On an overcast and gray Saturday afternoon we board our home for the next week. Captain Jerome and Engineer Fermin welcome us aboard and explain the ins and outs of the boat and diving. During the safety briefing we are introduced to the rest of the crew and our fellow divers from the US and Canada. Dinner prepared by Chef Yanis and steward Randy, is amazing. We are ready to EAT, SLEEP and DIVE!
The boat left early the next morning to arrive at our first dive site, Sandy Slope on Turneffe Atoll . Two very relaxing dives followed – one to the one side of the boat and the next to the opposite side. While a scrumptious lunch was served, the boat headed for the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Julie’s Jungle was the setting for our late afternoon and night dive adventure. We were not disappointed. Lobsters, Blue striped grunts, banded coral shrimps and even a common octopus, displayed their true colours.
We were 18 divers in total. Monique, our abled dive master, divided us into two groups. Captain Chris, Captain Jerome and Fermin assisted Monique. They were all extremely familiar with the dive sites. Needless to say they pointed out many a thing to our untrained and lazy eyes.
After our first day we were all eager to explore. Randy ensured coffee was ready bright and early and after a great breakfast, we jumped in to explore Long Caye Ridge. The visibility was not as clear due to the overcast skies but the water temperature was a great 29 degrees Celsius. The afternoon and night dive was at Long Caye Wall. We spotted a Reef shark, some magnificent spotted eagle rays, reef squids, very active Tarpons, some slugs and nudibranchs. One always listens to the safety briefing with half an ear because ….. we won’t need it! Only this time it was necessary. Ten minutes in our night dive, we heard frantic banging on …… We all stopped, listened and immediately turned around rushing back to the boat. The anchor rope snatched and the boat was drifting away from the dive site. It was already dark outside. We all made it to the boat in time.
Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day. It was to be a big day. It was BLUEHOLE day – THE dive to do when in Belize. We paid a visit to Half Moon Caye Natural Monument where we explored the sandy beaches and paid a visit to the observation deck that gives a superb view of the Frigate birds and the Red-footed Boobies. Iguanas and some hermit crabs were enjoying the sun in the sandy pathways. On returning the boat positioned itself at the entrance to the Bluehole. The different hues of blue were amazing. They told us to expect quite a drop in water temperature at 40 meters. BRRRRRR! We only had 0.5mm skinsuits. Fortunately our computers read 27 degrees Celsius. Cathedral, our afternoon dive site, delivered schools of silvers sides, a shark or two and some good sized lobster. The night dive happened at Julie’s Jungle where we had fun with octopus, squids and off course the tarpons
The next day started grey but soon changed to a beautiful day. Winds dropped and we headed to Half Moon Caye wall. A curious Nassau grouper followed us and we saw some reef sharks posing for photos. The afternoon dive choice was Silver Caves. The night dive at the same spot offered a shoal of squid and an octopus.
In between we still had 100 dive and 600 dive achievements to be celebrated. Chocolate cakes with flour, chocolate sauce, egg and honey were baked on shiny hair heads much to the enjoyment of the old dogs!
Thursday started with a perfect, beautiful, flat sea. Lighthouse Wall presented reef sharks, a curious grouper once again and some garden eels peaking at us. At Chain wall a reef shark swam around, between and everywhere. Cameras and videos clicked constantly. Some of us was lucky to spot Eagle Rays while others saw southern stingrays.
It was almost time to say goodbye to Lighthouse Reef. We did one last dive at Nurse Shark Ridge. We certainly were not disappointed with sightings of horse eyed jacks and reef sharks being all over again. Next stop was Black Beauty at Turneffe Atoll. A friendly Hawkesbill turtle escorted us. We spotted a toadfish, some jaw fish and mutton snappers.
All to soon it was time to say goodbye to our efficient, extremely helpful and very friendly Aggressor III crew. We intend to take you up on that invitation to visit again. Goodbye to our dive compatriots. It was an awesome week of EAT, SLEEP and DIVE.