Wednesday, April 13, 2005

USVI - St Thomas

Operator: Admiralty Dive Center
Site: Nine dives, see below
Gear: Full oceanic setup, warm water 3mm jumpsuit, 16lbs
Highlights
Four days, nine dives, and an advanced cert to end the week. The timeshare was beautiful, and the diving was great. More wrecks around this area than anywhere I've dove so far, and where there are wrecks, there's life. Very happy with the operator and their multiple divemasters.

Dive 1 - StoneFace
Led by a DMT, Jaime, this one had much less life than what I'm used to from Hawai'i, but the coral is definitely neat, the fan coral being one of the most unique things I've seen. This was a shallow dive (29'), so 41 minutes to swim around and enjoy.

Dive 2 - Navy Barges
Wow, wrecks sure allow life to flourish. 44 minutes at 39', we lost the first part to advanced excercises. We did our nav dive here, the DMT did a horrible job communicating what we were supposed to be doing while underwater, it was inconsistent with someof the surface instructions, but neither of us had problems and we definitely learned a bit about using our compasses. Kevin was the supervising DM, and his post-dive talk was very good.

There were two wrecks here, and both were abundant with life, the ladder being one of my favorite shots from this dive.

Dive 3 - Kennedy
Stacey was our DM for this dive, a great wreck that we used for our adv cert, including a significant amount of pre-talk about penetrating the wreck, and a guided swimthrough. BABS (short for big-ass-barracuda) swam out of the wreck as we swam in for the penetration. I only got a blurry shot of backside as I swam in, but needless to say, she was impressive. Favorite shot this is BABS' back end. Got a couple boxfish pics here too.

Dive 4 - Carol Point
Now here is the type of life I was expecting. Lots of photos taken on this trip, we performed it as a drift dive, which being my first, I must say I love. Floating with the current and allowing or whims to take us wherever we want, not caring about where the boat is, only where the guy with the buoy is makes it amazing, using less energy (and thus less air! 59 minute dive). Here also, I got one of my best shots ever:

I decided at this point, I should use my flash for all pics. Now, I know better. I should use my flash for all close-up pics in enclosed areas. This shot really shows off how much better it becomes.

Dive 5 - MS Opportunity
Our deepest dive, 89' total. We started with some skill work, though I was disappointed to get no narc effects. Tough to learn if you aren't affected, guess I'll just have to try a deep diver cert. Lots of penetrations in this one, including a full pass through the the ship from one end to the other (guided of course). The intact electrical boxes and lamps are great, though floating through a tilted ship and up and through doors is a bit disconcerting. The camera didn't do well on this one, fogged up. I realize now that I forgot the desiccant, and also haven't regreased the o-ring in a while.

Dive 6 - Supermarket
Another drift dive, led by Ryan, another DMT. As before, lots of life here, two rays, one "mid-flight," lots of lobsters, and some neat black and white fish. No pictures from this dive due to the fogging in dive 5.

Dive 7 - Kennedy at Night
Porsche, the owner's wife and trainer, took us around Kennedy (no night time penetration). The coolest thing was having BABS within a few feet of us at all times, following our lights and maybe looking for some food. Thank god they warned us this might happen. Lots of lobsters, lots of parrotfish, and I got to grab on to one of the boxfish, it's quite amazing how solid their bodies are.

Dive 8 - JBK
A smaller barge than the others, a lot of life on this one. We circumvented the ship twice and took a lot of pics. Here, we saw a lot of trumpetfish, though none of the pics of those turned out well, those things move fast! Also, I believe this is the dive where we met Terri:


Dive 9 - Buck Tank
This was the second half of our navigation, since we missed a piece. 100' for me is 62 kicks, just so I remember. This had the most variety of coral, and some really interesting fish that always swam around in pairs. This was our final dive, but most definitely, I love this area.

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