So if you travel any amount beyond say 1-2 times a year, the first time you show up at the wrong airport or have a hard time finding where your new gate is or which baggage claim to tell someone to meet you at, you'll be thrilled with the features and functionality of today's flight and travel apps. So which ones have you used and which do you like best and why?
Hey gang...I will be in Houston before the Bonaire trip so we are hoping to do a Houston Happy Hour! We are juggling dates now, but let us know if you can join us! Kamala
Houston Happy Hour!
Date: Nov 4th Friday before the Bonaire trip!
Time: START TIME! - WE WILL DO the traditional 7pm since it is Friday after work!
The Happy Hour will be held at Sam's Boat in Seabrook on Nasa Rd. http://www.samsboat.com/locations/seabrook/
Planning to attend:
1. Kamala aka WreckWench
2. Butch aka Cajun Diver
3. Dan aka ScubaTooth
4. Sandy aka Scubapunk
5. Ron aka Punk's +1
6. Phyllis aka Stingray1
7. Kent aka scubadiver4u
8. Lori aka lolieb
9. Roger aka Roger G
Hoping to attend (aka Maybe):
1. Kelly aka Bait for sharks
2. Sissy aka Scubasis
South Florida Happy Hour now Sat Oct 29th!
Date: Oct 29th
Time: We are looking at 4:00 PM till 6:00 PM (or thereabouts) to facilitate diving on Sunday and/or other plans that evening and/or longer driving distances. TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE START TIME!
Location isn't set yet so I'm looking for suggestions. Here's what I'm looking for:
Post your recommendations to this thread and I'll update this post when we have a location and date. (I"m still working with the Wench so she can attend!)
1. Twisted Fish Boynton you can order from the bar there are high tops as well at the bar.
2. Two Georges Boynton there are high tops as well as the bar.
3. JB'S in Deerfield on the ocean and super cool.
4. Ocean 234 on the ocean and super cool. you can order from the bar
5. Brass Ring Pub in Riveria Beach
Planning to attend:
1. Mark aka DiveGeek
2. Alan aka Racer184
3. Kamala aka WreckWench
4. Holly aka RideNdive
Hoping to attend (aka Maybe):
We all know to hand carry our meds but what else should be know about traveling with meds or packing them? Thank you!
We all know what happens when we are less than successful in this endeavor...but what can we do to better pack liquids we do need to travel with?
According to TSA:
You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.
Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste that alarms during screening will require additional screening.
You may carry duty free liquids in secure, tamper–evident bags, more than 3.4 oz or 100 ml in your carry-on bag if:
Liquids more than 3.4 oz or 100 ml not in a secure, tamper-evident bag must be packed in checked baggage.
How can I get the most out of my frequent-flyer points?
Ok so everyone recommends the following canned replies.... BUT HOW DO OUR REAL MEMBERS REALLY GET THE MOST OUT OF THEIR FREQUENT FLYER/FREQUENT STAY POINTS?????
- Check several itinerary options. Different routes or days traveled can save you points to use for another trip.
- Check airline partners. Many airlines have partnership agreements that will accept frequent flier points from your regular airline.
- Stay in hotels and use rental car companies affiliated with your program. When you charge meals and services to the hotel room, you can earn even more points. You can also use sponsored credit cards to earn extra points.
Is it advisable to buy someone else’s frequent-flyer vouchers or unused tickets?
Ok all you frequent travelers.... what say ye? Can this be done or not?
Is it safe to logon to an airport's wireless internet service?
I saw an interesting discussion on this question. They said....
What do you think???
- Yes, it's okay to surf the web wirelessly, but think twice before entering personal information such as banking passwords or credit card numbers when connected wirelessly.
- Open hotspots are also hotspots for hackers. Here’s how it works: though you think you’re logging on to the Internet through a legitimate wireless hotspot such as an airport’s, cafés or hotel’s complimentary Wi-Fi service, wireless hackers are creating look-alike networks to steal your information. The network’s name might be the same as the legitimate name or it might be different.
- For example, when turning on your laptop at the airport you might be asked if you want to join the "Free Airport Wireless" network. It may be the real thing, or it may be a hacker’s network. If it’s the hackers, your laptop is an easy target.
It's 3 years since we've had a Happy Hour, and we have numerous new members who are curious about SingleDivers.com.
The Wench will be here!!!
The date is Saturday, August 20, at a time hopefully late afternoon/early evening - so those of us commuting won't miss their 'bedtime'.
The Wench will be coming from Rockwall, and I'll be coming from Fort Worth. The establishment should be able to accommodate 10-25[?] rowdy divers, and provide nourishment and refreshments.
Okay it's settled - Flying Saucer, Sat., Aug. 20, 4pm in Addison - for directions, a list of beers they serve and a menu, follow the link.
Why so early you ask? We've got to give you time to sample the 200 beers they serve!!!
I hope to see some of the familiar faces from the past, and meet some of the newer members, who have yet to enjoy making a trip with SingleDivers.com
RSVP to this thread
2. Wreck Wench
Are American carriers improving? New in-flight offerings, rising quality ratings and better on-time performance seem to suggest that major U.S.-based carriers are focused on creating a better product, and they are succeeding on some levels.
Better, but still not the best
Do they still lag behind the world’s best carriers? Yes.
According to the most recent ratings from research firm Skytrax, Delta is the US legacy carrier with the best product overall. However, it came in in 35th place in the worldwide rankings. Top international airlines from Europe (Air France, Lufthansa), East Asia (EVA, Singapore Air and Cathay Pacific) and the Middle East (Qatar, Etihad and Emirates) all finished well ahead of Delta, while its legacy peers, United and American, finished well back in the pack at numbers 68 and 77, respectively.
Many people put a lot of stock in the Skytrax ratings because they are based on worldwide passenger surveys. Though Delta finished behind its international competitors, it did improve from 45th place last year, one of the biggest year-on-year improvements in the entire survey. American Airlines has also improved by 12 spots over the past two surveys. These jumps pretty much encapsulates where U.S. airlines currently sit in terms of quality: they are still lagging behind the industry leaders, but they are getting better.
One of the complaints included in a recent letter from American Airlines pilots to CEO Doug Parker was about how they were tired of apologizing to passengers for AA’s “embarrassing" product. Parker responded by saying that improvement after the merger with US Airways would take time and that changes would have to take place from the ground up.
The bad news is that even CEOs like Doug Parker and United’s Oscar Munoz admit that changes will take time. The good news is that they seem to agree that focusing on the fundamentals is a necessary first step. Their goal is to make lasting improvements, not to provide quick fixes.
Earlier this year, American and United both announced that they were offering free snacks on domestic flights. Delta already did this, but the other two airlines had stopped. This was a very small improvement, but it showed that legacy carriers were taking steps to improve in comparison to low cost carriers (who charge for everything) and they were aware that providing certain extra services for all passengers would improve their image.
Delta Airlines has also shown that getting better at the fundamentals is possible. Once one of the industry’s least punctual airlines, Delta now sits near the top of the on-time rankings month after month. It had the fewest cancellations of any U.S. carrier in May, and more than 88 percent of its flights arrived on time (within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival time) during that month.
Making employees happy
All three legacy carriers are in the process of giving their employees new contracts. United’s pilots received a record deal earlier this year, and the airline recently agreed to a new contract with its flight attendants. American Airlines has also negotiated new contracts with many of its employees.
United CEO Oscar Munoz has said that having good employee relations is a fundamental building block for his airline. Getting them to buy into what the airline is doing is an important part of getting them to provide good customer service to fliers.
READMORE: American Airlines CEO Promises Big Changes Ahead
Another promising trend is that airlines seem to be reinvesting some of their profits from 2015. American Airlines has been improving its airport lounges, and also has launched a major project in partnership with OTG to improve the terminals at its hubs in Houston and Philadelphia with renovations and free iPads for waiting fliers.
Delta has been segmenting its cabins by adding premium economy class (Comfort +) and also offering no frills economy fares. United has made one of the biggest moves of all, launching a new business class (Polaris) on its wide-body aircraft and also improving the economy class seating on new planes.
Competing on quality, not price
The improvements will probably come faster if airlines continue to make profits in the coming years. However, legacy carriers seem to have realized that adding value to the in-flight experience and getting the fundamentals right will help them compete not only against international heavyweights, but also against low cost carriers, who might be able to match them on price, but who cannot approach them in terms of quality.
U.S. airlines are not quite on par with the world’s best international airlines in terms of overall quality. But they do seem to be improving and they seem to understand that sustainable improvements are going to serve them better than quick fixes.
Had a trip to the UK planned 21 - 27 Sep, but that just fell through.
I thought a week diving would be nice, but need some suggs. Wife won't be coming due to her work schedule so it'll be just me. Got my Solo cert so would be nice if the local dive shop honored that.
The mid week start means liveaboards are out so I'm wondering if anyone has a decent destination in mind. Probably Caribbean and Gulf of Mex. Anything beyond there would be too far to travel.
Non-negotiable: King bed and air con. I'm enjoying my comforts as I get older.
Join us for a South Florida Happy Hour!
Date: August 27th, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM till we all leave
840 East Atlantic Avenue,
Delray Beach, FL 33483
Planning to attend:
1. Mark aka DiveGeek - ATTENDED!
2. Kamala aka WreckWench ATTENDED!
3. Brad aka dive_sail_etc ATTENDED!
4. Sylvie aka sylviescuba ATTENDED!
5. Alan aka Racer184 ATTENDED! along with Janice his more beautiful half!
6. Kurt aka brat
7. Michael aka Lutzms
8. Holly aka ?? from Delray Beach -ATTENDED!
Hoping to attend (aka Maybe):
1. Julie aka DiverDiva
Others Attending We Did Not Know Would Join Us:
1. David L and his lovely wife Susan whom we met diving!
2. Lureen - a So Fl member and one of our FB photographers!
3. Rachael - a gal we met diving!
OFFICIAL RECAP FROM THE WENCH'S PERSPECTIVE....
We had a blast at our first SoFL Happy Hour in several years! (True we did an informal one last year before our Best of Florida trip but this was more formal and certainly a blast!!!)
We had friends from the early days come and join us and friends from only 2 days prior come and join us! It was a great mix of new and returning and we were blessed to have several member's better halves join us as well!
The venue was lovely but we never saw the water as we were too engaged in conversation. So our next venue will be more about facilitating conversation than the scenery.
We are already planning the next one for Oct or Nov so stay tuned for details and FOLLOW THIS POST for when and where!
I want to thank several people who have thru the years been so supportive of our club in general an for sure of our efforts in So Florida.
1. Lureen for all the amazing pictures she shares on our facebook page promoting trips we are going on Yes she has been nearly everywhere! She gives so graciously of her time and talents and we her!!!
2. Alan who has helped our club with Happy Hour promotion in his own newsletter for years and helps our members via expert advice from Reef Photo one of our corporate partners! Heck he even provided us tel service back in the day....yeah...we go way back!
3. Brad who helped to organize the HH and managed to keep 2 women on track from airport runs and boat runs and meal runs and even Happy Hour runs and then at the last minute could not join us... . But was there in spirit! Sylvie and I would have been lost without him....
4. And last but not least Mark for organizing the Happy Hour and for years of love and support helping the club and who has jumped back in to help get the new So Florida group rev'd up now the wench is coming to town...permanently!
I also want to thank Sylvie for coming in from TEXAS to join our Southern aka Southern Florida that is hospitality! And Holly for reading the Aug Newsletter and signing up for a trip and then coming to the HH that was only a few blocks from her house! And Rachael and Dave L who were dive buddies on the Starfish who met our group and wanted to learn more about us!
From the bottom of my heart I thank you all!
So come and make your own memories at the next HH...I promise you won't be disappointed! Kamala
Hello fellow SDers. It's been quite a while since I've been on this board, but I'm back and ready to get diving again. There are a couple more steps in my diving rehab program that I was hoping to get feedback from the south FL gang:
For #1 I've selected Brownie's Southport Divers mainly because one of my diving friends from Atlanta has used them before and they service Halcyon equipment (and I don't have to schlep to High Springs to get it serviced). I need some help with #2. I don't want to go through a PADI Scuba Review (I think it's called Re-Activate now) mainly because I don't want some random instructor try to overweight me and get me to do the skills while on my knees. What I'm hoping for is to find an instructor I trust and just spend some time in some confined water and get re-acquainted with being under water. Any feedback from the south FL folks on the board?
OK - you've seen the discussions going on in the forums so NOW it's OFFICIAL
AZ HAPPY HOUR
WHEN: Saturday, August 13
WHERE: Uncle Bear's Brewery
4921 E Ray Rd
TIME: 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Weigh in on an ARIZONA HAPPY HOUR for Saturday, August 13
OR Sunday, August 14. I know it'll be hot, hot, hot but that makes the frosty adult beverage taste that much better. I'm looking at a couple of venues in the Chandler area since I'm HOPING that we'll have some Tucson members join us! Once I know who's interested, I'll narrow down the locations. Hope YOU can make it!!
SATURDAY, AUG 13
1. Traci aka sqbagal - ATTENDED!
2. Kamala aka WreckWench ATTENDED!
3. Susan aka Resqdew ATTENDED! from Arkansas no less!!!
4. Karin aka MoorishIdol ATTENDED!
5. Shelly aka SassyLilCutie ATTENDED!
6. Nathan aka SeaBoor ATTENDED!
7. Jeannine aka Pedal Pusher ATTENDED!
8. Sally aka SillySally
9. Patricia aka AZDamsel
10. Mark aka Yetters
11. Jenn in Phx (hopefully) ATTENDED!
12/13. Steve aka Desert Fish + better half BOTH ATTENDED!
FROM SQBGAL AND ORGANIZER'S PERSPECTIVE:
What a GREAT time!! Thanks everyone for braving the heat and coming to see us!!
Very lucky to have our special out of state guests join us:
Susan aka Resqdew
Brad aka dive_sail_etc
And Kamala aka the WENCH herself!
Loved seeing familiar faces:
Steve aka Desert Fish and his lovely wife, Laura
Jenn aka Jenn in Phx
Shelly aka SassyLilCutie
Nathan aka SeaBoor
Casey aka Casey
And our brand NEW members:
Jeannine aka Pedal Pusher
Karin aka Moorish Idol
FROM THE WENCH'S PERSPECTIVE:
IT WAS FANTASTIC!!! I think I got to talk to everyone which is ALWAYS the best for me! And we also had Scott aka Dive Scoop come by with his lovely wife and adorable son!
The food was good...the beer was great and the COMPANY WAS FANTASTIC!!!
I'd also like to our special guests Susan aka resqdew from AR and dive_saile_etc from GA for joining in the fun! NOW EVERYONE knows what we've known for years... AZ ROCKS!!!! And that ain't just the grand canyon!
AND EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS to Traci aka sqbagal for organizing, managing, hosting, and letting Brad & I stay with her in order for us to join in the fun! We truly appreciate ALL she does as one our UBER HELPERS and of course one ot the BEST Happy Hour Hosts in the country!
I can't wait to see you all again SOON!!! Kamala
Join us Aug 27th n Delray Beach 2016! Full details and RSVP HERE! -Kamala
Anybody besides me interested in attending one?
Hey Arizonans!! I'm thinking it's time for another Happy Hour! We have a few new members and I haven't seen some of you since the last HH. It's totally in the planning stages, so completely open to dates - times & places. If you're interested, please post preferred day (Fri - Sat - Sun) and time (afternoon - evening). We'll see what works for the most people and put something together.
Previous Happy Hours have been held at:
Rawhide (Chandler - by Firebird Raceway)
4 Peaks Brewery (Hayden & Frank Lloyd Wright)
Rock Bottom Brewery (Tatum & 101 - Desert Ridge)
Give me your .02 - Let's DO THIS!!
READY TO PARTY
1. Traci aka Sqbagal
2. Tim aka Buzo Guero (schedule open)
3. Shelly aka SassyLilCutie (schedule open)
4. Kathy aka Little Mermaid (8-15/16 or later)
5. Leslie aka Desert Rose (weekends)
6. Jim aka JimMc (after July 17)
It's OFFICIAL!! It's HAPPENING!! JOIN US!!
ARIZONA SD.com HAPPY HOUR
SATURDAY, AUG 29
3:00PM - 6:30PM
Gordon Biersch Brewery
18545 North Allied Way
Phoenix, AZ 85054
Loop 101 & Scottsdale Rd
Please RSVP to THIS thread by Aug. 27 so I can get an accurate headcount for the restaurant.
1. Traci aka Sqbagal
2. Tim aka Buzo Guero
3. Leslie aka Desert Rose
4. Kathy aka Little Mermaid
5. Kathy's lil bro
6. Michael aka Dacuda
7. Garry aka AZDivrGal
8. Jim aka JimMc
9. Shelly aka SassyLilCutie
Announcing a Happy Hour event for our members in the great Southwestern U.S.!
Come on over, down or just out and enjoy an evening with other SingleDivers.com members 28 March 2015! PLEASE post a reply that you plan to attend as soon as possible so your gracious hostess Janelle aka Jellyfishluv can manage the required reservations. Spring is right around the corner, it is time to congregate so we can cogitate and collaborate on new dive ideas for the year!
Saturday March 28, 2015 from 6:00PM until 10:00PM (unless you decide to stay longer! See hotel list below!)
Clicks Billiards And Sports Bar
1201 Airway Blvd, El Paso, TX 79925
Phone: (915) 779-2153
For those considering hiking / driving / even flying in(!) here is a quick list of local hotels fresh off YP.com.
(Come on! You KNOW you WANT to....)
1. Candlewood Suites EL PASO
4631 Cohen Ave El Paso, TX 79924
2. Staybridge Suites EL PASO AIRPORT AREA
6680 Gateway Blvd E El Paso, TX 79915
3. Holiday Inn Express & Suites EL PASO I-10 EAST
11825 Gateway Blvd W El Paso, TX 79936
4. Comfort Suites
5034 N Desert Blvd El Paso, TX 79912
5. Holiday Inn EL PASO AIRPORT
6351 Gateway Blvd W El Paso, TX 79925
6. Holiday Inn EL PASO-SUNLAND PK DR & I-10 W
900 Sunland Park Dr El Paso, TX 79922
7. Holiday Inn Express & Suites EL PASO AIRPORT
6666 Gateway Blvd E El Paso, TX 79915
8. Holiday Inn Express & Suites EL PASO WEST
7935 Artcraft Rd El Paso, TX 79932
9. Holiday Inn Express EL PASO-CENTRAL
409 E Missouri Ave El Paso, TX 79901
10. Americana Inn
14387 Gateway Blvd W El Paso, TX 79928
11. BEST WESTERN Sunland Park Inn
1045 Sunland Park Dr El Paso, TX 79922
12. BEST WESTERN PLUS El Paso Airport Hotel & Conference Center
6655 Gateway Blvd W El Paso, TX 79925
13. Wyndham El Paso Airport
2027 Airway Blvd El Paso, TX 79925
Are there any SingleDivers.com members in the El Paso, TX area that would like to get together for a Happy Hour?
Interesting article, in that at least 3 of them are places for SingleDiver trips!
Dominica, and Isla Holbox of course..
And two which have been live aboards. Saba and Exumas, Bahamas.
Maybe we will have to check out the others sometime!
MALDIVES APRIL 20-27, 2014
First, let me preface this report with a disclaimer that your trip results may vary as I cannot imagine replicating this overwhelmingly perfect dive trip. Even the dive masters on the Carpe Vita remarked that we seemed to have an extra helping of awesomeness throughout the week we spent with them and that not every itinerary is able to do the same sites that we experienced. With that said, here we go .
As stated in the paperwork from Carpe Vita, members from the Carpe Vita crew and ownership met the group of us surrounding the airport information desk promptly at 2:30pm on Sunday. We were escorted to what would be our dive dhoni for the rest of the week for the short commute to the magnificent Carpe Vita, our home away from home. I'm sure there are "proper" terms that should be used when discussing boats and such, but bear with me when I just say, "Wow, what a pretty boat."
All gear and bags were brought to the stern of the Carpe Vita where we identified them and sorted out dive gear from clothes, etc and from then on, the gear was on the dhoni and not touched again unless it was time to gear up and jump in for a dive. Each diver had a personal tote that was kept under his dive station where all equipment was stored between dives and ready to go when you were. No lugging of anything other than a water bottle, towel and various pieces of camera or electronic equipment that needed to be charged between dives.
All divers gathered in the galley for a welcome greeting from Agnes, Carpe Vita's owner, given paperwork to complete and a rundown of what was to come. The galley became a base camp of sorts for each pre-dive briefing, downloading videos and photos,using the Wi-Fi, which was surprisingly fast and reliable, and grabbing a snack or a drink between dives. It was spacious and well-appointed, plenty of comfortable seating for all well without being squished together.
The rundown was basically our schedule for the week would be: cold breakfast, DIVE, cooked breakfast, DIVE, lunch, DIVE, snack, DIVE, dinner rinse, repeat. A bell was rung indicating that we were either about to eat or dive basically if we were already wet, time to eat if we were dry, time to dive. Pavlov would have been proud at how quickly we learned where to be.
We also met our dive masters, Valho, Panda, Dempey and Hussain. Each of the DMs were quick to smile, friendly and overly nice. I was with Panda for the week and he was extra awesome to me, making sure I saw everything and he found SO much tiny stuff bubble shrimp, dragon shrimp, coral shrimp, teensy coral crabs as well as halimeda ghost pipe fish, fancy ghost pipe fish, frog fish,dozens of nudibranchs, octopus, a huge zebra eel (that was awesome), all while keeping track of divers of various skill levels.
Ok so the diving: Sunday was a checkout dive, you know the drill, so-so site, don't kill yourself or anyone else and then we'll start the real stuff. Well, for a checkout dive, it was still pretty nice. We were all required to shoot a bag to make sure we still had the skills some didn't LOL holy cow, who knew there were so many ways to wrap a string around your body that was as much fun to watch as the dive itself. Anyway, everyone made it back to the boat and it was time for food more about that later.
Monday brought us to some real diving. Some of the most beautiful table coral I've everseen, I mean as far as the eye could see it was table coral and so much life! Big schools of fish, at one pointI was part of a bait ball, so amazing! It was fish soup and I was in heaven. Then if that wasn't enough, here come the turtles who could care less that we were there and snapping photos and videos within inches of them. And the walls were equally beautiful, so much to look at eels peering out from their homes, lionfish where they are supposed to be, cleaner shrimp, nudibranchs, frog fish and so much more. Soft corals, hard corals, gorgonian fans, truly a diver's paradise at least this diver's idea of paradise, anyway. This experience was repeated throughout the week, there just wasn't a "bad" dive site. So many fish and such healthy reefs and absolutely beautiful topography ...sigh.
For one of the afternoon dives we used reef hooks and it wasmy first rodeo what an experience. I've dealt with currents but I wasn't understanding the concept and it didn't help that my hook wasn't cooperating; every few minutes I'd come unhooked and Whoa!Nelly! It was an experience that I wasn't really looking forward to repeating the only thing that made it worth the stress and nearly a full tank of air were the sharks playing in the same current. It did make me feel a little better that they seemed just as surprised at the fast flow they'd get to the corner and whoosh get swept back a few yards. I'm sure this was play time for them, but nonetheless, it kept me amused.
Tuesday Nice morning and afternoon dives and then the big event, the Manta Ray Night Dive! When the boat was anchored, the crew turned on a big, bright light on the back of the boat and set up lawn chairs which had some people thinking that we weren't going to get in the water, but no, it was for the pre-dive manta show. As if on cue, the Mantas came up to the back of the boat and started their barrel rolls and fly-bys just to give everyone a taste of what was to come after dinner. Surprisingly, people claimed they weren't really hungry and were ready to just dive patience my friends so, dinner it was and then an enthused group jumped in the water in buddy-pairs, were guided to the "stage" and then the show began! I have been treated to Manta Night dives in Hawaii on several occasions so I knew what to expect but it's still a thrill to have them so close and coming directly at you when they adjust ever so slightly so that you aren't touched. The only trace of their presence is the rush of water/pressure that you feel as they "fly" over your head. Even when they cruise directly in front of you, perpendicular to your body and their wings are coming directly at your head, a slight tilt of the wing tip and swoosh, there it goes, no harm, no foul. Breathtaking. Many of the divers had not had this experience before and were left in awe wondering just how we could ever top this. Ah but we did .
Wednesday Manta Ray cleaning stations were on the itinerary for the day because we just didn't get enough last night. We headed out to a known cleaning station,but the Mantas were apparently sleeping in. After fifteen minutes or so of no activity, we headed out for a regular dive. Back to the boat, breakfast and then off to Moofushi Rock another known cleaning station and we weren't disappointed this time! A flurry of activity announced the presence of three mantas circling overhead. We took our places and the show began, well at least for some ofus. I was behind a wall of blue-striped snappers that would shift positions to block my view as soon as the mantas came anywhere near me. It was pretty comical,really. After a while, I gave up and started to look around at everything but them and the mantas little eel that was awfully close to me, and a bunch of little fishes checking me out, etc. Back to the boat and lunch and then we returned to Moofushi where I was treatedto the best seat in the house! I guess a little pouting from the first dive paid off. Fourth dive was a night dive that I wish we could have done earlier inthe day just because the area looked good at night but it would have beenanother amazing wall dive with a table coral safety stop. Dinner that night was a beach BBQ served on our own private island. Decorations for the evening included whaleshark sand sculptures so that we could definitely say we saw a whaleshark, regardless of how the next day would turn out when we went in search of them.
Thursday Hammerhead morning dive zilch. But spotted eagle rays on the way back to the reef and then lots of white tips and octopus and schools of fish over the reef. Then it was off in search of a whaleshark YEEHAW! But don't get our hopes up because we had a 50/50 chance. They don't always see them, but they do try and will cruise for quite awhile to make sure they don't miss an opportunity. Well, we set off with expectations on simmer but excitement on high; about ten minutes in WHALESHARK! And not just one, but FOUR!
The plan was to take eight snorkelers out at a time, drop them off and keep making drops until everyone was ready to stop with the snorkeling and start diving. What a hoot! Dropped in a hundred yards in front of the big guy, swim like a madwoman for a few minutes trying to keep up with a whaleshark that was barely moving his tail, but what a thrill. It was my first time to see a whaleshark up close and in person, such a priceless memory. After a few more jumps in and out of the little skiff everyone was pretty done and ready to dive. As luck would have it, we didn't scare them off and were able to dive with one for a few minutes before he was out of sight. As we continued the dive another came along from the other direction, what a treat! Surely this was going to be the highlight of the trip and wouldn't be surpassed, right? Nope but first,another reef hook dive.
This time I was prepared and rocked it. Placement is everything, both where the hook is set and viewing spot. White tips and greys just a few feet away and playing in the current, even got to see one have some lunch! After twenty minutes or so, we unhooked and went flying! Woohoo! When we finally got away from the strongest flow, we did our safety stop among some great topography and saw eels, lobster, schools of batfish, and a huge Napoleon Wrasse.
Friday We started out the day with two more lovely morning dives with walls and swimthroughs with nudibranchs and the most amazing and beautiful anemones of all different colors, soft corals and safety stops above plate coral where turtles were happily feeding and lazing about. Back to the boat, lunch and another reef hook dive in a channel where, again, the white tips did not disappoint. Then it was time for dinner and our final night dive briefing where we were told we would be using reef hooks on a night dive? You gotta be kidding. Well, it wasn't because the current would be rippin', it was to keep us in place to watch the action. Oh and what action there was!
We were taken to the end of a hotel dock where they used to do shark feedings and apparently the nurse sharks have long memories because they keep coming back for more. So, there we were in our familiar circle of divers now hooked in the rocks to watch large, 8-10 foot nurse sharks and rays that were easily 3-4 feet across and amber jacks that would have fed a family swimming around us, I swear I could see the nurse sharks sniffing the ground like puppies, looking for food. While our dive masters didn't feed them, I found out later that what they were doing when they entered the "arena" was putting fish blood on the rock where the action was taking place. It was amazing. As I was hooked in, the current and surge (not much but hey, it's the ocean, water moves) kept me swaying and occasionally I would bump into what I thought was the diver next to me until I looked over and a shark was swimming between us SO COOL!! The rays would get into the action,too. One of the large rays would swim up the rock where I was hooked and skim along until he ran into my line and then rub up against it, trying to figure out what the heck was in his way, give up and swirl around, rubbing up against me LOVED IT! He felt like velvet I could have done this dive for days, just keep throwing me tanks. Finally, we were instructed to begin our safety stop at the next level and there were more sharks and rays there as well, so the entertainment continued.
Saturday and our last day on the boat, nobody wanted to getin the water as it would signal the end of our trip. After the second dive, many of our groupclimbed up on top of the dhoni and cannonballed into the ocean as a fondfarewell. Playing like a bunch of kids,dive masters, crew all the divers, what a great memory and a fun way to end whatwas an absolutely spectacular trip.
If you are still reading, sorry for the lengthy report, itwas just so good it's hard to give you a Reader's Digest version. All I can say is I would do it again in aheartbeat, the only thing I would change is to make sure it's 10-days insteadof just seven.
Thanks Kamala for allyour help in making this happen.