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Dive Review of Blackbeard's Cruises/Sea Explorer in

Blackbeard's Cruises/Sea Explorer, Oct, 2004,

by Jim Sanders, NY, USA . Report 1980.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The Ugly: Crossing the Gulf Stream is an experience I will probably never forget. Seas were rough, it was dark, and I'm no sailor. I took a couple of motion sickness pills just in case, even though a week-long catamaran trip the previous year left me confident I would be OK. We left Miami right on schedule at 9 p.m. Friday for our long-weekend cruise.

My girlfriend and I chatted with other passengers for a couple of hours. I was feeling pretty good and we went below to get a little sleep in our shared berth. Another couple was in the bunk above us. It was pitch black, waves were pounding the hull, and the boat was moving back and forth, up and down, back and forth, up and down. I lasted about 10 minutes. Out the side of the bunk I went with just enough time to get one sandal on, and bolted up the ladder to the deck. There went my supper, lunch, and breakfast. For the next 6 hours I must have tossed my cookies 10,000 times. I didn't care that I was soaked from waves. I didn't care that I only had one sandal on. I didn't care what kind of nasty sounds were coming from me. I would have paid anything for my own bed. But hey, 6 hours goes by fast when you feel like that (yeah, right), and soon we were pulling into Bimini.

It was time for breakfast. I cringed at the othersí full plates of food. A half of a banana was all I dared try. After all, we were going diving in less than an hour and I was going to get my money's worth. Things were starting to improve.

The Bad: About the only thing I was not too happy with was that we were under motor power for the entire trip. One of the sails was raised during the initial crossing but that was an attempt to stabilize us. If it made any difference the attempt was too late for me. We were told the weather was not conducive to sailing but later in the trip someone said there was a problem with one of the sails. Regardless of the reason, it was disappointing.

The Good: The trip was pretty much as expected. Friends had taken the cruise several years earlier and filled us in on what we would do and see. Diving was good but not outstanding, food was plentiful and well prepared, and the other divers were qualified.

Out of the 10 dives we did my favorite was the shark feed. The feed itself was OK, with plenty of Caribbean reef and nurse sharks and a very safety-conscious crew. It was almost like an amphitheater setting. We followed a line down and were led to our "seats." The sharks were already there, summoned by the sound of the dinghy motor. Our backs were positioned to large coral mounds in a semi-circle so there were not going to be any surprises. This was not my first shark feed so I knew what to expect.

The feed was over in a very short time. Silty conditions caused by the feeding frenzy did not allow many photo ops. During the briefing we were told about a possible encounter with "Fido," a somewhat tame baby nurse shark. Sure enough, Fido was there during and after the feed and seemed to like being around the divers. I had my trusty Nikonos V with me and was doing what all the other photographers were doing: following sharks and trying to get a shot.

Who knows what a shark thinks when some noisy, unnatural looking thing follows them around? I decided to try something different by sitting in the sand and waiting for a shark to come through one of the channels between the coral heads. Well, doesn't Fido come along, warily at first, hugging the bottom and getting closer and closer to me. I clicked off a couple of shots, just as happy as could be. My fins were almost flat on the sand extended in front of my sitting position. He gets closer, just like a curious puppy, then he put his snout right under my fins! No one said he was this friendly. I didn't know what to do, so I tried stroking him with my fins. He didn't leave. I took another picture. He started working his way up my body, snout still under my leg, and I just couldn't believe it. What the heck, maybe he will let me pet him, I thought. I reached out and started stroking his side, not knowing if I was going to scare him, hurt him or become his lunch. He seemed to like it because he still made no attempt to leave.

Just then I thought, no one is ever going to believe this. I didn't see anyone else nearby until I looked over my right shoulder. There were at least 5 other divers hovering behind me, taking pictures and just enjoying the show. What a great bunch of folks. There was no, "me, me, it's my turn" attitude. They just let me have my moment with this "wild" creature and I am truly thankful for it. That was one of the best dives I have ever had. As a caveat, I must say that I took a chance touching this animal. Being a logical guy (I fix computers for a living), I did not act in a logical way. I recently read of a diver who was bitten by a small nurse shark and the shark would not let go. Both the diver and the shark were brought to a hospital where the shark was surgically removed. True or not, I would not recommend touching a shark or any other sea creature.

All in all I would take the trip again. In fact, I am going back in October 2005. But this time Iíll be trying one of those seasick patches. I hate renting my meals.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Florida, Niagara River, St. Lawrence River
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 80-83°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-75 Ft/ 15-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Rinse tank available; no table other than common table in galley.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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