Tag Archives: Ryan

Ryan and Theresa in the shadow of the Pitons, diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

ADVANCED OPEN WATER SCUBA CERTIFICATION – by Ryan

For my birthday, my parents gave me a certificate to get PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certified with Dive St. Lucia. To get Advanced Open Water Diver certified you first need to complete the online, or in classroom, training and then pass the final exam. Next, you have to successfully complete five (5) “adventure dives,” two (2) of which are mandatory. The mandatory dives are “Deep Dive” and “Underwater Navigation.” For our optional dives, we chose “Wreck Diving,”  “Peak Performance Buoyancy” and “Underwater Photography.” Throughout the course, my mom was my diving “buddy.” We dove twice a day, three days in row, to complete the 5 adventure dives, plus one bonus “fun dive.” Our very competent and knowledgeable instructor for the course was Wendy.Theresa, Wendy (dive instructor) & Ryan in front of the Pitons, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Theresa, Wendy (dive instructor) & Ryan in front of the Pitons, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

DAY ONE – DEEP DIVE & UNDERWATER NAVIGATION

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

We arrived at Dive St. Lucia at 8:15 a.m. and picked out and prepared the gear we would use for the course. At 9:00 a.m. the dive boat shoved off and headed south towards the Pitons. It took us about an hour to get down to Marigot Bay where we picked up more divers.

Wendy then went over the dive plan for our first dive and we geared up. The first dive site was called “Superman’s Flight,” because of the strong current, and was located  below the St. Lucia’s famed Gros Piton.Gros Piton, St. Lucia

Gros Piton, St. Lucia

Superman’s Flight was our Deep Dive. For the Deep Dive, you have to dive down 60-100 feet below the surface. Since I was only twelve at the time, our deep dive was limited to only 70 feet (you have to be 14 to dive down to 100 feet). Our dive instructor brought an egg down with us and cracked it 70 feet below the surface to show us the effect that pressure has that deep. (Click photo below to see what happens to an egg when you crack it 70 feet under water.)

The yolk and the fluid surrounding it stayed in tact. It kind of resembled a ping pong ball. After ascending approximately 10 feet, to 60 feet, due to decreased pressure, the yolk started to fall apart. That was my science class for the day. Afterwards, we drifted along the colorful reef in a super man pose. As the current pulled us along we saw tons of cool coral and sea life. After 40 minutes, and a three minute safety stop at 15 feet, we concluded the dive. The dive boat came over and picked us up for lunch.Marty and Suzanne (M/V Alizann) enjoying lunch lunch between dives in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Friends, Captains Marty and Suzanne (M/V Alizann), enjoying lunch lunch between dives in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan getting ready to dive in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan getting ready to dive in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

After lunch we traveled north to the next dive site “Fantasia.” On that dive we had to complete our mandatory Underwater Navigation skills. Wendy gave us compasses and briefed us on the drills we would be required to do under the water. After gearing up we took a giant stride into the water and descended. The first drill was measuring how many kick cycles it took Mom and I to go 100 feet (horizontally). Next we had to go 30 kick cycles on one compass heading then return to the same spot on the reciprocal heading. Once we both completed that we had to go 30 kick cycles in a different direction and use natural navigation to get back. Wendy told us not to use fish, crabs, etc. (or anything else that moves)  as markers to help us navigate back.Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Finally, we had to navigate a square. To navigate a square we had to go ten kick cycles in one direction, then, using our compasses, turn 90 degrees right. After two more 90 degree turns we ended up back where we initially started.Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

After completing all of the “hard work” we enjoyed diving the reef in Fantasia. Like most Caribbean dives, the dive was colorful and full of sea life.

DAY 2 – FUN DIVE & PEAK PERFORMANCE BUOYANCY (PBB)

Since we already had all our gear set up from the day before, on day 2 we arrived at Dive St. Lucia later than the day before. For our third dive, Dive St. Lucia Capt. Dwight escorted us to Turtle Reef and Anse Conchon South, down by the Pitons.Theresa, Dive St. Lucia Capt. Dwight & Ryan (Jan. 2018)Theresa, Dive St. Lucia Capt. Dwight & Ryan (Jan. 2018)

On the boat we learned that we would have another diver joining us for the day – Alfie – who was on vacation from England. Ryan, Theresa & fellow diver Alfie getting ready to dive Turtle Reef in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Ryan, Theresa & fellow diver Alfie getting ready to dive Turtle Reef in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

We picked up more divers and snorkelers in Marigot Bay, again, then continued heading South until we got to Turtle Reef. Our first dive was our fun dive so we did not have any skills to perform. We descended 60 feet and then started out over the reef. Strangely enough, that was the second time I went to Turtle Reef and did not see any turtles.

Turtle Reef in St. Lucia

Turtle Reef in St. Lucia

I did see moray eels, fish and a lot of colorful coral. I just did not see a turtle. For now, I will just have to take it at the word of the person who named the reef that there are turtles there. Wendy pointed out all of the cool creatures we might have missed otherwise. Along a wall on the dive in a little crack I saw a huge lion fish, which was the biggest one any of us had ever seen. We also saw large crabs and even a octopus.

Like day one, the boat picked us up and we had a great lunch.  We then traveled North to our second dive site “Anse Cochon South.” Our fourth dive was our Peak Performance Buoyancy or “PPB.” Some of our cruising friends said that PPB was the most beneficial of all the adventure dives because it teaches you how to best maintain neutral buoyancy. After completing the dive, I agree.

DAY 3 – WRECK DIVING & UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY

Out of all three days, day three was probably the best. We started heading South from Rodney Bay around 9:00 a.m., and like every other day, we picked people up in Marigot Bay. Our first dive site was the Lesleen M. Wreck. The Lesleen M. was purposely sunk in 1985 to create an artificial reef. We descended 60 feet and started the dive at the bow of the wreck. On the wreck dive we brought the cameras we would be using for our underwater photography dive and got pictures and videos of the wreck. Inside the cracks and portholes of the wreck there was sealife and creatures like moray eels. We swam towards the stern (back) and saw the prop and rudder. There were sea spiders and lots of coral encrusting the wreck. After circling the entire wreck we ascended to the top deck (of the wreck) and swam above it. We could see the part of the wreck that was damaged by Hurricane Irma. Due to the damage we were not able to penetrate the wreck. We were underwater for 60 minute on our first dive before ascending to the surface. (Click photo below for video and photos of the Lesleen M wreck and Anse Conchon dives.)

Lesley M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan photographing the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan photographing the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 feet below sea level (Jan. 2018)

The bridge of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

The bridge of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ryan exploring the rudder of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan exploring the rudder of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia, 65 feet below sea level (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia - 65 ft below sea level looking up (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 ft below sea level looking up (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia - 65 ft below sea level - looking towards the bow (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 ft below sea level – looking towards the bow (Jan. 2018)

Ryan diving the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia - 65 ft below sea level (Jan. 2018)

Ryan diving the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 ft below sea level (Jan. 2018)

After lunch, the boat dropped us off at Anse Cochon South. The skill we practiced on our second dive of the day was underwater photography and videography. There was lots of cool sea life to take pictures of along the reef. While taking pictures on top of the reef, sometimes moray eels would go right underneath us. We used the neutral buoyancy skills that we learned in PPB  to get up close and steady to our “subjects.” Photography was definitely one of my favorites (out of five the dives) because it memorialized and allowed us to share our dive experiences. After 45 minutes, and a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet, we ascended as newly PADI advanced certified divers! The boat picked us up and we traveled back to the dive shop.

Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Sea Urchins & Tubular Coral, Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Sea Urchins & Tubular Coral, Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Out of all the PADI specialty courses I would recommend the PPB as the most beneficial and Wreck/Photography as the most fun. I think the Advanced Open Water Diver certification course helped us a lot as divers and certainly expanded our horizons in the world of PADI.

Patton, Loblolly Beach, Anegada, BVI

Happy 15th Birthday Patton! – by Randy

imageYesterday was a pretty important day aboard the Pilots’ Discretion. Patton, our intrepid, world traveling Cocker Spaniel turned fifteen (15) years old. Way back when we initially left the comfort zone of our home marina in Tarpon Springs, Florida (2 and 1/2 years ago) we had some concerns with how well our then 12 year old buddy would adapt to a life at sea. Our concerns were completely unfounded. Patton is the first one up every morning and the last one to turn in each night after surveying the boat to assure himself that the entire crew is accounted for.Patton Kindle

Patton crew

Patton crew

He loves excursions in the dinghy and he has his favorite spot picked out under the Captain’s helm chair for long passages.

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Randy & Patton in front of Tthe Indians, B.V.I.

Randy & Patton in front of the Indians, B.V.I.

The story would not be complete without acknowledging there have been some concessions made due to the decision to cruise with Patton. We do not patronize places along the way that are not dog friendly. We have on rare occasions had more difficulty clearing immigration as a result of declaring Patton as part of our crew but all in all, he has been a very positive addition to our crew and we would not consider having it any other way.

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

 

For those of you following our blog who are not dog people, I am sure you just scratch your head when you see me acting like a very proud papa when talking about Patton. To the dog people following us, I know that I need to say no more.

Happy birthday Patton, the crew of the Pilots’ Discretion loves you❤️

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

 

Ronan at the helm, BVIs

Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills: Part 2 – by Theresa

Last year while cruising around the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), we spent a significant amount of time developing and honing the boys’ maritime skills. (April 17, 2015 post, “Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills”.)  The BVIs is an excellent cruising location to advance one’s mariner skills as all but one of the islands are within eyesight of one another. It was here that Ryan and Ronan mastered picking up mooring balls, keeping their dock lines neat and how to safely maneuver the 25 hp dinghy.

Wow, what a difference a year makes! With each passing day, the boys have been devouring their marine environment, learning about all of the various systems on board. While they are still adept at previously learned skills, they are now more interested in how to run “the big boat.”

They are planning routes and plotting courses between the islands. They navigate the vector (digitally created layered charts) and raster (scanned paper charts) charts with ease and are more familiar with the Rules of Navigation and crossings than some of the adult boaters that we have encountered.

Ryan & Randy changing the oil in the generator

Ryan & Randy changing the oil in the generator

When not running the boat, they are often tinkering about in the engine room helping Randy with some boat project or another. After taking on fuel they are responsible for managing and running the fuel polishing system. They also help with basic maintenance projects such as changing the generator oil and filter, changing the water maker filters, and washing down the boat after a day at sea.

As our world revolves around the weather, monitoring sea and wind conditions has become routine for us all. While the Caribbean is mostly sunny, every good mariner has foul weather gear close at hand.

On sunnier days, the boys get a charge watching our battery voltage increase from our solar panels. They understand how the solar power is harnessed and distributed throughout the boat. They also now wholly understand the mechanics of the patent pending solar powered picnic table catamaran in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.

Ryan and Ronan routinely monitor the VHF radio and listen to transmissions between the Coast Guard and vessels in distress. They know that having capable crew on deck is important to running the boat safely and efficiently. Having witnessed other vessels in distress only heightens their safety awareness. Nobody ever wants to return to the dock like the boat we saw being towed in on air bags in Nanny Cay!

This is not how any boater wants to return to the dock

This is not how any boater wants to return to the dock

As the saying goes, “all work and no  play makes Jack a dull boy.” Hence, as we have been cruising around the BVIs, honing the boys’ mariner skills, the boys have also been honing their having fun skills. They have reconnected with friends met during our previous stay in the BVIs, as well as having made some new ones.

R&R, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

R&R, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (2016)

Soccer at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI

Soccer at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Sidney’s Peace & Love, Jost Van Dyke, (2016)

Ryan Village Cay, Tortola, BVI

Ryan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Ronan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI

Ronan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Ronan on the rope swing, Nanny Cay, BVI

Ronan on the rope swing, Nanny Cay, BVI (2016)

We have thoroughly enjoyed cruising the British Virgin Islands, and are grateful, once again, for the maritime lesson opportunities they have provided for the boys. Alas, weather, time and immigration restrictions have us pressing on. We have discussed our go forward cruising plans and have decided that at the next appropriate weather window we will be continuing our Caribbean journey heading south towards Grenada where we will ride out the next hurricane season. Our next port will be in St. Martin where we will post additional updates.

Belmont Estate 17th Century Historic Working Plantation, Grenada – by Ronan

Two weeks ago our boat neighbors on “M/V Seamantha” invited us to go to the Belmont Estate. The Belmont Estate is a 17th century historic working plantation. We took a taxi to Belmont Estate. When we got there our tour guide showed us a table full of local fruits. He told us which ones you could eat and which ones were poisonous.

Ronan with Cocoa Pod

Ronan with Cocoa Pod

After he was done talking about the fruits, we went out into the cocoa fields. My brother Ryan got to pick a cocoa pod right off the tree and I got to smash it on a rock to open it. The tour guide told us we could suck on a cocoa bean but we couldn’t swallow it. Our guide also told us it taste like Skittles or Starburst. I don’t like Skittles or Starburst but I tried it anyway. I didn’t like it at all.

After the fields we went to the place where they used to dry the cocoa beans in the sun. Now they dry the beans inside shelter because then they dry better and don’t get wet in the rain. We got to try nibs which are small bits of dried cocoa beans that have no sugar added, just 100 percent cocoa. It might sound good but in my opinion it was bad and bitter.

Next we went back to where we started the tour and got to sample chocolate that was 60 and 70 percent cocoa! That was a lot better than the nibs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the chocolate tasting we went to the Belmont Estate restaurant for lunch. The food was great! After lunch we followed our guide and he showed us a talking parrot that sang happy birthday and asked for crackers.

Then we went to the dairy farm and fed goats leaves. We also discovered that goats have horizontal pupils.

Ryan and I got to feed monkeys bananas after we fed the goats. The monkeys weren’t hungry and only took one banana.

The monkeys made weird noises at Patton and they were not very fond of him Next we checked out a couple gift shops. We had a very great time at the Belmont Estate, I hope we can come back soon.

 

Ryan docking the dinghy

Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills – by Theresa

It has been truly amazing watching the boys develop and hone their mariner skills, and what better place than the BVIs to sharpen their mooring abilities. In the British Virgin Islands, many, if not most bays have mooring balls as the preferred method of securing your boat. Capturing a mooring ball and securing a 50′ boat to it require close coordination between the helmsman and the deck crew. Since we have been in the BVIs for over  a month now the boys have become quite proficient at line handling and getting us on and off the moorings.

They are equally adept tying up in the marinas. Both boys have become fastidious about keeping their lines neat on the docks!

They are developing great situational awareness driving the dinghy and glide into the dock with ease.

It is all hands on deck at all times and we are fortunate to have such willing and capable crew.

We have thoroughly enjoyed cruising the British Virgin Islands, and are grateful for the maritime lesson opportunities they have provided for the boys.  Alas, weather, time and immigration restrictions have us pressing on. At the next appropriate weather window we will be continuing our Caribbean journey and heading on to St. Martin where we will post additional updates.