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Looking back at ScubaBoard Invasion 2013

Discussion in 'Invade Bonaire, 2013' started by cardzard, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. cardzard

    cardzard Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: New Port Richey, FL
    ScubaBoard Bonaire Invasion 2013

    As I have said many times it's the people that make any event and Invasion Crew members are the best. This years Invasion was a chance to catch up with some of our very dear friends and make many many new ones. I am sure many other crew members can say the same thing. Bonaire offered crew members the chance to cut loose and dive with their computers as the only real limits. The diving freedom is why Roxanne and I have returned to Bonaire over the years along with the awesome underwater reefs and fish.

    Roxanne and I would also like to thank the FANTASTIC SPONSORS that joined us on site for the entire week. They allowed the crew members to play with all the products they brought. We had Vivid-Pix Pictures on the beach every night on a huge screen with the back drop of the house reef glowing from the Sola Nightsea lights and members recording it with the Mocean Armor housed smartphones. You just had to be there to understand that the fun was only going to a new level at night, no matter if you were underwater or sitting on the beach taking all of it in.. The images that member were showing me were simply fabulous from the reef under Florescent light. When Roxanne I finally made a Flouro dive ourselves I could tell the you the pictures just cannot convey how much stuff glows underwater. Even the sand was alive with creatures you could only see under the florescent light simply incredible. Even I managed to get a few good picture that I will share in the coming days.The clinic/seminars were a wealth of information and the ability to learn how a TRUE pro (KEN) shoots video was just icing on the cake. I only wish I had had more time to spend with all of the experts who shared their knowledge during the clinic.

    We would like to THANK THE ALL THE AWESOME SPONSORS that donated the biggest prizes list so far.
    2013 ScubaBoard Invasion Sponsors

    Crew members won over $10,000 in prizes this year and believe it or not it was ALMOST as much fun giving the stuff away as winning. The underwater scavenger hunt was a big success again this year with Dannybot winning for the second year in a row. He managed to capture 23 out of 30 critters and edge JahJahWarrior with 21 critter to claim first place. Nobody found the Captain Morgan rum bottles this year but it was not for a lack of trying as members were diving day and night looking for them. Vivid-Pix daily photo contest and show on the beach every night was a big hit with crew members and resort guest. Who would not like sitting under the stars on a beach in Bonaire with underwater pictures on a huge screen, music playing in the background and dive stories from the day.
    Roxanne and I have so many memories form Bonaire it would take ScubaBoards LONGEST EVER trip report just to scratch the surface. The week was a HUGE success and We want to thank all who attended, you folks are just the best.

    Now I come to the Part I have struggled with for over the past weeks.

    I want to APOLOGIZE to all the crew members for some of the conditions which were NOT UP TO MY STANDARDS.
    While everyone had a great time it SHOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER.
    The MANAGEMENT of the PLaza Resort were UNWILLING to live up to the commitments they made to bring this event to their resort.
    While the LIMITED staff tried as hard as they could to handle this event, it was obvious they were overwhelmed.
    During the Multiple meetings I had with management they had nothing but excuses and promises which frankly fall far short of the standards I have set for this event.
    I will close by saying THE SCUBABOARD INVASION WILL NEVER return to the Plaza with the current management and that should speak volumes.

    We are already looking forward to the 2014, to say I am excited about where we are going would be a huge understatement.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2013
  2. IGM

    IGM Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: FL
    Well said, conditions could have been a little better in some areas, but we had a blast. Good job Scubaboard!!! Looking forward to the next one.
    cardzard and ROXANNE like this.
  3. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    What an awesome time we had. Thanks to both Dennis, Rox, Elena and all of the ScubaBoardians who made this a wonderful event in spite of the shortcomings! Most of you probably had no clue that there were issues because of the hard work of Dennis and Rox. I can tell you one thing, Scott, the owner of Diver Wire and Dive News Wire, was amazed at how hard these two volunteers worked to make this fun, exciting and relevant. I'm sure he'll be back next year... at least I hope he is! Thanks to Amy, RIck, Ken and Craig who played with us on a professional level. I hope you're there next year too!
  4. JahJahwarrior

    JahJahwarrior Solo Diver Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: West Palm Beach, Fl
    I think the worst part of the event was, no one brought extra hours for the day so we could dive more!

    Part 1: The flight there. We chose DAE airlines due to the low price and what seemed like a minimal fee for extra bags. We panicked when they changed our flights multiple times, and gave us poor excuses in hard to understand english over a very noisy phone. We panicked more when their website rules on bags seemed very complicated. We breathed a huge sigh of relief when they let us through MIA with bags we knew were overweight, and with a personal item they said online and on the phone you could not take, without even blinking. On the plane we got a free meal and amazing on plane service.

    Part 2: Plaza Resort! Our room was recently renovated, and incredibly huge. No clothesline outside...not that I really expected one, but I don't see why any dive resort doesn't have one now. I put one up right away with a reel and 2 trees. Spacious patio, plenty of room for my camera gear which takes up quite a lot of room. The first water out of the faucet was brown, so we didn't drink the tap water even after it cleared up.

    Just wrote your name and drop off location on tanks and they took them there for you. No carts for your gear, and the boat and shore diving and truck parking were all a very long walk, so we bought a gear bag. We ended up with an outdoor shower right outside the room, and all of our gear was left alone on the patio and clothesline all week. We saw lots of rooms being renovated, with an entire block of buildings uninhabited, and the entire resort really needs a fresh coat of paint. Not terrible, but when you walk over the central bridge 10 times a day, and see the same missing boards, it's hard not to comment.

    The food is so easy with an all inclusive. Buffet, or you could order off a decent menu. However, you practically had to set yourself on fire to get a server's attention. I resorted to picking up menus myself off their waiter station, and going to the bar to get a drink. I watched some people serve themselves from the soda gun. Ordering from the menu tended to take atleast half an hour but deserts could take an hour or more. A few days in, they tried to tell us we couldn't take bottles of water from the bar, only glasses. If the water from their tap hadn't been brown at first, I would have just taken 1 and refilled it, but I didn't intend to spend the vacation in the bathroom so they could save a few pennies on bottles.

    We ended up tipping one of the pool boys who seemed, every day, to pass by, and always asked how we were doing, and took care of our issues. Extra towels, a drink from a too busy to notice me bar tender, he even got our waiter to bring the food faster one evening. Excellent service.

    Speaking of the bar, the mixed drinks were very weak. The bar tender took a long time to serve you but he had a fun way of moving around the bar so as long as you started trying to order a while before your drink ran out, it wasn't that bad.

    The diving? Amazing. Our guide? ok. We spent 1 dive following another group's DM who was just fantastic, otherwise I would have better words for my DM. The water wasn't cold, but if I hadn't taken a wetsuit, I would not have been happy. The clothesline was necessary to get the gear to dry. The current was nothing, the sites were fun, we were glad to be there with a group to follow around to different sites they were experienced with, but also had no problem diving on our own without experience and we did just as well. Windows down, no problems...but of course, the one time I step out without a window down, the wind blew it shut and I had to call AB. They were out there super fast and let me in without asking for a dime. However, while the rental was a set fee, they wouldn't let me rent the car without a $500 hold on my card for the week, which was news to me.

    Part 3: The Invasion! So good to meet everyone. It was overwhelming to meet everyone and to remember names. The prizes, and sponsors, incredible! I was introduced to several cool new products and had a great time. I wish we'd had some mid week group event, but I did get to meet almost everyone as it was. Meals were the best part, as you got a chance to see and chat with everyone.

    Part 4: Non diving last day. I know, we could have done a shallow dive, but we wanted to explore Bonaire, and the gear needed to dry. We hit up Washington Slagbai park for 4 hours of fun driving! The street signs are terrible, the maps are hard to read, but what an adventure! It was a great time. We don't have hills like that in Florida, and it was fun to drive a truck over rough terrain, considering my boring commute in a car every day.

    Part 5: The flight back... DAE has 1 staff member at the airport, who checks people in, and boards the plane. Without an announcement of the checking gate, you had to guess where to go and to check in. Then, once you get through, no announcement again, we thought the plane had already boarded and taken off! It was pretty bad service, but mostly we were just terrified that we'd miss our flight.

    What would I have done differently?
    1. No can light. Focus light was more than enough for night dives. Needless space wasted
    2. Gear bag. Paid more than I needed too.
    3. Less clothes. Had no need for pants, only shorts, and when I left I still had a few t shirts I hadn't worn. It's a dive vacation, you can wear the same funky t shirt more than once. Also had no need for sneakers.
    4. More prep work! I wish I had spent more time in the thread, reading, watching videos, etc.
    5. Ear beer! I got a mild outer ear infection that could have been entirely prevented with that.

    Dennis and Roxanne, really amazing work. I don't know how you do it. I am fully sold on future Invasions and cannot wait for the next one.
  5. Dubi

    Dubi Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: College Station, TX
    Sure there were some bumps at the resort, but what I discovered is that we visited much more with our fellow divers due to the slow food service. So really that was a BIG positive on the social side.

    They ran out of Pina Colada mix.... oh well, had to experiment with new drinks. They did not run out of Diet Coke!!!!

    I wish our Dive Master wasn't sick (ear problems), but he did his best to take care of us.

    Food was good!

    We had a fantastic time!

    Chalk it up to a great vacation--see you all next year!

    ---------- Post added July 12th, 2013 at 11:33 AM ----------

    I don't want to forget a HUGE thank you to our sponsors!
    moondog75, cardzard and ROXANNE like this.
  6. Dannybot

    Dannybot Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    It was a good trip and a good time. The rooms were nice and roomy. There were no drying facilities, but I knew that going in.

    It is a long trek from the dive shop to the pool for the shore dive, but they are delivering Nitrox tanks now, which they weren't last time I was there. Toting gear from the shop to the big boats was inconvenience, but we made do.

    The decentralization seemed not to lend to as much socialization as we had enjoyed in the past, but maybe that's also because folks were doing more on this trip too.

    Really my only complaint is that we were not treated that well by the resort, especially as it got later in the week. Just because we were in the Invasion, we got second rate service. I would not have minded, had we gotten a tremendous discount, but the rate (which was still a good price) was the same as we paid when we stayed there a year ago, therefore we expected the same level of service.

    Thanks Dennis and Roxanne for putting this together for us. Also thanks for bringing us the sponsors and their products especially Ikelite, I'll get a decent strobe to go with the housing I picked up from last year's winnings.
  7. denisegg

    denisegg Indescribable! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Alabama
    I didn't even know there were any issues. We never touched our luggage and several times got golf cart rides around the resort. After we saw the layout of the resort we just put our wetsuit on and bp/wing and threw the reg over our shoulder and used a clip for my fins in the room to walk to boats beach or truck so we didn't even use our gear bag. The bottled water was a bit hard to come by but you had to know who to ask. :D.
    moondog75, ROXANNE and cardzard like this.
  8. mselenaous

    mselenaous Island girl ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Key Largo, FL... Dive Capital of the World
    My first Invasion was ITK2010. It was the fun of so many ScubabBoarders diving, dining, sharing, shenanigans (& Moonie!) together that made it magical. However in terms of practicality, it involved 3 hotels, 6 dive ops, 9 boats, 4 marinas spread over 16 miles…a recipe for chaos and definitely made the social bonding more difficult.

    In 2011 and 2012, Invade Cozumel proved that ScubaBoard Fun is indeed magic. I saw friends from near and far and made many more friends. And I look forward to seeing them again year after year (and in between Invasions too). It is quite a challenge to make 100 people happy all of the time and keep them that way for 8 days. Frankly, I don’t know how Dennis and Roxanne do it so effortlessly and seamlessly always with a pleasant “git’r done” attitude. I am in awe of you two! :grouphug:. They manage to take care of all issues small and large as they come up.

    The 2013 Bonaire Invasion was ScubaBoard magic on steroids! Thanks to the participating sponsors and all the cool activities. And in no small part, the Kudos belong to Dennis and Roxanne.

    I compliment Dive Paradise and Hotel Cozumel for not missing a beat during 2011 & 2012 events. They jumped on issues immediately and the Senior Management from every dept. seemed to always be around and asking every member how their stay/dive/meal, etc. was going. I think this sets a wonderful example for every employee who followed by example. In comparison I did not see this at Plaza Resort. There was one shining exception: Captain Bryan from Go West in Curacao who volunteered his boat and stellar services. I can’t wait to go dive with him in Curacao sometime. I have to agree with the above assessments. Food was OK, ordering off the menu helped but was slow. Overall service was slow or even self-serve at times. Especially at the restaurant and Coconut Bar.

    Our room wasn’t cleaned for 3 days, dirty dishes stacked up until I set them outside the door of our room. While many of the rooms have recently been renovated (stickers still on our toilet) and they are beautiful, some things were missing like towel bars and soap in the WC (what’s the point of a bidet without them?). There were not enough conveniently placed electrical outlets. Although we brought 2 power strips, the renovators did not take into account modern traveler needs. I don’t know what other divers travel with but we had the following: 2 phones, 2 tablets, 1 laptop, 1 CPAP, 2 cameras, 6 go-pros, assorted extra battery chargers, dive lights, strobes, etc….you get the picture. Overall the facility is undergoing renovations, but there is still a long way to go. One Invader did injure his leg when he stepped through a rotten plank, long overdue replacement.

    Also important is strong internet signal in the rooms at all times. We found out we could only connect near the pool in the early mornings. One evening I was told I needed to go to the computer lounge (all the way on the other side of the property) and it still took 9 minutes for a small photo to upload to an SB thread because the others in the room were Skyping. Plaza Resort needs to invest in more band width to handle the volume needed for all of today’s connectivity. HELLO! This is THE Social Media Dive Event of the year….”Social” = Internet. Gotta’ have it and it needs to be convenient. Yes I understand exotic destinations have internet service problems, however friends staying at another resort the following week did not have these connectivity problems.

    One of the reasons the ScubaBoard Invasions are a success is because although we are a huge group of divers (100+ at some events), the diving is never crowded, limiting boats to 16 divers max (2 groups of 8) (regardless of what the dive op’s SOP is)…’cause ScubaBoard IS special. Plaza Resort/Toucan Diving committed to providing as many boats as requested to meet our needs. They did not come through on their commitment so dive groups were of 10 or 12 divers plus DMs which meant boats had 22 -24 divers (max capacity). While most Invaders had no idea of this situation, it was felt by many and commented on by several. ScubaBoarders are all friends and are always happy to dive together. While we embody the spirit of “the more the merrier”, none of us wants to be herded like cattle between a lead DM and a DM bringing up the rear of 20+ divers. The advantage of Bonaire was that many folks got trucks to shore dive on their own which most did every afternoon. As the week progressed, some folks started skipping the boat dives opting for shore dives and less crowding.

    One more thing about the boats: lack of heads. As we age, (and a significant portion of the group is 45+) our digestive tracks are not as bullet-proof to travel/food/water changes. There was one emergency off-the dive platform “warhammer”.

    The Plaza Resort is very spread out. Our boat was at one end, the dive shop/lockers at the other end truck near parking, and our room, the beach for shore dives at a third end. I felt I was dragging wet gear all week everywhere (& up/down stairs to 2nd floor room) in a huge triangle. I would have paid to rent a garden cart for the week. No fun dragging wet scuba gear through the room to the balcony or leaving it inside the door daily. I did visit a couple of other resorts while on the island and they all had docks with dive lockers right at the house reefs, and only a short walk to truck parking.

    Now onto positive impressions:
    • Again Kudos to Dennis and Roxanne…you are Rockstars!
    • The sponsors present: Mocean Armor, Light and Motion, Vivd-Pix and their activities where awesome!
    • And so many many wonderful prizes…no one left empty handed.
    • The location of Bonaire is beautiful diving, warm, clear, and inviting…you just can’t get enough of it.
    • But for me, the best part is the MAGIC of the people. It is wonderful to see dear friends whose company you already enjoy and to meet so many new cool peeps from so many places on the planet! As far as I am concerned, the Invasion could be at a cold dark mudhole and I would still go to hang with the peeps .

    So where are we going next? Inquiring minds want to start packing.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
  9. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    I'm hoping that future hosts read this thread and especially Elena's post. Sure, it would be great for our past hosts to read these posts, but the horse is already out of it's cyber barn by now. This is THE Scuba Social Media Event of the year. If the host is only focused on maximizing the profits from an invasion, they really need to rethink things. You just can't buy this kind of exposure, so make sure it's all positive: whatever it takes.
    moondog75, Colin Gray and ROXANNE like this.
  10. MeraSonnet

    MeraSonnet Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Atlanta
    Bim and I had a fantastic adventure with the Scubaboard Invasion Crew in Bonaire. To use an Elena-term... it was magical. What a great group of people to dive with and hang with. Over the course of the week, my teen diver Bim and I got comfortable with the welcome and warmth of the crew. Though early in the week I got sweet tongue-n-cheek comments about my 6'2" "shadow", by the end of the week it was so cool to saunter into breakfast and have Bim say: "Bye - I'm going over to have breakfast with Dennis... or Pete... or ___ to talk about the turtles yesterday and the dives". We will definitely be adventuring with Invasion again, and I cannot wait to hear the 2014 destination. Will also return to Bonaire because the diving is so easy and yet still superb -- that's sublime in my book. Will not return to the Plaza Resort, as surely that great island has accommodations capable of attentive and timely service and laid out logistically in a better way for active divers. As far as the Toucan dive shop... we did not have to make the arrangements as Dennis and Roxanne handled that (thank you so much); so our primary exposure to Toucan was our dive master, Dorte, who was excellent, warm, fun, and thorough -- and a new beloved friend now. Mechanical problems with the boat mid-week were addressed by substituting (and I am grateful to Toucan) an east coast dive with the turtles, using the absolutely superb guides Bonaire East Coast Diving. When I return to Bonaire, East Coast will get my business again. Other side activities that were wonderful in Bonaire, and would be highly recommended are: 1) caving/snorkling led by Leo of Flow (Flow in fact is a way cool guide for a lot of different activities on the island); 2) evening dinner sailing cruise on the Compass with Capt. Wim. I also appreciate our sponsors for the trip, and cannot wait to shop the Dive Right in Scuba and Scuba.com websites with their respective gift certificates generously donated for the raffle (we won something! -- brought out the enchanted child in this diver). As posted before, I am so grateful to NASE and to Elena, Pete, and Al in guiding a group of us through Nitrox certification -- what a great logistical event that was to do the class right at the beginning of this trip - a boon! Finally, our dive group for the week bonded like a family -- one of the most wonderful aspects of the trip. We were the newest group to the Invasion, and we named ourselves Team Noname' -- taken from a diving site label No-Name off of the uninhabited island Klein Bonaire, right where our dive team jumped gleefully off the sailboat to swim the evening of our sailboat cruise. Spice of life moments happen at Scubaboard Invasion. Thanks Dennis and Roxanne - big hug your way.

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