Bay Islands Aggressor III
Explore an Intoxicating Wilderness of Adventure
by Jim Church
Never been on the Bay Islands Aggressor III? Let me show you what its like, day by day. This is just an introduction, though. It cant compare to an actual week of superb diving with fun-loving people; a week of living the Aggressor Fleet motto of eat, sleep and dive! Keep in mind that this is an account of my last trip, the dive sites visited are dependent upon mother nature; the crew members present may differ owing to scheduling and/or personnel changes.
Saturday afternoon, arrival day: The captain and a crew member greeted us at the Roatan Airport with hearty handshakes. Fifteen minutes later, we stepped aboard Bay Islands Aggressor III. While awaiting departure, some guests visited Casa Romeos bar and restaurant, about 40 feet from Bay Islands Aggressor IIIs berth. Other passengers checked out the ship that would be their home for the next week.
One hundred ten feet long, Bay Islands Aggressor III is broad and stable, with a 22 foot beam. She can cruise at 15 knots and accommodates up to 18 guests in seven double staterooms and one quad. A head with shower is at each end of the below decks stateroom hallway, theres a third head on the dive deck. Each stateroom has a sink, mirror and air-conditioning. Electricity is 110 volt. Between dives guests can relax at the bar or hottub on the partially shaded sundeck or in the main salon, where the ship has a collection of paperbacks and videos.
After dinner on the boat, Captain Dan, a PADI instructor, formally introduced his crew: Mike Henderson, first mate and divemaster; Jessie Ruis, engineer and divemaster; Myma Collins, chef; Enrique Goodman, electrician and steward; and Jason Wesley, photo pro and PADI instructor. Dan welcomed us and discussed the weeks itinerary. The boat left its dock early the next morning; our first dives took place off Roatan.
Sunday: At Port Royal,we found huge Pillar Corals towering over white sand chutes streaming between coral formations. Hordes of reef fish, including three enormous Blue Parrotfish and Mr. Toadfish, reside there. Our afternoon dive featured Pauls Wall, which has huge deep water gorgonians, enormous Elephant Ear Sponges, Azure Vase Sponges and Black Coral.
Monday: Monday found the Bay Islands Aggressor III anchored off Guanaja, home of the Jado Trader, a 180 foot freighter intentionally sunk in 1984. The wreck lies on her starboard side in 110 feet of water, her port side is 80 feet below the surface. Large Black Groupers will often escort you to and from the wreck. Three friendly Green Moray Eels live there and pose willingly for pictures. The hull is filled with Silversides that part to form living, shimmering corridors for you to swim through. Black Rock was our optional second morning dive. An eerie underwater maze of tunnels opens suddenly into an underwater cathedral illuminated with streaming beams of light from openings in the ceiling. That afternoon we dived Pinnacles, a majestic site featuring tiny Lightbulb Tunicates protruding from the wall. At Pinnacles base, a dramatic arch shelters Spotted Drums and French Angelfish.
Tuesday: Cayos Cochinos is a cluster of two islands and several small cays that feature numerous dive sites loaded with tiny creatures. Toon Town teemed with macro life, including Fingerprint Flamingo Tongues, frogfish, Bluebell Tunicates that resemble bunches of grapes, eels, colorful hermit crabs and seahorses. The night diving was fantastic. Finding macro subjects was the captains speciality and one of the other crew members was the undisputed octopus finding king.
Wednesday: For something different, we dived Little Cocos Seamount, a home for schooling fish, pristine sponges and spectacular coral formations. At Cayos Cochinos Pelican Point, we found nudibranchs, Slender Filefish, Spotted Drums and Fingerprint Flamingo Tongues in abundance.
Thursday: We were back at Roatan, this time diving the west end. Half Moon Bay Wall has an elegant sandchute that flows over the wall. Camouflaged Peacock Flounders, Scrawled Filefish and numerous blennies were everywhere. At Eels Garden, named for the many eels that live there, we looked for schools of Squid along with octopus and Toadfish.
Friday: The south side of Roatan offers the wreck of the Captain G, an old wooden shrimp boat that has become a busy artificial reef. Large gorgonians provided the perfect background for wide angle photographers and Harold, the resident seahorse, captivated everyone.
The dive deck of the Bay Islands Aggressor III covers the aft third of the main deck. Large gear lockers, which double as seats, line the rails and center. Two scuba tanks are mounted at the rear of each locker. You can easily don your backpack and tank while seated on your locker. Or, ask that your tank be taken to the dive platform.
Also on the dive deck is a large, three-tiered camera table with ample space for assembling camera systems and changing film.
The 22 foot wide swim step is just above water level. Once you are in the water, one of the crew will hand you your camera. After the dive there is a freshwater shower on the dive platform and a warm towel waiting as well as the chefs fresh-baked snacks. The crew rinses your camera in fresh water; it will be awaiting you on the camera table.
The Aggressors photo department provides rental camera equipment and accessories and can save a flooded Nikonos. The resident photo pro is an experienced model and an expert on local photographic lore. He or she can tell you where and how to find underwater subjects and which lens is best for each. The photo pro also processes E-6 color slides daily. The captain doubles as the video pro and shoots individual and group videos.
On Friday evening, my shipmates and I enjoyed cocktails and dinner at a restaurant overlooking French Harbor. We talked about the pleasant times wed enjoyed and promised to book a return trip on the Bay Islands Aggressor III. On Saturday morning, crew members took us to the airport and, after many sad farewells, we left this diving paradise. (We wouldve been a lot sadder if we werent so sure wed be back!)
For more information on the Bay Islands Aggressor III or any Aggressor Fleet vessel, contact the company at P.O. Drawer K, Morgan City, LA 70381; (800) 348-2628, (504) 385-2628 or fax (504) 384-0817. You can send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com or visit the Web Site at http://www.aggressor.com.