trip reports

  • September 28, 2021 12:57 PM | Nils Jacobsen (Administrator)

    Something Old – Something New – Something Borrowed – Something Blue

    In some ways this was the club’s worst trip ever – a trip from Hell – at least until we got there… We were scheduled for June 2020 at Little Cayman Beach Resort – then due to Covid-19 was pushed out to April 2021 – and when that did not look plausible pushed out again to Sept 2021… Even though the last date looked risky from a weather perspective we felt adequately protected by the policies of Clearly Cayman and Cayman Airways. When we got into the last fray – triggered by the Cayman government’s unwillingness to open on a schedule similar to the rest of the Caribbean – Ronnie and I got “tunnel vision” – and focused only on medical and insurance related Turks and Caicos (TCI) entry criteria.

    Clearly Cayman repatriated a fraction of their dive shop – Reef Divers - a flotilla of 4 dive boats - from Little Cayman to East Bay Resort, South Caicos. Despite the less than ideal season a large number of our divers originally committed to Little Cayman accepted the move and on top of that we got several late/additional sign ups – as this was something new and interesting. Except for a few divers that made “half” a Fiji trip in March 2020, most of our divers had not been on a club trip for over 2 years. The general Attitude was “Just Do IT”. In addition we were up against “a wall” – any additional delay would have been equivalent to a complete cancellation – as the trips in 2022 – all looks to be on track/on schedule

    We ended up with 28 divers, our second biggest trip this century - second only to a prior trip to Little Cayman. All in all we had a great time – so wonderful to get back the water with our fellow members

    Something Old:

    Clearly Cayman is famous for the hospitality of their staff. The diving staff delivered Reef Divers famous Valet diving to expectations. Clearly Cayman is also famous for their buffet food service… The chef was actually a new hire – but he performed perfectly to expectations and traditions – including serving Ice Cream to Roger and others – not satisfied with the sweet selection on displays…

    Some of our more experienced members have recollections – and pictures – of diving South Caicos around 1980…

    Something New:

    To most – S Caicos is a new destination – And East Bay Resort is a relatively new (10-12 years old) set of buildings. The accommodations are exquisite all Ocean View suites – excessive space, well-functioning AC. If you need to ride out a hurricane – hunkering in place – this is where you want to do it! – The place is built like a fortress. Because we were the first big group a few things - AC and other amenities - had to be repaired or swapped out and we had a single complete room swap.

    Large Infinity Pool with swim up bar. The dining area was hybrid – felt like outside, but under hard roof and well protected in case on inclement weather. The Wi-Fi worked well (almost?) all the time – and a few people were able to attend work events in lieu of diving

    Something Borrowed

    One thing is slightly different than Little Cayman – because we do fly charters on the last leg from Provo to S Caicos you need to get your luggage – including the heavy camera stuff - for a few people …on the correct (and only) plane. We did request special allowance for 3 “heavy duty” photographers – and we had no problems. The charter operation was smooth and effective.

    Some of our divers – facing the 60 lbs. luggage limits - actually did us a favor – by committing to rental gear. For the rest of us packing light was a stressful exercise – mistakes did happen – and there was more borrowing from each other than normal. To maximize payload – I did purchase from Amazon and “official JetBlue” personal item bag – only 8 ounces

    Something Blue

    We were promised Nitrox (but the compressor was delayed)* – which is a prerequisite for normal healthy blue water diving in the Caicos – the wall crust at 50-60’ and the best pictures – my personal wide angel-only opinion - are only after you drop below the crest – so my assessment of the diving – and the ability to take the kind of pictures I care for – “is wait and see” … On two of the diving days the dive boats took us to Grand Turk. Our club was there last time in 2000 with Peter Hughes and we did dive the same moorings as back then (at least the mooring still left). Especially the first morning dive in Grand Turk is deep dark blue – because the position of the sun keeps the wall in the shade. I did find some nice clusters of Giant Purple Tube Sponges – a characteristic Grand Turk Picture. Because all the diving in Grand Turk is leeward – West facing – the water was flat with little to no current.

    For the S Caicos diving a little more practice will help improve things – say picked dive sites with acceptable current and/or choosing to drift dive when appropriate

    On the dive map – there were sites – North of South Caicos, e.g. East Caicos. While we were there those sites were all classified as “exploratory” – maybe Bob and Phebe that stayed behind for another 1.5 week got try that area.

    At S Caicos we had two shallow dives looking for Eagle Rays. We saw them on both dives – but only close enough for pictures on our last dive. Due to the size of the group – we were split between two boats. The key dive master on our boat, Lee, had a classical European sense of humor and took great care to ensure that Alan was always “adequately” instructed before each dive

    *In lieu of Nitrox we had to suffer with the substitution to a free drink card (21 drinks) each. We had only a few complaints on this account

    Quoting a past president – “if you missed it – you missed it”

    Ronnie and Nils

    PS – we should have a folder in the club’s photo achieve shortly


  • August 13, 2021 3:59 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    (Copied with permission from https://www.aggressor.com/captains-logs-view.php?id=2037)

    Air Temp.  77-86+ F
    Water Temp. 81-83 F
    Visibility 45-100+ft

    CREW:

    Captain Dennis
    Engineer Simon
    Instructor Daniel
    Instructor Rocke
    Stewardess Elia
    Sous Chef Carlos
    Chef Jerry

    GUESTS:

    Roger, Amy,  Frank, Joanne, Ronnie, Nils, Judy, Jeff, Flora, Laura, Rick, Ryan, Alison, Jen, Ashley, Wes, Steve and Brett

    DIVE SITES:

    Sunday – Zipline, Black Beauty
    Monday – Half Moon Caye Wall, Long Caye Wall
    Tuesday – Blue Hole, Uno Coco
    Wednesday – Silver Cave, Quebrada
    Thursday – Long Caye Ridge, Painted Wall,
    Friday – Amberhead South

    PreviousNext

    Saturday July 24th

    It was a picture perfect Saturday as guests boarded the Belize Aggressor IV for a Week Of Exploring The Underwater World Around Turneffe Caye, Long Caye, Half Moon Caye and The Famous Blue Hole.

    Sunday July 25th

    It was daylight however; it would be another 30 minutes before the Sun would rise as the Belize Aggressor IV Departed Her Home Port At The Radisson Marina Fort George in Belize City, Belize.   While making our way to our dive sites for the day guests enjoy a Colorful Sunrise and a Wonderful Breakfast.  Today we stayed around Turneffe Caye diving two Dive Sites, one called Zipline, and Located on the Northwest Side and Black Beauty Located on the Southeast Side of the Island.  We knew it would be an Excellent Day of Diving when while diving our first site Zipline Dolphins swam near the Belize Aggressor IV and Yes several guests had in water Encounters.  Just some of the Marine Life We Enjoyed today was Nurse Sharks, Permits, Large Barrel Sponges, Colorful Whip Corals, Huge School of Creole Wrasses, Spotted Moray Eels, Free Swimming Green Moray Eels, Juvenile Spotted Drums, Friendly Queen Angelfish, Spotted Eagle Rays, Caribbean Reef Sharks and White Spotted Toadfish! WOW Great First Day!!

    Monday July 26th

    Today started just as yesterday did with Dolphins as we visited our first dive site called Half Moon Caye Wall.  Other Marine Life we enjoyed with the Bottlenose Dolphins was Ocean Triggerfish, Green Moray Eels, Big Loggerhead Turtle, Very Friendly Nassau Groupers, Spotted Eagle Rays and Lots of Caribbean Reef Sharks!  We used the afternoon to Explore Long Caye Wall where we swam with Schools of Tarpon, Huge Barrel Sponges, Colorful Rope Sponges, Wire Shrimps, Arrow Blennies, Angelfish, Chubs, Mackerel, Caribbean Reef Sharks, Spotted Eagle Rays, Octopus, Squids, however the highlight at least for this guest was when a Juvenile Loggerhead swam just inches from his mask for a closer look.  When you take your time and move slowly underwater you never know what the Marine Life will do and here it paid off for our guest!

    Tuesday July 27th

    In 1971 ocean pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau declared the Blue Hole one of the Top Ten Dive Sites in the World.  Today this 1000 foot across and over 400 feet deep site is still visited by thousands of divers each year.  On this Tuesday it was the guests on the Belize Aggressor IV Exploring This Famous Dive Site First Thing in the Morning!  Swimming around the Huge Stalagmite and Stalactite was the Perfect Way to start the day!  For the afternoon we made our way back to the Long Caye Area and the Dive Site called Uno Coco.  Divers enjoyed a Very Colorful Wall, Large Deep Water Fans and Barrel Sponges; from the small Arrow Blennies to the Large Loggerhead Turtle guest enjoyed a Huge Variety of Marine Life.  Other Creatures and Fish that we enjoyed was Large Black Groupers, Snappers, Spotted Moray Eels, Feeding Tarpon, Atlantic Thorny Oysters, Trumpetfish and Several Caribbean Sharks coming Close for a look.  An Excellent Day of Diving! 

    Wednesday July 28th

    Today we started at the dive site called Silver Cave.  Silver Cave is a Colorful Wall where a small swim thru is located in the wall, normally filled with Hundreds of Silversides.  While we only had a few Silversides we did have a very colorful dive encountering Small Loggerhead and Hawksbill Turtles, Queen Angelfishes, Schooling Creole Wrasses, Neck Crabs, Caribbean Reef Sharks and Spotted Eagle Rays.  For the afternoon we visited one of my personal favorite dive sites in the Caribbean, called Quebrada.  This dive site is always Amazing, with a Huge Array of Gorgonians.  You can open up any Reef Coral Book and pick something and it can be found on Quebrada.  I love swimming next to the Large Busy Black Coral or the Colorful Rope Sponges.  We also swam near Caribbean and Spotted Spiny Lobsters, Goldentail Moray Eels, Atlantic Thorny Oysters, Spotted Drums, Caribbean Reef Sharks, stuck in the middle of a school of 16 Big Tarpon, Octopuses and Squids.  Like all the days before we ran out of time before we ran out of Marine Life to Enjoy!

    Thursday July 29th

    For our last full day of diving our dive sites along Long Caye were Long Caye Ridge, Painted Wall and Cathedral.  While exploring these three Colorful Dive Sites we Enjoyed Painted Tunicates, Magnificent Urchins, Atlantic Thorny Oysters, Rough Fileclams, Busy Black Corals, Colorful Rope and Tube Sponges, Reef Sharks, Queen Angelfish, Juvenile Spotted Drums, Nassau and Tiger Groupers, Hawksbill Turtle, Large Barrel Sponges, Boulder Brain Corals, During The Day Dives Free Swimming Green Moray Eels, Dimpled Sheet Corals, Spotted Eagle Rays.  However the highlight of the day was when a Small Hawksbill Turtle swam up to our guest and was face to face almost look like it gave her a small kiss.  Another Adventurous Full Day Of Diving! 

    Friday July 30th

    Our final dive site to visit was Amberhead South.  Divers enjoyed a relaxing dive swimming with schools of Snapper, Big Channel Clinging Crabs, Spotted Moray Eel and Free Swimming Green Moray Eel, Tiger and Nassau Grouper, Huge barrel Sponges and Array of Soft and Hard Corals, Indigo Hamlets, and a Huge Variety of Marine Life.  It was the perfect relaxing dive to end an Amazing Week Exploring the Underwater World of Belize With the Likes of Moray Eels, Sharks, Turtles, Eagle Rays and Dolphins.  Only on the Belize Aggressor IV Can Enjoy A Exciting Adventure and Relax At The Some Time.  See You Soon!!

    The Crew Would Like To Thank Everyone For Joining Us On The Belize Aggressor IV!!!

    Until The Next Time Safe Travels…

    Best Fishes,

    Belize Aggressor IV Crew

  • August 02, 2021 11:10 AM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    We are back from a great week on the Belize Aggressor IV liveaboard, pictured here on our last night in Belize (thanks, Ronnie).

    I just wanted to take a minute to let you know about one of the most fun things that happened on the trip. During one of our dives, a turtle got up close and personal with Judy, as you can see in the picture below. Jeff and Judy said that a turtle had approached them on a previous dive. It seemed to like having them scratch its shell. They think the turtle on the pictured dive is the same one, because it picked Judy out of a group of other divers and went right to her. Laura caught the action on video. Click on the picture below to view the video.

    Click here to view the video

  • November 16, 2018 4:32 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    All of our adventurers, 9 adult divers, 4 non divers and 4 diving children ages 11-13 had a most wonderful time. The weather was spectacular with clear blue skies and sparkling warm water in beautiful Cozumel. Everyone enjoyed their beautiful beachside Iberostar accommodations. Our location put us close to some of the most beautiful reefs in the area. Five star Dressel Divers provided great care of our group on our roomy boat. We always had 2 attentive dive masters in the water with us who took extra care with our children. When our junior divers were with us the crew made sure our dive sites were appropriately shallow and relaxing. It turned out that our junior divers did not want to dive daily so although we had secured just two morning boat dives per diver, many of us dove in the afternoon using credits from the children.

    The lovely spa, the beautiful seaside pool, and the varied dining opportunities entertained everyone when not diving. Some of the group attended the live theater after dinner and a one of our juniors participated on stage. What fun!

    Trip leader,
    Nancy Styles


  • October 29, 2018 9:21 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    I want to thank all 27 participants who went to Grand Cayman. We enjoyed fabulous valet diving at Cobalt Coast Resort with Reef Divers. The water temperature averaged 85 with clear blue water.

    We had spectacular oceanfront seating at the open-air restaurant looking at the Caribbean Sea. We also had some excitement when a plane flew right over us while we were eating. We later found out that it was a crop duster. Most rooms were ocean front for all that signed up early.

    This trip included 3 dives a day. For us that did not dive the third dive, we had fun exploring the island. We went to Hell and back, visited the rum factory, blow holes and had excitement driving on the left side of the road. My two back seat drivers and navigators, Chary and Kathy kept me on the right track, most of the time.

    Please go on the club’s website to see all of the photos or click here.

    Your Trip Leader,
    Ronnie Farr


  • August 27, 2018 3:48 PM | Clare Florio Anthon (Administrator)

    BONAIRE DIVI FLAMINGO BEACH RESORT AUGUST 11th-18th, 2018

                              

    On August 11th, 2018, seven Under Sea Adventurers were packed and ready to meet at Miami International Airport.

    After a delay of 50 minutes, we jetted off to Bonaire Flamingo International Airport. Upon arrival we were met by a van from DIVI. A very friendly driver named Ray safely tucked our luggage away while the group chose seats for the five-minute ride to the resort.

    A very delicious Rum Punch welcomed us as we were checking in and receiving our room key, towel card, resort card and event schedule.

    I was told Serge, the Dive Shop manager, was waiting for me. I quickly went to meet with him.  I gave Serge all the diver’s completed forms, and there were many!! I was told to have all the divers down at the shop for orientation. After I managed that feat, we were given a tour of the area we would be using all week.  We were told to put all our gear in our preassigned lockers (the picture below is me in my locker) and get ready for a check out dive. Serge wanted us all to be properly weighted to avoid any unsinkable divers in the morning. So after a long day of travel we made a dive.

                  

    Sunday morning, after a very hearty breakfast buffet, seven wide-eyed USA’ers were  ready for the first day of diving.  Our package included six days of three- tank diving.  Like clockwork we were all on the boat at 8 o’clock each morning and after an enormous lunch, back on the boat at 2 o’clock every afternoon. 

    The water was 81-82 degrees F and as we were anchor diving, a bit of a current.

    Orlando, one of our Divemasters was always ready to help and show us all the amazing creatures, large and small.  We were treated to the sights of tuna, tarpon, barracuda, squid and all the beautiful tropical fish we see here. The walls were spectacular and the corals beautiful. 

    Our rooms were spacious studios with kitchens and small living rooms that opened to lovely screened porches.

                  

    Happy Hour was usually in my room. Thanks to all we had a great assortment of snacks,  cocktails, beer and wine.

    The Resort offered Karaoke Night, at the Beachside Bar, so off we went! Needless to say, it was very entertaining. USA’ers are not shy.

    On Thursday, the Beachside Bar had a complimentary Happy Hour with hors d’oeuvres and  more Rum Punch, so off we went again. After many “punches” we enjoyed our Private Dinner. We had a choice of a lovely piece of tuna or a HUGE pork chop. Guess what I chose? It was excellent!!

                                                                                                 

    After six divers completed two morning dives on Friday, the rinsing and hanging of gear commenced.  

    A group of five decided to rent a van and tour the island.  The Food Manager, Henk, packed a lovely assortment of wraps, fruit and drinks in coolers  for us to take along.

    We drove to Washington Slagbaai National Park.  After a very bumpy ride over dirt and rock roads we proceeded to the other end of the island to visit the Salt Flats.

                               

    Upon returning from our tour, some of us went to a nearby Italian eatery. Capriccio Ristorante was a short walk from DIVI. We decided to dine all’interno vs. alfresco where complimentary Mimosa’s welcomed us.  The food was delicious and the wine was white and crisp.  

    After dinner, we returned to DIVI.  We all gathered and realized our long planned week had come to an end.  A few more beers, cocktails and lots of ice were center stage.

                                                                       

    Saturday morning, many were packing and getting all belongings up to the Front Office for check out.  Finally our van appeared! Once again our luggage was safely tucked away as we chose a seat to return to Bonaire Flamingo International Airport.

    I will always remember my first trip to Bonaire with the Under Sea Adventurers Dive Club!

    Sunny regards,

    Clare Florio Anthon

    Trip Leader





       

       




  • May 09, 2018 10:49 AM | Anonymous

    Log Date: Saturday, Apr 14, 2018
    Entry By: Bahamas Aggressor crew

    Bahamas Aggressor Captain’s Log
    April 14 – 21, 2018

    Air Temp: 75-85F
    Water Temp: 72-75F
    Visibility: 50 – 100ft

    Crew:
    Captain: Christy Weaver
    Engineer: Dave Millard
    Instructor: Josh Foster
    Instructor: Caitilin Tincher
    Instructor: Ben Phillips
    Chef: Caleb Dudley

    Guests:
    Kim, Nancy, Flora, Ronnie, Nils, Laura, Carrol, Margie, Rita, Dr. Rick, Rick, Amy, Roger.

    Dive Sites:
    Saturday – Nassau to the Exumas
    Sunday – Lobster No Lobster, Staniel Cay
    Monday – Staniel Cay, Three Peaks, Crab Mountain
    Tuesday – Up Jumped the Devil, Austin Smith, Barracuda, Smugglers Plane
    Wednesday – Pillar Wall, Dog Rocks, Madison Ave
    Thursday – Crab Wall, Aquarium, Blue Hole
    Friday – Blue Hole

    Saturday April 14, 2018

    This week we have thirteen guests from the USA Dive Club, including one of its founding members who started the club in 1971. Everyone already knows each other so the crew and the guests do introductions and start to get excited about the adventure to come. We go through the essentials of the safety briefing and then Caleb serves up a superb meal as we start to make our way to the Exumas.

    Sunday April 15, 2018

    We start our morning on one of our favorite shallow dive sites, Lobster No Lobster. This dive site gets its name because on quite a regular occasion we witness the great lobster migration here, so there are sometimes lobsters and sometimes no lobsters. We do two fantastic dive here and see leopard flat worms and a variety of fish life. After we are done diving we pack up and start heading south, this group wants to swim with some pigs! We make the long journey south down to Staniel Cay and make a quick run to the beach when we get there to say hi to the little oinkers before Caleb’s exquisite meal of Salmon and white chocolate brownies are ready. We settle in for a good night sleep at the anchorage here at “Bacon Beach” and rest well before our epic adventure of swimming with pigs comes in the morning.

    Monday April 16, 2018

    The pigs are waiting for us as we take off on the dink for the shore. We are equipped with the essentials FOOD! The pigs come running for our divers and then they are swimming with us. To see the large 600 pound animals moving so gracefully through the water seems to be something out of a childrens book so surreal. We enjoy the pigs and the beach for the morning and then start moving our back up north to where the diving is! We leave Staniel and wave goodbye to the pigs as we go and wind up in the Exuma Land and Sea Park for our first dive of the day. Three Peaks is where we land and the everything within the park is so much bigger than outside. We saw so many huge lobster as well as queen trigger fish and even some groupers being cleaned. We then continue our journey further up the Exuma Chain. We stop at crab mountain a dive site aptly name for its large population of crabs. We enjoy an afternoon and night dive here and get to bed early to we can be fresh for diving in the morning.

    Tuesday April 17, 2018

    Divers are awoken by the smell of wonderful french toast, we scarf down our breakfast and get ready for a full day of diving. We start our day on Up Jumped the Devil, a sight knows for the devils sun lounger that sits just on the wall. Divers get pictures on the lounger and marvel at the incredible swim thrus this site has to offer. We make our way back to the boat and we are off again this time in search of SHARKS! We pull up to the Austin Smith and known sharky area and before the engines even cut out the sharks are surrounding the boat. The divers take off into the water and hang out with the sharks all while exploring the wreck of the Austin Smith and old Cape May Cutter sunk to make a wonderful artificial reef. In the afternoon we make our way to the bank side of the Exumas to dive barracuda shoals. This shallow dive site is a small wonder! The life we find here is out of this world. Schools of snappers, grunts, and tang surrounded us in this underwater paradise. We see huge lobsters and even some large crabs. For our afternoon and night dive we move to smugglers plane. An old DC3 plane wreck which was brought down while smuggling drugs out of the Bahamas. The plane is now home to a plethora of life. We found red tipped sea goddesses, moon snails, schools of dog snappers and even some awesome coweries.

    Wednesday April 4, 2018

    We are up and at em’ and ready to start our diving at Pillar Wall. The wall here is fantastic and the life is abundant.   From the start the reef sharks are here to greet us, two of them actively circling our divers. The reef sharks stay with us most of the dive, which we love. We also see a beautiful spotted moray being cleaned by colorful neon gobies, as well as arrow blennies mischievously darting around to the point we lose them in the chaos of their own movement. We move to our second dive site Dog Rocks, this site is known for its swim thrus and they were absolutely stunning today. Our divers enjoyed playing in the incredible topography of Dog Rocks Wall and came back stoked but ready for some delicious lunch and a nap. In the afternoon we move to Madison Avenue, an awesome dive site with an incredible swim thru down the middle. We do our afternoon and night dive here and boy were they thrilling. We spot a spotted drum making his tight little circles as he moves about his spot on the reef. We also find the ever-elusive red tipped sea goddess nudibranch just cruising a long the reef. We settle in after we have some hot chocolate and baileys for a restful nights sleep.

    Thursday April 19, 2018

    The smell waffles awakes us this morning as we enjoy our breakfast we mosey on over to Crab Wall.   We do not have tons of takers for this first dive most of us our enjoying a lazy morning but for those die hards the wall awaits us. We jump in and are immediately greeted by a friendly barracuda just hanging around underneath the boat. As we move further away from our new found friend and out towards the wall the life is ever present. Schools of blue chromis fall over the edge of wall enchanting our divers we even find some awesome macro life, a snapping shrimp tries to take our fingers off and a small neck crab waves his arms like a ninja as we try and snap pictures. The dive ends in the most epic way with a huge loggerhead swimming right past us. In the afternoon we move to the dive site Aquarium, this shallow reef is a show stopper. The dive averages around 25ft and the coral life here is beyond out of this world. Thousands of soft coral sea fans sway in the water as we explore the utter beauty of this dive site. After we do two exquisite dives here we pack up and start heading a little closer to Nassau but we have one more stop of the day at the blue hole. I quote this was “the best night dive in the world” according to some of our divers. Four loggerhead sea turtles were just hanging around the hole and then followed our divers through out the dive. Thirty to forty blacknose sharks were aggregating inside the hole and then when our divers got in the shark came up out of the deep and swam around us. It is somewhat of an eerie feeling being down there in the dark you shine your light in a big hole and all you can see is 60 pairs of green eyes looking back at you, eerie but also totally awesome. Our divers return and gloat to those that stayed on the boat and we retire for the evening.

    Friday April 20, 2018

    On our last day we dive the blue hole for a second time and it is once again amazing. The sharks were back and circling, quickly darting in and out of the hole.   The big stuff was there and so was the small stuff we found leaches head shield slugs in the grass as well as tiny cleaner shrimps on corkscrew anemones, even some African Popano showed up with their streamers flowing the sea. The life was abundant and all the divers came back with smiling faces. We pack up and start making our way towards Nassau. At the wine and cheese party we talk about our incredible week gone by and talk about where we are going to on our next Aggressor Fleet vacation.

    Copied with permission from https://aggressor.com/captainlogsview.php?log=6026

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