Jan Thiel and Tugboat

By Diving Instructor Sanne

Still a bit sleepy I walk into the dive center at 8 o'clock. Today I have a 'Refresher' on our house reef Jan Thiel and a guided dive at Tugboat Caracas Bay on my schedule. On autopilot I clean the sinks and prepare cold water for the customers. It is almost half past eight when the first customers walk in. Then it's my Time to Shine!

My clients are an American couple and a Dutch father and son of 12. The American couple had not been diving for 4 years. The son had obtained his Open Water certificate a year ago. His father is an experienced diver who dives with his son for the first time. We start by setting up the diving equipment. I soon notice that they've all kind of forgotten how to do this, so I'll show it while I give a detailed explanation. When all sets are assembled and checked, we sit down at the picnic table for the briefing. On the map I point out how we are going to dive. In between, I ask questions like 'why are we doing the safety stop?' to test what everyone still knows. When all questions are answered, we put on our gear and walk into the water.

We get down on our knees in the bay. First I show how to find the regulator if you lose it. Then I let everyone run a bit of water in their mask to blow it out again. After everyone gets a high five for correctly imitating the skills, the dive begins. The first five minutes everyone had to get used to diving again, but soon all four of them realized that when you exhale you go down and they were all confident underwater.

Once we arrive at our house reef we see two Angelfish swimming by. Also the barracuda with a scar on his back that often hangs around the plateau looks at us from a distance. We descend to 12 meters and search under the rocks for lobsters, moray eels, lionfish, you name it! After 25 minutes we turn around and I go to about 5 meters. I know that there is often a turtle here among the soft coral trees. And indeed under its solid rock I see its recognizable shield. The turtle finds it time to breathe and calmly swims to the surface. He came close and we all got a good look at the turtle before it swam further into the depths. We return to the bay. When we come up, everyone is very enthusiastic about the dive. I'm glad we saw a lot.
Once back at the dive center we exchange the diving tanks and put everything in the bus. After a short water stop we drive to Tugboat at Caracas Bay. I think I've dived at Tugboat 150 times now, but it remains a favorite. First we go under the pier. I always think this is a kind of church; we pass between the pillars which are completely covered with corals and sponges. The sunlight shines through the pillars like spotlights. After the pier we swim past the drop-off to the wall. Here it slopes down to a depth of 50 meters. Secretly I always look in depth here in search of sharks. Unfortunately I only saw a shark once on Curaçao. But a girl can dream...

We end the dive at the Tugboat itself. This 9 meter long wreck lies at a depth of 5 meters and is therefore the ideal diving and snorkeling spot. Once, while still intact, this tug got the anchor of the boat it was towing thrown on its deck. Blub blub blub the tug sank. Later the wreck was moved to this location in Caracas Bay. Just after the Tugboat I find a small seahorse among the coral restoration installations. Awesome dive!

After the dive we load everything back into the bus. At the diving school we all rinse off our diving gear and sit down to fill out our logbooks. With the book, of which I now know exactly where to find which fish, we discuss exactly what we have seen and look back at two wonderful dives and a great experience.
Pictures courtesy of Turtle & Ray Productions