By: Kristin Bourne
It's always good to get back in the water to Anguilla dive! This time it's round two with Commerce (click here to read about my first time diving Commerce in Anguilla) and a new dive at the Kathlee H.
With my last dive having been around Carnival time last August, when June hit this year (almost a year later) I knew I couldn't let a whole year pass without diving. A lot had happened since my last dive, including a move to Anguilla from NYC.
Now I was in my favorite place and settled but was not so pleased with myself for not having been on a dive in so long!
French angelfish...one of my favorites to see on a dive
In May I had spent some time on the Committee boat for the Anguilla Regatta, held by the Anguilla Youth Sailing Association.
My friend Steve was also on the Committee boat and we found that we had something in common with having both been diving with Dougie and both found him to be so wonderful.
Steve mentioned that he knew that Dougie was going to be taking some people to Dog Island soon and told me I should come along.
Dog Island, I thought? Hmmm. In my mind a Dog Island dive required that you be much more advanced than I am. (There I go again, letting diving intimidate me!)
I had heard from local friends that Dog Island was really cool diving and that you usually see at least one shark there.
I told Steve that I was interested and he said he'd email me and let me know when it was happening and I could get in touch with Dougie to let him know if I was coming.
I called Dougie and told him how I was feeling about potentially diving at Dog Island. I asked him if I was ready for it.
Anguilla Diving at its best- a lovely trunk fish
Then he did exactly what I needed him to do, which is one of the reasons I think Dougie is pretty wonderful.
He said since it had been a while since I last went diving, that maybe I should do just a more standard dive, and get my comfort level back and then go and dive Dog Island.
Brilliant! This is just a small example of how Dougie wonderfully handles my wavering comfort levels. His suggestion made perfect sense to me.
Next thing you know, I'm aboard his boat, Desha, and ready to go for a nice wreck dive after so much time had passed. We would do two dives that day.
First up, we arrive at a familiar spot. We were at the site of the Commerce which happened to be my very first real dive which I had done with Dougie!
I felt nostalgic. Not that I've had very many dives in between, but for a beginner I felt like I was going back home for a second. I had good memories of my first dive with Dougie and my friends.
Pounkie is up early getting everything set up on "Desha"
There was another pair of very experienced divers board along with one supportive wife.
Again, Dougie was my dive buddy since I'm a solo diver.
Pounkie helped me get ready and set and saw me safely off the boat where I met Dougie in the water and we swam to the mooring line.
Some great news for me was that I felt less intimidated at the start of the dive. During that moment when you are ready to do your backward roll in to the water, I was very ready this time and didn't feel as much anxiety, or adrenaline or whatever it is that hits you just before you leave the safety of the boat for the unknown of the deep.
I give Dougie and Pounkie a lot of credit for building my confidence in a very comfortable way.
Additionally, I was motivated to test my memory and see if this wreck was at all familiar to me.
As we descend, my ears are up to their same old tricks but they say patience is a virtue ;-)
Once near the Commerce we make our way around. This time there were many more fish than I remembered.The barracuda that look like they are hovering were there. A lot more intensely colored fish than I recalled as well.
Anguilla has plenty of pretty little grunts
On this day, the spiny lobsters must have been having a convention and then went in to hiding when we arrived. They were everywhere, in any decent hiding spot they could find, but also pretty easy to spot, and huge!
We finished our tour of the Commerce and made out way to the surface.
It was a good feeling to be back at the site of my first wreck dive. I think it also helped me feel more accomplished since it was my first dive where everything wasn't brand new to me.
Of course, the sea life is a little different each time however each time is entertaining and dream-like.
Back on board Desha, we have a short ride over to Little Bay for our rest before the second dive of the morning.
Dougie thought that would be a nice spot to rest so the wife of one of the divers could snorkel a bit.
We sat on the boat and chatted and discussed things we had seen underwater.
I can't think of a better place to rest, can you? Little Bay is special each time.
Dougie had pointed out a couple pieces of a lobsters' arm sitting on the ocean bottom when we were at the Commerce.
He brought one of the pieces on board to show us the details and size. Dougie held the arm up to his arm and the length comparison was not so far off!
There was a little furry part of the lobster arm to, it felt soft compared to how it looked. It was an amazing show and tell. I knew the lobsters looked big but when you do a side by side comparison of extremities... Wow!
He then gave the lobster arm back to the sea, the snorkeler climbed back on board and we headed in the direction of our next dive, the nearby Kathlee H.
Second dive for the day, we arrive at the mooring line for the Kathlee H (also spelled Cathely H) which is on the north side of Anguilla, just around the point from Sandy Ground and to the NE.
Dougie ran through the details of the wreck.
All aboard and en route to the Kathlee H!
The Kathlee H was a steel freighter and burned before it became a wreck.
It sits upright on the sea floor with depths that range from 30 feet to 60 feet.
The Kathlee H has a tall mast jutting off of her and from what I understand, it had to be cut off at one point for clearance/boat safety.
The mooring line for this wreck was covered with something, almost like the same sea life that coats a wreck over time.
Divemaster Dougie - you can tell he loves his job
Dougie offered up his arm so I didn't have to worry about using the line.
Since he's well aware of my ear pressurizing issue and knew we'd be on the line for a while until my ears cooperated ;-)
We arrive at this exciting new place on the bottom of the sea!
Then we take our time covering all angles of the Kathlee H.
There were so many fish on the wreck and several enormous spiny lobsters.
I was really excited to be seeing a new wreck now. Feeling more confident and enjoying myself!
Once more, Dougie is incredible with his eyesight and pointing out sea life that you may well overlook otherwise.
The tiniest of small things to the largest of camouflage things - Dougie will make sure you see it if you don't see it on your own.
A tiny arrow crab hanging out. So coooool!
He really does see everything and you can tell he is not jaded by his profession. He seems just as happy to see these creatures even though he's done this a zillion times! ;-)
After surfacing from the Kathlee H. I felt much more secure and ready for when I got "the word" that Dog Island was a go.
I appreciate the advice from Dougie, he knows what he's talking about.
Now as soon as the weather is ok, current is ok, and all parties are ready - next I will get to see what the remarkable Dog Island is all about!
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