1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - D2D New Years 2004: Palau - Ultimate Getaway 2004 - May 12, 2004 - Memorial Day Weekend 2004 - Independence Days: Bahamas 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009
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D2D New Years 2005: Saba - St. Kitts

December 25, 2004 through January 8, 2005
Caribbean Explorer II

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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.

Diving

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

  • December 26, 2004 (Ladder Labrynth (Saba) - Customs House Reef (Saba) - Torrens Point (Saba))
  • First day of diving. Started out on a roll this week ...
  • December 27, 2004 (Third Encounter (Saba) - Diamond Rock (Saba) - Man O' War Shoals (Saba) - Ladder Labrynth (Saba))
  • Second day of diving saw some of the best sites of the trip.
  • December 28, 2004 (Tedran Wall (Saba) - Dave's Drop Off (Saba) - Tent Reef (Saba))
  • I started feeling the effects of what I say was allergies - but could have been a cold. I still managed to get some dives in this day ...
  • December 29, 2004 (Barracuda Reef (Statia) - The Ledges (Statia) - Paradise Reef (St. Kitts))
  • A short visit to Statia, which had some restrictions we didn't like, and then onwards to St. Kitts ...
  • December 30, 2004 (Anchors Aweigh (St. Kitts))
  • Whatever I had hit me full force, and I didn't want to push it too much ... so I only did one dive.
  • December 31, 2004 (Coconut Reef (St. Kitts))
  • I missed a predawn dive on one of the few wrecks, and the second dive of the day. Thankfully, there was a third.
  • January 2, 2005 (Coconut Reef (St. Kitts) - Corinthian Reef (St. Kitts))
  • Feeling a lot better after a day of just relaxing in St. Kitts.
  • January 3, 2005 (Anchors Aweigh (St. Kitts) - Paradise Reef (St. Kitts))
  • Slowly making my way to 300 - kind of wish I had managed to make all the dives ... but I needed to take it easy ...
  • January 4, 2005 (Customs House Reef (Saba) - Ladder Labrynth (Saba))
  • Early in the morning, we did the crossing to Statia - but we had no intention of diving there ...
  • January 5, 2005 (Tedran Wall (Saba) - Tent Wall (Saba) - Tent Reef (Saba))
  • We had wanted to hit Diamond Rock but it turns out the currents and winds were against us.
  • January 6, 2005 (Third Encounter (Saba) - Tent Wall (Saba) - Tent Reef (Saba))
  • We started our day on the pinnacle ...
  • January 7, 2005 (Ladder Labrynth (Saba) - Tent Wall (Saba))
  • Last day of diving for the trip. We did a predawn dive ...
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