A year passed and another group, lead by world-renowned photographer Andrew Martinez, set its course to St. Vincent – Critter capital of the Caribbean. If last year only 6 guys tagged along with Andy, this time, more the 20 divers, in two separate weeks, joined his expedition.
I can’t answer for all, but this time, I enjoyed diving even more than during the previous occasion. Thanks to a great help of Ray Haberman, who’s probably by now can be called a native of the island, I was able to rediscover unlimited possibilities of new underwater findings. Ray taught me how to find creatures size of the grain of sand. And with Andrew’s detailed instructions on underwater camera technique – proper strobes alignment, favorable composition, speed and aperture, good lighting of the subject, careful approach etc., I had much fun photographing an incredible world of the marine organisms.
Atlantic blue tang (acanthurus coeruleus)
I also would like to mention that I enjoy every member of our group. I’ve met and got acquainted with lots of great folks. Each diver was extremely courteous above and below the surface and, I sincerely hope, we all had a great time.
Flying gurnard (Dactyloptena orientalis)
Dear Mike and Harry Powers, Michael and Ellen Garvey, James McKnight, Mary M. Howard, Raymond C. Porter, John Roach, Jennifer Ramins, Noreen and Dave Downs, Dave (Bubba), Doris Krumblz and Andrew Martinez – thank you, guys, for a great time, I really appreciated your company.
Flying to St. Vincent
Today it’s very hard to imagine air carrier that would fall into the category of the stone-age operation. Yet, I think “Liat”, Caribbean airline, could proudly take the leading place in such a degrading category. I don’t want to spoil the taste of otherwise perfect vacation, but this is unavoidable fact. I flew twice with Liat and both times I wished I could’ve chosen the different airline. But Liat has a monopoly in that part of the world … hence all the negative consequences.
Caribbean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea)
In 2011 – new, superior airfield supposed to begin its operation, allowing to accommodate larger birds, with possibilities of direct flights from the USA. The new finish line was set for November of 2013 with the first international arrival in early 2014. But, after visiting the construction site, I seriously doubt it will happen in the near future. Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed. As of march of 2016 it is still under construction, so here is a link to the future St Vincent’s airport
I stayed previously at Mariner and had nothing but positive experience with this hotel. All rooms are facing the ocean and beautiful Young Island, located just a few hundredths feet away. Rooms are bright, clean and large enough for two divers with all theirs photo gadgets. Each air-conditioned unit offers a balcony, flat-screen TV, safe, refrigerator, roomy cupboard, plenty of electric outlets (3 prongs British configuration), spacious bathroom and free wireless internet.
Harlequin Glass-slug (Cyerce cristallina)
Food, that is offered in the “French Veranda Restaurant”, located on the first floor, was simply delicious. Breakfast had a few American and some local selections. Lunch and dinner menu presented multiple choices of seafood, poultry and meats. The restaurant has the full bar and on sundays all you can eat and drink buffet. Service maybe a bit slow for a non-islander, but the staff is very polite and aim to please. By the way, water on the island can be drunk right from the faucet. The hotel is not diver-oriented, but diver-very-friendly. Dive shop about a minute or two of leisure walks from the hotel.
Dive St. Vincent
Founder of the dive-shop, Bill Tewes, was ill and unable to supervise our diving. But he trained two awesome assistants – Cally and DJ, both with over two decades of experience in finding small, hard to detect animals. 14 divers were divided into two groups, 6 – to fit a smaller boat and 8 for a larger one.
Leopard flatworm (Pseudoceros pardalis)
Every morning, right after breakfast, we headed to the dock where all our dive-gears were preloaded onto boats. Two dive sites were picked and shortly, no more than 10-15 minutes, we were at chosen locations. If one of the boats headed, let’s say, to Orca 2, then other went to Cruise Ship. Then, during surface interval, we’d swap sites. Thus, at the same time, no more than 8 divers were at each particular spot. Upon returning to the hotel pictures were uploaded and each diver had an ample time with Andrew to analyze “harvested” material.
Orange ball corallimorph (Pseudocorynactis caribbeorum)
The average depth of almost all our dives would hardly reach 30-35 feet. Only ones Ray took me to 100 feet at “New Guinea”, to check if previously spotted Bulls-eyed lobster still lived inside of the entangled pile of sunken nets. But otherwise light, aluminum tanks easily yielded an hour, an hour-and-a-half of bottom time.
The spotted moray eel (Gymnothorax moringa)
Andrew Martinez, who visited St. Vincent 10 times, noticed that each time different varieties of marine life were making their appearance in warm waters of St. Vincent. For instance, this summer 3 times, at different locations we sighted Leopard Flatworm, never seen there by Andrew before. Last year “Sea goddess” made its presence at different places, yet we saw none of ’em at this time.
Bullseye Reef Lobster. (Enoplometopus holthuisi)
So, each time you submerge into clear, warm waters of St. Vincent, there always will be plenty of opportunities for new and exciting discoveries.
Happy “photo-hunting” and safe diving to all.