View Full Version : ScubaToys Blackbeards Trip--the Aftermath

09-08-2007, 22:04
Woo! This trip is 3 thumbs up :smiley20::smiley20::smiley20:.

I don't know if I can speak for the rest of the ol' hee-haw gang, but I had a ridiculously good time.

Just got back home today, and definitely wanting to dive some more.

I will make one of my usual rambling, long-winded posts which starts off with a good spot-on thesis but meanders off on irrelevant tangents after I get rested up a bit. My brain is still a bit muddied after a whole lot of kalik beer and no sleep.

Here's a tidbit, though. You'll love this. Ha ha. You know how I was going through great pains to set up a gathering on 8/31 in Freeport? Well, we get it set up, and I'm all exciting, and ScubaSteve and Mrs. ScubaSteve and the Party Parrot will be there and yada yada, and we'll start off with a bang.

Anyhoo, as it turns out, I went onto island time, thanks to a LOT of kalik. I had every intention of turning up at 6 for the gathering, but I accidentally on purpose went to sleep, and I overslept by 2 hours, until 8 pm. When I arrived at RR's, the ScubaSteve entourage was nowhere to be found. So, yeah, I'm one of those phantom party organizers, where I organize people but fail to turn up myself.

Our DiveMaster, Ramone, was great. Short briefings which didn't vary too much. Ees easy.

There's no current. (there's a story there, of course)

More later.

09-08-2007, 23:20
it's a riot eh? Did you stop in Bimini?

09-09-2007, 10:32
Yep, sure did. Had port night on Tuesday. That was kinda fun, although I was pretty tired so didn't stay out so long.

09-09-2007, 20:06
nice. that's good to hear.

09-09-2007, 20:07
o yea. anything special you saw? anything you haven't seen b4 or didn't think you'd see?

09-10-2007, 09:58
Yes, there certainly was. I had never seen an octopus on a night dive before, and lo and behold, the first night dive we do, I see a really beautiful one.

We also did a night dive where there were a ridiculous amount of rays. My god, it was amazing. Also two wonderful turtles in the same dive. Some absolutely huge fish too. They could devour small children. Yes, on the same dive. Needless to say, we were exciting.

09-10-2007, 10:26
Okay, so here is my take on the whole Blackbeard's experience.

It was great to go with ST, as people knew one another a little better, and from the start there was good group cooperation. This is important, as the boat is big, but at the same time it's not either.

The 'dorm' style accommodation was perfectly fine. You didn't spend a lot of time there anyway, unless you were sleeping. If I went again, though, I would be absolutely sure to not get a bunk in the main cabin. The doors are open all day because it's where people eat, so it's not cool down there. You also get to deal with the smoke from bacon frying, etc. I was in the forward compartment, next to the bow. It worked out fine.

The shower situation is a bit annoying, as everyone goes this direction after the night dive. There is a fresh water shower up top, and one in the main cabin. If you want to strip down and shower, then go here. Otherwise if you just want to shampoo/condition your hair, you can go up top. A changing tent up top would be great, so you could get out of wet stuff without having to climb the ladder to your bunk. Um, I almost slipped twice on the ladder with wet feet. I've got a nasty bruise to prove it.

The food was quite tasty. Nothing fancy, but good homey meals. There was always plenty for everyone, and we were told early on by the captain that if we ran out, he would have the cook make some more so everyone got enough. For the size of the galley, some amazing meals came out. Roast pork dinner, roast beef dinner, full cooked breakfasts, etc. We also got a snack in the morning and the afternoon.

Although Blackbeard's is described as 'camping at sea', I felt that the service we got from the crew was first class. Keep in mind that the crew mostly gets paid from our tips. But it was absolutely amazing--those people were *always* working. Our crew really bent over backwards to accommodate dive spot requests, dietary issues, engineering problems, etc. The crew was also really friendly, and enthusiastic about their work.

Things I suggest/tidbits:
--Have your clothes in a carry-on duffle bag, not a hard suitcase. This works well as a sort of second pillow if you need to sleep propped up (I do).

--Get some inexpensive mesh laundry bags, and throw multiple ziploc bags with your things in them. It's easier to find and stow stuff, I think, than if you have to rummage through a regular bag.

--Bring a cheap plastic cup. You get one for the week, with your name on it, but if you want, say, coffee AND water at the same time, you've only got one cup unless you bring another one.

--(Wish I would have known). Yeah, the t-shirts they sell are $25. Super expensive. But, as it turns out, the crew gets all the money from the shirts and other memorabilia they sell. If I would have known this, I would have ponied up the money and gotten a shirt. Their gift shop is only open for a bit when you get back, so I couldn't buy anything. Even the mugs are nice, at $12. They'll sell those beforehand.

--Freeport isn't very exciting. You don't really need to arrive 2 days beforehand to experience Freeport, unless you're coming a long distance and *know* your bags won't get delivered. Continental can be trusted, and did a good job for me. American Airlines, though, didn't do a good job with people's stuff OR their flights. Many people coming out of Dallas had issues. Be warned when you book.

--Consider staying in Freeport Friday night, so you can dive the entire day Thursday. I booked my ticket for Friday afternoon, then had a *Doh!* moment when I realized I would have to stop diving Thursday morning. But most people are in the same boat, so you only miss like one dive. If anything, you might consider getting to Freeport the night before. People who tried to arrive the day of had problems. ST had chartered the boat, so it was no big deal to go back and pick up 2 people. But if it's not a chartered boat, you're getting left. Sorry.

--The Port Lucaya Yacht Club is the cheapest place to stay in Freeport with the BB's discount. You're also literally next to the Port Lucaya marketplace.

--When the cruise ships are in, PL marketplace is hopping. When they're not, you can hear the wolves howling for 20 miles. There's nothing to do. Serious. It's kind of dull. Be warned if you decide to stay in Freeport for a week. Prices are $USD or higher, so it's not a nice cheap Thailand holiday.

--You get lockers topside to put your stuff in. But if you don't claim a good spot (on the ends, I'd say) early, you get stuck in the middle. And usually someone has decided to plant themselves right on top of your locker. That got kind of old, having to constantly ask people if you could get to your things.

--The diving is great, and the captain does deliberately plan long surface intervals. You sometimes stop off to do things like snorkeling or lobster hunting/spearfishing. At first, this kind of cheesed me off, as I was there to dive, not kill things, but then I saw their point--with diving so much during the week, off-gasing is important. There was one other BB boat in the water, and, well, we tended to all be traveling together. We all stopped in Bimini together.

--You get to plan your own dive, and aren't led around by ducklings in the water by a DM. This is great. They just ask that you come up with at least 500 psi. I loved the freedom. You get there, the pool is opened, you splash, you dive. You go where you please. You get a briefing on the area by the DM and that's that.

09-10-2007, 20:52
Which boat did you end up on? They only had 2 out that week?

09-11-2007, 09:54
Yep, only two--the Morning Star and Pirates Lady. We were on Pirates Lady.

09-11-2007, 10:14

09-11-2007, 10:42
Welcome home! Glad you had a great time & thanks for the tips!

09-11-2007, 13:46

:smiley36: Yes, yes, how true. Mine aren't so good, though, I'm afraid. I had problems with my u/w camera, as you found out in the other forum.

I'll upload some just the same, though, to the photo gallery. Do keep in mind, though, that I'm not a photographer, nor did I have a really super expensive nice setup.

09-11-2007, 13:51
Welcome home! Glad you had a great time & thanks for the tips!

Cheers Foo! By the way, congrats on winning the best thread contest last month. :smiley20:

09-11-2007, 14:27
'Kay guys, you've asked for photos. Mine aren't so good. If there are others lurking out there who went on the trip, please share as well.

Go to the photo gallery, find the ST Blackbeard's Trip--September 2007 subthread, and enjoy!

09-11-2007, 15:10
Checked out your pictures, and I think they're great. Looks and sounds like a good trip. Thanks for sharing.

09-11-2007, 19:13
brings back memories, I'm headed back in the spring. I spend the year counting down to the BB trips.

09-12-2007, 10:39
Checked out your pictures, and I think they're great. Looks and sounds like a good trip. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for the compliment! Well, the photos are okay, but would definitely be better if I had an external strobe. I was just using an Olympus C-5000 "point and shoot" in the housing. You can certainly tell how the images become blue when you get further down in the water. But they work for me, a casual tourist.

09-12-2007, 13:34
Hey Jessica! It's Holly.

I'm waiting to hear back from Tom in regards to that email addy collection we created for the purpose of setting up a photo bucket account. He took the list with him, and I can only guess that he's still visiting w/ his family in Florida.

Like you, I'm eager to see everyone's photos... I know Pancho's got some too on his camera to upload and share.

I hope all is going well since getting back to DFW. I'm already planning my next adventure w/ some friends for 2008 - An Alaskan Cruise to include sea kayaking of course. ;o) I'm also wanting to go diving in Tahiti 1Q 2008 depending on who I find wanting to go... The Blackbeard Trip has definately inspired me to delve into the sport. In fact, I'm selling one of my whitewater kayaks to help fund my gear purchases.

09-12-2007, 14:20
so who was your boat captain>? Drew by any chance? He is a trip, great guy, really smart, very down to earth and a very good diver. ole miss guy but I forgive him.
You were in the V of the bow or one of the two "cabins" immediately down the ladder? The ones up front in the other hatch closer to the middle are the biggest (for future reference) if biggest can be properly used in describing living quarters.
Did you go to the wreck of the Sabona? Can you tell us what dive sites you went to?
sure makes you want to go back, doesnt it? I am almost sorry I read your report because now I am "homesick".
And you drank Kalik? yucko. You liked that stuff? You do know they have heineken and corona and shots and other beers, right?

09-12-2007, 16:24
Hiya Holly, how you going? Glad to hear you got back okay, and AA didn't continue to screw up. Tahiti in '08, eh? Hey, keep me in the loop. You never know, I just *may* be able to find a cheap ticket from Doha, and just *may* be able to take holiday time (I get a month's holiday to start with, plus 12 scheduled holidays, plus 8 'home leave' days each year). So if you're looking for a buddy, keep me in the loop.

Anyhoo, yes, CaribbeanDiver, I can certainly answer your questions.

Our captain was Ron (yep, I know, I held back tee hees too with the "Captain Ron").

I was in the "V" of the bow. Get this. My bed was 4L, which is literally next to the ****ter. Or that's how I described my location, anyway. I tactfully turned my pillow around so my head was next to the ****ter wall, so I wouldn't have to glimpse everyone coming in and out of the ****ter.

Yeah, I didn't mind kalik so much. It tasted fine to me.

From my log book, here are our dive spots:
1. Fountain of Youth
2. Fountain of Youth (night)
3. Theo's Wreck
4. Sea Star Wreck
5. Ann Paradise
6. Ann Paradise (night)
7. Crispy Cream
8. Rainbow Valley
9. Miami Rita
10. Miami Rita (night)
11. Yellow Brick Road
12. Bull Run (observation--shark treat wasn't ready)
13. Tuna Alley
14. Bimini Barge
15. Bull Run (shark feed)
16. The Strip
17. Hesperus (my 50th--what a treat!)
18. Lelani, Gingerbread Grounds
19. Dark Star

There was a 20th, to another ship, but I couldn't participate due to No-Fly. Most people couldn't, anyway. Plus the fact that the boat was rocking from side to side due to incliment weather made me a bit ill. I had to hold my bed down so it wouldn't fly away.

09-12-2007, 17:24
sounds like fun. Black Gorrilla wants to go at the end of the year, and i was going to go to Bazil with his brother, but now we cant... and BG wants us to do one of these with him. who knows?
you spoke of the sleeping areas as like a community area? not individual cabins? how is that? do they have private cabins available?

09-12-2007, 20:07
Naw mate, it's not private cabins. You have bunk beds in 3 separate holds (one area the 'main salon', where you eat, one area in the middle, and one area at the front of the bow) and there is a privacy curtain you can pull for at night while you sleep.

Really, though, you don't spend any time down in your 'rack' unless you're sleeping. And it's not because of the setup, but because most people are chilling topside. Or you're having a meal before a dive, or getting ready for a dive, or what have you.

I just opened up Scuba magazine, and learned that Blackbeard's is offering $100 off the trip cost from October--February. Quite seriously, it's good value for the amount of diving you do. Figure in maybe at least $150 for a crew tip (they mostly rely on tips for their wages), plus your spending money. If you can get a good flight to/from Freeport, you're fine. The Port Lucaya Yacht Club is seriously the cheapest accommodation with the BlackBeard's rate. You just get them on the horn directly for that. My rate was $62, off season. Plus the govt tax and a resort fee, I paid $78 a night total. Just so you're aware of hotel costs.

Do recommend you go the day before. We were fine in that ST chartered the boat, so they went back to the docks twice for people, but if you go independently and you can't get there on time, you're getting left. Two people had to be collected separately, and one other person who flew AA didn't have his bag delivered. All the snafus were with AA out of DFW. Be warned. Anymore, though, any air travel in the States is dodgy, I'm afraid to say.

09-13-2007, 12:01
Ok after it was all said and done, exactly how much did it cost including airfare from DFW?

What is the best time of year to go? Right now is hurricane season, did that have any impact on the September trip?

09-13-2007, 19:41
thanks Namabiru. I knew you would have a good time and it sounds as if you enjoyed every second of it. There are so many dive sites that you could go Blackbearding 10 times and still not see them all.
So when are you going back?

09-15-2007, 09:22
Ok after it was all said and done, exactly how much did it cost including airfare from DFW?

What is the best time of year to go? Right now is hurricane season, did that have any impact on the September trip?

I dunno how much airfare from DFW is /was. I flew out of Spokane. I started out, in spirit, with a $1500 budget, and was looking for an inexpensive vacation as a treat for finishing grad. school. Plus I needed to do something while waiting for my paperwork to get processed in Qatar so I could move. Anyway, with buying the trip, my airfare ($575 total roundtrip), 2 nights' hotel in Freeport, 1 night in Spokane, my travel cost to Spokane, food, etc., I spent roughly $2,000. So not too bad. Freeport was my Waterloo, with going out. So it goes.

I suppose best time of year would arguably be summer, as the water is warmer. Most of us were in swimsuits. But even winter they only recommend a 3 mil, I do believe. That's not so bad at all.

There was no hurricane-type impact on our trip, although the last day we did run into a bit of weather, presumably from the hurricane which hit north. There was a rainstorm, it was windy, and the sea was extremely choppy. Not so much fun. Had the patch, but I'm just still very prone to motion sickness. So much that car trips bother me unless I drive. Didn't yak, but sure didn't feel well either. Found it better to stay on the bed. Especially with the boat rocking at least 45 degrees to each side. It really helped when they put the sail up, as it stabilized the boat a bit.

I don't know when I'm going back on Blackbeard's. I'm relocating to Qatar on Tuesday, so I'll be halfway around the world. I have no real inclination to ever live in the States again (I'd love to say 'return' instead of 'live', but I know that's not in the cards since my parents are still fortunately in this lifetime and will be for quite a while), so BB's may have been a one-shot deal. If I were near the Bahamas again, though, and had a week, I'd do BB's again.