Successful 1st Bandabou Dive Week

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We are looking back at a successful first Band'abou dive week. Last year the organization started. The date was set and each participating dive shop started preparing their contribution to this event. Apart from posters at each of the participating dive shops and announcements on web sites there was not much publicity made for this event.

The start was not very good. On Monday the dive shop of Cas Abou had announced that they would organize a 1-tank boat dive to Mushroom Forrest. Unfortunately they either forgot about the event or just decided not to proceed with it without informing the other organizing dive shops. Either way, this event didn't take place as planned. Luckily, probably because of the pricing of this event, only 1 person showed up at Cas Abou. He got told that there was no boat dive on that day. Even though it involved only 1 person, this should not have happened.

Bahia_20090203_002_kleinOn Tuesday afternoon Bahia Diving had organized a dive at their house reef, Lagun Bay. When I arrived there already several divers were at the location preparing for the dive. After the formalities I also geared up and after the briefing we went down the (steep) stairs toward the sandy beach. About 12 divers participated so we were divided in two groups and started a relaxed guided dive towards the East. Almost immediately we spotted a turtle Not uncommon at this site. There are three turtles in and around the bay that regularly show up near the beach. They listen for the engine noise of the boat of a local fisherman and swim up to the beach to get their portion of the fish.
After the dive the bar was open for drinks and afterwards a nice Antillean meal was prepared for the participating divers.

Bahia_20090204_007_kleinOn Wednesday morning we once again went to Bahia Diving. This time for a drift dive from an apartment, called the Regenboog (Rainbow), to Playa Jerimi. All dive gear was transported with a pickup to the starting point and the divers went with a small van. After gearing up and briefing we once again had to climb down a steep stair toward a point where you could either jump the last 2 meters of climb down along a second stair to the water surface. There was a light current in the right direction so we had a very easy dive. Because this area is otherwise not accessible for divers, unless you come by boat, the coral is unspoiled (this proofs, that even though divers are instructed not to touch the coral, they apparently have a negative influence on the coral on frequently visited dive sites). After a bit more than 45 minutes we reached the bay of Playa Jerimi. There we left all our gear on the parking place and were brought back with the van to Bahia Diving. The pickup truck arrived shortly afterwards and after everyone had sorted out which was his gear we could relax at the bar or going on with other activities for the day.

Porto_Marie_20090204_004_kleinOn the same day there was also a night dive organized by PortoMari Sports at their house reef, Playa Porto Mari. Exceptional because this location is closed for public after 6:30 PM. This opportunity was happily embraced by a lot of local divers and some tourists. There were more than 20 divers at this event. The dive shop offered free air. Everyone went into the water either in buddy pairs or in groups. This was not a guided dive, but with sufficient experienced divers and the ease of navigation at this site this was for nobody a problem. Under water the usual stuff was seen. During night dives there is a greater chance of seeing crabs and lobsters and normally this is the only time that you can see Tigertails. Also the coral is showing the polyps. Combined with the beauty of this dive site a recipe for a good dive.

Trunkdivers_20090205_009_kleinThe next day, Thursday, no dive was organized but there was a presentation about the torpedoing of the USS Erie in World War II before the coast of Curaçao and Archaeological diving on the wreck of the Mediator in the harbor. This was organized by Trunkdivers and took place at their dive shop next to plantation house Daniel. Although only about 10 people showed up for this presentation they all were very happy they did. Most of the information is unknown to the public although it is a part of our history. Trunkdivers also has a small museum with exceptional artifacts from the USS Erie, the Kingfisher surveillance plane that was aboard the USS Erie, from the SS Mediator, the Alphen and lots of gin and wine bottles that can be found along the quay of the Anna Bay. And everything has its own story. Also a movie was presented showing a guided tour on the SS Mediator and a demonstration of the archaeological work that is done, all by volunteers, at that historical wreck.

Duikweek_Playa_Largu_20090206_003_kleinOn Friday there were two events. The first one a guided dive at Playa Largu, organized by Dive Center Curaçao (DCC). Meeting point was at the dive site at 3:30 PM. It was a rather small group. Three people were not able to make it to the dive site because they got stuck with their pick-up truck on the sandy and sometimes very muddy roads on the plantation of San Juan.  At 4:30 PM we decided to enter the water. Also here it is clearly visible that this site is not as frequently visited by divers as a lot of the better known dive sites. It is a real underwater garden. We soon saw a large green Moray Eel that started free swimming along the reef when I approached it for a picture. After about 20 minutes we returned at a shallower depth of about 9 meters. A nice dive. We got to the exit of the plantation at 10 minutes before 6 PM, just before it would be closed for public. From there we went on to the next event.

Duikweek_BBQ_20090206_006_kleinThat next event was the BBQ at the dive shop of DCC. Clearly this was the most successful event because more than 30 people showed up. Food is still the most important to people. Everyone got a tab at the bar where all the drinks were noted down, so that you could pay once at the end of the evening. The BBQ's were hot, but the people decided to drink and talk first, so that when the hunger started most BBQ's were not that hot anymore. It took some patience to get your meat roasted completely but that was no problem. The ambiance was good; there was a slideshow of underwater pictures and pictures taken during the past events of this week. The children danced in the light of the beamer and there was enough to talk about.

Duikweek_Westpunt_20090207_021_kleinOn Saturday the last event took place. The plan was to dive at Watamula. Organized by Trunkdivers, an organization that is specialized in dives at unusual places. Meeting point was the dive shop at Daniel at 9 AM. Although early for a Saturday there were a lot of people that showed up. In total 16 divers participated in this event. After the briefing at the dive shop the larger cars were chosen to transport all divers. It had rained during the past few days so the last part of the road to Watamula would be very muddy and not accessible for a normal car. After arriving at the dive site all went to the shore to check the circumstances. Unfortunately it was not responsible to dive there because of the high waves. It would be possible to jump into the water, but the Hole of Watamula and the tunnel were not accessible and the exit at Playa Gepi would probably very difficult. So it was decided to go to Playa Piskadó, also called Westpunt. Even there were move waves than normal but that was not really a problem. The briefing was given, dive pairs were formed and after gearing up everyone entered the water. The first target was the statue of Neptune. There everyone gathered around the statue and a picture was made of the whole group (except the photographer of course). From there we went to the right along the reef. This is a very beautiful dive site with large star coral formations. After a dive of one hour we got drinks and home-made cakes. This concluded the dive week.

What was especially visible during this dive week is that the small dive operators in this part of the island are more friends than fierce competitors. This is also the main ingredient for the success of this dive week that was organized completely amongst themselves without external funding from the tourist office or anyone else. And hearing them this will certainly not be the last time a similar event will take place. For sure there are things that can be done better next time, but for a first time this was great!

I am looking forward to the next time!