I’ve been back now for a few days, and am slowly settling back into normal life. But I had such a good time on the trip, I keep casting my mind back to it.
The diving was great. The water was a little murkier than usual, but that’s only in comparison to its usual clarity–by New England standards, it was still awesome. I don’t recall seeing baitballs before this trip, and I saw three of them.
I’m wondering if the boat dives are worth the schedule constraints they place on your day, though. The shore diving is so good, you can see a lot of the same stuff from the shore that you can see from the boat, the one obvious exception being Rappel. When you have a boat dive, you have to be at the dock at a certain time. With shore dives, there’s more flexibility.
My one big regret is not doing Karpata on Tuesday. It’s a site I’ve been wanting to get back to since 2004, but because I was scheduled for Dee Scarr at 2, I felt I would have been cutting things too close. It’s really a marginal call, and I’m not sure I made the right decision. The group ended up getting back by 1:30, which would have been tight, but doable. I thought it would have been later.
I was very obviously overweighted the whole trip. Because I was using 18lbs last trip, and have put on weight (fat) since then, that’s where I started, and by Tuesday, it was very obvious I was carrying too much lead. Because of the way the schedule worked out, I wasn’t able to trade down until Wednesday afternoon, when I dropped two pounds. I was still overweighted, but by the time I realized that it was really too late.
I’m glad I kept this blog during this trip, even though it cost me a little over an hour a day. I kept a blog in 2010 also (though not on this site), and in 2004 created a site shortly after the trip. By contrast, I didn’t do anything like that in 2006, and that trip is a lot less distinct in my mind. I would recommend to anyone that they keep some sort of record of their trip, even if it doesn’t wind up on the web. I don’t have any illusions that many people were reading this; but I’ll be able to re-read these posts in a couple of years and remember.
For this trip, I bought a new camera, a Canon G12, and I’d also gotten a new strobe last summer to replace one I’d flooded. I’m happy to report, that first of all, camera and strobe both survived the trip. Perhaps I transferred my bad luck; both Paul and Jack flooded cameras. I did find out about an additional cause of flooding, at least for polycarbonate housings–if left in the sun, they can get hot, then when they hit the water, they shrink abruptly and can leak.
Overall, I’m happy with the combination. The strobe covers well, and I got a sense fairly early on how much to adjust the power output or ISO to get decent exposure. I did have some issues with the strobe not firing; I suspect a lot had to do with the sync knob getting out of position. The camera still has some shutter lag issues, but not as bad as its predecessor.
I’m still seeing a lot of fish tails in my pictures. Also, I distinctly remember taking lots of pictures of sponges and corals because I thought they were interesting shapes. It turns out, not so much. Also, I thought I was shooting RAW, but wasn’t, so things aren’t as adjustable as I thought they were. I’ll post more pictures once I have then properly adjusted.
One thing I did right was to assemble the entire system before the trip and figure out the correct basic settings, and figure out where the controls I would mostly be using were located. Henri was having trouble with her strobe all week, thinking it was an aiming problem, when actually the sync setting for the strobe was incorrect. We didn’t discover that until Thursday night. Personally, I think the instructor for her class should have spotted this, but he didn’t.
The other thing I sometimes did right was to recognize when I wouldn’t be able make a satisfactory picture with the gear I had, lower the camera, and simply enjoy what I was seeing.
On the Surface
I greatly enjoyed the drives we took around the island. The northern end is very scenic; it it was good to get out of the resort and look around. I think I could easily spend a day just driving around and taking pictures.
On the flight down, we flew just to the east of the Florida coast, and was able to recognize and take a picture of Launch Complex 39
I picked up a neck wallet before the trip. It worked out great–I didn’t have to worry about documents falling out of my pockets when I took something out of them.
One thing I’d do differently is mark my bags better. The big LL Bean bag with my gear was pretty recognizable, but the small suitcase with my clothes was hard to spot. In Atlanta, I saw one set of luggage with dog paws painted all over it. That was a little over the top, but the basic idea was good.
Paths Not Taken
One of the problems with this trip is that there is so much to do and not enough time to do it in. Things I’d like to have done but didn’t find the time for were a dawn dive, a walk through Kralendijk, Lac Bay, Karpata, a look at the Eastern shore, and more non-resort shore diving. One of these years I’d like to be able to afford to come for two weeks and do more.