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My Blackbeard's Cruise Report

Discussion in 'All Star Liveaboards' started by jlcnuke, Dec 31, 2017.

  1. jlcnuke

    jlcnuke Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: acworth ga
    431
    288
    63
    The overview:

    I had a great time on my trip (Christmas week). Captain Breezy, First Mate Iain, Engineer Tammy, Divemaster Justin (Junior), our cook Jenn, and Martyna made it an excellent trip, even when the weather wasn't perfect (it was perfect most of the trip though).

    Food was amazing, dive sites were great, the crew and the other divers were great company both above and below the water. I'm looking to plan my next liveaboard trip thanks to the wonderful time I had here.

    The details-

    The boat - I was on the Morning Star, a custom made 65 ft sailboat. There are 4 cabins - the crew cabin in the back, the #1 (forward) berthing cabin with bunks and 1 head, the #2 berthing cabin with bunks and 1 head, and the main salon. The main salon has 6 two-person bunks, the table (seats ~8 people), the "buffet" (where the food is put out), the galley (little space that our cook did a great job with), a head, and the shower (salt water for getting wet, fresh water for rinsing off... quickly). Topside had storage lockers on the sides in the rear, with the ladder at the back. Dive gear was setup all week on our tanks just in front of that (inside and outside tank racks on each side), the communal seating (with under-seat storage for mask/fins/snorkels/etc). Wetsuits, towels, etc were hung from the lines during the week when not in use (except for freshwater towels, there are hooks by our beds for those). Despite being a sailboat, we motored everywhere (even when the jib was put up on our last day at sea).

    The accommodations/packing - Everyone gets a bunk (rack, bed, call it whatever you'd like). Not spacious, but it's advertised as "camping at sea" so there's no reason to expect the Four Season's style rooms.. It has a shelf at your feet for storing your non-dive gear. I took more stuff than I needed (two swimsuits was plenty, never bothered with the third I brought, and I'd say 5 shirts is probably overkill (I wasn't wearing a shirt that much, so I probably didn't need to switch shirts daily, a light jacket or fleece IS helpful at night though so don't forget one). Though you can have more room than expected.. for instance I got a double bed for just me... one of the other divers even brought his drone with him (pics from it were great).

    The food/drink - The food was much, much better than I had anticipated. I was worried at first since there is only one "main course" for any given meal, and I can be somewhat of a picky eater, but everything was delicious. Including the lobsters that were speared by people free-diving from the boat between dives (we went snorkeling/lobstering twice on this trip).

    Most importantly, the diving - I had a blast. The wall dives were my favorite sites, though the blue hole and the shark feed were pretty amazing too. The shallower reef sites were pretty cool. While I wouldn't say any of the sites were "teeming" with fish, there were a good number of fish, decent coral, some really nice swim-throughs on the wall dives, and just overall a bunch of really nice dives. We did get 19 dives in, though I skipped one night dive as I just wasn't excited enough about the dive to bother getting cold (water temps were mostly in the upper 70's, but when the sun is down and the wind is up it can be pretty chilly imo).

    The "other stuff" - weather was kinda crappy on Sunday, but still enjoyable. The rest of the week was pretty much "picture perfect" weather and scenery, including a gorgeous sunrise (I got some pics of it Christmas morning) and a beautiful sunset (when the crew is breaking out their camera's, you should too...).

    Things I saw diving -

    Juvenile fish - tons of them. If I could name them all I probably wouldn't need to study anything for the fish ID specialty.
    Other fish - a bunch of medium sized fish too.
    Sharks - reef sharks were at most of the dive sites, one hammerhead was spotted (by 3 divers at the same time, I missed it though :(), and a few nurse sharks (including one shark under some coral that looked to be an albino nurse shark, that was pretty cool).
    One big grouper (at the wreck we did the shark feed on).
    Turtles - I probably saw ~8 turtles, including a couple big ones (I got a nice shot of one at the blue hole we dove).
    Rays - at least 3 different types of rays. Got a few of them swimming, most were just chilling in or on the sand though.
    Bioluminescence - got some on the night dive I thought about it with, but not a ton.
    Octopus - I didn't see any :( They were there (as others saw them), but I didn't catch any of them... guess I'll have to go back and try again!


    Overall impression - I had a blast. The people were great, the food was great, the diving was great, the accommodations met or exceeded the expectations for "camping at sea". I'd say it was a good value for a really good time.

    Some clips/video from the dives are posted on my youtube at:

     

    Attached Files:

    HeliMech, Schwob, randpchi and 4 others like this.
  2. jlcnuke

    jlcnuke Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: acworth ga
    431
    288
    63
    My dive times/depths were:


    upload_2017-12-31_21-0-19.png
     
  3. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    7,583
    4,593
    113
    Fine report of what sounds to have been a really good trip. You obviously researched it in advance enough to know what you were getting and your expectations met the product (& vice versa), a good match. Nice to hear the # of dives offered & the rough water temp.s at this time of year.

    What led you to head down for that 132 foot depth the last dive? Did you just want to go deep, or was there something special there?

    Richard.
     
  4. jlcnuke

    jlcnuke Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: acworth ga
    431
    288
    63
    I kinda wanted to see if I'd feel narc'd going past 100 feet, but I didn't feel anything (though as I understand it, you may not notice anyway). I figured while I was diving with 2 dive buddies was a good time to see if I'd feel anything deeper though. That and the whole "why not hit recreational limits once"...
     
    drrich2 likes this.
  5. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    54,844
    21,875
    113
    Thanks for this. I've always wanted to do one of these.
     
  6. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    4,511
    2,491
    113
    Thanks for the great report, glad that you had a good trip; did you do any land excursions during the week? When we did a Blackbeard's cruise, decades ago, they offered 2 land excursions during the week. Back then the boats crossed to the Bahamas from Florida and we spent an afternoon and night in Bimini. Another night all 3 Blackbeards boats (there used to be 3 of them) stopped for a beach barbecue on an island that was being mined for sand to make glass. The sand workers provided wood for the bonfires and joined the party - it was fun!
     
  7. jlcnuke

    jlcnuke Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: acworth ga
    431
    288
    63
    Non-diving stuff that was offered included:
    1. Lobstering/snorkeling (twice) also allowed for snorkeling over to the beach not far off. Some people did go to the beac, I just tried (unsuccessfully) to find some lobster to spear.
    2. Swimming/rope swing (run and jump off the side holding on to a rope from the main mast).
    3. Bahamian rock iguana feed - we went and fed them grapes on the beach.
    4. Thursday night after we got back to the harbor, most of the crew and divers went to a bar/craft brewery downtown and got a bit liquored up partying there.

    All-star has 4 boats in Nassau that I'm aware of currently, the Aqua Cat (the priciest at ~$2,500/week), the Cat Ppalu (around $1,500/week but used for group bookings almost exclusively), and the Blackbeard's boats Morning Star (which I was on) and the Sea Explorer. They all leave from and return to Nassau as I understand it now.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  8. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    4,511
    2,491
    113
    We were on the Sea Explorer and there used to be a 3rd sailboat - the Pirate's Lady - but now there are only 2 Blackbeard's boats.

    I think that leaving and returning from Nassau is a much better venue. You miss that deep water crossing from Florida (I got very seasick) and the diving is better around Nassau and the Exumas IMO.

    Sounds like you had a nice trip!
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  9. broncobowsher

    broncobowsher Solo Diver

    870
    384
    63
    That sounds just like the trip I did with them in October. We had a bit more weather, a few different rains hit. Camping on a boat, good description. I'm a picky eater as well, and always found plenty of food. Only difference, I was on the Sea Explorer.
     
  10. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    22,342
    5,128
    113
    I did a Blackbeards trip a few years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. Glad you did too.
     

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