The diving - Belize Trip Report - April 2001 - page 2
There were a total of 20 divers on the Wave Dancer from all around the US and Canada. We had 5 Doctors, a Dentist and several Nurses aboard, so there was no lack of good stories and dark humor. We boarded the boat Saturday afternoon, spent the night at the dock, and motored out to Turneffe Caye on Sunday morning for our first dive on the Sayonara.
The Dive deck is laid out very well. There was plenty of room, and a huge camera table, which I really liked (being the Newbie Photographer on the trip). The Crew is great. There are normally 2 of the deck crew available to assist you on/off the dive platform, and to wrap a warm towel around you after your warm water shower on deck. As soon as you pull your first stage off of your cylinder, they refill it so that it's ready for your next dive.
Sharon (the cook) was marvelous! The meals were wonderful, and we both gained weight despite all of the diving due to the great food. Captain Paul (and his side kick Andrea) were really good to everyone. Paul kept everyone well informed about what was going on at all times, and Andrea spoiled us all rotten!
After the 2 morning dives on Turneffe Caye on Sunday morning, we spent the rest of the week out by Long Caye or Half Moon Caye near Lighthouse Reef. The crossing was pretty bouncy, but the diving was great.
We completed 21 dives during the week ( dive log ). I only managed to do all 5 dives once, and skipped at least one dive on the rest of the days. Most of our dives averaged about 1 hour of bottom time, with depths ranging from 80 - 35'. We spent the entire week diving Nitrox, but the Membrane system was only putting out about 29%. I was a bit nervous about the risk of DCS with so many repetitive dives, but the profiles are shallow, and we kept our computers well into the Green Zone all week, and finished the last half of every dive on top of the reef, like a long, extended safety stop.
The only dive we did on Air was the Great Blue Hole ( 140' for 31 minutes, 9 minutes at max depth). Several people had their computers go into mandatory deco in the Hole. The Blue Hole was also the only "guided dive" of the trip. The rest of the time, we were left to our own devices after very thorough Dive Briefings. Navigation was really easy, with the boat usually parked right over a wall that ran either North-South or East West.
We had a lot of misconceptions about liveaboard diving before we went, and I thought I'd share some of our impressions upon returning. We thought we'd be on boat full of "hard core, dive-every-dive" divers, which was not the case (maybe on the Aggressor boat?). I don't think anyone on the boat actually did all 5 dives every day (although the Scientists might have). Most people did 3 or 4 dives a day, and took some time off for relaxing.
We took way too many clothes with us. We spent the entire week barefoot, and really only needed a couple of T-shirts and swim trunks. We often wore our robes to meals. We also took too many books with us. Neither of us actually even put a dent in a single book. There is plenty to do, and I never did manage to lay out in the sun or read a book. I think Janet did once. There were slide-shows, etc. going on every night (although we were often too tired to attend).
The crew really makes the week on the boat great. They were upbeat and enthusiastic all week. As soon as you hit the boat after diving, they were there helping with your gear, draping that wonderful warm towel around your shoulders, and putting that Hot Chocolate with Baileys in your hand after every night dive! They were also very helpful with Underwater Photography advice, so much so that my novice attempts went from awful to some really great shots in just a few days. Kudos to a great crew!!
I think the only changes I would make would be to take less stuff with me (we had too much luggage), and to spend a few more days exploring Belize. We had one day before the boat, and one day after, but I think spending a few extra days after the boat would be better. Then you won't be nervous about flying as you can off-gas for a couple of days. (BTW those are Scorpion Fish in the picture)
We did spend Friday Afternoon just hanging out with the crew and drinking Beer, which was actually one of the best parts of the trip. It gave us an opportunity to really get to know everyone (including the Captains of the other boats) in a purely social setting. They even had a band up on the Sun Deck for a party that evening!
I'm not sure where we'll go next, but it is likely to be on a Peter Hughes liveaboard. Maybe to Palau to catch up with Paul and Andrea again, or perhaps to the Galapagos, who knows, maybe we'll see you there!