Carribbean , Nassau/New Providence/ Exumas
Contributed by: Rock51
2nd June 2010
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I took a trip to the Bahamas recently and enjoyed my first liveaboard trip. We sailed on Blackbeard’s Pirate’s Lady with Pancho Jimenez as Captain. I also brought along my Sport KISS rebreather, which added to the adventure.
We sailed from Nassau to the Exumas. I got a large tank of breathing grade oxygen from Bahamas Welding & Fire. (242-394-0004) They missed their promised delivery and thanks are due to Captain Pancho for sending their van after the tank of gas. The tank arrived at just under 2,000 psi, which worked out well as I have a 2,000 psi Luxfer oxygen tank on my Sport KISS. I used a hose whip and adapter set up to charge the oxygen tank. A single charge lasted all day
Pirate’s Lady did not have a DIN charging adapter for the diluent tank, but I had an insert bushing on hand so charging the diluent tank with air was not an issue.
I broke the scrubber down into double zip lock plastic bags, at just under 5 pounds each. TSA opened my suitcase and swabbed it several times with their explosive detector gizmo, and it came up clean each time. Next time, I will put it in a kitty litter container
The diving worked out well in spite of the fact that I was the only rebreather diver on board. I was diving with my kids, newbie divers all, and so was able to make four or five dives each day. I turned off the oxygen valve, and recharged the diluent tank if necessary, but basically didn’t do anything to the rig except take it off and put it back on.
Living conditions could be described as spartan, especially if you compare it to the conditions on the Agressor fleet and the rest. The other liveaboards don’t allow rebreathers, so Blackbeard’s looked like a good deal. I spent a long time in the military and had to live in less than ideal conditions, but found my bunk on Pirate’s Lady to be a warm and comfortable place. My kids adapted to life on an 80 foot motor-sail sloop pretty well, and we all practiced talking like pirates: “KEELHAUL THE BO’SUN”, whatever that means….
The food was good, and we had fresh lionfish (the crew cleaned the fish), conch, and were able to catch some dolphin on rod and reel. Captain Pancho is an accomplished free diver and was able to spear a nice grouper. Unfortunately, four reef sharks decided they wanted his grouper. Discretion was the better part of valor.
Blackbeard’s doesn’t “support” rebreathers, but they do allow them on board as long as you have the wherewithal to get your rig and some scrubber to the boat and find a tank of oxygen. A Haskel pump would have been useful to get my oxygen tank up to full pressure, but given our circumstances, it really wasn’t necessary. I also brought an adapter bracket along that would allow me to dive open circuit with my wing, just in case the Sport KISS went south on me. Both the Sport KISS and the Shearwater Predator performed flawlessly and I couldn’t be happier with both units.
All in all, the diving was excellent and I got to dive in some really cool places in a tropical paradise. Captain Pancho kept the divers out of the chamber, the boat off of the rocks and made sure that everybody on board had fun. The crew was always helpful and considerate and I can strongly recommend Blackbeard’s. My kids are already planning our next trip, sometime this fall.