Sunday, 18 November 2012

......... to another. St. Lucia.

The beautiful Marigot Bay
Warm seas

After coming back home from Skye with a husband whose grin was like the Cheshire cat's, we had a quick zoom to rinse and dry all our kit, then get the next load of bags ready for our proper summer holidays (even though it's October). We're off  to somewhere just as wet, but considerably warmer - St Lucia!
We were greeted at Pomme D'Amour with sunshine , warmth  and a delicious Rum Punch- ahhh bliss!
Whilst we were in St Lucia, we had decided to try to go for our PADI open water certificate. I've done plenty snorkeling before, but only once trying scuba, but I've always fancied doing more, this seemed the perfect location. We picked up our manuals and spent a couple of days pouring through wheens of information, breaking it up with swims down in the bay and more rum punches.
It wasn't as warm in Skye!
Wonderfully clear

On the Tuesday, we had our first dive, normally in the confines of a swimming pool, but here we were in a shallow bay.  After getting some basic instructions it was time to head back to the dive boat for lunch, then after lunch back in for a dive along the reef. It was wonderful managing to swim so deep in only a costume - unlike the week before, swimming in Kylerhea, thermals, drysuits, a hat!
One of the things I had to get used to was buoyancy and the weights I needed. I had a 16lb weight belt on (would have been more if I had a wetsuit on! , Hubby dear only had 12lb) I struggled to wobble around the deck, but underwater, it was as if it wasn't there. We had to do various exercises quite deep down and despite me dumping air from my BCD, I still floated to the surface, I even had Hubby dear dangling on my fins to pull me back down! This would give him the chance to go on about how I'm full of hot air! He about got a slap round the chops with a wet fish and what a selection of fish I had! We saw all sorts, all colours, Trumpet, Butterfly, Parrot, Trunk, Drumfish and a surprising amount of Moray eels. I felt quite a sense of achievement when our instructor Andre, pointed to the depth gauge and shook my hand, we'd made it down to 35'.  Next day we were down in the bay snorkeling, reading and generally taking it easy before making our daily jaunt down to a rather delumptious ice cream shop in Marigot Bay. You know sharks can sense blood from afar, I can sense icecream from a greater distance!
One of the many Morays
Cuttle Scuttle

 We should have had our second days dive on the Thursday, but the seas had picked up, stirring up the sand, meaning visibility wasn't great. We found out this was the start of a "tropical wave". The next few days were spent doing various "touristy" things. St Lucia is covered in rainforest, so naturally you would expect rain. When it rains, it really rains - but it's lovely and warm. We visited the botanical gardens and Diamond waterfalls in Soufriere where the rain came down in sheets, but once you are soaked to the skin, you can't get any wetter! We lunched at Ladera, between the Pitons, except we couldn't see the tops, but still a stunning setting. We went to Fish Fry day in Anse la Raye, where the locals come out and cook all sorts of fish, served up with extremely potent spiced rum all accompanied by music.
Slightly soaked
6" moth
The seas were settling again. The tropical wave had moved on, turning into Hurricane Raphael. There were still some weather systems to be watched further away which eventually turned into superstorm Sandy.
We had our next dive booked for the Tuesday. Off we went for more instructions in the shallows, removing masks, sharing air, rescues, back to the boat for lunch before diving along another ledge. At this point, I'm still struggling to get my breathing right before going deep, but I know once I'm down the breathing is so much easier, which is just as well as we managed down to 60'. The visibility was amazing. I only wish we had a camera that could go that deep, the pressure would kill our cameras. All our underwater photos are from our snorkeling trips. Andre put a little sea slug on my hand which almost turned over to get it's tummy tickled - fantastic!
That evening, after our dive, we had our written part of our certificate to complete, all our reading had paid off well.


Me under Latille  Falls
Piton Falls
Our next dive was arranged for Thursday. We met up with everyone again. Hubbydear and I still had a bit of underwater navigation to finish off which didn't take long to do. We then joined the other qualified divers  to finish the morning dive reaching 70' this time. After lunch was our last dive. I managed down quite quickly this time. The first fish we spotted on our descent was a well camouflaged scorpion fish, not the prettiest fish in the sea! Our next fish was a black lion fish, another fish to be very wary of! After that, I managed to dump air successfully staying on the bottom instead of  shooting out of the water like a jet propelled rocket, I feel as though I'm really getting the hang of this.The one fish the other divers were really keen to see was a seahorse. I'm pleased at seeing anything and was delighted to see a tiny pipefish, a member of the seahorse family. Our other sightings were more Moray eels, Damsels, spiney lobsters, flounders, soldierfish along with masses of Sergeant Majors, colourful anenomes and corals of all sorts of shapes and colours.
A successfull ascent with emergency stop finished off a fabulous last dive of our holidays.
Hubby dear working hard at chilling
Our last day was spent snorkelling, eating ice cream and gazing up at the coconut palms for the last time.

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