September 16th, 2012 by Marc AuMarc

For a quick diversion during our visit to Sanary-Sur-Mer, we took a voyage on the Nautilus, a handmade merry-go-round submarine. The merry-go-round operator explained that his family had been building merry-go-rounds by hand for generations, back to when they were powered by a real horse.

October 27th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Yann and Marie arrived in Saba the day after us, so our second day of diving was actually the first time we all dove together. We started the morning off at Third Encounter, another pinnacle dive. I apologize if the photos are a bit boring. There were so many great sponges that I ended up taking loads of photos of them.

Our next dive was at Diamond Rock, presumably named after its whitewash of guano. This dive site was amazing. In addition to the rock that juts out of the water there is a second peak underwater and a sandy bottom about 80 feet down. In addition to the gorgeous underwater landscape, we saw a giant jack, a southern stingray and a hawksbill turtle.

I should also mention that we dove with Saba Deep, and they were really great. We dove new sites almost every dive and they made everything super easy by taking care of our gear, taxi and such. Since it was low season we were also able to opt in to extra dives in the afternoons, even if we were the only people going out.

October 27th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Several members of Les Fruits de Mer (Madam J, Yann, Marie and myself) undertook an expedition to the nearby island of Saba last week for some diving, hiking and, of course, Extreme Shallow Snorkeling. Over the next few days I’ll be posting all about our adventures.

Saba is a much younger island than St. Martin, I believe about ten million years younger, or about half the age of St. Martin. While both islands are originally volcanic, St. Martin was submerged and capped with limestone, while Saba is basically still just a volcano jutting straight out of the ocean. It’s about a seventh the area of St. Martin, but twice as tall.

This post features some photos from our first day of diving on the island. The world-famous diving is the primary tourism draw of the island. Our first dive was at a site called Outer Limits, which is one of the pinnacle dives. The underwater pinnacles are basically submerged mountaintops off the coast of Saba that rise to between 90 and 110 feet below the surface of the ocean. Although the depth means short dives, these unique formations are a big attraction to divers.

Our next dive was at a site called Ladder Labyrinth, which primarily consists of coral and sponge encrusted underwater lava flows that create a variety of interesting structures. Underwater hot springs leave sulfur patches in the sand, and geothermal heat can be felt if you put your hands into the sand in the right spots.

We were also lucky enough to arrive during the month-long Sea and Learn event, which includes talks by experts and hands-on research opportunities. We went on a dusk/night dive with Graham Forrester to see if we could watch hamlets spawn. Although we didn’t actually see this because there aren’t very many hamlets in the waters around Saba, we did have a great night dive. One highlight was a nurse shark which followed us everywhere, probably because our flashlights helped it find prey.

It was a busy day and a great way to start our expedition!

September 7th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Last week Hurricane Earl passed quite close to Saint Martin. It was quite a big storm, but luckily there was not too much damage for the most part. Lots of trees and branches went down, along with a few signs and some unlucky structures. Below are some photos before, during and after the hurricane, although they aren’t too dramatic because there wasn’t a ton of damage and I stayed inside during the worst parts of the storm.

Before Earl, it was a beautiful day, but a bit eerie because things were so quiet and all the boats had been taken out of the bay.

After the worst winds and rain had passed, I peeked out a little to get some photos of the hurricane, including the big waves. Because the waves were so close together, they usually canceled themselves out before hitting the shore, but there were a few big ones that splashed over the sea wall (which is about 12 feet high).

After the storm we spent a couple days helping Chris and Sally clear the fallen trees out of their backyard. There were three big ones that went down. Another very noticeable effect of the hurricane was the salt and wind damage to many of the trees, which either lost their leaves or turned brown as their leaves died. Also, the storm really did a number on the water, which is still milky with sand and other debris.

February 14th, 2010 by Marc AuMarc

Also with Jeff and Debbie, I went on the Extreme Zipline course at Loterie Farm. It was better than I had expected and quite fun, although we were all sore the next day. In addition to speeding down a dozen or so ziplines of various lengths, you traverse various rope bridges and tightropes and climb down many ladders. As a bonus, you get terrific views of the island from its highest peak. Since you are up in the trees, the vantage points are much better than if you walk to the top on one of the trails. As you can see from the video clip, some of the ziplines are so long people on the other side look like specks, if you can see them at all.