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The Bahamas...we are back!


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#1 WreckWench

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 08:29 AM

Hey gang...you are back...I wish I could have joined you but a number of issues conspired to keep me away. :D Update on Trace: He is doing MUCH BETTER, and home resting. I can't wait to hear how the diving was...so please don't keep us in suspense much longer!

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#2 BabyDuck

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 04:01 PM

lord lord. well, here goes...

totally inauspicious start. divebuddy (peter) & i were on the same flight to george town, exuma. well, the plane wasn't doing very well. it lost something important that helped it navigate & had to go to nassau. we weren't going to get off nassau until the next day at 08. the boat was sposedta leave at 05 the next day. anyone see the prob? rain, waiting waiting waiting on the tarmac, to a hotel at midnight, pizza then sleep at 01, up at 0415. thank god pete got through to the boat on the phone (on the 3rd try) and they said they'd wait for us. so we got to george town next day about 09. well, we got there, my luggage got there, pete's didn't make it. so we went to the boat & waited some more for some word on the luggage. i whined for 5 minutes (i timed myself), then i tried to stop the rest of the week. oh, and all this was trace's fault, by the way, even pete's luggage. we played hold'em for a few hours - i came in second, jesse won. pete's dive bag did catch up, though not his little bag. then i puked. never been seasick before. 5ft seas, i blame that...that and trace. all his fault. anyway, after that, all was good. did the night dive & felt fine after that. so we missed a day of diving, waiting for us & luggage & better weather. but i want to make clear that nobody at all made us feel bad for holding them up.

loved the crew - eamonn the captain & his dm wife nicola are british, bear the chef & phil the engineer are aussies, cat the dm is canadian, and sophie the cleaner is jamaican. we were the only americans, whixh was cool except for the hell i took for talking funny. of course, i don't. they do.

the dives were really good. over the week, we saw sharks, skates, morays, fairy basslets out the ass, parrots, angels, gobies, blennies, cudas, huge crabs, shrimp, scorpionfish, garden eels...lots of good stuff. the only so-so part was that the coral isn't in good shape. i don't think that's divers, though, just a natural cycle on the down side or the overall environment or something.

everybody was a very competent diver, no real scary moments i'm aware of, buddy pairs were pretty fluid so folks could buddy with whoever if their 'usual' one wasn't diving that one, whatever. i ended up buddying with almost everyone at some point or another, and i'd guess most other folks did, too. brant was my 'usual' buddy, though, since he was photographing & didn't mind that i wanted to go slow & look at everything one square foot at a time. he'd shoot stuff & i'd find something for him to look at next.

friday night was back at the dock. we went drinking. that part's a bit blurry, i'm afraid. then yesterday i went on a tour of exuma with mike & valerie, the couple that wasn't part of sd. it was quite nice, though i had to do a bit of staring at the horizon. (didn't have any of the hair of the dog, sadly...) the flight back was uneventful, thank god. so, to sum up, after the first day it was great & i'd do it again in a heartbeat.

questions? except about friday night, since i can't really answer those??

#3 normblitch

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 04:12 PM

Welcome Home :D
Glad to see the Early sitrep...

Viz?
Bottom temps??
Night-time engine noise???

Norm

lord lord. well, here goes...

questions? except about friday night, since i can't really answer those??



#4 konascubagirl

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 06:05 PM

lord lord. well, here goes...

totally inauspicious start. divebuddy (peter) & i were on the same flight to george town, exuma. well, the plane wasn't doing very well. it lost something important that helped it navigate & had to go to nassau. we weren't going to get off nassau until the next day at 08. the boat was sposedta leave at 05 the next day. anyone see the prob? rain, waiting waiting waiting on the tarmac, to a hotel at midnight, pizza then sleep at 01, up at 0415. thank god pete got through to the boat on the phone (on the 3rd try) and they said they'd wait for us. so we got to george town next day about 09. well, we got there, my luggage got there, pete's didn't make it. so we went to the boat & waited some more for some word on the luggage. i whined for 5 minutes (i timed myself), then i tried to stop the rest of the week. oh, and all this was trace's fault, by the way, even pete's luggage. we played hold'em for a few hours - i came in second, jesse won. pete's dive bag did catch up, though not his little bag. then i puked. never been seasick before. 5ft seas, i blame that...that and trace. all his fault. anyway, after that, all was good. did the night dive & felt fine after that. so we missed a day of diving, waiting for us & luggage & better weather. but i want to make clear that nobody at all made us feel bad for holding them up.

loved the crew - eamonn the captain & his dm wife nicola are british, bear the chef & phil the engineer are aussies, cat the dm is canadian, and sophie the cleaner is jamaican. we were the only americans, whixh was cool except for the hell i took for talking funny. of course, i don't. they do.

the dives were really good. over the week, we saw sharks, skates, morays, fairy basslets out the ass, parrots, angels, gobies, blennies, cudas, huge crabs, shrimp, scorpionfish, garden eels...lots of good stuff. the only so-so part was that the coral isn't in good shape. i don't think that's divers, though, just a natural cycle on the down side or the overall environment or something.

everybody was a very competent diver, no real scary moments i'm aware of, buddy pairs were pretty fluid so folks could buddy with whoever if their 'usual' one wasn't diving that one, whatever. i ended up buddying with almost everyone at some point or another, and i'd guess most other folks did, too. brant was my 'usual' buddy, though, since he was photographing & didn't mind that i wanted to go slow & look at everything one square foot at a time. he'd shoot stuff & i'd find something for him to look at next.

friday night was back at the dock. we went drinking. that part's a bit blurry, i'm afraid. then yesterday i went on a tour of exuma with mike & valerie, the couple that wasn't part of sd. it was quite nice, though i had to do a bit of staring at the horizon. (didn't have any of the hair of the dog, sadly...) the flight back was uneventful, thank god. so, to sum up, after the first day it was great & i'd do it again in a heartbeat.

questions? except about friday night, since i can't really answer those??



Aloha Baby!

Glad you survived the flight! Sounds like the trip was awesome!

Stef

#5 BabyDuck

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 06:28 PM

vis was gin clear some places, but went down to just very very clear in others. my deepest was 120, just to hear my computer tell me i'd hit mod. most probably averaged 60-70, with several not going past 40. temps were 75-80, but i started wearing the hood earlier and earlier every day. the food was great, the engines didn't bother me at all, and the rocking only bothered me for that brief time on day one when i barfed. the rest of the time it was really soothing.

everybody else, feel free to join in...

#6 Dennis

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 12:00 PM

Thanks for the report. Sounds like a lot of nice diving.

I have to ask a question. Are you still rocking? After a few days on a boat, it takes me a couple of days to quit rocking after I'm on terra firma.
DSSW,
Dennis
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#7 casematic

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 05:08 PM

I have to ask a question. Are you still rocking? After a few days on a boat, it takes me a couple of days to quit rocking after I'm on terra firma.



I was rocking for almost a week... This is the first chance I've had to take a minute to post.. Guess that's what happens at work when you take a week off.. But for diving, it was worth it... The weather was a little chilly and the wind a bit brisk, but still plenty of diving... The crew on the boat was great and I'm sure added to the fun that everyone had. It appeared that the recent urchin blight has had an effect. Algae has begun to take over some of the reef so it didn't look as good or have as many fish as some places I've been. I will start another thread on that topic that hopefully some of those with a marine biology background can shed some light on... Saw some very cool things though including a few scorpion fish.... and a rather large shark.

Anyway...back to the trip.. Other than the plane and lost luggage, there weren't any problems... And I thought it was very cool of the captain to wait (we still got plenty of diving)... I know that I would certainly appreciate the boat waiting on me if I were the one who had fallen victim to the dependability of the airlines. We did the typical last night in port with some of the people partying.......on a professional level...

#8 captsteve

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 07:53 PM

marcie, you crack me up.......sounds like you had a good time.....wish i had been there!

#9 Dive_buddy

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 05:27 PM

  Getting to the ship, was not the most pleasant experience in my life. All I will say is that things could not have gone much worse without needing some body bags. But despite all the problems, as you can see, Marci was still in good spirits when we left Nassau for George Town.

Posted Image


  I must point out that the Captain and crew of the Caribbean Explorer went out of their way by delaying the ship, making sure that a cab was at the airport for us. They were very helpful to Marci and I after the delay caused by the airlines. They loaned instead of renting, me equipment that was in the missing luggage. Also the Captain loaned me a strobe arm from one of the cameras that they sell on board, so I could use my strobe for night dives.

  I also wish to thank everyone who willingly agreed to wait the extra time for us to arrive, and even longer for my luggage to arrive. Not many people would give up several dives like you guys did. I would like to think that they waited for me But in truth it was for Marci (cause it's all about her) :cheerleader: I thank every one of you.

  Once on board the 106', 124 ton CEX1, we were relieved of our shoes for the week. That's right, barefoot the whole time. During our wait for my luggage to show up, Marci proceeded to “shark” everyone at the poker table, while I paced and mumbled obscenities about a certain airline. The ship's clocks were set an hour early, so I really have no idea what time anything happened the first day. Once 1 of my 2 bags showed up, we set sail for our first dive site.

  The transit was a little less than smooth. I had served on a Frigate in the Navy and am used to a rough ride. But, I spent most of the transit topside, taking pictures, and contemplating if I should join the crowd that was leaning over the rails and saying “ooh” and “ahh”. Looking back, I don't think that looking through the viewfinder of a camera as much as I was, could have helped the borderline seasickness much. But I did manage to get a few nice shots, like this sunset.

Posted Image


Cat Island, Hidden Rum 2006/02/05
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
11:14 PM...00:40:30....51........71
  I did not get any pictures on this dive as I took my housing down empty to check for leaks. Besides, the airlines managed to break my strobe so I wouldn't have been able to take any nighttime pictures anyway.

  We anchored overnight at Hidden Rum and did our first two dives there the following day.

Cat Island, Hidden Rum 2006/02/06
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
08:24 AM...00:28:30...146........70
10:58 AM...00:44:30.....83........71
  The first dive I took the empty housing with me again and intended to go to 131' to pressure test it, and so I could say that I exceeded recreational dive limits. Funny thing happened on my way to 130'. I got narced! I was at 146' before I realized it and was able to start my ascent. Diver be warned, being narced can sneak up on you. On the up side, I now know what symptoms I produce when narced, and my housing was high and dry at 146'. The second dive I finally started shooting pictures. Just one word of advice to all underwater shutter bugs out there. Make sure that your exposure is NOT set to +2EV. Why? Because you can ruin a lot of fantastic pictures, like the one of a Honeycomb Cowfish on the top.


Posted Image

even photoshoping it does not do much good
Posted Image


  After dive 2, we were served lunch prepared by Bear, the cook (not chef). Bear explained that there are really no chefs in the world. It would seem that the degrees held by these "chefs" read "Cook".

Bear, on the left.
Posted Image


Cat Island, Bain 2006/02/06
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
01:42 PM....0:42:30....85........76
07:37 PM....0:41:30....57........71
  Before each dive, the divers were called to the dive briefing by the sound of the conch being blown. Much in the way that King Neptune would summon his subjects to his side, we would gather upon hearing the conch being blown. Naw, that's a load of crap, it was a bunch of divers who couldn't blow the darn thing, ending up slobbering and drooling into this poor conch shell and making some of the most pathetic sounds you would ever want to hear. But is was fun.
  Every dive was drawn on the dive board to give us all an idea of what the area was like. We were well briefed on points of interest, where to avoid, and what to look for.

The Dive board.
Posted Image


  The dives here, as was with all of the dives, were good ones. Plenty to see and never enough air to see it all. Unfortunately, except for isolated areas of color, like this,

Posted Image

the majority of the reefs had a blanched appearance. Although not as bad as in places like Jamaica and Aruba, it was very apparent that the reefs were not healthy. People, this is a wake up call. We can not afford to let this continue.

Posted Image


Despite the condition of the reefs, there was plenty of marine life to be found,
such as this Barracuda on the 1:30pm dive at Bain
Posted Image

And let us not forget about this Spotted Morey Eel I found (or he found me).
Posted Image
Why are fish with teeth attracted to me?


And speaking of unhealthy, on the night dive at Bain,
we came across what was left of the last divers who complained about Bear's cooking.
Posted Image


Cat Island, Devil's Forest 2006/02/07
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
08:32 AM...00:32:30....97........73
  The dive was good, and unfortunately, very few pictures turned out. It seems the port was fogging. I spent the rest of the day, freaking out on the ship. Wich, with this being my first time out of the house in a year, I did better than I expected. And it gave me plenty of time to get used to the new camera and get some good (not great) shots.

Like this Sunset over the CEX1's dingy
Posted Image


  All food and beverages aboard were included, even beer and the hard stuff. There were only two rules when it came to alcohol. 1. Once you had a drink, you were done diving for the day. 2. No one from the crew could hand you, or get you a drink. You had to get your own drinks, after you were done diving. And how does one know when they've had too much to drink?

When the CEX1 has TWO dingys.
Posted Image


Conception Island, Hocus Pocus 2006/02/08
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
08:32 AM...00:36:30....95........76
10:37 AM...00:33:30....92........73
  I thought it kind of eerie how these two dives were so similar. 3 min difference in bottom time, 3' difference in depth. I did suck down 98c/ft more air on the shorter and shallower dive. But that was because they had me hunting for mermaids. This Hawcksbill seemed a bit interested in me at first. But when I told him “No riders, Dude” he took off.

I still think he looks a lot like that guy from Nemo.
Posted Image


Conception Island, Missing Link 2006/02/08
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
01:42 Pm...00:40:30....78........74
03:59 PM...00:50:30....66........73
06:52 PM...00:44:30....79........71
  Missing link is named for the chain that lays over the reef (as I understand it). And sure enough, there is a light anchor chain that lays over the reef in two pieces, and disappears into the deep blue of the drop off. This was also about the time that I was beginning to get the hang of taking pictures underwater. I am by no means a good photographer, but I was actually starting to get some shots what were actually in focus and fairly well color balanced.

Here is a Honeycomb Cowfish
Posted Image

Stingray with buddy
Posted Image

Posted Image


On the night dive I came across:
A Blue Tang
Posted Image

and a Spotted Morey
Posted Image



Some of the gang relaxing after a day of diving Hocus Pocus and Missing Link at Conception Island
Posted Image


  By this time, I was getting to the point where when I surfaced from a dive, if I sat real quiet, I could hear the blood fizzing in my veins. Ah, the sound of nitrogen off gassing in the morning! Just makes you glad to be alive doesn't it? So I sat the morning dive out.

Conception Island, Grouper Ledge 2006/02/09
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
10:49 AM...00:42:30....83........77

Here is Glen exiting a swimthrough at Grouper ledge
Posted Image


Conception Island, Shoots & Ladders 2006/02/09
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
01:38 PM...00:20:30....74........73

A few shots taken at Shoots & Ladders.
Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image


Conception Island, Wedge Point 2006/02/09
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
04:20 PM...01:00:30....59........72
  I managed somehow, to delete all the pictures of Wedge Point. Of course with the quality of my pictures, this may be a blessing. But here are a shot of the Sunrise and Sunset over Conception Island that day.

Posted Image

Posted Image


Long Island, Comberbach Wreck 2006/02/10
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
07:10 AM 00:34:30....98........72
  This was a pre-dawn dive. It just does not get any better than a pre-dawn dive. You enter the water and descend in darkness. Then watch the dark turn slowly into vague light, then into morning. I like to turn my dive light off just before it starts to turn light. I hang in one place, wondering what has just bumped into me in the dark, and then watch as everything slowly lights up. It is fascinating to watch fish come out of hiding. It happens so gradually that one can hardly tell when all the fish arrived. Also, history was made on this dive. I had a working camera with me, but did not take a single picture. (the doctor says it is only temporary, and that I will recover from it). So without any pictures of the dive, here is a picture of:

Crew member Cat
Posted Image

Nicola and the Captain
Posted Image


Long Island, Barracuda Heads 2006/02/10
DIVETIME...BTIME......MDEPTH TEMP
09:52 AM...00:59:30....40........72

My dive buddy at Barracuda Heads.
Posted Image

  I don't know exactly how big he was, but I did notice that everyone else in the group headed for the other side of the reef when he headed our way. Why is it that fish with teeth are attracted to me???

  Pulling in on Friday evening was a sobering experance. Not only was I a nitrogen bubble with legs, it signaling the end of the week, the end of diving, and having to leave such a great bunch of people. I stood on the Sun deck and watched as the Captain made several attempts to back the ship into it's berth between two piers. Seeing the difficulty he was having, I had one thought running through my head, “Damn! I'm glad I'm not the one trying to do this.” The wind was up and it kept pushing the ship toward the starboard pier. So despite all the readjusting he had to do, the Captain did a fine job of getting us into berth, and without hitting either pier no less. Here is a shot of most of the gang heading out to get slobbering, falling down, licking the deck drunk ... errr, I mean to have dinner and relax after the week of diving..

Posted Image


  Unfortunately, none of my shots of Phil (the engineer) turned out. But to leave him out of the story would be a crime. He kept the ship running at all times, kept the jokes going when Glen was running low, and he was a good dive buddy and leader.

  The entire crew of the CEX1 were outstanding. Providing not just top notch service, but a feeling of friendship as well. They have set the standard by which every dive op should be measured.
Was this trip worth it? I would say yes (setting aside the weather and other problems beyond one's control). I have found that some people only want to dive reefs that are full of color, and these reefs are not that way. Even though these reefs are not vibrant, they are full of life and it would take years to see everything they have to offer. Who knows, maybe if we start bringing back pictures of dying reefs, people might start taking the necessary steps to preserve and help these reefs?

  There, I did it! Not once in the whole report did I call American Airlines or any of the people in the Bahamas a bunch of incompetent, bumbling clods. I'm so proud of myself.

Enjoy


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#10 WreckWench

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 05:49 PM

Peter...that is the BEST dive report we've ever had on SD...and I can certainly say you have every right to be upset! Your self control and restraint is so admirable!!! :cheerleader:

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
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#11 captsteve

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 06:03 PM

great trip report!...... just how much of your money did marcie walk away with? did she leave you enough for a sandwich? :cheerleader:

#12 ScubaGypsy

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 09:03 PM

That really is a wonderful report! I like how you included your particular dive stats, pics and mixed in your comments with humour. I also appreciate your comments with regard to the reef health as the conditions are similar to the Keys but your pics suggest that the health is worlds apart. Very good job, thank-you!
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#13 Dive_buddy

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 09:03 PM

Peter...that is the BEST dive report we've ever had on SD...and I can certainly say you have every right to be upset! Your self control and restraint is so admirable!!! :D

Ask Marci how much self control I had when we landed. :D

great trip report!...... just how much of your money did marcie walk away with? did she leave you enough for a sandwich? :D

She got none. I don't play poker. The last time I did, it was strip poker and once they got me stripped, they made me put my clothes back on.
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#14 6Gill

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 11:10 PM

Great dive report...you've set the bar.

Eric

#15 sudsymark

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 09:30 AM

in spite of everything it looks like a great trip! I so wish I had been there.
In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we underdstand; and we will only understand what we are taught. -Baba Dioum




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