Saturday I joined the scuba boat dive trip. The boat was nicer on the inside than it looked from the outside. It was sturdy and functioned well. My room was fine but the bunk beds were hard to manage. I hit my head and knees all the time. There were five guests. Thom was a 30-something guy in the Army taking a 5-year break to get his degree in mechanical engineering. He was strong and confident about diving despite only having 4 dives prior to the trip. He ended up chatting up the guides Kait and Sanna, so we didn’t talk much. Amy and Jeremy were a nice couple from Kansas City with a 7-year-old at home, who started first grade while they were away. Amy lost her mom last year and several other relatives so she and I talked grief, nutrition, and hormones several times during the trip. Hart was an older Canadian guy who had been on this boat 16 weeks before. He was a guest of honor. Hart was really soft-spoken but took amazing photos with an elaborate camera set up. He had been diving pretty much everywhere so he had good advice.
It was a disappointingly small group. While it was easier to get ready in the dive area, there were just not that many people to talk to and I ended up reading Lessons in Chemistry in my room. The rooms were air conditioned but the rest of the boat was pretty hot.
The food by chef Julien was amazing. Captain Rodney, from the Philippines was friendly and helpful. There was a general helper named Terrance, from St. Vincent. He barely spoke but he seemed essential. He was exactly where he needed to be at all times. He fixed the engine, washed the dishes, and hoisted me out of the water. Our three dive masters were fantastic. Brett was crusty but so knowledgeable about diving and the natural world. He was born in PR but lived in St. Ktts for 14 years after the US Navy. Now he lives in St. Maarten. Kait, originally from Pittsburg was new to the boat but had tons of dive experience in Hawaii. She helped me become a better diver and seemed to know exactly how much weight I needed with my shortie wetsuit. It’s 10 pounds with a shortie and 14 pounds with a full wetsuit. Sanna from the Netherlands, a natural in the water, was also new but she seemed like she knew what she was doing on the boat too. Everyone popped up after meals to clear our plates and clean up.
I made 19 dives on the boat including one night dive, which was less scary than I thought and more boring than they are made out to be. I did see sleeping and swimming nurse and reef sharks, plus turtles, squid, lobsters, octopus, oodles of fish, wrecks, and pretty sponges and corals. I think for overall beauty my favorite is either Zanzibar or Okinawa. Okinawa had the most elaborate fan corals and the most fish.
I took the land tour of Saba, which was really interesting. The whole place is either uphill or downhill. There is a medical school there, for some reason. All the houses are painted the same colors. I got better wine and a big bottle of water since I didn’t like the desalinated water onboard.
We dove at St. Kitts for a few days before we actually got on land for a tour. We saw the batik factory, the rum distillery Thomas Jefferson’s great grandfather owned, and Ft. Brimstone, now a National Park.