It was hard to believe that another year had passed, and Searaider 2009 was already upon us. It seemed like only a few months since we left the island in the wake of Hurricane Poloma, completely intact but with a wealth of stories to burden friends and family with for years to come. In fact it was here, and after a few hours of flight, we were on the island again, and ready to begin a new chapter in the Searaider saga.
Many thanks to Mike for already laying out the introductions, but just to recap....returning this year was Michael(MTJO), Todd(TMahaun), Brittie(only1brittie), Randy(whse), Gavin(THOR) and myself(subkrawler)...and with us every Sub reissue model to date. We had amongst us a 3-dial T-Graph, 2-dial T-Graph, 300T reissues, 600Ts, 750Ts, 750T GMTs, 1000Ts, and 5000Ts. Along with a few vintage pieces, and Michael even slipped in a vintage Bienne restored PloProf.
So after baggage claim, getting the rental cars sorted out, grocery shopping, remembering to drive on the left hand side of the road, taking wrong turns at the traffic circles, dodging chickens, and enduring the raining remnants of Tropical Storm Ida, we made it to Compass Point...our base for the next six days. After settling in, we decided to call it an early night and get plenty of rest for the days to come...because as every Searaider knows...you just may need it.
Sunday morning, and a quick look out the windows told the story that a Tropical Storm had recently passed through. It was raining and the seas were big, but that wasn't going to stop us. We'd traveled thousands of miles, and we were here to dive...so dive we would.
Our boat today was the Ocean Hawk, a well appointed custom dive boat and the Ocean Frontiers crew already had our gear aboard, set up, in place and ready to go before we even boarded the vessel. Skies were gray, but nothing would dampen our spirits. Because a rainy day in the islands is always better than a sunny day at home.
In customary Ocean Frontiers fashion, the first dive of the "two-tank morning", is a deep wall dive followed by a more shallow reef excursion for tank #2. Today's wall dive was "Anchor Point Drop-off". The most interesting thing about this site is a large barrel sponge that's down around 100ft. The way it's grown, looks exactly like a face has been carved into it, much like you'd carve a face into a jack-o-lantern. This is however completely natural, proving that "Mother Nature" sometimes does have an odd sense of humor.
Checking my "Double R" Caribbean before the dive.
Todd giving the "OK" with Randy close behind.
Brittie, her 600T Divingstar, and "The face of the deep".
Gavin and his 600T Pro.
Todd...equalizing the pressure.
Michael on the wall.
Dive #2 was a site called "The fish tank", and here Gavin and Michael explore the reef.
Searaiders are a proud bunch, and as you can see...like to display their status. Here's a shot of the patch detail from Gavin's wetsuit. All three years represented...a true charter member.
Rounding the coral.
Brittie is apparently OK.
Time check on the "Double R", somewhere around 70 ft.
With out first set of dives behind us, it was time to head back to shore. Some of the 'Raiders decided to rest, but Michael and myself heard that Sunday is a unique day on the East End, as the locals have what they call "Fish Frys". Not exactly sure of what they were, but with a set of directions from Britta our Dive Master, we set out to find out for ourselves.
A short drive down the beach, and hand painted wooden sign told us we'd found what we were looking for. A small beach-side eatery, where native women freshly cook the catch of the day.
The view from our table.
The bounty of the feast. Pan-fried Mahi-Mahi topped with pickled onion, plantain fritters, and cinnamon spiced cornbread.
We decided to accompany the meal with their specialty "Fish Tea", and a tall glass of iced mango juice. I swear, I don't know if it was because I was starving from the morning's dive, or it was the fresh open air, or the planets had perfectly aligned, but that was the best meal that I'd had in quite awhile. Too bad every day wasn't Sunday.
Oh, and which watches did we decide to have accompany us on this trek? Still wearing my "Double R" from the morning, but Michael switched to his customized 300T Poseidon Divingstar. Definitely not a bad way to kick off the week.