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Thread: Trip Report – Caribbean Explorer II – Dec 5 to 12, 2015

  1. #1
    Barracuda
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    Trip Report – Caribbean Explorer II – Dec 5 to 12, 2015

    Trip Report – Caribbean Explorer II – Dec 5 to 12, 2015

    I was on a live aboard dive trip on the Explorer Venture Caribbean Explorer II from St Kitts to St Maarten, via Saba. A big “Thank You” to our own Lulubelle for letting me know about a “Crazy Insane” sale they were having (50% off certain sailing!). After getting the OK from She Who Controls The Diving, I booked the trip and flights. The sign-up was easy, the EV office was quick to respond to questions and good information passed along.

    After the usual hassles with airlines changing flights, delaying flights, worries about losing luggage, etc., etc., etc. I made it to St Kitts to join the trip. 9 or 10 of us were met at the airport by a taxi from the ship and whisked on our way. The crew was very helpful in getting us settled and oriented to the boat and safety procedures. We stayed overnight at the dock in St Kitts then were on our way bright and early Sunday morning. We were 16 divers plus 6 crew for the week. Divers ranged from someone finishing their Open Water check-out dives to someone with almost 1000 dives. Both Lulubelle and I hit the 200 mark on this trip – a nice touch was getting a certificate from the crew to mark the occasion. Some of the divers were on the second week of a back-to-back trip (hey, at 50% off , why not?).

    As is often the case, the first dive was an easy check-out / tune-up dive to let us wet our gills. We had the chance to do 27 dives over the course of 5.5 days, including 5 night dives and a dawn dive. I did 21 dives but a couple of people did all 27. Dive briefings (called by a crew member blowing the conch) were conducted in the upstairs dining room. They provided a good sketch of the site, things to look for, and safety concerns. The main level dive deck is well organized and set up with safety in mind. You set up your gear once and then they refilled your tank after each dive. There are 2 fresh water showers on deck with nice hot water. Nitrox was available and most fills were in the 3200psi range. We were free to follow the in-water Dive Master or do our own thing. We were asked to limit our dives to 1 hour but they didn’t scream too loudly if we went a few minutes over. My dive buddy for most dives was Lulubelle and we were fairly well matched for air consumption and interests. She is an excellent dive buddy.

    Most dive were reef dives with the occasional wall or wreck thrown in for variety. The reefs are healthy with lots of life. I did see a lot of Lion Fish over the course of the trip – one dive I counted 43 LF, including one spot where 6 were having a convention around a sponge. I would have liked to have been allowed to hunt a few but we could not for “liability” reasons. They were worried about fresh kills and the sharks in the area. But we only saw a very few sharks and lots of LF! There were lots of lobsters, turtles, crabs, shrimp, morays, octopus, nudibranchs, a few nurse sharks, a couple of seahorses, and lots of colorful fish. There was no lack of things to see and photograph. Dives ranged from 110 feet to 30 feet. Visibility was generally good but not the gin-clear I have seen on other dives. A couple of times the current would increase during the dive so we had to work a bit to get back to the boat. The dingy was always available for pick-up if you got blown away, but no one needed a lift.

    Meals were excellent. Cathy, the cook, provided fresh baked cookies during the surface interval. She had no problems accommodating the varied tastes of the divers, including a couple of vegetarians. Food was hot, flavorful and plentiful - we did not go hungry. They also had beer, wine, and spirits included in the price, but as per usual, the first sip ended your diving for the day.

    Divers were accommodated in 9 cabins. Most were not for someone who is claustrophobic – I was in cabin 9 with bunk beds. The distance between the beds would be a problem for someone with a long nose. Each cabin has its own washroom with shower. Pack lightly since storage is limited but you don’t need much beyond a couple of T-shirts and shorts. The cabins were clean, the blankets warm (very much needed since the air conditioning settings are “off” and “meat locker”) and the showers hot. Don’t expect the Marriott but it all works.

    We had the option of skipping dives for tours of St Kitts and Saba. Both were interesting and well done. Lots of things to see and learn about the history of the island including Brimstone Hill Fortress. Saba is highlighted by the “Road That Couldn’t Be Built”: the island is so mountainous that European engineers said they could never build a road on the island. The stubborn islanders proved them wrong through lots of pick-and-shovel work directed by a local engineer. There are very few spots where drivers can get beyond second gear, drivers replace their brake pads a lot, but it is a 7.5 mile long road connecting the communities. I enjoyed both tours.

    After a dawn and early morning dive on Friday we made the crossing to St Maarten. It was a bit rough but ginger cookies helped. We had most of the afternoon free for drying and packing gear, touring Philipsburg, and shopping. We had a nice closing out dinner in a nearby restaurant on Friday night, then one last overnight onboard. Taxis were arranged for getting us to the airport and another wonderful trip was finished.

    I salute Captain Ian, Purser Rob, Cook Cathy, Dive Masters JT and Tuna, and Engineer Terrance for providing a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the diving, the people I met, the crew, and the boat. I would not hesitate in recommending this trip. And if you can get in on a Crazy Insane sale price, jump on it!

    Dive Sites:
    Day 1 – St Kitts South

    • River Taw – wreck
    • River Taw
    • Monkey Shoals
    • Monkey Shoals
    • River Taw - night


    Day 2 – St Kitts Central

    • Corinthian - wreck
    • Ye Old Anchor
    • Camps Reef
    • Old Road Bay
    • Old Road Bay – night


    Day 3 – St Kitts North

    • Paradise Reef
    • Paradise Reef
    • Anchors Away
    • Anchors Away
    • Paradise Reef - night


    Day 4 – Saba

    • Tent Wall
    • Ladder Labyrinth
    • Diamond Rock
    • Man O’War Shoal
    • Ladder Labyrinth - night


    Day 5 – Saba

    • Third Encounter
    • Tedrans Wall
    • Tent Reef
    • Tent Reef
    • Torrens Point - night


    Day 6 – Saba

    • Ladder Labyrinth – dawn
    • Tent Reef
    And on the eighth day, God said, "OK, Murphy, you take over"

  2. #2
    Grouper
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    Thanks for a great report John. Sounds like you had a blast!

  3. #3
    Long Tailed Thresher Shark
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    What John said. He left out the part about my spiffy new toque though.

    It's a great itinerary!


  4. #4
    Megalodon
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    Picts of the Toque????

    I once saved a man in Wichita just to watch him dive...(inventor)

  5. #5
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    Amen to Navy's request. Toque????

  6. #6
    Barracuda
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    I knitted a toque for my wife during my loooooong stay in airports (picture me with my luggage piled nearby, knitting away as I rock in a chair in Phillidelphia.). I then did one for myself on the boat, but Lulubelle was worried about getting cold while she walks her dog this winter, so I gave it to her. Hopefully she will have fond memories of the trip when she wears it.
    We just did a Christmas dinner where I gave our 4 grandkids a toque I knitted and my wife gave each a scarf she did.
    And on the eighth day, God said, "OK, Murphy, you take over"

  7. #7
    Megalodon
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    but what about picutes of said Toque? LOL

    Sounds like a totaly rocking trip!

    I once saved a man in Wichita just to watch him dive...(inventor)

  8. #8
    Shark Zeagle Eagle's Avatar
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    Great report! Thanks for sharing.
    --Zeagle Eagle

  9. #9
    Barracuda
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    For all us who are apparrell challenged we need apicture of a Toque. I looked it up & am not still clear on what is but a hat of some sort.

  10. #10
    Barracuda
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcr0112 View Post
    For all us who are apparrell challenged we need apicture of a Toque. I looked it up & am not still clear on what is but a hat of some sort.


    These give you a reasonable idea of what it looks like. Lulubelle's is a darker grey. I used the handle of a pair of pliers to wind the pom-pom for the top.
    And on the eighth day, God said, "OK, Murphy, you take over"

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