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Friday, 22 February 2013

Rum, sodomy and the lash

Ok, contrary to what the title suggests, there was plenty of the first but none of the second or third, thankfully! This blog entry will be a little on the light side as I don't want to give too much away of my experiences as my latest article is on it's way to Diver mag for publication, so short(ish) and sweet is order of the day.

We had a great week motoring around Belize and made some nice new friends as well. The viz at this time of the year is not fantastic due to amount of plankton bloom but we new that before the trip. 

But what you lose in viz you make up for with a greater chance in seeing the bigger stuff. Sharks and rays where on the agenda and although not present in massive numbers there more than enough encounters and sightings to keep us entertained and on our toes. 

I did spot one hammerhead but it was a good 20m plus below me to get a shot and given I had the wide angle on, it would have been pointless but I saw one and that made the trip for me. There were a good few black and white tips as well as reef sharks about though, so no complaints there with the odd sightings of stingrays, dolphins, eagle rays and turtles.
A local passes by
Diving is probably on par with what we have on the island with the exception of the Blue Hole of course. But I'm sure given time, the Cayman Islands government will find a way to dig themselves into their own deep hole, yet again, but I digress. 
A stalactite, hanging around in the Blue Hole
Of course the one thing they have in Belize that you can't get here are nudis. Oh, how I have missed my nudis. I wouldn't say Belize is overflowing with them, but they have a damn sight more than here, that's for sure and it was an utter joy to be nudibranch hunting again, ably assisted by Chris, who had a keen eye for spotting the ridiculously small stuff.
A juvenile purple ring nudi poses for the camera
Night dives proved to be the highlight of the trip for me personally as the plethora of small stuff that was out and about was akin to being a kid in a candy store, with something new to spot every few minutes.
Big nudi, little nudi
Roaming octopus, foraging morays, sleeping parrotfish, scuttling king crabs and lazy lobsters were just some of the many things on display at night. Of course another reason for night diving is to be able to get a mug of hot chocolate laced with rum when you get back on the boat. A good way to end the day, liquid chocolate and booze!
A slender juvenile filefish out on the prowl
We had an opportunity to go ashore and visit Half Moon Caye Island mid week to stretch our legs and visit the bird sanctuary which proved a nice diversion from a rolling dive deck. With picturesque scenery and an interesting visitors centre, it certainly killed a couple of hours.
A toad fish in the hole
We also had a spate of inexplicable floods aboard the boat but this was confined to several cameras and strobes and no the boat itself thankfully.  Empathy was the order of the day after seeing camera kit corroded into a salty mess. 

It's never a nice thing to witness and your always glad it's not your rig. On a positive note, you'd then have a perfectly acceptable excuse to go out and spend huge amounts of money on a nice shiny new rig.
"Roll out the barrel (sponge)!"
With a visit to Altun Ha Mayan ruins on our return to dry land on Friday, it was an excellent way to round of the weeks adventures and excitement.  
"Look ma! Top of the world!"
 The Belize Aggressor was a well run and well organised boat and as good as any other liveaboard I've been on if not better than most. Cabins however are not the biggest in the world, especiall if you have two tall people staying in them.However the quality of food, vast amount of deck space and facilities available more than make up for this minor issue.
More deck space than you can shake a stick at
If you live on this side of the world, then the Belize Aggressor is certainly worthy of your time although coming from the UK or other parts of Europe, etc. it's a long way to go for diving of which you can get the same quality of in the Red Sea or Sudan but that's just my opinion and it's a decision that you'd need to make for yourself. Either way, Belize is a great place for some top diving and should be somewhere on your list of places to dive.
Juvenile arrow blenny makes an appearance