D2D New Years 2005: Saba - St. Kitts
December 25, 2004 through January 8, 2005
The annual trip with my Diver-To-Diver friends, this trip saw us aboard the Caribbean Explorer II. This year some of us were going for two weeks. I didn't go ashore - the only islands I stepped upon were St. Maarten and St. Kitts (also known as St. Christopher).
Islands? What Islands?
Those would be the Leeward Islands - or some of them, anyway. The CEXII does a week itinerary going from St. Maarten to St. Kitts (or visa versa), with diving at Saba, Statia (St. Eustatius or as my gang has taken to calling it, "Gas Station"), and St. Kitts. No diving off of St. Maarten.
I met a few of my gang in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was my only stop from Tampa to St. Maarten.
More About The Boat
Decent design, all things considered. Not quite as big or as well designed for diving as the Nekton, the rooms were comperable, and it was a bit faster boat and I think handled the crossings better. You dive from the boat, with entry typically being a giant stride from 5-6 feet above the water (the Nekton's entry not being quite so high), compared to diving from skiffs a la the Big Blue Explorer (near as I know, not part of the same company). The rooms were noticably bigger than Big Blue's, as were the bathrooms. But the showers on the CEXII were distinctly separated from the toilet (unlike the BBE), which is an advantage in certain situations, and the sink was also located separate from the shower/toilet.
Overall, I'd say I liked the rooms on the CEXII better than the BBE, but nothing has yet beaten the Pilot for size.
CEXII still was the best boat all around. What did it for them? The crew. BBE had a great crew, so much so that the D2D gang now includes the ex-boat manager of the BBE, but the crew all around on the CEXII just barely beat out the crew of the BBE, in my opinion. Captain Evan (he's even a great dive buddy), Anick (Evan's wife - thanks for the tea!), Denise (who cleaned up after a rather messy group of people, and I swear made my bed in the time it took me to climb down from my bunk and yawn), Dominique (we've had some great cooks but she was the best so far), Nick (a great dive master with one of the most expressive faces I've ever seen), Dan (another great dive master who taught a number of us a valuable lesson), and last but not least, Bill (the Engineer, who looked strangely familliar - since he had been on the Nekton Pilot two years before!).
You're leaving the country ...
And technically visiting a couple of others. Have your passport ready, as the crew will keep hold of it to take care of the customs at each island.
Not as much big stuff this time of year, and not the kinds of things you'd see in the Pacific. However, for macro photography (which someday I hope to be able to partake in a lot better than I do now), the Caribbean has it's fair share of neat underwater creatures.
Alas, No Above Water Photos
And in spite of the amount of video I took, don't expect to see it rendered any time soon - I've got other things I'm working on that take precidence, and eventually I'm probably going to ditch the PC110 and get a DSLR still camera. Once I find a way to pay for it.
On To The Dives
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