Location: Port St. Charles, Barbados
The day went off to a quick start for the Argonauts. After a breakfast of cinnamon rolls with green icing (Allie decided to put food coloring in it) and yogurt, we all split into two groups. The first group contained most of the people who are getting their scuba certifications here, and they began to prepare for their morning set of training dives; the second consisted of the already-certified people as well as some non-certified people, and we took one of the island’s many taxi-minivans to take a tour of Harrison’s Caves on the Eastern side of the island.
The caving group went on an approximately 1-hour tour of the cave system. We were driven through on a tram as our particularly funny tour guide told us about the caves’ history between jokes and photo stops. The caves were made as slightly acidic rainfall percolated through the limestone rock that makes up much of the island, forming on its way countless stalactites and stalagmites and other strange rock formations. Passages were cut in the late 20th century for ease of access for tour groups, but as we drove from cavern to cavern, we caught glimpses of the tiny passageways through which the cave explorers had to crawl. After our tour ended, we emerged from the damp underworld into the light of day. We stayed around the shops near the cave entrance for a half hour or so, then got back to the boat in time for lunch. Those diving in the afternoon went straight to the boat, while the certified people remained shoreside for the afternoon with the morning divers.
The divers in the morning and the non-certified cave tour people in the afternoon did their first and second open water training dives. The dive conditions were not necessarily ideal–there was a bit of swell and underwater visibility was poor–but the dives went on without much incident. Pretty much all of the exercises–clearing a flooded mask, getting out of and back into your gear, emergency air sharing, etc.–were ones that we did yesterday, but this time in deeper, rougher water. Some of the afternoon divers did receive a bit of a fright when they discovered that they had strayed quite close to a scorpionfish, but apart from that–and a sea urchin, which had an unfortunate encounter with someone’s leg–the dives offered us an opportunity to observe more harmless marine life.
The day concluded, more or less, in the usual way. Everyone was back a little bit before dinnertime for showers, and then we helped ourselves to a meal of corn chowder and biscuits. We saw a small hawksbill sea turtle swimming around our stern, and shortly thereafter, night had fallen, and we Argonauts had gone to sleep after a busy, fun-filled day.