Jul 19

We did four dives last Tuesday

The diving pace really picked up last Tuesday. We did three dives on Sunday, our first full day in Roatan, and three dives on Monday. But on Tuesday there was also a night dive.

Night dive days go like this: you do two dives in the morning, around 8 and 10:30 a.m., come in for lunch and then take a slightly shorter, slightly more shallow dive in the afternoon, at about 2:30 p.m. That evening, at about 6:30, you get back on the boat. As dusk falls across the ocean, you jump into the water.

I suppose you could do fewer dives. Some people do, but unless you aren’t feeling well this makes no sense to me. You’ve come to a dive resort for a reason.

For the first few minutes of a night dive you can still see pretty well simply by the ambient light in the sky. But before long you must turn on your flashlight. You turn on your flashlight because, without it, you’re in a perfect darkness. Now you can only see what is in your beam, and what is going on in the beams of the people diving off your boat. We had eight people in the water for the evening dive, so there was plenty of see-and-be-seen. This was The Yankee’s first night dive and my second or third, I think.

You see a few other creatures, more lobsters and an octopus or two if you’re lucky. You see some shrimp. You see fish that are sleeping. I like to run my flashlight along the tops of the reefs, though. It reminds me of being at home in the woods, somehow, in some gothic part of the South.

I describe it a bit because I can offer you no footage. A camera in a night dive just seemed like one handful too many. But, there’s some nice stuff we captured on our first three dives of the day. First, a few video highlights:

And here are some photos The Yankee took over the course of the day’s dive.

I must peer into every vase coral I see, for some reason. This one was on our first, and deepest dive of the day and it was just within range of the dive:

Here we all are enjoying some of the beautiful reefs that Roatan offers:

Look! I’m on the Internet! Twice for some reason!

Did you see the conch shell?

The other guy in the photograph is a man named Tom. He runs a dive shop in Orlando and on his vacation he decided to go diving. I figured he’d have preferred to go snow skiing or something. I don’t go to another university and pop my head in to see what they’re doing on their campus on all of my off days, after all. Tom said he never gets to just dive anymore. He’s always teaching. And you’ve never met a person more enthusiastic about the water. It was great to dive with him and his wife all week.

I also enjoy a good fan coral from time to time. In the center of this photo you see a nice little Gorgonian, the standard of the region:

They offer you some of the most brilliantly blue water in the western Caribbean. The visibility is marvelous and the waters are nice and warm and calm.

How could you not enjoy looking up into a view like that?

Jul 19

We were in Roatan, Honduras

Welcome back. This is what has been going on the last few days. We skipped town a week ago Friday night and went to Indianapolis. We had a pizza and stayed in a hotel where a travel baseball team, full of youth and life and energy and dance party ideas, was staying. Ordinarily that’s not a problem, but we had an early flight to catch.

Which we did! We caught a plane! Bare hands and everything! And so the fly flew us to Atlanta. And then another plane flew us to Roatan, Honduras on Saturday afternoon. A couple of nice guys took our luggage and we got on a shuttle bus which drove us across part of the island to our resort. On the way we met the most obnoxious child in the world. The resort is a small place, so you tend to see the same people over and over. And we saw that kid, Evie, and her adults over and over throughout the week. She didn’t improve much. Or any, really. It would have been cute if she’d had Little Orphan Annie’s charm, but that role has been cast. And while I would never say anything out loud, I really wanted to say Evie’s Mom “I’d never be one to tell a person how to parent, but you should start.”

The teen years are going to be tough, and the adult years may not be any better. Pretty much everyone that had the displeasure came to this conclusion.

But that’s a person, and we were on vacation. This is a dive trip, and the resort, Anthony’s Key, is great. It’s a dedicated dive resort, which is growing out its family things. So you can take the whole family! (No Evies allowed!)

We signed in on Saturday afternoon, got our luggage and took a quick snorkel before dinner. I saw three starfish in those few minutes:

On Sunday we started diving. Three dives a day. Two in the morning, one in the afternoon. And I made a new grouper friend on one of those first dives:

And then The Yankee made friends with a turtle:

Here are some more clips from our first dives:

There’s a lot more to get through and show off over the course of the rest of this week. Maybe longer. Just remember to keep an eye on your gauges.

In the meantime, we have pictures!

Do you see the little white fish below? He’s also in the video above.

There’s beautiful coral around Roatan. I found I could stare at it for the entire sequence of dives.

But if you’re here for the fish …

This one is me. I am not a fish:

The Yankee is at least part fish, though:

On Sunday we went wreck diving:

Sitting at 110 feet under the surface is the Odyssey. The freighter, at 300 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 85 feet tall, is Roatan’s largest wreck dive, and one of the larger ones in the Caribbean, as well. It was sunk for divers in 2002. People see grouper, barracuda, tuna and sometimes sharks. We saw grouper and one barracuda, later in the dive I caught a glimpse of a tarpon.

But the coral formations are lovely.

May 19

Spend a day on the bottom of a pool, get philosophical

I began SCUBA diving as a teen. It was *goes into my wallet to dig out my C-card … * a lot of years ago. Since then, I’ve explored ship wrecks. I’ve swam with turtles and manatees and barracuda. I’ve swam with dolphins in the wild. I’ve caught reef sharks with my bare hands. I’ve been all over the Gulf and the Caribbean and in parts of the Atlantic. I’ve dived ponds and rock quarries.

Saturday the guy that runs the local dive shop let The Yankee and I jump into a high school pool with some of his tanks after his morning class wrapped up. I’ve never dived nothing, though I’ve always wanted to. Just me and a tank and sit on the bottom. There was nothing to see, no place to go. It was great, peaceful, fun. Of course I’d do it again.

Speaking of wildlife, this morning I discovered we’ve got a new colleague at the office:

If you work in a big building, as I do, make sure you rotate through the many doors for entrances and exits. That’s both metaphor and practical advice. Sure, perspectives and all that. If you do, though, you’ll see new things, like that guy, all the time.

Jan 15

SCUBA diving in St. Maarten

The currents were up — but the locals said the waters were actually, finally, calming down. These were some of the hardest dives I’ve done in a long time, if ever. I sucked oxygen like I haven’t in years, if ever.

They were also some of the best dives I’ve done. Sharks, rays, turtles, eagle rays, eels and all manner of smaller fish, all in one dive.

Almost everyone on the dive boat got sick. Except for us.

The people that got sea sick may disagree, but these are the dives you really look forward to.

This is Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. (That’s New York. It is a long shot, but the man conceivably knew my ancestors there.) Previously he’d run things in Curacao and then tried to take St. Maarten back from the Spanish in 1633. It offered a strategic harbor and salt, and the Dutch failed miserably in getting the Spanish off the rock. But Stuyvesant took 13 ships, landed in March of 1644, notified the Spaniards and planted his flag. The Spanish fired on the flag and Stuyvesant was wounded and his right leg ultimately was amputated. He’d become known as Peg leg Pete and he’d watch his comrades sail away from St. Maarten in defeat a month later.


After surrendering New Netherland to four ships of 450 British troops, he stayed on in New York as a private citizen, dying there in 1672. He was a strict Calvinist and a big believer in education. Everything I’ve read about him makes him seem rather harsh, but the 17th century often was. He’s buried in The Bowery — which is, apparently, an anglicization of Bouwerij, which is Dutch for farm, and also the name of Stuyvesant’s 62-acre property that stretched up to Harlem. (I’m going to have to read a history of New York City now, aren’t I?)

Anyway, diving in St. Maarten was a challenge, the visibility wasn’t the best because of the currents and the silt, but the views were great. Great place to dive. Watch the video.

Jan 15

Diving Bonaire

We saw a great show with a juggler on Red Bull and speed last night. He was a bit like a young Robin Williams, even worked through the crowd twice. I have some video and will upload it later. Anyway, today, we walked off the ship in beautiful Bonaire and there was Pete, the juggler, who decided to go diving with us.

He sat down next to me in this little place:

dive shop

In my experience, this is exactly how dive shops should look.

Pete Matthews is a nice guy. Says 70 percent of his act is written and the rest is ad libbed, and that his stage personality is him turned up to 12. (You’ll see.) He’s also funny when he’s not working and is giving, willing to let a dive boat of pretend comedians try a joke on him. He’s also a fine diver.

Our dive video:

Going back aboard in Bonaire, we saw this dairying vessel. Kruise Mor Cows:

Tomorrow, another fine day on the water.