What Lurks Beneath? Overcoming My Thalassophobia at Hoffman’s Blue Hole!

I have a confession to make. I have a phobia—thalassophobia—or a unique form of it, perhaps.  Where Thalassophobia is the fear of what lies beneath you in a vast, deep body of water like the ocean, mine is limited to shallow bodies of water when the water is dark or murky and I cannot see what’s on the bottom.  I think the fact that the bottom is closer to me, 20 feet or less, is what scares me more than the deep ocean, because the dark creatures below are now within striking distance!  What the heck is down there?  This guy?

I don’t know.  Because I can’t see the bottom!  And, I’m way too creative to not start imagining all kinds of monstrosities awaiting me there.

And, I say my phobia is different because I have swam in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and nothing about it frightened me.

In the ocean, I guess I feel like whatever is down there is likely way, way, waaaayyy down there.  I’ll have plenty of time to see that monster coming to crawl back onto the boat.  But, when the bottom is just ten or so feet down, I have no hope of escaping. I’m only one tail/tentacle flap away from that guy!

What’s worse?  If I can feel the murky, muddy, unknown bottom on my feet but I can’t see it.  Bwwwummhhhuuh.  I just had goosebumps flow through me thinking about that. When my feet start sinking into a murky bottom, I flip the heck out!  Here’s what it probably looks like down there:

Here’s what I see down there. 

Imagine stepping on this guy … 

I have often been seen swimming, fully horizontal, in two-feet of water all the way to the shore because I don’t want to walk on the bottom.  Is anyone with me on this?  Am I crazy? Wait … Don’t answer that … 

But, I mention the phobia to share one fantastic victory!  My dive into the Blue Hole at Hoffman’s Cay in the Bahamas!  

Just you wait.  The real-live footage of my phobia is hilarious.  After Phillip and I finally found our flanges while replacing our raw water impeller, got the engine put back together, and found me a suitable shower shoe, albeit it non-Croc, it was time for us to shove off and leave Great Harbour Cay for the first time in six months.  Our baby girl had weathered exceptionally well there, even as Hurricane Dorian raged just over head, and it was time to reward her with another awesome cruising season!   Phillip and I had been looking forward to flying back to the boat for months, and it was all for this moment!  When we finally got our baby girl moving again!  Oh, and when I could wear bikinis all day every day for months!  Whoo-freaking-whoo!  Captain Annie even de-docked us like a boss and we headed out the very narrow cut into Great Harbour Cay that kept Plaintiff’s Rest so well protected this past season.  

Being out, the boat moving, the sails filled, for the first time in six months was exhilarating.  You know what this calls for …  That’s right. Sailing selfies!!

We sailed around the north tip of Little Stirrup Cay—which, now as Carnival Island’s “Coco Cay,” is sadly a monstrosity in the beautiful Berry Islands—in between four massive cruise ships.  As I’ve mentioned before, we are not a fan of Coco Cay.

But, we had read great things about the anchorage between Devil’s Cay and Hoffman’s Cay just south of the Stirrup Cays, called “Devils-Hoffman” in the Explorer charts, including a pristine little Blue Hole in the middle of Hoffman’s Cay.  Here is a map of the Berries showing the location of Devil’s Cay, which is just south of Hoffman’s Cay.  

And, here is the Blue Hole on Hoffman’s.  I mean, look how cool that is!  

A place where the Earth just fell away, leaving behind a seemingly-perfect blue sphere of mysteries! Phillip and I were determined to find it, jump it, and call ourselves Blue Hole Champions!  I think they give out little rings afterward that you can all clink together and say “Our powers combined, we are Captain Blue Hole!” or something along those lines.  Just for fun : )

I used to love that show. Maybe if it had been more popular, we’d all be in better shape now.  Captain Planet aside, Phillip and I had a great little motor-sail from Great Harbour Cay down to Devil’s-Hoffman.  The winds were light and we knew we needed to run the engine a bit to get her legs stretched out.  The guidebooks also did not disappoint.  Devil’s-Hoffman offered a beautiful secure little anchorage that was easy to navigate with plenty of depth.  Plaintiff’s Rest seemed incredibly happy to be off the dock and floating free on her hook.  

And, Phillip and I were excited to pump up our dinghy, Dicta, for the first time this season and get to shore to find this mesmerizing Blue Hole!  

From the overhead view, you would think this hole would be super easy to find, right?  Right in the middle of the island where all the trees and brush just fall away?  One would think.  It was not. There weren’t any signs or indications that we could find on how to find it.  We started on a spit of sand on the eastern shore, ducking into different paths or openings in the thick brush, striking out left and right.  

I even climbed a tree to try to look up and out to find the hole, with no luck.  After a half hour of hiking around on the east side, we decided to hop back in the dinghy and cruise around to the south shore to try there.  Our first few path attempts, we struck out again.  With the setting sun on our heels, we were about to leave feeling disheartened and unaccomplished, until Phillip saw a little opening on the left side of the south beach. As we began to follow that along, it seemed clear this was finally it … THE TRAIL to the Blue Hole.  And, turns out, it was!  We turned a corner, the thick brush finally fell away, and there she was.  The infamous Blue Hole.  

With all the talk of this Blue Hole and our tremendous efforts to find it, I knew I had to jump in. Which, in and of itself has never been a problem for me.  I’m an avid cliff diver. 

But, I did not know this Blue Hole would trigger my murky-bottom version of Thalassophobia. When we looked over the edge, however, and saw the hole, I could see that there was a bottom, I just couldn’t make out what was down there.  My brain said: “Where’s that phobia switch?  Oh, there it is.  Flick ” And I said: *GULP*  Seriously, look at my expression.  Does that look like a face of courage to you?  

But, I was going to be brave. I’d talked a big blue-hole game. Phillip and I had overcome big hurdles to get here. I was not going to let my phobia stop me.  Despite knowing monsters like this were down there … 

… don’t try to convince me otherwise, I know they are … I dove anyway!  There she goes!  

But, to prove my phobia is real, I’m so glad Phillip filmed this bit.  Listen closely to what I tell Phillip when I’m swimming back to shore. 

PHOBIA ANNIE:  “I don’t know what’s down there.  I’m gonna swim fast.” 

PHILLIP:  “What do you think’s down there?”

PHOBIA ANNIE:  “I don’t know!” (said with fear)

I crack myself up watching that.  Phillip dipped in next and just swam around all leisure like.  

Where Phillip lounges …

I swim like a maniac trying to get out. 

I even dove with my flip flops in hand because I didn’t want to have to walk on any creepy murky bottom on the way out that might freak me out.  But, by-golly I did it!  

I DOVE THAT HOLE!!!

Now, where’s my ring? Ha! Now, tell me, do any of you out there think you have this phobia? If so, is it the deep version or the shallow, like mine? And, who has dove the Blue Hole at Devil’s-Hoffman?

Next up, we’ll share a fun little problem we had with our transducer.  I mean who really needs a depth gage in the Bahamas? Pssshhh …  That’s child’s play!  When Phillip asked me “What’s the depth, Captain Annie?” I said … 

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4 Responses to What Lurks Beneath? Overcoming My Thalassophobia at Hoffman’s Blue Hole!

  1. Susan says:

    We’ve spent a couple days in the same anchorage you’ve written about here (what a current, huh?) We dinghied up the west shore of Hoffman’s and followed the path to the Blue Hole (our first.) I’m with you on being less afraid of the deep blue than water where the “things” living there might find me close enough to be an easy appetizer. Unlike you, though, I was more afraid of jumping from that height than swimming in the water; I climbed down and jumped in from a lower spot. I forced myself to swim around a bit (so I could say I did it) until a snorkeler brought up a few skeletal remains of some unidentified creature. I told myself that it was just a turtle, but quickly found myself out of the water 🙂

    • anniedike says:

      Yes, you’re right, there was quite the current. We didn’t discover how strong until we finished our Blue Hole dive and returned to the boat. Thankfully we had laid a lot of rode out and we were good, but my evening “bath” off the swim ladder that night was interesting! : ) Thanks for sharing. I would have been pie-eye gone, too, the minute bones started coming up. No thank you! Good for you for overcoming your heebie jeebies and getting in! You can now say “You did it!” … and maybe some day they’ll come up with a ring! : D Thanks for following!

  2. If you ever sail to Vanuatu, check out the blue holes there. Amazing!

    • anniedike says:

      Ahhh … great tip, thank you! It will be many years before we make it that far in our boat, but every location is on the list! (It’s just a long list ; ) Thanks Lois!

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