Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In or Out of our Element – SCUBA

SCUBA has been something that Brenna and I have done together for a number of years now. She has been spoiled after getting certified in the dark and scummy waters of South Carolina Lakes and subsequently taken to fantastic destinations like Key West, Cozumel and now St. Lucia.

You never know about the quality of a dive shop in another country, but the Sandals crew were very thorough and even made us “prove it” when we had dive cards but no log books. We had to assemble our gear in front of an instructor, and then he threw the gear in the pool. The task was easy, but I liked the fact that they would test people that may have been less than accurate in recounting their SCUBA experience. We had to jump in, put the gear on, take our masks off and put them back on and clear them, naturally, prior to coming up to the top. Honestly, it was no big deal, but it would have been tough for someone that didn’t know how to dive to pull it off effectively enough to fool an instructor.

Even though I did like the fact that they would make sure we knew what we were doing, I did think it was a bit much with the fact that I have an Advanced Diver certification from 1990 and quite a few dives, and Brenna has been certified for a decade now, but hey…

We took a 25 minute boat ride on a very nice dive boat viewing the amazing blue of the water and the equally blue sky parted only by the lush greenery of the mountains that descended into the ocean.

We dove on two reefs at about 30-40 feet in depth. The first thing I saw was squid dancing and flickering together in the shallow water. I nearly spit out my regulator when I saw them. The reason why, which I still laugh about, will be discussed in another post…

Our paths traced in and out through the valleys between coral ridges where thousands of fish schooled. We saw an octopus at one point. It didn’t look like much since it had wisely fit itself into a tiny space in the coral for protection, but on my future dives, I know what to look for to find them.

And at no cost to you I will offer up this knowledge. Aren’t you just thrilled???

Look for a pile of opened shells of a similar type where there aren’t too many others like them near a protected area. An octopus will eat and fling the “wrappers” away just outside their hiding place. Much like my kids leave the detritus of Cheerios, Teddy Graham wrappers, and juice cups around the couch while watching TV. Brenna may have another…uh…litter bug to add to that list, but I couldn’t imagine who…Trust me I’m not going to ask her to waste her time in an attempt to improve upon the perfection that is the description above.

We also dove on a small cargo ship that had been sunk to build a reef. The vessel was 117 feet long and had a large area in the center of the deck that was safe to enter and explore. It is always amazing that even small ocean going vessels are enormous when you get to see them from the base of their hull to the top reaches of the bridge. Then you have perspective of how large a cruise ship and even larger still the mammoth size of oil tankers can be. So rarely do we have a chance to see ships in their entirety because so much of the larger ships is hidden from view below the water line.

The ship was teeming with life from tiny shrimp, sea stars, fish of all kinds and a few Eels that snaked their way in and out of view through the holes in the hull. Sea Fans and other new coral structures hung from the sides of the ship displaying all sorts of great colors. You could hear the snap crackle pop of the coral and other life around in the water. It was wonderful just to float by and look at things that I rarely get to see.
I had been worried about the dives being a cheesy tourist spot where they take all the big sunburned tourists, but this place was really quite good and the Captain and dive masters made sure that everyone had a fine time.

And another fine day came to a close.

Tomorrow: The Tragic Tale of Squidward (I sense a best seller coming on here...)

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