It’s eating, breathing and sleeping scuba diving, 24/7.
That’s life on a “liveaboard” boat that Fraser Debney experienced in the Bahamas recently. He had liked his first liveaboard trip so he decided to try it again this year.
On April 13, Fraser and some of his friends left port in Nassau Bahamas aboard a Blackbeard Cruises (http://www.blackbeard-cruises.com/) liveaboard ship for a seven-day adventure. It would confirm his first impression of the experience. He loved it. The dive boat becomes your home and restaurant for a week and you don’t return to port until the trip is done.
“It would be our shark dive,” Fraser replies when asked for his favourite experience on the trip.
It takes place at a wreck site, and a good wreck dive on its own merits. But it is also a wreck dive with a difference. Using a rope, the boat’s crew suspends a glob of waste food about 20 feet above the divers. Looking up from the wreck the divers get a close-up look at the reef sharks, which range in size from four to six feet. Fraser acknowledges that many people object to attracting sharks like this but says it is good for tourism.
“These sharks were not aggressive and I don’t believe they generally are.”
That day they saw at least 20 sharks, as well as Nassau groupers and a lot of tropical fish, “all swimming around in the same area eating the scraps as the sharks chomped on the chum. Curiously, the sharks don’t bother them (the other fish).”
James Bond Grotto in the Bahamas, where the Thunderball movie was shot, was another favourite “because of the vast expanse of things to see. That movie is underwater battles. It is almost like a small cave. There were a couple of octopus, a lot of old and interesting elk horn coral growing out of the ground and various tropical fish that made the cave their own. It has an access and exit point.”
The boat itself is about 65 feet in length and on this trip accommodated 19 divers and a crew of six. Instead of cabins there are open bunk areas. Each serves as the sleeping quarters for four to six divers. “For anyone expecting 5-star it is not 5-star. It is camping on the water with the diving as a bonus. The diving is fantastic. As long as you are comfortable being in a trailer (atmosphere) and having to be organized, the space you have is adequate. If you spread your stuff all over it is not for you.
“All the entities of a dive shop are on the boat. You don’t touch your gear. They fill up the tanks on the spot. It was interesting for me,” says Fraser. “The food was fantastic. The meals were like homemade.”
Meanwhile, the boat is travelling from one dive site to another. While bad weather limited them to a couple of dives on the first two days, generally they made four or five dives a day. When moored at the end of the day they would do night dives before moving on to the next site in the morning.
The week-long experience costs $939. It includes everything to do with your diving, food and drinks, including a beer keg in the gallery, along with wine and rum punch.
“Your first alcoholic drink is your last dive (of the day). They’re very strict. If you have a drink at 10 a.m. you don’t dive at all.”
It’s not a loud and late night, either. Tired by the busy day of diving, most people are in bed by 8 p.m.