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D2D New Years 2003: Belize

December 28, 2002 through January 4, 2003
Belize - Nekton Pilot

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This trip aboard the Nekton Pilot sold out pretty much in February 2002. I'm pretty sure that over half of the boat was Diver-to-Diver people. Information on Nekton and it's (soon to be) three boats is available at their website.

What The Heck Is Belize?

Belize is a small country on the coast of the Caribbean, bordered by Mexico to the north/northwest, and Guatemala to the west/south. But then we had little to do with Belize, actually ...

Okay Then, What The Heck Is Nekton?

Nekton Cruises is a company specializing in Liveaboard dive cruises - where you live on the boat for a week or so, doing all of your diving from that boat. They utilize boats that use the "SWATH" design of construction, which is supposed to cut down on the motion you feel on the boat.

Our trip was on the Nekton Pilot - my first liveaboard, but from what I understand, one of the best around. The cabins are big (for a liveaboard) and the crew on the Pilot was first rate - even though, from what I understand, they don't get paid a whole lot and make most of their real money through tips (it is suggested that you plan to tip the crew 10-15% of the price of the trip). We had an excellent cook, Arminda, who kept us well fed. There were a possible 5 dives a day (6 on New Years Eve).

Most of us were greeted at the airport in Belize by Rob, the Purser for our week on the Pilot. Though we landed in the early afternoon, and weren't boarding until that evening, Rob let us know that we would be taken to a hotel to hang out until we were picked up, taken to a store (as soda and booze are not provided by Nekton), and then on to the boat.

Pre-Trip and Flying Stuff

Frequent readers of my site know the usual advice: get your passport, extend your connections, etc. etc. This time I flew direct from Miami to Belize City, leaving my truck at the hotel I stayed in the night before. Several airlines fly into Belize and there are routes from Houston, Miami, and I think Charlotte, NC.

Diving

The waters off of Belize don't seem to have as much fish life as the waters off of Boynton Beach (where I dove with the sister the day after I flew back to Miami). However, if you adjust your "dive thinking" a little bit, you'll find that there's still plenty of stuff to see and a lot of things to look for. Captain Jon helped out a lot by giving us instructional slide shows after dinner about fish, coral/sponge, and creature identification. The key with Belizian diving is: look for the little things, and occasionally you'll spot some big things, too!

On To The Dives

  • December 29, 2002 (Long Cay Ridge, Long Cay (Lighthouse) - Nurse Shark Reef, Long Cay (Lighthouse))
  • First day of diving - it took us a while to get started, and there was an equipment failure on the boat that resulted in a cancelled night dive.
  • December 30, 2002 (Cathedral, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef) - Aquarium, Long Cay (Lighthouse Reef))
  • First full day of diving on the Nekton.
  • December 31, 2002 (Lighthouse Wall, Half Moon Cay (LHR) - Dolphin Pass, Half Moon Cay (Lighthouse))
  • Four dives, one starting at 11:50pm - the Midnight New Years dive.
  • January 1, 2003 (Rhiannon's Reef, Half Moon Cay (LHR) - Tarpon Caves, Half Moon Cay (LHR))
  • New Years Day, the morning after.
  • January 2, 2003 (Garcia's Backyard, Long Cay (Glover's) - Lucky Charm, Middle Cay (Glover's Reef))
  • I missed one of the dives this day ... my sinuses aren't the best for diving.
  • January 3, 2003 (Two Poles (Turneffe Islands))
  • Last day of diving; I only did two dives this day.


Pictures!

Pictures from on the boat, as well as from a short trip we went on the day the boat officially docked in Belize to some Mayan ruins.
A New Years trip on the boat is not complete without the appropriate trip supplies. Here's most of what we took. You don't want to run out when you're out at sea.
Sunset on day 2 (December 30; though we boarded on Dec. 28, we boarded at around 8pm). Thought this was a cool looking picture ... and it is, but there are two other sunset pics I took that are actually a bit better.
Sunset on day 3, New Years Eve. Someone pointed out the window during dinner and said, "Hey, look at that sunset." So I got a shot of it.
The "Evil Sisters" as they have been coined, discussing the unfortunate event of having to be towed back to the boat by a skiff. "Is there any way we can get out of the next four hours of teasing we will have to endure?" "No, I don't think so."
"We need to learn how to use this here compass thingy."
It was a group of four that got lost, and everywhere they turned, there was something reminding them of the event. This is a picture of the "Briefing Board" that the Pilot Dive Masters use to brief divers about the site.
The best sunset of the week that I captured; day 5.
So it was on Day 5 that the Group Of Four got lost; and the ribbing didn't end at dinner. During Rob's Dinner Announcements, the GoF were awarded with special Navigation Certifications ... or, more appropriately, Navigation Failure Certifications.
As a symbol of solidarity, the D2D gang painted their big toes (usually the right one, if it was still intact) with dive flags. However, as you'll notice, some of them have the white bar going the wrong way ...
The Mayan Ruins at Altun Ha.
One of the last things one wants to do after a week of diving five times a day is climb stairs. But we did, and it was actually worth it.
A lot of the temples and tombs at this site are under excavation/reconstruction.
Here's a shot providing an overview of most of the two main areas of this site.
Kathy is sacrificed to the Mayan gods of Underwater Navigation.
A decent shot of one of the temples that has been mostly reconstructed.
"Watch that last step! It's a doosy!"
One of the temples that hasn't been excavated yet. Note the tree growing out of the side; most of the site apparently dated from before 600 AD.
Another mostly unexcavated temple (the first one; the pictures above with the stairs and Kathy's sacrificing are of that temple - speaking of Kathy, that's her in frame there taking a picture of one of the other temples, and providing an excellent size comparison).
As soon as Humann releases a "Mayan Flowers Identification" book, I'll let you know what these are.
Another shot of the site, this one taken from the opposite side.
Kathy waits for Mayan Gods (or aliens or something) to take her away. She waited a while and then wandered off when there was no response.
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