News

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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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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