I found a lee, held onto the sides of the hole and signaled David into position.

    The local drink.
    The image is gorgeous. Shooting with a 16mm fisheye lens, I was able to frame the entire oblong opening of the hole, the boat floating on the surface and David's silhouette with the sun just peeking over the edge.

    Perfect! Just as I finished the roll, the flow slowed and stopped. Immediately the sediment began to intrude on the scene-we had made it with not a moment to spare.

    Phase 2 of our day, catching a ride on Louie Chan's Xtreme Xplorer (the ground effect watercraft), didn't work out due to high winds and rough seas, less than ideal conditions for this prototype machine. We did manage to get it in the water for a product shoot with David geared up and ready to dive off the platform (one of its envisioned uses for the future).

    Awakening to a beautiful view of the beach.
    Our adventures of the past two days are only a small portion of the Xanadu Underseas Adventures offerings. They also have wreck dives, wall and reef dives and a shark dive competitive with the UNEXSO dive. Tomorrow we are off for the capital city of Nassau on the island of New Providence. We've decided to call off the rum punch quest as it is taking its early morning toll. The new quest-the best conch dishes Nassau has to offer. See you maƱana.

    Get more info:
    History | Geology | Dolphins
    Sharks | Conch | Blue Holes

    [Day 1 & 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5]
    [Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8]
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    Abaco Beach Resort Dive Center (800-838-4189)
    Brendals Dive Center International (800-780-9941)
    Dive Abaco Ltd. (800-247-5338)
    Walkers Cay Hotel (800-327-8150)

    Andros Undersea Adventures (800-327-8150)
    Seascape Inn (242-369-0342)
    Small Hope Bay Lodge (800-223-6961)

    Bimini Undersea (800-348-4644)
    Scuba Bimini (800-848-4073)

    Greenwood Dive Center & Beach Resort (242-342-3053)

    Scuba Chub Cay Undersea Adventures (800-327-8150)

    Exuma Dive Center & Watersports (800-874-7213)
    Peace & Plenty (800-525-2210)

    Grand Bahama Scuba (800-753-7282)
    Sunn Odyssey Divers (242-373-4014)
    UNEXSO (800-992-DIVE)
    Xanadu Undersea Adventures (800-327-8150)

    Stella Maris Inn (800-426-0466)

    Bahama Divers Ltd (800-398-DIVE)
    Custom Aquatics Ltd. (242-362-1492)
    Dive Dive Dive (800-368-3483)
    Nassau Scuba Centre (888-962-7728)
    Stuart's Cove (888-STU-COVE [788-2683])

    Riding Rock Resort (800-272-1492)

    Blackbeard's Cruises (800-327-9600)
    Bottom Time Adventures (800-899-6753)
    Nekton Diving Cruises (800-899-6753)
    Sea Dragon (954-522-0161)
    Sea Fever Diving Cruises (800-443-3837)

    Undersea Adventures (800-327-8150)
    Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (800-866-DIVE)
    Bahamas Tourist Office - Miami (800-866-DIVE)

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