We think SCUBA diving under practically any conditions is great. Then we got on our very first live-aboard dive boat with The Aggressor Fleet in Belize and learned that on a live-aboard conditions are always perfect. Yeah, the Aggressor III and staff spoiled us. Here’s how.
11 reasons live-aboards rule
1. No elbowing the diver next to you. The Aggressor III has a very roomy dive deck with plenty of space to stow and dry your gear and ample room for suiting up (hey, it requires plenty of room to get into and out of a wet suit).
Happy divers! Eric and Karen pre-dive on board the Aggressor III live-aboard dive boat in Belize.
2. No freaking out about basic gear. The Aggressor III is stocked with spares of basic essentials in case something in your kit stops working or you forgot something. For example, Eric borrowed a wet suit hood (he’s modeling it, above) from dive master Jordy and wore it for most of the diving to stay warmer underwater. This made his dives much more enjoyable.
3. No waiting until you get back on dry land to use the bathroom after a dive. On a live-aboard your bathroom is always right there immediately after a dive. Anyone whose done any SCUBA diving knows how important this is.
4. No soggy towels. After every single dive on the Aggressor III we were handed a clean, warm towel fresh out of a dryer right on the dive deck. You heard us.
Eric taking the plunge off the Aggressor III's ample dive platform. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
5. No stale crackers and over-ripe fruit to keep your energy up. Diving is hard work. The staff of the Aggressor III knows this and they keep the platters of freshly baked cookies, conch fritters, lionfish fingers and more coming so everyone stays fueled up.
6. No scrambling in and out of small boats to travel out dive sites. Just turn up on the dive deck of the Aggressor III, gear up and step off the specially designed platform at the back of the boat. Think of it as a chauffeur service for divers.
7. No fighting for the fish i.d. books. There were more than enough copies of marine life reference guides on board the Aggressor III to satisfy all of the curious divers.
Photo courtesy of fellow diver Michael Eppoliti.
8. No nasty regulator taste. Crew members came around with a spray bottle full of diluted mouthwash to shoot into our mouth pieces before each dive. Yeah, that happened.
9. No sand. When diving off a live-aboard your feet never touch the ground.
10. No vague (or non-existent) dive site maps. The dive masters on the Aggressor III drew wonderfully detailed 3D maps of every site we visited.
11. Perhaps our favorite live-aboard touch? The two hot shower heads (with shampoo and conditioner dispensers) right on the dive platform which made post-dive rinse-offs a complete pleasure.
Karen all wet. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
Another plus about live-aboard diving? The sheer amount of diving you can do–up to five dives a day. During our week on the Aggressor III we did 22 dives totaling about 20 hours underwater at 12 different dive sites including the famous Blue Hole–a cave with a collapsed ceiling that’s been engulfed and filled by the sea (photo below–click image to enlarge).
So, what did we see down there? Plenty, including seahorses, lots of turtles, lot of amazing spotted eagle rays, colorful reef fish galore, gorgeous corals (soft and hard), barracuda, frogfish, reef sharks, dolphins, octopus and hammerhead sharks!
Eric spends so much time taking pictures on dry land that he leaves his camera behind when we dive. We thank Captain Simon Marsh and fellow divers Michael Eppoliti and Brian Shea for the use of their awesome underwater images from our time on the Aggressor III.
A pair of spotted eagle rays "fly" by. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
Okay, we didn’t see the hammerhead. But fellow diver Brian Shea did and he shot the underwater video, below, to prove it.
We also got the chance to try out a very James Bond hand held underwater scooter which was fun, though we startled the heck out of a curious eagle ray.
The strange underbelly of a spotted eagle ray. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
We also put our Nitrox certifications to use for the first time and we have to say that we agree with those divers who claim that this mix (which is lower in nitrogen) left us feeling more energized at the end of a long day of diving than regular old air. Then again, it could have been the post-dive hot showers and warm chocolate chip cookies…
Aquarium-like reef fish and corals underwater in Belize. Photo courtesy of Michael Eppoliti.
Eric hanging around checking out a seahorse. Photo courtesy of Michael Eppoliti.
Divers exploring coral heads. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
Eric and I watching a spotted eagle ray "fly" past. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
A common reef shark. Photo courtesy of Michael Eppoliti.
A great example of a brain coral. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
An angel fish dining on coral. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
A turtle with a pair of remoras attached to its belly. Photo courtesy of Captain Simon Marsh.
That's why it's called a spotted eagle ray. Photo courtesy of Michael Eppoliti.