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Do you hear what they hear?

As humans, we rely heavily on our five senses – hearing, touch, smell, taste, and above all sight. Ours is a primarily visual world; light, dark, colors, words, signals, faces… all of this input informs every moment of our day. Language is how we communicate but sight is how we remember each moment and experience our world.

How far can sound travel in the ocean?It’s very different underwater. One of my favorite things to do underwater is close my eyes and listen to the snaps, crackles, groans, and pops of all the creatures chattering back and forth. Underwater, hearing is like sight on the surface. Visibility though the water on a good day is 150 feet – for us and for the animals that live underwater. So although many underwater creatures have great eyesight, mainly they rely on sound. Sound is their sight, how they sense the world, how they communicate, how they get information about their environment. Water is a bafflingly efficient conductor of sound; some of these sound signals can even travel thousands of miles underwater, delivering important signals across vast oceans.

In the middle of the 20th century, sound levels in the ocean began to change. Major shipping of goods began to spur ship movement around the globe. Companies began exploring the ocean floor for resources and mapping. Ship traffic, seismic exploration, and sonar noises began to ramp up the volume in the world’s oceans.

Imagine you are going about your business all day with a persistent flashing light or large visual disturbance, and you have no way to get away from it. All this sound causes a cacophony of noise in the ocean, disturbing navigation patterns of social animals, and causing mass strandings and disrupting their natural behaviors, even going so far as to cause bleeding in the ears of marine mammals that rely on their hearing for coordination of movement with their pod to feed or migrate. This can lead to elevated stress level in animals which can affect no only their movements, but their reproductive patterns (who wants to breed when their stressed out?), and feeding behavior (stress can cause loss of appetite in most species). This is what it is to live in the ocean now, in the age of 60,000 container ships motoring across the water at any given moment, seismic explosions that reflect loud noises off the seafloor searching for oil and gas deposits, and naval vessels deploying sonar to detect targets even when no threat is imminent.

The good news is that noise pollution isn’t like other pollutions. Once the noise stops, it’s gone. There is no filtration that needs to happen, no lingering after-affects, no cleanups, no oil booms, nothing. And reduction in noise has already been shown to lower stress levels in certain species of whales. A long-term study of east coast Right Whale stress hormones revealed that in the days following the 9/11 attacks when many non-essential marine traffic was halted security measures, stress hormones in these whales dropped significantly. Why? Because the noise level dropped for a few days. Once the travel ban was lifted, stress levels returned to normal.

Great, another one of those massive problems that need fixing, what can I do? Lots, actually. Simple things like buying products made locally that don’t need to be shipped overseas. If you own a boat, keep the hull and propeller clean and your engine space well insulated, as well as travel at efficient speeds that will both limit fuel consumption and reduce propeller cavitation noise and turn off your depth sounder when you don’t need it. More broadly, encourage ship building companies to design quieter engines and hulls, as well as ask shipping companies to follow lower speed limits to reduce engine noise in less efficient vessels. Contact your congressperson to ask them to propose or support legislation to reduce off-shore drilling and exploration, and encourage more responsible actions from oil and gas companies. Encourage the use of passive sonar monitoring in place of active sonar testing and promote the development and use of potentially less disruptive marine vibroseis to replace seismic seafloor mapping and exploration where appropriate.

Most importantly, educate yourself and others about this problem that many are still unaware of. The most important thing you can do is spread the word. (Be sure to listen to the clips in each of the ocean noise examples to get a taste of what the underwater world can sound like every day to some animals). And remember, no one in the ocean is deaf or silent. Many marine species are blind by design, but not one entity cannot hear the symphony of sounds that we – as a species on this shared planet – create.

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See us in Undercurrent Magazine this Month!

We’re excited to see Juliet, Taino Divers, and Mona Island featured on the cover of March 2016’s Undercurrent Magazine. Thanks to Mike for traveling with us and such a honest and wonderful write up.

View the first page of the review! (Subscribers to Undercurrent can see the full review).

Quick note: We don’t take credit for calling Mona the Galapagos of the Caribbean, that’s all Puerto Rico’s doing! It probably has more to do with above water than under water.

We’ll be returning to Mona Island March 2017 if you’re interested in joining us then!

 

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The benefits of diving Nitrox

Liveaboard diving boat dive deck

Nitrox is quickly becoming an essential addition to your basic SCUBA certification. And its easy to see why. Diving with Enriched Air, or Nitrox as it is commonly referred to, allows you to stay underwater longer at depth – and that’s the whole reason we’re diving, right? To be underwater. Anything that allows us to safely stay below the surface for a few extra blissful minutes is well worth the investment.

It is especially worth it on a liveaboard, where your dive profiles can be a little more complex than when diving off a day boat. On Juliet, we offer 4 dives per day – 3 day dives and one night dive. Our dive profiles can look something like this:

Dive Time on Air* Time on Nitrox* 32%
Dive 1, 8:30am: 100′ dive at Bimini Barge 20 min 30 min
Dive 2, 11:30am: 80′ dive at Tuna Alley 22 min 35min
Dive 3, 2:30pm: 50′ dive at Miami Rita 67 min 2 hrs +
Dive 4, 7:00pm: 50′ night dive at Miami Rita 63 min 2 hrs +

*using PADI Air and EAN32 tables

As you can see, especially after the second dive, the benefits of using nitrox are dramatic. Then take into account the money you’ve spent not only on your vacation, but your gear, your training so far… why wouldn’t you want to double your time underwater? That is why you got certified, after all!

Even if you aren’t interested in extending your bottom time, don’t forget about the extra margin of safety allotted by breathing a gas that has less nitrogen in it, nitrogen being the inert gas in air that is responsible for most decompression illness. To breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you’re protecting yourself that much more. And most divers report that they feel less tired after a dive on Nitrox versus a dive on air due to the added oxygen in the air you are breathing. After 3-4 dives on a liveaboard vacation, that extra energy is pretty nice.

If you’re not Nitrox certified but want to know more about it, you can try Nitrox diving for free – our experienced instructors will explain the benefits of Nitrox, walk you through the very simple steps of checking your tank’s contents and planning a dive with Nitrox. And when you see the value in it, we can certify you on board!

Unlimited Nitrox (EAN32) fills: $100 (7-day) $80 (5-day) $150 (10-day). Proper certification required
Nitrox certification course: $250 (includes unlimited Nitrox fills, add $50 for 10-day)

Juliet Sailing and Diving also offers rebreather support (oxygen available by request, O2 booster system). Please contact the office well before your trip to inform us of your needs.

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Timshel to Cuba and the Panama Canal

Greetings from the Virgin Islands! Juliet has been exploring the gorgeous US and British VIs over the past few weeks and taking advantage of some truly stellar weather to treat recent passengers to a preview of St. Croix where we’ll be based next winter. The feedback from guests and our reception at the island have been incredible and we can’t wait to spend our 2016-17 winter season exploring the water around this friendly and stunningly picturesque island. See our facebook page for some teaser photos!

Juliet heads back to the Bahamas at the end of the month (there is still room on the Repositioning trip if you’re interested!) and our Spring is filling up. See the bottom of this newsletter for updated availability this spring and summer.

We’re also excited to announce an update from John on his Timshel Sailing project and her transit through the Panama Canal as well as an exciting opportunity in Cuba this Spring!

I am pleased to announce two very exciting events! The dates for the Panama Canal transit on Timshel are set. Before that adventure though, we are going to Cuba! Timshel has made her first leg of the journey from Miami to Key West, and all systems checked out well. We have had to push back the timeline from our original plan but are scheduling the Panama Canal trip for May 1-7, 2016. There is more work to be done onboard to make Timshel more comfortable for the trip, but the critical mechanical systems are in place and tested.

Wait, did somebody say Cuba? I received a call from my friend  Joe Weatherby today.  Joe is the man principally responsible for the sinking of the Vandenberg artificial reef in Key West. He and his company are fully permitted to bring boats to Cuba in a cultural exchange program. He invited Timshel to participate in a regatta of schooners that will travel from Key West to Havana March 29-April 2. Check out their website at http://www.havanachallenge.com/  We will travel in a flotilla across the Gulfstream to Havana Harbor where we will take part in a boat parade. Then we will tie up at Hemmingway Marina and spend a few days exploring Havana, smoking cigars and drinking Mojitos! From Havana we will set sail for Isla Mujeres in Mexico. Join us for that trip and stay a few days to dive the Cenotes or possibly fly out of Cuba. I need to find out the exact itinerary and travel parameters that are allowed, but will pass that information on to anyone who is interested. I do know that everyone will be required to have a passport with at least 6 months remaining before its expiration and at least two blank pages. We will need to submit information for everyone about a month ahead of time.

The Panama Canal transit will be a 7-day event. The transit itself can be done in one or two days, but  it is impossible to schedule in advance.  We need to allow enough time to make sure that we can go through during the allotted time. Once the vessel is inspected and our paperwork is complete, we have to wait for the Transit Authority to notify us of our transit time. This can happen right away or can take a few days. The following will be our schedule:

Sunday May 1st: Board Timshel any time at Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side of the Canal Zone. The website for the marina is
Book your flights in and out of Panama City (airport code PTY). From the airport in Panama City, you can take a taxi or shuttle to the marina. We will get everyone settled in and brief you on the boat and the schedule.
Monday May 2nd: Our paperwork will be submitted by this point with a request to transit as soon as possible starting the morning of the 3rd. Monday will be devoted to an educational tour to prepare you for the transit. The Panama Canal has an incredible history, and being familiar with that history will greatly enrich the experience. We will charter a van to take everyone into Casco Viejo, Panama City to visit the Panama Canal Museum. After our visit to the museum, we will visit the viewing station at Miraflores Locks. At this stop we will learn more about the canal history and get to watch a ship transiting the locks. From there we head back to Timshel.
Tuesday-Friday: At this point our schedule will need to be flexible. We will transit at some point but do not know exactly when. While we wait there are options for excursions and activities, or just hang out by the pool at the marina. Once we transit, we will tie up to a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club in Panama City on the Pacific side. There is a free 24-hour water taxi service that can take us to and from the dock. Again there are activities and excursions that we can take advantage of here. If we make it through the canal in time, we may be able to take Timshel out to some of the nearby islands for some sightseeing.
Saturday May 7th: Disembark Timshel at your convenience and head to the airport.

What to expect onboard:
Timshel is an unfinished boat. You will see a lot of painted steel and bare plywood! The mechanical systems are installed. We have two marine toilets, one shower with hot and cold water, a basic galley and most importantly air conditioning! We will have the bunks built out with mattresses and bedding, but it is rustic! Expect a twin sized mattress and not a lot of privacy. There are lights and 110 volt electrical receptacles spaced throughout the boat, so you can charge your cell phone. Some of the bunks will have individual lights but probably not all of them, so bringing a personal headlamp is not a bad idea.

Because the galley is small and unfinished, we will not be able to provide full meal service throughout your stay. We will provide a basic breakfast and lunch onboard but dinners will not be provided other than the evening of our canal transit. The marinas have restaurants, or you can head into town for dinner. Snacks and drinks will be available onboard.

These two excursions will be our first major fundraisers to help cover the cost of getting Timshel to the San Francisco Bay Area. We are asking for a suggested $2000 tax deductable donation to Timshel Sailing Expeditions to reserve a spot on either of these fun and informal bucket list experiences! We can accommodate 12 passengers on each of these trips. Our website is www.sailtimshel.org if you would like more information on this 501.c.3 non-profit corporation. We look forward to having you aboard!

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New roles, new, boats, but the same faces!

Dear Friends of Juliet,

We have some exciting news for all of you. After thirteen wonderful years owning and operating Juliet Sailing and Diving, I will be stepping away from the helm. Many of you have gotten to know Liza Hash over the past few years. At the end of 2015 she will be taking over as the owner of Juliet. Liza has been onboard for over three years and has always treated Juliet as if she were her own. She has the skill sets and work ethic to run Juliet successfully and loves being onboard. As many of you know, I have been gradually stepping away from the day to day operations and have been allowing others to step into that role. Juliet and you, the Juliet family, deserve an owner that will be onboard the majority of the time as I was in the past. There is no substitute in this business for an owner that is onboard the vessel, and I truly believe that Liza is the right person to carry on that torch. The business was never put up for sale. The decision to make this transition is based purely upon Liza earning this opportunity. I hope that you share my excitement for Liza and support her as I will.

I take great pride in having restored Juliet from a neglected state 13 years ago and giving her new life as a charter boat. I take greater pride in contributing to the creation of a community as positive and caring as the one we now share. I cannot express how grateful I am for your support and encouragement over the years. Juliet is more than a boat to me. She is an entity that has touched many lives in special ways. She represents principles such as family, community and home (even if for just one week a year). I look forward to remaining a part of the Juliet family albeit in a different role. I will still come out to run trips now and then and will be supporting Liza in any way possible behind the scenes.

One of the more fulfilling aspects of running Juliet has been the ability to share my love for the water and the marine environment. One of my goals is to be able to share that passion with people who cannot afford or could never dream of being on a sailboat out on the ocean. Along those lines, some associates and I have formed a California non-profit to take underprivileged and at risk youth sailing in the San Francisco Bay. We will be teaching them how to sail and hopefully inspiring them with the beauty and majesty of the ocean. We have an 85’ sailboat in Miami called Timshel that we are rebuilding for this purpose. We hope to have Timshel ready to travel soon and will be sailing her out to California where we will complete her restoration. Our 501.c.3 status has been approved by the IRS to receive tax deductible contributions and we have launched a website www.sailtimshel.org.

Our first fundraising event will be a memorable one. We will be offering spaces onboard Timshel for the Panama Canal transit in early 2016! The exact timing and details are yet to be determined. We will post those details on our website and send another email out to everyone soon if you are interested in joining us on this adventure. Thank you again for your support, and we hope to see you soon out on the water!

Fair Winds and Following Seas,
Captain John Beltramo

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Creatures galore in September!

Rumor has it passengers were treated to sightings of Sperm Whales, hammerheads, and loads of turtles last week. I haven’t received any pictures yet to share with you but as soon as I do I’ll let you know!

The water was flat flat flat! All week. So much so that they got down to not only Do It Again, but as far as OMG. That means, in short, it was an awesome week. 4 Dives at Long Bow, two drifts at Lost Medallion – just hitting the cream of the crop and it sounded amazing. Not to mention a wonderful group of divers on board to appreciate all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer in those untouched areas of the Bahamas that Juliet frequents.

Pictures and more updates soon!

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June Update and Trip Reports

Happy Summer everyone – our favorite season in the Bahamas. The water is calm and warm, and out at sea the air temp is comfortable even at night. We’re looking forward to long nights of star-gazing on watches, meteor showers, beautiful dives, and visiting with friends – old and new, aquatic and terrestrial.

We’ve had some great megafauna viewings this past month with a hammerhead sighting on Tuna Alley towards the end of May, the usual frisky sharks down south of Orange Cay trying to steal our Lionfish, and the crew and passengers were treated to 2 hours worth of dolphin watching and swimming at Orange Cay Trench this month! Here’s hoping for more of the same for the rest of the summer.

For those of you who have yet to get on board to see the new renovations for yourself, we’ve put together a video of the cabin layouts so you can better see the way the ship is laid out and what the new ensuite cabins look like. See the video walk-through here:

This summer is fully booked and we’re already looking ahead to next year, hoping to mix things up a little in 2016. We have a few unique opportunities to spend the fall and winter holidays on board with us in 2015/16, and some trips designed to get you home in time to celebrate! See our Upcoming Availability below or just shoot us an email!

Until next month!
Fair Winds and Following Seas,
Kat
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Turks and Caicos Season report

Juliet is wrapping up her season in Turks and Caicos and has had an amazing month so far. We kicked off the January trips by sharing a night dive with a whale shark, and the next week the whale mammals started showing up – both above and below water. Check out the videos our crew and passengers took of these amazing events.

Night dive with a Whale shark
Selfie with a Humbpack Whale!


In a few weeks we’ll be saying goodbye to Turks and Caicos and heading back to Miami on our 11-day Repositioning trip through the Bahamas. We’re excited to visit Hogsty Reef again, and the walls we discovered off of Crooked Island last year (where we saw a pair of humpbacks on their way home too!), not to mention the gorgeous dives of Conception Island. We’ll dive the Exumas, Eleuthera, Nassau, the Berries, Bimini and Cat Cay before returning to Miami on March 10th to start our Bahamas season again.
There’s still plenty of room on our Spring trips out of Miami to the Bahamas if February has got you down – almost 100″ of snow in MA, not enough for the Iditarod in AK, and it’s 60 in CO, what is going on? At least it’s always sunny and beautiful in the Bahamas!

Until next month!

Fair Winds and Following Seas,
Kat

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Preliminary Images of the Renovations!

The refit is almost done! Here are some preliminary pictures of the Aft Ensuite Cabin. PLEASE NOTE: the wall coverings are not in place yet and will be finished when the boat is back in Miami.

Aft Ensuite
Aft Ensuite entrance door

Ensuite private head and shower

Ensuite cabin with top bunk folded up

Ensuite cabin with top bunk folded up

Another new addition – Main Salon cubbies!

An finally, the on-deck head!

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Repositioning trip report

On February 22, 12 adventurous Belgians boarded Juliet for an amazing diving trip through the Bahamas to head back to Miami. The weather report was calling for some not-so-nice weather later in the week so we booked it to Hogsty reef to get the cruise going – the boat needed to be in a very particular part of the Bahamas for the strong north winds that were predicted and we had some ground to cover to get there in time.

Hogsty reef did not disappoint with it’s dramatic walls and healthy reef systems. We gathered some lionfish, took it all in, and said goodbye to Hogsty until next year, as we continued to head north to safe waters. The short-term forecast was absolutely gorgeous and we were all loving it, though the threat of bad weather ahead loomed over us.

Next stop: Crooked Island, the newest addition to the Repositioning itinerary. The walls up north by Bird Island were chock full of life, and as we were hauling anchor from the second dive, Kat started screaming incoherently and pointing wildly as two humpback whales were headed straight for the boat. The next surface interval was spent – you guessed it! – whale watching, as we carefully followed these giant creatures towards the north as they started their long journey back home to their feeding grounds in New England and Canada.

trevor dolphin Conception Island held some amazing surprises as well. At the end of the first dive, one of the Belgian passengers started yelling in Flemish about something the crew couldn’t really understand, save for the lucky coincidence that the Flemish word for “dolphin” sounds just like the English word – and there she was, a solitary bottlenose dolphin, just hanging out, swimming among the divers at the surface. Divers got out, took off their scuba gear, and got back in for over 45 minutes to play with this curious creature. She even followed us to the next dive site and continued to entertain us! Later in the afternoon, a second dolphin arrived, played for a few minutes, and then the two of them took off. We felt a little used, but were very glad for the incredible day spent with this beautiful creature!

Kat had been raving about Jake’s Blue Hole since the beginning of the trip, and Liza couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about. We arrived at Eleuthera early on the 26th and Liza and Trevor went for an exploratory dive. Jake’s is a premature blue hole, that’s really just a crack in the ocean floor at only 25′ down, but it must open up to somewhere since the tide flows through there very strongly. We could see the boil on the surface of the tide flowing out of the hole, and when you tried to dive down into it, it would only spit you back out again. Better than being sucked in! The surrounding coral reef was absolutely gorgeous as usual, and the passengers were happy to have found their first nudibranchs and lots of gorgeous sea life. We took the rest of the morning off from diving to go fishing across the Exuma sound, and even hooked a few fish, though we weren’t able to land them. The rest of the day was spent diving the walls off the Exumas and chatting with old friends on the radio from Blackbeards and other dive boats. It was good to hear some familiar voices – and to get an updated weather report. It sounded like the forecast had completely changed and we were stuck with this beautiful weather until the end of the trip!

The next day, we dove out front of the Exumas again and then headed across the Yellow Bank towards Nassau. The water was glass as we pulled up to Periwinkle reef for the afternoon and night dive, where more nudibranchs were found. The plan was to dive the Blue hole in the morning, and then a wreck dive out front before heading into Atlantis for some waterslides and gambling! Mother Nature, however, had other plans.

Kat awoke to a leaky captain’s quarters hatch dripping on her head at 5am and the sound of hard rain. It was still dark out, and hard to see what was going on, other than it was wet. The radar didn’t seem to indicate a squall, this was a pretty big rain cloud by the looks of it. As it got lighter, the winds picked up and it was obvious this wasn’t just a passing storm. Winds were hard out of the north, and even though we were anchored in 20 feet of water, the seas were beginning to build. By 6am almost everyone was away as the boat got a little rocky and the passengers were a little excited by the change in weather. Liza and Kat estimated the winds were pushing 30kts and warned the passengers to be careful out on deck. Turns out the initial forecast wasn’t so wrong after all!

anchor waves

*Cue dramatic music*

A loud bang sent Kat and Liza and the rest of the crew out on deck to see what was going on. Nothing obvious had fallen or was out of place, but then another bang. The bow was getting buried under waves while we were at anchor and the chain was jumping out of the windlass! Next thing we knew, the entire chain paid out and we were adrift in 5′ seas and next to no visibility! Rusty started cursing as breakfast went all over the galley and the boat turned broadside to the wind and waves while Kat tried to muscle Juliet back into the weather and Trevor marked where the anchor was lost on the GPS. The next few hours were spent pacing back and forth in the shallow but still wickedly rough water south of Nassau waiting for the seas to calm down enough to recover the anchor. Ground tackle (anchor and chain) on a boat is arguably as important – if not more so – than the engine itself. If we couldn’t recover the anchor, we’d have to head back to Miami.

By 9:30 the seas had laid down enough to put Trevor in the water to look for the anchor, and within 45 minutes he found it, and it was back on board by 11. Somehow we even managed to get a dive in at the Blue hole, and went around to Atlantis for the afternoon, where Kat took a nice long nap to calm her nerves and the rest of the crew blew off some steam on the waterslides with the passengers.

A dive at the famed James Bond Wrecks and a hooked (but not landed!) Marlin later, we were in the Berry Islands and less than 100 miles from our old stomping grounds. We headed to Cat Cay and Bimini to dive Nodules, Bull Run, Tuna Alley and the rest of the amazing dive sites over there before we finished out what some of the crew is calling the best repositioning trip yet in Miami, right on schedule. Thanks to De Buddys dive group and all the crew and Juliet herself for an amazing trip!

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