News

Neutral Aluminum 80s – now on board Juliet!

Aluminum Neutral 80s

As an early Christmas present, thanks to a DEMA special, Juliet got herself a new set of tanks. If you’ve been on board in the past few months you might have noticed that the tanks were shinier, and that you surprisingly were able to shed a few pounds off your normal dive weighting. No, it’s not the extra density from Thanksgiving, or that fruit cake you got from Aunt Martha. No, it’s not some special extra gravity in the lower latitudes due to the earth’s rotation. And while I’m sure your scuba skills are improving with every trip you take on Juliet, that’s not the only reason why you seem to be able to dive with less weight on board lately.

Our new tanks are called Neutral 80s and they’re a new concept in tanks. They are made with a little bit of thicker aluminum but have a higher fill pressure (3300 psi instead of 3000) which allows them to behave a little better when they are empty.

I’m sure you’ve noticed at the end of your dive sometimes it feels like you’ve got a balloon strapped to your back. That aluminum tank you are diving with, once you’ve used up (almost) all the air inside of it, is positively buoyant by a little over 3 lbs. When it’s full it’s almost 2 lbs negatively buoyant. So if you were to drop two tanks, by themselves, no gear attached, into the water, the full one would sink to the bottom while the empty one would float at the top. That’s why the balloon-on-your-back feeling, because that’s kind of what’s happening.

XS Scuba Indicator Valve

With the Neutral 80s, when filled they are 5 lbs negative and when empty they are 0.1 lb positive (which is basically neutral). Which means that you can shed about 2 lbs from your normal diving weight since you’re no longer having to overcompensate for the 2 lbs of positive buoyancy with a regular AL 80 tank. Less weight means more streamlined trim, means more comfort in the water, means easier on your knees getting out of the water, means overall added comfort. It’s just two pounds, but over 18 dives each week, it can make a huge difference.

In addition to being neutral, these new tanks are also fitted with new convertible valves that allow for yoke regulators as well as DIN. Each valve has a spin-out insert that converts to a 230 bar DIN outlet to accommodate DIN regulators, and easily convert back to yoke to work with our fill system. These tanks, as always are prepared for our nitrox fills, and have one more feature that makes it easy to use.

The Indicator safety handwheel makes it easy for you, and your divemasters, to tell if your tank is all the way open. The red indicator tells you that the tank is off, or only partially open, while the green indicator only appears when the valve is all the way open. It is always prudent to double check, and we will always check your tank valve before we send you diving, but this feature is an added bonus!

So happy diving next time you’re on board! And let us know what you think of the new tanks!

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Virgin Islands Trip Report

It will be another two years before we return to the Virgin Islands, and though our visit seemed so short this winter, it certainly was sweet!

Charters in St Croix

The first charter was just after Christmas with a group from California on a 9-day trip for New Years. The crew and passengers spent over a week exploring the dives around St. Thomas, including the WIT Shoal,WIT Concrete and Miss Opportunity and some of the beautiful reefs on the surrounding islands. The wrecks around St. Thomas are mostly artificial reefs sunk in 90-100 feet of water very close to Charlotte Amalie. They have been underwater for 20 years or more and are teaming with life!

The British Virgin Islands boast some beautiful reefs and wrecks, as well as some hopping night spots for boaters. We dove some of the beautiful walls on the surrounding islands like Spyglass wall and Ginger Island, as well as the famous wreck of the Rhone! The group spent New Years Eve at Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke, famous for it’s rum drinks and everything that follows them. What happens on Juliet, stays on Juliet! That applies to Foxy’s as well…

Three more charters in January followed, the first a mix of individuals from all over, the second a group of Juliet disciples from Richmond and surrounding areas (yes, even Minnesota is included in that!) one celebrating her 10th trip on board, and one admittedly having lost track (we estimated at almost 20!). And the last St. Thomas charter was a group from PA that has been coming on board since the beginning, the group leaders even were married on Juliet by John himself a few years ago.

 

Juliet-19

Our favorite diving was probably around St Croix, where the walls on the north side of the Island in Cane Bay are rivaled only by Turks and Caicos in their dramatic drop offs and diversity – we were hearing whale song on every dive which made them that much more memorable. And the critter watching is incredible, especially on the famed Fredericksted Pier on the west end of St. Croix. A few divers were down for almost 2 hours spotting everything from frogfish, seahorses, octopus, juvenile trunkfish, and tons of tiny baloonfish! Kat claims she saw 3 octopi on one dive, two even chasing each other around a piling on the pier, but unfortunately had no witnesses…

Juliet, crew and passengers are now on their way to Turks and Caicos, for 2 more charters before the final repositioning trip back to Miami to start the 6 month hiatus so John can have some fun traveling around the Caribbean with his friends and family. Reports are already in that the boat has seen whales off the coast of Puerto Rico so who knows what Turks and Caicos has in store in the coming weeks!

Stay tuned for more updates in February!

 

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Repositioning Trip Report

Juliet left Miami for Turks and Caicos on November 23, 2013 with a boat load of eager passengers and crew. The forecast was mixed, calling for some beautiful weather on day one but then building quickly the next day so we spent the first 2 days diving in the protection of Cat Cay before headed across to Nassau. After saying goodbye to Bull Run, Moxon Rocks, Tuna Alley the crew and passengers hunkered down for the rough ride across the Tongue of the Ocean.

Diving in NassauTongue of the Ocean is where some of shallowest water in the Bahamas meets some of the deepest, and with the winds forecasted it was no surprise that the ride was rolly. Winds were not favorable for holding sails so everyone just powered through. Nassau was a welcome sight on the horizon and the passengers were eager to get in the water at the 3 Wrecks right outside the Nassau Harbor entrance. The night dive had lower visibility than normal at Periwinkle Reef due to the high winds kicking up some sand off the bank, and the same for the Blue Hole in the morning – Trevor and crew had a hard time even finding the Blue Hole itself, never mind the mooring!

Once we hit the Exumas, everything took a turn for the better. The winds died down to a manageable 15-20 knots, and the diving off the east side of the Exumas was spectacular! Great visibility, sharks, lionfish hunting, and gorgeous walls. But another front was hot on our tails so we took advantage of the weather and rode the edge of the front across the Exuma Sound and all the way to Conception Island where we decided to spend all of Thanksgiving!

IMG_3791Conception Island as usual did not disappoint, pristine walls, great protection, wonderful wildlife, and some exciting dinghy rides to the island itself. Rusty made an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings that was enjoyed by all!

The next morning found Juliet on an adventure to a new destination – Crooked Island. John had dove here once 8 years ago and hadn’t had much time to look around so we decided to give it another shot. Trevor jumped in the water just east of the Bird Rock Lighthouse and was impressed with the dramatic profile of the wall and the marine life so we dropped anchor and dove in! The divers agreed that it was well worth diving – and a better place to be than the mall on the day after Thanksgiving, so they all decided to name the dive Black Friday. Another couple hundred yards down the wall to the east, another great spot on the wall was discovered, this one closer to the airport and loaded with every species of Angelfish, so it was dubbed Angel’s Landing. The afternoon was spent lobstering at Coral Columns farther down the island, where dinner was caught, and then consumed!

The weather fairy was on our side for the remainder of the trip, and we spent a day at the isolated Hogsty Reef, 80 miles from anywhere and home to some of the most pristine and dramatic diving in the Bahamas. Here we did some more exploring, named another dive site (Sponge Plunge), and gave thanks for good weather and great diving.

Sunday morning we finally reached our destination and spent the next 2 days diving around West Caicos and French Cay, searching for the elusive Spotted Eagle Ray and being entertained all day on the last day by an early-season humpback whale!

Repositioning mapAll said and done, passengers did 33 dives at 10 different locations and covered 450 miles in 11 days! It was one of the best repositioning trips of recent memory and will be a tough one to top. We’re hoping for a repeat performance in March when we head back to Miami – except without the rough weather at the beginning.

Stay tuned for the next trip report in January from St. Thomas!

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Juliet returning in September 2014!

Dear Friends of Juliet Sailing and Diving,

I have an announcement to make that hopefully will bring some happiness to many of you. As you all know by now, Juliet will be shutting down operations in March 2014 while my friends and family take Juliet on an extended trip around the Caribbean. Many of you have expressed in person and on your critique forms that you would like Juliet to remain in charter service. Your comments and sentiments have been very touching and have been received with much consideration. I am very pleased to say that Juliet will be back at your service starting in September 2014!

As a small business owner, finding a balance between personal life and business can be challenging, especially when the business is 3000 miles away from my home in California! Along those lines, we will be implementing some internal reorganization of Juliet Sailing and Diving that will allow me to fulfill my family obligations in California while keeping Juliet in charter service. My direct involvement in operations will be reduced, but I will remain the primary owner and overseer. We will have a full time operations manager based in Miami to help maintain Juliet and support the crew. I also will be taking on a partner who will be training to run the company and eventually replace me as owner.  Our current and former crew members will be returning to Juliet in the Fall, and will help to preserve the continuity and quality of our service. I feel strongly that the experience that we provide on Juliet will remain as good or better than what you have grown to expect. 

Juliet herself will benefit from her time out of charter service. We have some large projects planned that were not possible to complete while conducting charters.  The most significant change will be in the cabin configuration. Cabins 1 and 2 in the bow of the ship will be converted into the crew’s quarters. Two new cabins will be constructed mid-ship where the current crew’s quarters and dive locker are located and these cabins will have private heads and showers! We will be offering the new en-suite cabins at a somewhat higher rate for those of you that prefer a little more privacy and convenience. We feel that this configuration will allow us to provide the option of more luxury without significantly changing our price structure. A new layout diagram and the adjusted pricing will be featured on our web-site soon. We also plan to install a head on deck which will be located on the stern across from the helm. We feel that having a head on deck will be an appreciated convenience, especially for use just before and after dives.

There are also some immediate improvements you can enjoy if you‘re booked on board this fall and winter before the 6 month break. We are upgrading our ice maker next week to one which will have 5 times the capacity as our current one to better keep up with demand. We have also been replacing and upgrading components of our air conditioning system, which started having trouble keeping up with the hot weather and water temperatures in the Bahamas this past summer. I apologize if your cabin was not as cold as you would prefer recently. Be assured that we have spent a lot of effort and money correcting that situation.

I hope that this announcement finds everyone well. I am excited to keep our Juliet family together. We already have many great memories and our team on Juliet looks forward to creating many more with you in the future!

 

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Captain John Beltramo

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Juliet-themed art and head-gear available online!

Since the announcement in March of Juliet’s retirement we’ve seen an outpouring of support and devotion to the company, people clamoring for the last spots on the boat, and a lot of people looking to have a piece of Juliet and their experiences on board to have with them after March to remember all the good times had on board. Extra pictures, just one more T-shirt, that last hug…

By Leslie Layton
By Leslie Layton

While we can’t give you that never-ending hug to ease the pain, there’s a unique opportunity to have a beautiful piece of artwork, based on a picture taken by one of the crew and painted by one of our own Juliet diver family members, Leslie Layton.

Individually signed 5×7 prints on heavy watercolor paper are available. If interested, you can contact Leslie at lelayton57 at yahoo dot com for more information. Please understand that this posted image has been resized for Facebook. The prints are sharp, color-correct and very close to the original.

 

ScapAlso available online are some pretty stylish neoprene noggin-coverers, called The Scap. Custom embroidered in beautiful navy blue, these are also offered by two of our own Juliet divers who – after being inspired by the Scap that Trevor our divemaster wore on a regular basis – actually bought the Scap company and then surprised us in May with custom Scaps for the entire crew!

If you can’t make it on board before the final trip, these are some pretty unique souvenirs you can get sent straight to your home.

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Travel Insurance for Hurricane Season

Well, its that time of year again. When www.hurricanes.gov becomes my homepage and I wonder what letter of the alphabet we’ll get to this year. And I have to remind all of our passengers to please purchase trip insurance before coming aboard.

[image size=”one-half” align=”left” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/debby-in-bimini.jpg[/image] Hurricanes can delay, interrupt, or completely disrupt travel in and around the Bahamas and Florida. As we cannot control the weather, we cannot issue refunds for something Mother Nature is throwing at us as well! If you are planning to travel on Juliet during hurricane season, make sure your vacation investment is protected.

For only a couple hundred dollars, the peace of mind is worth it!

Agencies that we recommend:

TravelEx Insurance (http://www.travelexinsurance.com/)

Divers Alert Network (https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/trip/)

DiveAssure (http://www.diveassure.com/new/usa/compareTravelPrograms.html)

As always, please contact us with any questions!

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The Future of Juliet: March 2014

Dear Friends of Juliet Sailing and Diving,

Juliet is on her way back to Miami after another successful winter season in the Turks and Caicos. We are looking forward to sailing the Bahamas again this spring and summer, but the anticipation is bittersweet. With a heavy heart I make this announcement. Juliet Sailing and Diving will not be conducting charters after March 4th, 2014. This will be our last year of operation.

The reasons behind this decision are personal. After 16 years in the dive charter business, it is time to move onto the next chapter of my life. It has been an exciting and rewarding career, but as you probably can imagine, the lifestyle requires sacrifices to be made in other aspects of life. Without being directly involved in the operation of Juliet, I can not guarantee the quality of service that you have come to expect from us. I take an immense amount of pride in the reputation that we have established and will not do anything to put that at risk by passing the company on to an outside party.

Along the lines of preserving quality, our team on Juliet should remain intact through the following year. I am very proud to have the individuals working on Juliet as crew members and as friends. They are professional, fun and genuinely care about providing you with a quality vacation. We plan to stay together as a team and family until the last charter has sailed. We will go out at the top of our game!

I also want to express my gratitude to you for your patronage over the years. Juliet Sailing and Diving could not have existed without our loyal and supportive family of customers. Those of you who know me best know that Juliet Sailing and Diving has never been about the money (though operating and maintaining a 104‘ sailboat does require a bit of money!). It has been about creating something special and sharing it with friends. I have always told my crew that we are not just in the dive business. We are in the happiness business. I hope that we have played a part in creating some happiness for you over the years. I would like to think that you came onboard Juliet as a customer and stepped onshore as a friend. It is the friendships that have formed and the smiles on your faces that have made this all worthwhile.

What will become of Juliet? After our last charter, my friends and family will embark on a 3-5 month trip to take Juliet from Miami to the San Francisco Bay, which is where I call home. Assuming that trip goes well, we will begin plans and preparations for a circumnavigation. If you wish to keep up with Juliet’s adventures, we will have something in place to facilitate that. I will provide details when the time approaches.

Thank you again for your support and friendship! We hope to see you aboard over the next year and that you will keep in touch afterwards.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Captain John Beltramo
President
Juliet Sailing and Diving

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Summer Liveaboard Diving

[image size=”two-third” title=”Bahamas Weather” alt=”Diving Bahamas” align=”left” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/gun-cay-bahamas.jpg[/image] Summer is one of our favorite times of year in the Bahamas and it’s quite often that our summers book up a year in advance. That’s why we’re very excited to have 2 weeks come available in July 2013, all cabins are available and we’re going to the Bahamas!

Why is summer so special, you might ask? Isn’t it hot? Aren’t there hurricanes?

Yes, it’s quite hot – on land. But we’re out on a boat, catching the sea breeze, no humidity, no overheated insulation from terra firma. Sure the deck gets kinda hot, but just put some shoes on. And enjoy the shade provided by our custom made tarps as you sit on the deck and read, eat lunch, listen to presentations between dives. Oh right, and then there’s the diving. Water temps in the mid 80s – yep, that’s right, no wetsuit needed!

And the weather, well, yes it is hurricane season from June until December. But really, September and October are the big months for Florida and the Bahamas, when the water has been warm for a while. I’m not saying there absolutely won’t be a hurricane in July, but it’s less likely. I’d still recommend buying trip insurance but that’s true of any trip you take on Juliet, hurricane season or not!

Ask any Floridian when they plan to do their trips to the Bahamas by boat, and they’ll tell you absolutely in the summer. Summer time in the Bahamas is well-known to be calm winds, which allows for calmer crossings, and lets us to stray farther from the shelter of nearby islands and down to the pristine undove areas around the Santaren Channel, one of our favorite dive spots in the world!

So what are you waiting for! This won’t last forever, in fact it’s probably going to go quickly. Call to reserve your spot.

July 13-19 : Miami to Bahamas

July 20-26 : Miami to Bahamas

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Juliet is in Turks and Caicos for the Winter

Happy Holidays everyone, and I know the crew and passengers are excited to be celebrating Christmas on board Juliet this week in the Turks and Caicos. Juliet arrived with a full load of passengers in Providenciales earlier this month after a beautiful repositioning trip through the Bahamas. She’ll be happily diving around Provo, West Caicos, and French Cay mostly for the next few months to return to the Bahamas March 12.

No whales yet, but plenty of beautiful diving, endless visibility, dramatic walls, and fabulous night dives!

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

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