Aquatic Adventures Blog

Blackbird Caye Resort Beach

Ten Reasons To Go To Blackbird Caye

Aquatic Adventures will be hosting a trip to Blackbird Caye Resort in Belize from October 21-28, 2017. Having visited Blackbird Caye on four separate occasions, I put together “ten reasons” why you should consider going to Blackbird. Here they are.

1. If doing the Great Blue Hole is on your bucket list, Blackbird Caye puts you about as close as you can get at only about 80 minutes away. The boat from Blackbird leaves at the usual time (instead of at dawn from San Pedro) and puts you in the water at the Great Blue Hole just after the boats from other resorts are leaving. When my husband Jim and I went last year, we dived the Blue Hole with just four other divers and had the experience all to ourselves.

After the Blue Hole, you dive The Playground, a dive site with reef swimthroughs and home to several sharks. Many people call The Playground the best dive in Belize. For lunch at Half Moon Caye the resort prepares a barbecue. After all the chicken and hamburgers, you can walk over to the red-footed booby rookery on the Caye and checked out the nesting birds from the above-the-trees observation spot. The last dive of the day is at the Aquarium, which lives up to its name. There is no better place to do the Blue Hole but make sure you have Advanced Open Water Certification. The divemaster will not take you down the Great Blue Hole without it. There is an up-charge for this trip.

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Advanced Open Water

A few weeks ago I began my Advanced Open Water certification. Jerry, my Open Water instructor, was my instructor again for Advanced Open Water. My classmates were three guys, and my dive buddy was a guy who had only been diving in warm tropical water before. He thought seeing a wreck on Lake Michigan would be exciting, but he wasn’t thrilled about going to Pearl Lake in Illinois for some of our dives because he thought it would be boring.

The dives we were doing for our certification were Peak Performance Buoyancy, Underwater Navigator, Search and Recovery, Wreck Diving and Deep Diving. Jerry had us come to the store on a Thursday to go over the bookwork and practice using a compass and tying knots.

On Saturday we went down to Pearl Lake to do our Peak Performance Buoyancy, Underwater Navigator, and Search and Recovery dives. It took my buddy and I a while to get into the water. Since he had never been diving in cold water, he wasn’t sure what to wear under his wetsuit and he didn’t know what order to put things on in. I suggested he wear the compression shorts he had brought rather than a regular swimsuit that would bunch under the wetsuit and walked him through how to get all his gear on.

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Milwaukee Car Ferry

Explore Underwater Archaeology

Are you interested in Underwater Archaeology? I am, but I had difficulty finding a training course in the Southeast Wisconsin area. During my visit to “Our World Underwater” in Chicago last winter, I stopped at the Underwater Archaeological Society of Chicago booth. My goal was to determine if they would be hosting any training classes. They suggested I contact Dr. Mark Holley at Northwestern Michigan College. After accessing the college website, I discovered the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) program hosted by the school as a part of their college curriculum.

The Nautical Archaeology Society’s principal aim is to “promote the preservation of the nautical heritage for the benefit of current and future generations”. One of several ways the NAS accomplishes that is through the NAS training program which was established in 1968. The training program is made up of these four courses:

  1. NAS Part I Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.
  2. NAS Part II Intermediate Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.
  3. NAS Part III Advanced Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.
  4. NAS Part IV Diploma in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.

After contacting Dr. Holley, I determined I could take the NAS Part I course online and subsequently meet with him to learn the practical skills of underwater surveying and recording. I enrolled in April and spent the spring and early summer completing the online program. In August, Dr. Holley and I met and he demonstrated the necessary survey and recording techniques thereby completing my certification requirements for NAS Part I.

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Beginning Scuba – Part 5

After a lot of help from Jenny and Ben, two of Aquatic Adventures’ instructors, I was able to complete the pool training for my Open Water certification. I took a lot longer than the one weekend most people complete pool training in, but that was okay since I began the class in February and I couldn’t do my check out dives until the lakes thawed out.

Jerry, my instructor, would not take me to Pearl Lake, where we did the check out dives, earlier than June without taking the drysuit class because he was worried I would get too cold in a wetsuit. I ended up doing the dives at the end of June, when the water had warmed up nicely.

I was getting certified with two other students. We met Jenny and Jerry in the parking lot at Pearl Lake, then drove over to the spot they had picked for us to complete our dives. We surface swam to the platform we would be doing our skills on and used the buoy as a reference to swim down to the platform. I had started getting sick the night before, so I had a lot of problems equalizing. We all completed the skills for dive 1 with no problems, so Jerry started taking us on a tour of the lake. I was still having issues with equalizing, so Jenny and I surfaced and surface swam back to the platform. I couldn’t equalize enough to descend all the way back to the platform, so we waited on the surface for Jerry to come back with the other students.

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