Thursday, February 25, 2010

Arawak Divers, Carriacou

George Schmitt and Connie Hagen run Arawak Divers located in Tyrell Bay, Carriacou. There website is, phone number (1-473) 443-6906 or 8312, and their email Scott did his Open Water PADI Certification with Connie back in 2006 on our first trip heading south to Trinidad. Carriacou is part of an English speaking country which includes big sibling Grenada and little Petit Martinique.

Georg has been here diving since 1994 and Connie joined him in 1999. Connie is a talented photographer as well and all of the underwater photos are hers, taken during our dives. She has kindly allowed me to post them here.

They are charming and hard working, Scott's instruction with them was very thorough and lots of fun. I was unable to join the class as I admitted to high blood pressure on the initial form. Without a doctor's note, I couldn't participate. Later, when consulted, my doctor gave me a enthusiastic thumbs up, so I did my certification in Bonaire the following summer. We've been looking forward to returning to Carriacou to dive with Connie and George together!

We scheduled a whole week there and did five dives, three individual and two one memorable day over on the south side of the island. Our first one was just south of the entrance to Tyrell Bay and a good chance to practice our skills again after four months away. This is a round reef at the most 60 feet down and we circled it easily seeing some beautiful coral and lots of fish.
The scorpion fish above sat in the sand and let us examine him closely. If you don't know what you're looking for, ie you don't have Connie with you, he can be hard to spot as he looks like a piece of coral or vegetation. We also saw several good size eels, but it was later on our fourth dive that we saw the mother of them all - the largest one we've ever seen.

His head was the size of a medium sized dog and if he'd left his cavern, he'd have been as long as Scott - imagine! His photo is above right. He is really totally the green color here seen only on his edges. Some colors change underwater with the camera and depending on the distance away and use of the flash. Two good examples of that here are the two versions of the scorpion fish above and the varying hues on the lobsters shown here, in the distance with me (the lobster is in the bottom left corner) and close up with the flash. The flash really shows the colors we see, also only close up.

Our second dive was to the north of our anchorage and around a deep rock. There was some current up near the surface but not on the deep sections. We circled the rock, at first down at 70 feet and then rising later. Here we saw our first turtle - always a thrill (but on the last dive, we saw five!). Connie has been diving so long she can spot things even on a microscopic level. Some of the creatures here are no longer than an inch!

The third dive was more ambitious. We went out further to the Sisters, two large rocks further off shore. Waves crashed around and the current was heavy. We went much deeper today, around 100 feet so the dive was much shorter. I ran through my air quickly - unusual for me. Two days before I dropped the dinghy stern on my big toe and knifed through the nail mid way.
It hurts to put pressure on it so swimming with the fins is difficult. I found it hard to keep up with the others swimming against the current, but I managed, but used a lot of air doing so. The coral was amazing here, we saw lots of rare black coral. We searched every overhang and cavern for nurse sharks - often seen here sleeping but no luck. At least 25 hungry looking barracuda circled us however!
Scott and I decided to do a two tank dive our last day. This meant we were able to go much further in the boat, over to the other side of the island and windward. A series of lovely islands off shore make this a very scenic spot. Our first dive was on a rock and reef system well off the shore. We went down to 100 feet and then slowly up.
This time we went with the current and I could enjoy a leisurely dive. This is where we saw that huge moray eel and many of the small creatures whose pictures you see here. That peppermint candy one in the pink coral above is a brittle star - rare anywhere but we saw them twice with Connie!

Next we motored over to Saline Island and anchored. After a dive it is necessary to wait until it is safe to dive again. Our second dive would be much shallower. We snorkeled around this calm lovely bay and saw huge numbers of brightly colored sea anenomes. After a snack and lots of water, Kenneth (he drives the boat, took the pictures of us on it and is shown above also with Georg in the Arawak Divers shop) dropped us off at the up current end of a long shallow (30 feet) reef which we drift dove slowly down.

Connie had a float on a line which showed Kenneth our progress. We flew over the reef with the current, weightless and feeling like space explorers viewing aliens on a distant planet. The two charming porcupine fish below and the little Queen angel fish, up several pictures on the right, are curious types and followed us for a while watching us. When we emerged we were near the huge rock island you see here. The close up shows the crystal like patterns in the rock.

We are sad to be leaving Carriacou and Connie and Georg. Hopefully we'll be back some day to do much more diving. Come and dive with them!

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