Father-son come up empty on Bahamas fishing trip but have a blast anyway


The spear feels good in my hands.

I feel primitive, powerful, invincible, resourceful.

In an alcove on the coral head, five red snapper appear, swimming in a mini-school. I adjust my swim mask, take a deep breath and fin down to a depth of 2.5-metres to face the fish. Eyes on the target, I yank back the simple sling shot on the 1.5-metre spear and launch.

The snappers scatter and the slender spear ricochets off the coral in failure.

My son and me are out with guide Dreko Chamberlain of Sandcrab Charters in the crystalline water just off Staniel Cay in the Bahamas’ Exuma chain of islands.

“Relaxed fishermen spear fish, anxious fisherman don’t,” he states in his island lilt just five minutes earlier on the boat.

After the pep talk, instructions and a demonstration in which he naturally and triumphantly returns to the boat with a medium-sized snapper at the end his spear, Alex and I are relaxed and psyched to be catching our own fish.

After my first flub, there are half-a-dozen more misses.

Alex too.

We convince ourselves we’re oh-so-close each time.

While we flounder, Chamberlain skewers a couple more snapper and a mackerel, showing us his technique each time as an inspiration for our own success.

Alas, it’s not going to happen near this chunk of coral.

The boat is fired up and we head over to a cut populated by Caribbean lobster. The crustaceans are slower moving than snapper, but still deft enough to elude our spears. Chamberlain, of course, scores two of the spiny beasts. Although skunked in spear fishing, we’re still elated.

This is, after all, a father-son adventure trip to paradise and we’ve just spent the afternoon out on the water doing something manly.

Our base for all activities is Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where the accommodation is a pastel-coloured oceanfront cottage, and there’s also a marina and the requisite Caribbean dive bar, yet, a fine-dining restaurant.

The room rate can include daily use of a 7-metre Boston Whaler boat, which we captain to all of Exumas’ hotspots.

That includes a jaunt to Compass Cay to swim with menacing-looking, but harmless, nurse sharks; snorkel the underwater cave of Thunderball Grotto; and seek out the most spectacular series of sandbars and deserted beaches.

Oh, by the way, we claimed those lobsters as our own and chef David at Staniel Cay Yacht Club broiled them up for us for dinner that night.


— As “out islands” of the Bahamas, the Exumas feel remote, uncrowded and exclusive, yet it’s easy to get there with Air Canada offering non-stop flights between Toronto and George Town, Great Exuma twice weekly. Check out Bahamas.com, StanielCay.com and AirCanada.com.


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