Saturday, June 19, 2010

SCUBA at Desecheo

Desecheo is a small (1.5 square kilometers or just over 1/2 a square mile) island some 21 kilometers (14 miles) west of Puerto Rico. It is easily seen from Aguadilla, Rincon and Mayaquez riding on the horizon.

Two sites at Desecheo are listed in the top 10 Puerto Rico dive sites by Scuba Diving Magazine. The first is called "Candyland."

"Remember that old-school board game from your childhood? We dare you to tell us the huge, funky-shaped coral mounds don't look like the ones you remember from the Candyland game. There are a kaleidoscope of colors on this must-see reef, embodied in gigantic sea fans, lettuce corals and sponges . There are also crazy amounts of tropical fish, adding to the already surrealist vibe here. The maximum depth is about 80 feet." - Scuba Diving Magazine

Almost adjacent to Candyland is "Las Cuevas" - The Caves.

"Swim-through junkies, this is your spot. Welcome to a water wonderland of canyons and arches, where as many as 20 of you can explore at once, to your heart's content. Check out the triangular-looking windows that resemble Darth Vader's mask." - Scuba Diving Magazine

It's about a 45 minute boat ride out of Rincon to get to Desecheo. The ride out in the morning was pretty easy with light seas and beautiful sunshine. The ride back was a bit rougher through four-to-six foot seas. But it was really no problem for Cap'n Frank and the crew from Taino Divers in Rincon.

It was a beautiful pair of dives, a great day and a great time with Darryl, John D., Trevor, March and Ruchie from Technical Dive Center here in Aguadilla.

The two things that are most impressive about the Desecheo dives are 1) the 100-150 foot visibility and 2) the incredibly blue water of the Caribbean. The great visibility is due in large part to the fact that there are standing bodies of water and no rivers on Desecheo so there is no runoff. And there is a reason just about every paint company has a "Caribbean Blue" paint chip: it truly is spectacular. The minimal current, at least on our dive is also an advantage.

All that said: Diving right here, right off our beach at Shacks is a very similar dive to Candyland through the coral canyons of the outside reef. And the swim-throughs of the cavern tour around Blue Hole is actually more impressive than Las Cuevas. We frequently have 60-80 foot visibility here at Shacks. If Shacks has one disadvantage, it is the surge that sometimes comes up in the canyons. But that's a small price to pay for having dives that we can walk to from home.

Our local shore dives don't get much publicity from the magazines. The magazines get their information about dive sites from the Puerto Rico Tourism Company which in turn provides information from and about its paying members. That's okay as far as it goes but it means that magazine readers get a very limited view of what's actually available on the island. Some of the best dives are never reported. But in a way that's good: it slows the wrecking of the beaches and reefs and means less crowded dives for us locals. I'm okay with that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seeing double

"Well, I look out my window/what do you think I see?/I look out my window/and it's strange, so strange."

I thought I was seeing double! But it's just Lucky with Chocolate. Chocolate has a play-buddy for a while, until KTJ is ready to come down from the ranch. Lucky is our friend Sam's horse. She brought Lucky down to keep Chocolate company and so she could ride on the beach. So Elane and Chocolate have someone to play with and to ride with.

Oh yeah - Amber has two new swim buddies.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Adios, Sahara

This morning our friend Francisco took Sahara/Wavy-now-Lola up the road to her new home at "Hacienda Sanchez." (Francisco is the son of our dear dear friend and horseman extraordinaire Tito.) Many people thought this little filly had fallen in gravy when we rescued her. She's really in it now!

Francisco is himself a great young horseman. He sees a lot of possibility and has great plans for "Lola" (his name for her). He's planning to train her to show as well as to be a good little trail horse. He will work her hard but she will be so well taken care of. Francisco will give her the work and the training she needs to become the great little horse we all believe she can be.

The biggest reason for the move in the first place is to make room for KTJ, Elaine's new Thoroughbred filly. KTJ is up at the "ranch" (Ramey Riding Club) probably for another week or two while we get things ready for her here - not the least of which is strengthening the corral fences.

In the meantime Chocolate is a lonely guy, already missing his bud. He doesn't know KTJ yet. He doesn't know he's getting a new stablemate, only that his friend isn't with him.

We'll miss Sahara/Wavy/Lola too but we know she's got a great new home. And she's only half a mile away. We can always go visit.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Set the Wayback Machine for April

It's time to join Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman and set the Wayback Machine for April.

Our friend David, the golf course designer, visits us once a month or so. (That's David in the pink shirt and straw hat.) Occasionally his wife Liane joins him. (Liane is the lovely lady next to David trying to hide from the camera.) In April, David brought his daughter Melanie and her beau Mark (Mark is in the purple shirt on the left; Melanie is next to him) and granddaughter Stephanie and her husband Joe (the only two left besides the fish) to spend some time on the island.

This was a belated honeymoon/first anniversary trip for Stephanie and Jon. So from all the gang at Ola Lola's a twice-belated (once because it took them a year to get here and once because it's taken me so long to write this) CONGRATULATIONS! and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

By all accounts the gang had a great time PR. We hope they'll all come back and a visit again, with or without David.