Our scuba liveaboard trip with all-inclusive Blackbeard’s Cruises is just around the corner (September 16-22, 2017). And I’m as excited as everyone else for this trip with Rey Diving because, like for most of the people in the group, this will be my first experience on a liveaboard! As we prepare for a Bahamas adventure, let’s do our homework and all the necessary research to maximize the fun, both under the water and on-board. To make the most out of our diving/sailing trip, I researched some well-known scuba websites including the Blackbeard’s Cruises’ site itself.
When you’re planning for a liveaboard vacation, start preparing on your own before you arrive at the boarding location. Make a list well in advance of your departure of the items you want to pack. Once onboard, you’ll be isolated. No dive shops. No pharmacies. So consider bringing backup scuba equipment, and if you take medications, put those on the list too! And, of course, think about proper clothing.
On the subject of backup equipment, don’t let the fact that you’ll be on a sailboat far from land stand in the way of a glorious vacation. Consider bringing two regulators. If you bring just one, have it serviced and tested locally before your trip. Also, take along a save-a-dive kit for O-ring replacement and minor repairs. Some also recommend two wet suits, rotating them between dives. This will give you a dry suit on every dive, making your dives more comfortable, and keeping you warmer from dive to dive.
A backup computer is highly recommended. There are many scenarios in which computers get lost (my friend’s computer vanished from the boat on our last trip to Florida) or damaged. And if you think fresh batteries for your computers is sufficient, consider this: you will be diving as much as possible during your liveaboard trip — 4 dives a day or more, and all those dives will drain the batteries on every piece of equipment that runs on batteries. So bring enough battery replacements for your computers, flashlights, and, if you’re a photographer, your camera. Speaking of photographers, make sure to pack enough SD cards and backup chargers.
Our boat, the Blackbeard’s, will anchor in calm waters, and we will normally be diving on the lee side of the islands, sheltered from the wind. Nonetheless, pack motion sickness medication in case we encounter rough seas, or if you’re prone to seasickness. Dramamine® is what I normally take, but everyone is different and you’ll want to find the motion sickness medication that works best for you. In addition, each medication comes with side effects that may interfere with your diving abilities. To learn more about motion sickness, and motion sickness medications, read the following article published in Divers Alert Network: Motion Sickness.
When you think about the Bahamas, what comes to mind is tropical weather. While this is certainly true, on a liveaboard you should be prepared for all types of weather. While it may be hot during the day, at night it often cools off. So in addition to the mandatory shorts and t-shirts, pack a sweatshirt and/or light jacket. One of the advantages of diving from a liveaboard is that the captain will steer the vessel towards the best weather conditions the area has to offer. That said, you never know when you’ll be caught in a storm or face a chilly wind. So, it’s not a bad idea to bring warmer clothing and even a windbreaker. And why not a Jacques Cousteau knit cap while you’re at it?
When the sun is shining in the Bahamas, it can be very strong. Remember to bring a couple rash-guards and an environmentally friendly sunscreen. You don’t want to fry on your first day and then suffer through the entire week as the straps of the BCD rub your sunburned shoulders. Under your wet suit you’ll be wearing a swim suit. You’ll also wear a swim suit if you decide to do some snorkeling, or just take a dip. It is recommended to bring two or even three swim suits, so you’ll always have a dry one.
These are just a few things I found in my research, but there are several other items that can or should be packed. And of course there are many other topics that could be discussed, but I’ll leave those for another time. In the meantime, do your research, prepare your packing list, and contact Rey Diving if you have any questions. I will write again soon with other tips, and then again after the trip to tell you all about it. Have a great liveaboard experience, and hope to see you underwater!