Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Dive Eat Sleep Repeat

     For the past two months I've been crossing my fingers, hoping the weather in the Bahamas and Miami area would improve for good diving. That area has had its fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms lately. When I flew out of Houston early one morning about two weeks ago, a cold front was headed the same way -- toward Miami. 

     I had signed-up for ten days of SCUBA diving on the Juliet which docks at Miami. 


     Juliet has more charm than most dive boats. Click here for the post I wrote when I did my first dive on Juliet two years ago.
     You won't see many three-masted schooners at Miami; and yes, we truly did sail out of Miami. That's Bre in photo below, a diver who volunteered to hoist one of the sails. She's a state trooper from Maine by the way. 

     There were ten divers and oddly five were solo women which includes me. And there were five crew members; my favorite from two years ago, Nate, is now Captain. He recently wrote a book, Bahamas Bucket List for Divers.

Nate let me sit on his captain's chair. I'm resting my foot on the wheel.

     Juliet in my opinion is the perfect dive boat because there's plenty of space and lots of pretty interior woodwork.

     Below from left to right are Billie and her husband Gary (both are retired NIH scientists from Louisiana, she's a veterinarian too). Far right with coffee mug is Ed who was my dive buddy for the week and whose pilot skills (water current speed, compass readings, etc.) were much appreciated.

     Compass readings aren't normally necessary because visibility is usually great. But during our eight days of diving, visibility was poor half the time (below is Bea's photo of me which shows poor visibility).

     Sometimes visibility was so poor I couldn't even see the boat above me. See the rough sea at sunset?

     It's tricky to safely exit the water with 60 pounds of SCUBA gear on a boat ladder that's rocking up/down six feet with the swells. Below is Bea, my roommate who's a German permanent resident of Vancouver, Canada. See the flags waving behind her? Jumping off the boat was much easier!

     Meals were scrumptious!

Amanda the cook has the hardest job in my opinion. She's also a diver.

     Max (below) was our dive master. Before every dive, he explains reef profiles, currents, depths, things to be on the lookout for.

     Most dive masters remind me of clucking mother hens who constantly chastise their flock of divers for scattering too far away from Mama; it's annoying to me. Max gave us all the details of each dive and then let us explore without him, which is perfect! We were on our own. He did however, accompany divers during a drift dive. We also were briefed on what to look for by our boat's marine biologist Liz.

     Below is a photo of us divers getting suited-up and ready to jump in. See how much space we have? A dive-boat doesn't usually have this much space.

     The owner of the boat, Liza (photo below), is feeding lion fish to sharks. Throughout the days of diving, several divers took a spear and container to kill and bag this invasive slightly toxic but pretty fish. I helped scout for lion fish.

Everyone dived (except me) in this very same spot after the sharks were fed!

The boat's cat Pearl was fed lion fish eggs.

We got buzzed by a float plane.

     Below is an $8.5 million neighbor "Missing Link". We were anchored with this boat for several evenings on a protective cove.

     This boat (below) with all its powerful motors and four youthful and nearly naked ladies is aptly named "Lucky Dick." That wreck behind it by the way is Sapona, a concrete ship.

     Before a liveaboard adventure, I download a couple sea-related books to read onboard. I favor nonfiction books that capture the human spirit. Highly recommend Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.

For photos contributed by divers who had underwater cameras, click here.

Hope y'all have a Happy Thanksgiving :)