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January 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 30, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Caribbean Explorer II, Lesser Antilles

a full dance card in Nevis, Saba, St. Kitts and Statia

from the January, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

Visibility was good and there was none of the usual current as I finned down into the blue. A dramatic pinnacle gradually appeared, rising from the depths to 85 feet from the surface. My feeling of awe watching the Third Encounter/The Needle emerge from the deep blue never gets old, even though I have made a half-dozen dives here. As I moved closer, the colors of the corals encrusting the pinnacle began to pop out. Sponges and sea fans decorated it, and hundreds of schooling Creole wrasse swirled around the spire. What a welcome to Saba!

Seven nights, five and one-half days of diving and 26 dives were offered by the Caribbean Explorer. For more than a quarter-century, the Caribbean Explorer -- now known as the CEX II -- has been the only liveaboard bringing divers to this northeastern Caribbean region. In addition to St. Kitts and Saba, Nevis has been added to the itinerary, and for my trip, St. Eustatius (Statia) made a reappearance.

Caribbean Explorer IICEX II travels weekly between St. Kitts and Sint Maarten, and reverses the course the following week. This was the first time I had begun this trip in St. Kitts, which, with its easy dives, is a good build-up to the deeper dives and currents of Saba. On the first dives around St. Kitts and neighboring Nevis, my depth hovered around 40 feet. By the last days in Saba, only one dive was above 58 feet, and the deepest was 113 feet. Water temperature averaged 83 degrees, and air temperatures were in the mid-80s.

Safety is paramount on this vessel, and the expected rules go along with it. For example, do not go to the bow when the boat is running at night. Because of the chop and surface current, we were advised to remove our fins at the hang-line, not the ladders, to avoid injuries; no decompression diving, and return to the boat with 500 psi. Captain Ian recorded our entry and exit times, depth and psi. Nitrox divers were required to analyze and record oxygen percentage (which ran between 28 and 31) and psi. Buddy diving or following a dive guide was required, unless you are solo certified (if not, they'll offer you a course). Crew also conducted a safety drill, which includes the careful checking of lights, whistles and vests....

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