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Jardines de la Reina Captains Log
April 4-13, 2019
Jardines Aggressor II
CAPTAIN: Eric Ceruto Corzo
CRUISE DIRECTOR: Yemney Amador
ENGINEER: Victor Emerson
DECK SAILOR: Nowel Chinea
CHEF 1: Lionar
CHEF 2: Yunior
DIVE MASTERS: Michael y Leo
SKIFF DRIVER: Elvis
Visibility: 110 FT
Water Temp: 80 - 81 F
DIVE SITES INCLUDING NIGHT DIVE
SUNDAY: Anclitas, Finca de Pepe, La Cana, La Boca
MONDAY: Farallon, El Peruano, Cueva del Pulpo, Cueva del Pulpo Night Dive
TUESDAY: Coral Negro II, Bruce Reef, Luisa Reef
WEDNESDAY: Five Sea, Mariflores, Las Cruces
THURSDAY: Cabezo de la Raya, Mogotes, Boca de Piedra, Intermedio
FRIDAY: Caballones, La Puntica
ACTIVITIES OF THE WEEK
SUNDAY: O.F.Y. presentation with Victor after lunch.
Mangrove tour after fourth dive.
MONDAY: After lunch Conference with O.F.Y. Representative (Victor).
Visit to the Floating Hotel right after the conference.
Mangrove tour on the way to the third dive.
TUESDAY: Visit to the Jutias and Iguanas on the way to the second dive.
Visit to the Crocs on the way to the third dive, and snorkel with them.
Afternoon Snorkel in Mangroves.
WEDNESDAY: After Lunch Time O.F.Y. Presentation with Victor.
Instead 4th dive, we snorkeled in Mangroves
THURSDAY: Slides shows between dives.
On the way to the second dive we visited Crocs once more.
STORIES OF THE WEEK
SATURDAY: Arrival at Jucaro Port at 2:30pm, and the engines were switch on around same time. They came from La Habana and were desperate for knowing the Jardines Aggressor II, the tour leader has been in Jardines de La Reina several times (also some of them) and he still coming back with his groups because of not only the beauty of this place but the formidable attention he and his previous clients has received and our unique Cuban way of smiling and dealing with people.
Lunch was good, but dinner broke all the expectations in hundred pieces with the main plate, “Langosta al Ajillo”, it is boiled lobster in its shell with a butter and garlic sauce, lobster was a WOW with the clients. High top-quality food the first night. They were surprised and happy. We arrived at Caballones Beach around 8:00pm.
SUNDAY: Before the first dive of the week, was necessary the general briefing about the main deck, in which among others things, is our priority to explain to our divers the importance of The Biodiversity Record, this consists not in counting different kind of fishes but it is a quantitative method that permit us know the average of species we have in each dive site, and in the case of the lion fish if is necessary to kill some of them because of overpopulation or not, and in which area we can find them. Also, the Parks rules were explained.
We had no sooner taken into the water than spectacles began.
First dives were completely full of Caribbean Reef Sharks, these friends have being for so long the main show of each dive in Jardines de la Reina that I barely remember some dives with few sharks. Although Reef Sharks are always catching our attention once we get use to them, is easier appreciated the rest of the beauties down there, although is really difficult ignore more than 20 Reef Sharks and Silky Sharks around you that look at you like asking themselves:
- What are you doing here folk?
It is a show incredible, it is hard to believe if you have not being in Jardines de la Reina before, it makes you forget the world beyond surface and introduces you into a new one much better, more pristine, full of peace and adrenaline, it is a different and beautiful world in each aspect.
MONDAY: Leos birthday today, one of our dive master, we make him believe that we had forgotten the occasion and after the third dive we received him with an Aggressor Cake in the Dolphin Deck, an Aggressor Cake is a common cake but not cooked, we mixed on him all the ingredients, first the eggs, then flour, sugar, and different flavor syrups, its funny if you are not the victim Lol, but is our tradition to do it and he knew that. After the cake he jumped into the water and rinsed all the cake from his body. At night, before going to our night dive we sung Happy Birthday again but this time with a real cake made of chocolate, vanilla, and guava, was really nice.
Night dive, in Cueva del Pulpo, was a success, huge Goliath Groupers, much bigger than any diver, at least 3 of them swimming close to us as other diver, several photos were taken, and it seems no bother them at all, in fact they were looking directly to cameras. Sharks were there as well, as always, lobsters, eagle ray, Octopus never showed up but anyways was a great dive. Sailfin blennies, yellowed jawfish, nudibranchs, shrimps and many other species were there, just swimming when we made our entrance. Wall Reef with overhangs, rope sponges, Pilar Corals, and we founded a giant hermit crab and a lettuce slug, this last a very charming animal.
Water temperature 80-81 F, cold wind persists, and sea was choppy, but also our desire of diving in this small part of the world so full of life. Today happened something unusual in our first dive, in Farallon, one of our clients got scared at surface, waves were overwhelming her. Fortunately our dive masters are always into the water diving and leading the whole group, they are careful, all the time dive masters are watching us, really close, and helpful. They took our lady by their side and dived with her during all dive, she was comfortable, and very grateful, she finished the dive without trouble. Dives have to be quiet well and divers calm, panic is something we can offered it while diving. In moments like this, is when our policy of no solo diving seems more intelligent and needed than any other rule we could have. She went to the rest of the dives this Monday, now she knows for real that her dive masters are professionals well trained and prepared for taking care of her and deal with any trouble can loom, so she was convinced theyre going to take care of her.
The peaceful swimming of Caribbean Reef Sharks and the beauty of our dive site can help and heal anyone, down there is really calm, it is another world and we are always a welcome visitor.
The visit to the Jutias and Iguanas passed of being an extra activity and became something that clients cant leave behind, these nice creatures heard the motors noise and got closer and closer to us, very carefully but they acted on their own initiative, looking for fruit and sweet water, something difficult to find in the beach.
At afternoon we met Crocs, after few minutes of calling them, -Niño, Niño, Niño!!! Two crocs showed up their heads really close to the tender, not too big but at least 2 m.
All of our divers were into the water with El Niño and snorkel with both crocodiles, it is something that always impress divers and put their adrenaline very high.
Last dive was suspended because of bad weather, instead we did a snorkel in Mangroves, and it resulted better than we thought, two Nurse Sharks, Grey Angelfish, many seashores, which is an specie difficult to see, plenty of life, and after the last O.F.Y. presentation about mangroves this snorkel was like a practice lesson. It was as great as any dive. Clients liked it.
WEDNESDAY: Sunrise was late today, sky was cloud and it rained a little bit. First dive in Five Sea a complete winning, despite of the weather our dive masters find clear waters and gift us a nice dive, it is also because Boca de Piedra is one of the most safer channels in Jardines, it is the best place for being when bad weather is trying to annoy our week because all site dives are really close to each other and always we have the possibility of a Plan B. Plenty of fish schools, tarpons, diamond blennies, spanish grunts, Goliath groupers who always impress us with her size, blue tangs, and of course Silky Sharks and Caribbean Reef Sharks as bodyguards of the Reef always watching us. Safe comes first and Cruise Director, Dive Maters and Captain decided to suspend the last dive just like yesterday for the same reasons, weather was not good and sea was rough. We had other activities instead diving at afternoon, we had an snorkel in Mangroves, after dinner we had a magic show that gave us one of our clients and we saw a movie as well, “47 meters down”.
On the other hand at lunchtime THE GRILL was really welcome, even when the weather wasnt what we wanted to be, our Cuban Chefs, Yunior and Lioñar, managed to give us a wonderful lunch and later supper, the decoration of food was an attraction on the table and the grill lobster the favorite plate of the night. Many cocktails accompanied the GRILL NIGHT and clients saw our effort for giving them our best.
THURSDAY: After the first dive briefing of this morning, suddenly the sun got brighter when it seemed only a dream. We are thinking in moving the boat to Caballones Beach if weather gets better, otherwise this is the best place for being and in Caballones Beach all the site dives are farer than hear, and when is windy and sea rough is not good idea being in the tender, thats why we decided to remain in Boca de Piedra till weather gets better. Today before second dive we pass by in the channel croc once more, and: -NIÑOOOO, we called. Bright black eyes appeared from water almost immediately, them appeared the snout and tail in a slow and careful way. We feed them with a chicken leg from the stern of the tender while clients were taking photos and snorkel with them. We repeated this visit because clients loved it the first time and the adrenaline was all over our being.
Finally, weather got better and before fourth dive the boat moved to Caballones Beach looking for more different and richer dives, and we reached our goal.
Also, the towels creatures on the bed well made, liked them, a rabbit with sunglasses on each bed was their favorite, and they let us know they took photos of it.
The first dive of the day was in Caballones, Patch reef, 23 to 35 m deep and the second dive was in la Puntica, the only site you can dive two walls. There were black groupers, several green morays, black coral, sponges, red reef hermit, southern stingrey, and blennies, a lot of them, as usual we saw reef sharks, and finally many many Silky Sharks, this week silkies have being shy, we have been just few of them until second dive this morning, it was a beautiful frenzy of reef and silky sharks. Divers loved it, and of curse those were magnificent, it was like the gold closer we wanted for this untypical week in which because of bad weather we had to cancel dives. Cuba is an eternal summer, thats truth, but also is a fact that here weather is unexpected even when we know the meteorology report.
Once finished the second dive all the divers tied their belongings properly, rinsed and dried their dive gear, danced a little bit with the crew in the main deck while hot towels had been delivered.
Around 1:00 pm, after lunch boat moved to Caballones Beach and then to Jucaro Port. Cocktail party and the video of the Week Premier were their preferred things this day, and they took the video and some photos taken under water by Michael our dive master in this trip as souvenir, for free, it is our tradition and we really enjoy it. They loved the video and the awards. All of them were happy and so we.
Dinner onboard around same hour of every day as delicious as always. Sad faces at night because of their departure on Saturday morning way to Camaguey Airport. They were really thankful because of the serviced received from all the crew members and many beautiful memories were made, and I hope a life time one. For sure they will not forget either Jardines de la Reina or us. Whether by chance or by design you decided to come, Jardines de la Reina is one of the best things can happen you in life.