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June Trip Reports

Mother Nature has taken us on a bit of a roller coaster ride this June. But we’re along for the ride either way!

[image size=”one-half” alt=”calm seas Bahamas” align=”left” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/calm-seas-and-paddleboarding.jpg[/image] Despite having two named storms before the official June 1 opening of hurricane season, our first two trips in June were uneventful weather-wise. In fact, for most of the trips we barely had a stitch of wind! Our first week was a group of divers from all over, some from Arizona, others from right here in Florida, even one diver from China. Despite not knowing eachother when they boarded, everyone left with more friends than they came with and had a beautiful trip. We were able to sail (or motor rather since there was no wind!) down to the eastern edge of the Santaren channel and dive some of the most pristine dive sites in the Bahamas – Long Bow, Lost Medallion, Freedom Reef, among others.

Week two brought another hodgepodge of divers – this time from Boston, Chicago, North Carolina, Colorado, and Indiana. We were also lucky enough to have a couple of musicians on board who treated us to some songs on surface intervals, even a few sea shanties! Again, we were treated to some beautiful glassy seas, though we were able to sail one day towards the beginning of the week. The divers enjoyed some of the dive sites so much they wouldn’t let the crew leave – we stayed for an extra dawn dive on Long Bow because we couldn’t get enough of it. The lionfish count was definitely respectable at 159 and although the captain and one of the passengers got stung accidentally, they managed to exact their revenge by devouring their adversaries in a taco.

Divers on both trips were also treated to the newest addition to the fleet, a hybrid paddle-yak – a stand-up paddleboard (or SUP) that converts into a kayak. There was much taunting and laughing as folks tried to balance on the board and paddle laps around the boat, and the consensus was it is a great addition to Juliet.

The good weather continued through the next few weeks, delighting a group of families on board for a yearly scout trip, as well as the beginning of the next trip where we welcomed back the divers and staff of Open Water Adventures. But the weather started to turn a little at the end of the month, chasing Juliet back to Miami a day early on one trip, and all out cancelling the next with no thanks to Tropical Storm Debby! Hurricane season is indeed upon us – don’t forget your trip insurance!

Fortunately next week is looking fantastic – the calm AFTER the storm, apparently. Maybe that will be it for the year and we’ll be treated to flat calm seas for the rest of the summer. That’s why summer is our favorite season on Juliet – the water is warm, and the weather is beautiful as long as there are no hurricanes in the area.

Fingers crossed for the rest of the season!

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New Lionfish T-shirts are in!

We’re in the process of redesigning our line of T-shirts (stay tuned for previews of the new design) and during one of the brain-storming sessions we came up with a great design for a Lionfish T-shirt. You can now buy these shirts on-board but with one prerequisite…

[image size=”two-third” title=”Lionfish Tshirt” align=”left” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/lionfish-tshirt.jpg[/image]You must have killed a lionfish with your bare hands! 

Ok, maybe with a spear and not your bare hands as they are quite toxic, the point is these T-shirts are only available if you are in fact a Lionfish Slayer and killed that Lionfish while on board Juliet. There is a limited amount available right now so be sure to book your trip and secure your trophy shirt!

 

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Gun Cay Bahamas, Honeymoon Harbor

Spring in the Bahamas

It’s been a beautiful return to our home port of Miami this Spring, so much so that it’s hard to believe it’s actually Spring in Florida! Typically Spring tends to be a little peckish, performing the “In like a Lion, out like a Lamb” routine with a few last ditch efforts at windy winter weather before the summer calm. Water temps are usually a bit on the chilly side (low 70s) and because of that March tends to be a little slow…

[image size=”two-third” title=”Bahamas weather” alt=”Bahamas Weather” align=”left” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/glass-seas-in-march.jpg[/image] Not this year! Water temps have been in the mid- to high-70s (78 last reported!) and visibility and weather have been  stellar! Last week our divemaster Trevor took this picture from the deck of Juliet. What a week! The group got all the way down to Orange Cay for some stellar pristine diving and managed to slaughter 101 lionfish in 4 days! Congratulations!

Thursday the group ended up paying for all the beautiful weather and spent the day barbecuing and relaxing behind Gun Cay (featured above) after a beautiful week of flat seas and light wind, the wind came up out of the southwest which made diving very unpleasant out front. Divers chowed down on their kills of the week garnished with a little perfectly grilled steak and headed back home under full sail.

We’ve still got some Spring availability – I think the weather is just going to get better and better!

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“Ocean Frontiers”

[blockquote source=”Ambrose Bierce”]Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man — who has no gills.[/blockquote]

We take pride in not only taking people diving in the beautiful waters of the Bahamas and Florida Keys, but also in raising awareness while we do it, encouraging good diving etiquette, educating passengers on what they’re seeing underwater, and most of all why that awareness is so important. We’d like to believe that we are raising awareness with every trip, ingraining in 12 people a week the idea that the ocean is a limited resource, deserves more respect than it receives, and that even only 12 people at a time, we can make a difference.

Bearing that in mind, we are thrilled to be able to provide you with a private screening of “Ocean Frontiers: The Dawn of a New Era of Ocean Stewardship” during your stay on board Juliet. Highlighting ocean conservation success stories from Oregon, the Florida Keys, Stellwagen Bank, and the Gulf of Mexico, Ocean Frontiers takes us on a journey around the country and addresses the problems – and solutions – of ecosystem based management in a passionate, gripping film. You’ll hear how Boston’s commercial shipping lanes were moved to help protect marine mammals, about Iowa farmers making huge efforts to ensure their crop run-off doesn’t create major dead-zones in the Gulf of Mexico, and the success story that we know now as the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. “Ocean Frontiers takes a balanced, bipartisan approach to both the problems we face in managing our oceans and the solutions at hand.”

Ask a crew member how you can view Ocean Frontiers on your next trip aboard Juliet.

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Winter 2013 in the Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos is well-known for its beautiful diving – walls, reefs, sharks, spotted eagle rays, incredible coral health and marine diversity! So its no wonder it is always a stop on our winter itineraries. We can’t resist.

We love it so much we’re going to stay there all winter next year!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving Juliet will leave Miami and head down to the Turks and Caicos by way of the Bahamas on her bi-annual “Repositioning Trip.” The first charters will begin on December 8 and run through the end of February. The Turks and Caicos is well known for its dramatic wall dives, most starting at 40-60′ (12-18m) and dropping into the abyss. We usually start diving at West Caicos you can expect to see Caribbean Reef Sharks on most dives, as well as squadrons of Spotted Eagle Rays cruising just off the wall, and a couple of pretty friendly grouper. The back reef has beautiful towers of pillar coral and stingrays hiding in the sand. The night dives are chock full of diversity – keep your eyes peeled for strange looking viper moray eels and other crazy critters.

[image size=”one-half” alt=”Safety stops” align=”right” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/horse-eyed-jacks.jpg[/image] French Cay, found less that 20 miles southeast of West Caicos has some of the most spectacular diving in the area. The back reef is loaded with macro life, we’ll usually stay and dive these sites at least two times – once for a venture out to the wall and once to explore the reef under the boat. The walls here drop at sharp right angles, the world literally falling out from under you suddenly, and are completely vertical, covered in beautiful deep water sea fans and colorful sponges. Bring a flashlight even during the day for the reef under the boat – harlequin pipe fish hide in the coral along with many different species of shrimp and tiny fish! And you won’t be alone on your safety stop, even with your buddy with you – you’ll be surrounded by schools of Horse-eyed Jacks!

We’ll also venture up to Northwest Point off of Providenciales for some more wall dives and a chance to see the Thunderdome, a unique and packed artificial reef dive, the original site of a French Game show – think Fear Factor meets water olympics. After one-too-many people got decompression sickness from the mermaids (you’ll have to ask our divemaster to explain that one!) the game show was shut down but the structure remains, a caged dome that has since toppled over, but now serves as hiding places for grunts, grouper, snapper, lobster and thousands of secretary blennies!

[image size=”two-third” title=”Whale watching” caption=”Image courtesy of Matt St. John” alt=”whale watching” align=”left” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/humpback-whale-breaching.jpg[/image] Take a minute and hold your breath (I know, first rule of scuba diving, but just for a second!) and listen closely on any of these wall dives of French Cay, West Caicos, or Provo and see if you can hear the humpback whale song. It sounds like a low moan, and some high pitched pops. Listen for yourself!

Even farther south and east is West Sand Spit, a tiny spit of sand only visible at low tide, surrounded by a beautiful sloping coral reef. Hawksbill turtles and reef sharks abound. We’re pretty sure we’re the only boat that dives here – and we have no idea why, its absolutely stunning!

Around to the east we may travel to Grand Turk to see some different walls, and even down to Salt Cay. But we typically like to hang out on the other side, unless we’re not having much luck whale watching and then we may go on an adventure.

We’ll be Repositioning the boat the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 2012. That trip is already sold out, by the way, but you can come adventuring with us on the way back – once we decided when that is! I know I wouldn’t mind staying there all year – but would definitely miss the Bahamas.

Charters in Turks and Caicos will leave from and return to Providenciales – plan to fly into Provo airport (code PLS) to meet the boat. We board at noon on Saturday and return to the anchorage on Friday morning for disembarkation at 9am. Flights after noon on Friday are usually ok. If you find flight schedules are requiring an overnight stay in Turks and Caicos we recommend the Turtle Cove Inn or Comfort Suites. See our Welcome Letter for additional information.

Plan your vacation now!

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Diving Divas Trip Report

Debi Moir decided she knew enough women scuba divers and thought what better place to gather a group together than Juliet, her favorite liveaboard. The group all came together, four Divas are from Minnesota, four from Virginia, three from Florida, and one from Georgia.  A few were previous passengers on Juliet, and one was almost a new diver!

Many of the group wondered how to recognize the others and this was simplified by a canvas bag with the Diva Logo generously given to the group by Carol Cox and held up much like the limo drivers do at airports – so the first 10 piled into a taxi to make their way to the Windward Passage Hotel.  Two divas got there after a roundabout trip from Richmond to Charlotte to Orlando to Miami to St. Thomas, without luggage.  But the next day, Captain Rudy was very calm and accommodating and said Juliet could go and do a couple of dives around St. Thomas and come back for the luggage. Eventually, everyone was assembled, luggage and all, and the fun began!

During the trip, several exciting things happened.  Judy Zier, the newest diver, found a seahorse on the pier at Frederickstaad, and completed her 20th dive.  She and Terri Schultz were also the divas of most night dives.  Leslie Layton completed her 50th dive, and Terri Schultz very quietly finished her 150th dive.  The Divas dove around St. Thomas, St. Croix and the BVIs, braving some unpredictable weather but enjoying the adventure.

Jess, the marine biologist, found a second seahorse on a wreck that was named Diva 2.  The Divas dove that wreck and three others at the same site twice in order to see that seahorse and were able to also see a couple of eagle rays.

The divas enjoyed many meals on the lily pad replacement, presentations by Jess, and of course, excellent service from all the crew: Capt Rudy, Divemaster/artist Trevor, Cook Will, assistant Hillary and where would anyone be on Juliet without Jimmy, the engineer?

Other creatures included turtles, a few sharks in the distance, and of course, numerous species of fish.  Unfortunately we also saw lionfish, but not on every dive.  The dive to the RMS Rhone was absolutely spectacular, super viz, no current and just the divas.

Thursday night some paid a visit to Foxy’s, some stayed on Juliet for a private party, enjoying fabulous drinks mixed by Will.

There is definitely another diva trip in the future!

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What happened to the Lily Pad? Wait, what exactly is a Lily Pad?

[image size=”one-half” alt=”Lily Pad” align=”right” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/relax-diving.jpg[/image]If you’ve been out on Juliet even once, you know we’ve got some unique names for some of the areas on the boat. Boats in general have a language unto themselves – front is forward, back is aft, right and left don’t exist as they normally would, and don’t even think about calling that line a rope! – so this is not surprising, but new passengers might find themselves extra confused when asked to “Meet on the Lily Pad” upon boarding.

Huh? Where?

The Lily Pad was the forward hatch (that’s the one towards the pointy end) that was covered in a weather-proof forest green cushion and shaped resembling a Lily Pad in a pond. It was a comfy gather place, an area where impromptu afternoon naps would often happen, a congregation for dive briefings – but a very difficult place to eat dinner under the stars!

[image size=”one-half” caption=”The New “Lily Pad”” alt=”Outdoor dining” align=”left” fancy=”true” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/outdoor-seating.jpg[/image] As much as we will miss her, the Lily Pad has been replaced by a beautiful polished aluminum table with seating for eight. Three charter’s worth of people have had the pleasure of being able to enjoy the new addition and so far the feedback is very positive. Moonlight dining, square-ish table discussions, a perfect place to set up your camera when the main salon is being used for other things like games of “Vampire.”

And to those of you who are concerned about losing your nap-space, don’t worry. Once the boat returns to Miami in March we are going to turn “The Beach” into a big huge foam pit! Ok, not really, but we will be adding lots of comfy cushions for lounging elsewhere.

What do you think? We still haven’t come up with a clever name for it yet but we definitely think its a great addition!

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New Years Eve in the Virgin Islands

The crew and passengers on board Juliet rang in the New Year in style while cruising around the Virgin Islands this year. Open Water Adventures joined us for some diving, exploring, and beautiful weather down south and had a picture-perfect trip!

Starting off the week around St. Thomas, the divers were treated to some of the spectacular wrecks the islands has to offer – including the WIT Shoal and WIT Concrete. Turtles, Eagle Rays and octopus were among the usual suspects. One of the divers even hit dive #100 – and after being certified for only 10 months! Someone has been busy…!

Heading over to the BVIs, we of course made a stop at the Wreck of the RMS Rhone, which is not to be missed if you’re ever in the area! A 310′ iron-hulled royal mail steam packet, the RMS Rhone was built in London in 1865 to carry freight from England to the Caribbean and Central America. Powered by both steam and sail, she was a sturdy ship who proved her worth over the mere 2 years she was in service.

[image size=”one-half” caption=” ” title=”Rhone BVIs diving” alt=”Rhone BVIs diving” align=”left” fancy=”false” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/rms-rhone-bvis.jpg[/image]In October, 1867 the Rhone pulled into Great Harbor with the RMS Conway to refuel. While there, the captains worriedly watched the barometer fall but didn’t think anything of a hurricane as it was thought that hurricane season was over. What took them by surprise was considered a category 3 hurricane, whose first half caused their anchors to drag and worried the captains that they might run up on Peter’s Islands. During the calm of the storm (the eye) the captains chose to transfer all passengers to the “unsinkable” Rhone and haul anchor – the Rhone to head for open sea, and the Conway to take a chance and head for the shelter of Road Harbor. Passengers were tied into their bunks as was standard procedure, to prevent any injuries during heavy seas.

The Rhone’s anchor caught and had to be cut loose in order for the ship to head out and quickly headed for the narrow passage between Salt Island and Dead Chest Island. The captain gave the shoal between a wide berth and as the ship began passing through the passage, the second half of the hurricane struck with winds coming out of the exact opposite direction as expected, throwing the Rhone against the point of Salt Island. The ship split in half and the cold water from the ocean rushed inside the ship, hitting the boilers that were running at full speed, and causing them to explode.

The ship went down in 80′ of water at the bow and 30′ at the stern, the masts sticking out of the water. There were only 23 survivors of the 146 on board, most of the bodies buried at a cemetery on Salt Island. The Rhone is now regarded as one of the best dive sites in the world, teaming with fish and encrusted with 150 years of coral.

[image size=”two-third” caption=” ” title=”Virgin Gorda Baths” alt=”Virgin Gorda Baths” align=”right” fancy=”false” shadow=”true”]https://www.julietsailinganddiving.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/virgin-gorda-baths.jpg[/image]There were plenty of land excursions as well – a stop off at the Baths in Virgin Gorda was a highlight of the trip. The Baths are a collection of boulders concentrated on the southern tip of the island, some of the boulders almost 40′ in length! Thought to be volcanic in origin, these boulders make a beautiful network of tunnels and formation surrounding a beautiful beach where visitors can climb the formations or snorkel around them.

The ship anchored at Jost Van Dyke for New Years Eve and rung in the New Year Caribbean style. They also paid a visit to the famous Willy T’s floating bar where, well, let’s just say what happens in the Virgin Islands stays in the Virgin Islands!

Happy New Years from Juliet!

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