Monday, 5 December 2016

Atlantis XV Submarine trip

It had been a LONNNNNNGG while since I last visited the Atlantis Submarine.....a VERY long while....in other words many many many moons ago.
This year being the celebration of fifty years of Independence for my island home there were tons of specials offered by several businesses and local attractions to celebrate the occasion.
So even though Independence Day is November 30th, the specials lasted the entire month.
When this opportunity popped into my Inbox, I immediately stopped what I was doing and made a reservation.
I decided on an early morning dive...actually the first dive of the day and I'm glad I did.
Friday morning of November 18th was my chosen day.

The home of Atlantis Submarines Barbados

Atlantis Submarines Barbados division is located at the Shallow Draught of the Bridgetown Harbour.
Arriving early for check-in gave me the opportunity to take copious photos with no one around....yeah.
The really friendly staff made me feel welcome and right at home.
 The inside decor of the Guest Service/Reservations area reflects an undersea world.




Even the comfortable seating area had an undersea look.

Complimentary fruit punch was on offer at The Sand Bar.

A wide variety of snacks to choose from.
Did I say a wide variety of snacks?  What I meant to say was a TON of snacks to tempt you.

Island souvenirs along with the very popular submarine souvenirs waiting to be purchased.

This cute display of a replica of the submarine captain's cabin  manned by two adorable bears.


These "cool" bears look like they were out to party....not sure I'd let them actually take me for a submarine dive....smile.
Submarine Billboard information

Technical specifications of the submarine

Very interesting info on the behavior of light under the sea.

The Atlantis Submarine is safely docked each night after the final dive of the day.
Also docked safely for the night are the "Ocean Quest" boat which transports the passengers to the dive site and the Response Boat that accompanies the submarine at all times.

Captain Franz inspects the submarine before heading out to the dive location.

Headed out to the dive location further out to sea accompanied by the Response Boat.

After the boarding call, all forty eight of us passengers boarded the "Ocean Quest" and settled into our seat of choice for the 10 minute ride to the submarine.
My leg was the safest spot for my boarding pass....after all I was juggling my camera and my phone for the best photos along the way.
The crew gave us the safety drill.
Delano demonstrating the emergency masks.
Safety Requirements - "No diving or Jumping off the vessel" made me smile.

 The Flour Mill
Leaving the port behind we passed many interesting sights along the way.

Large cruise ships docked in the Bridgetown Harbour.
Cargo Ships offloading their heavy trans-Atlantic containers
The Gantry Crane.

Finally there she was!!!
Headed out towards the submarine.


Soon we were nuzzled alongside the submarine, the gangway plank was placed atop the sub's deck and we transferred to the submarine.

The first 24 passengers entered from the hatch on the stern (rear) of the vessel.
The remaining 24 passengers entered from the hatch on the bow (front) of the vessel.
This way the two rows of passengers sat backing each other.
The cabin is air-conditioned and maintained at sea-level pressure.
The submarine moves leisurely along at 1.5 knots for optimum viewing pleasure with the aid of its quiet thrusters.
The submarine is battery-powered and non-polluting, therefore has minimal impact on the environment. 

Mounted on the walls next to the large viewing port holes are informational cards of plant, fish and sea life that may be seen on the dive.
The digital depth gauges are located at the front and the back of the sub.
Here we have not started to descend as yet so the gauge reflects 5ft.
After the captain has checked and rechecked that everything is A-Okay, he receives permission to begin his descent.
No worries here. The submarine is manufactured for a safe trip underwater.
There are life jackets and respirators on board (which have never been needed thus far) and the submarine is safety-certified every year.
In the event of a power failure, the lights would go out, but the a/c would continue to work and the submarine would float back up to the surface.
The pilot is in constant radio contact with the surface vessel, and since the inception of Atlantis submarine tours in 1987 there has never been a problem.


As we dove downwards the water was so pretty it looked like the sea had been dyed a beautiful shade of blue by an undersea painter.
 We were diving down into the Fresh Water Bay Reef off the west coast.
This semicircular reef is a fringing reef, one that is connected to a land mass.
This means that since it is connected to the island when the rain falls the water seeps into the ground and into underground streams which then flows out from under the reef.
 The water acts as a filter to sunlight. The deeper you go the more colours of the light spectrum are filtered out.  Red is usually the first colour to disappear with blue the last colour to go at about 600feet.
This is why the ocean appears blue.

As we neared the bottom of the reef guess what immediately came into view?

 The Lord Willoughby shipwreck.
Barbados has over 200 documented shipwrecks/recreational dive sites around the island coast.
The 65ft Lord Willoughby rests at about 120ft and divers find it hard to stay at this depth for more than two or three minutes without decompressing.  The submarine therefore is the best viewing choice for this dive site.
This ship used to be a fresh water carrying barge and was used to ferry fresh water out to the larger ships docked off the coast of the island before the deep water harbour was built.  Now the large ships dock port side and so these barges were soon obsolete.
The government donated the Lord Willoughby to some recreational divers who decided in 1974 to sink it off the west coast of the island. The divers sunk the ship in 40feet of water but underestimated the current and the ship fell down to a 151 feet.  It still has its cargo on board....smile.
 
For safety some of the ship's hatches were welded shut and some in open positions to allow divers to come and go without being trapped.
As is required for sunken ships, it was made marine friendly by removing all paints, greases, oils and chemicals that may be harmful to marine life.
It sits on the north wall of the reef.


The Lord Willoughby ship in its hey day.
So who was this Lord Willoughby anyway?
 Lord Willoughby was once Governor of Barbados back in the days of King Charles II.

 We left the Lord Willoughby behind and made our way along the reef filled with corals, sponges and fish.  There was also a turtle but I missed that photo op.
The port hole glass in the submarine is 4 inches thick so does not help in taking great photos.

Corals and Sponges were abundant on reef.
 This reef is home to many hard corals & gorgonians.



I was fascinated with the wire corals which looked like pieces of guess what.....wire.
These corals grow in an anti-clockwise direction (see top left of this photo) because we are located in the northern hemisphere (Corialis effect).
In the southern hemisphere they grow clockwise.
Apparently toilet water in your bowl also spirals in the direction depending in which hemisphere you live....really???
Fishes swam by looking at us through the view ports with a hint of curiosity.
All kinds of fish paraded before us. Bicoloured Damselfish, Stoplight Parrotfish, Atlantic Spades, Horse-Eyed Jacks, Blue Chromis, Sargeant Majors, Juvenille Wrasse, Creole Wrasse, Black Durgan,

 Soon it was time to leave it all behind.
As I watched the depth gauge slowly ascend, we were back topside in a matter of minutes.

Captain Franz disembarked and manned the Response boat. Another submarine captain took his place for the second dive.


We disembarked from the submarine.
As we boarded the "Ocean Quest" transfer boat, we were greeted by the passengers for the second dive.
We made way for them to board the submarine.



Back aboard the "Ocean Quest" once more, it was time to take more photos.




The crew then un-tethered us from the submarine and we watched as the Atlantis XV prepared to return to the blue depths of the ocean floor.

I stood watching as the sub prepared to dive.

Then in a controlled manner she dived slowly but surely until only the very tip of the spire remained visible....and then that too was gone.



As we headed back to shore I kept my eyes on the Atlantis XV as she prepared to descend once more.
The Response Boat gave the sub a wide berth as she prepared to go under...they will remain in constant contact throughout the duration of the dive.


There she goes again!!!

Refreshments were served on board the "Ocean Quest" as we headed back to shore.

I know I've mentioned before how much I love sailing and I was happy to sit and enjoy the view as we headed back to shore with the fresh ocean breeze blowing up my nostrils....loved it.
Soon I was safely back on "terra firma."
Back at the dock I looked around keenly and realised that there were many choices of sea going vessels.

So many other sea cruises to choose from......
......maybe next time.
My Atlantis Dive Certificate
This will be added to my collection of Dive Certificates over the years.
Here is the official video link for Atlantis Submarines.
Another nice dive video here.
I want to say a big THANK YOU! to Delano who was so very helpful with providing me with some additional information for this post.
THANKS DELANO.....keep up the good work.

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