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March 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Taino Divers; MV Juliet; Puerto Rico

by land and by liveaboard

from the March, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

Puerto Rico's Mona Island: "the Galapagos of the Caribbean," as the website of the 104-foot steel-masted schooner Juliet claims. That's popped out as I considered a trip aboard the Juliet for Florida Keys or Bahamas trips. I had never heard of Mona Island, but it promised virgin-like diving where not too many have been before. And the Juliet had one trip going in December. I booked it.

I would delay my presumed gratification to spend my first week diving with a land-based operator, Taino Divers, on the Eastern coast, selected because of recommendations on Internet websites. By e-mail, I requested five days of two-tank diving with the chance to go to Desecheo Island; they responded that they had space available every day during my time there, so I sent my CC info. I was set, so I thought.

Taino Divers pilot the boat close to the beach for loading.After a long flight from Germany, where I live, I overnighted in San Juan before hopping a Cape Air twinengine Cessna to Mayaguez. The green land and beautiful coastline below excited me, and when I landed I rented a car for a half-hour drive to Rincon and the Coconut Palms Inn, a small but lovely privately run hotel on the beach.

Taino's shop is in downtown Rincon, close to a beautiful sandy beach and next to the Shipwreck Restaurant, with cheap eateries nearby. At first, the folks at Taino could not remember my e-mails, but when they did find me in their files, they had nothing reserved for me. Monday, they had boat space, but with no bookings Tuesday, they weren't diving. I could go Wednesday, but Thursday they were pulling their boat for maintenance, and Friday was still a question mark. Having flown so far with only diving on my mind, I was not pleased.

The first day of diving started with more bad news. The skipper decided not to go to Desecheo Island, saying the wind made it too choppy for a ride out, and the weather forecast wasn't good. I know one must trust the skipper; it's his boat and his call, but I have missed so many awesome dives while traveling because someone was not in the right mood, wanted to save petrol, had beginners on board, or thought the sea or current was too rough -- though other boats went out -- so some excuses are hard to believe. Who knows the truth? It's what the captain says. And one must trust the captain....

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