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St Maarten Diving
We did 4 dives at St Maarten and 2 more down at Saba. Water temperature at both locations was 81F° and visibility was excellent, approaching 100 feet on the cargo carrier site.

Diving at St Maarten was fair at best. The first dive on the first day a roll-on roll-off cargo carrier (3 ) which went down while at anchor during Hurricane Louis in 1995. The site was apppropirately named "Cargo Carrier". It sits fully upright in an otherwise barren sand desert, at a depth of about 60 feet, and could be penetratred at several levels. It was poorly decorated, with a few patches of fire coral and held only a few fish.

The second dive that day was a low relief reef (less than 3 feet) named Charlie Shoals. Here again the fish and critter counts were low, but the water was warm visibility quite good.
Saba Diving
Aqua Mania Adventures operates a day trip via a catamaran ferry to nearby Saba, a distance of 20 miles. Cost was $55. They also booked a two tank dive trip for us with Saba Deep, at a cost us $110. The dives take all the available time on Saba, so you will not get to tour the island if you dive. You return to land for lunch between dives.

Saba provided two good caribbean dives. Both reefs were well decorated and high relief, with the usual set of caribbean critters, and lots of colorful tube sponges. (5 ) Fish were numerous on the 60 foot Babylon reef but less so at the Grand Canyon site, a swim thru overhang at 25 feet. (2 photos)

Best of all, Babylon Reef provided for a rare sighting of Batman and Robin doing their synchronized swimming routine! ()
Be sure to click the [Large] button for a full screen view.
The Wreck of the HMS Proselyte
While trying to enter Phillipsburg harbor in 1801, the HMS Proselyte, a British frigate of 32 guns, hit the reef that now bears its name and sank. Since the location of both Phillipsburg and the reef had been well known for over 150 years, the captain was tried and convicted of gross navigational negligence and reduced in rank.

Today, like all wooden hulled wrecks that sink in warm water, little remains that is not metal or stone. Still, 20 cannons and two large anchors are strewn about the debris field, most jettisoned to try to save the sinking ship, (5 ) The reef is a high relief sponge encrusted rock ledge reaching nearly to the surface from about 50 feet. Fish life is sparse in the field of brown gorgonians that surrounds the reef, and the interesting wreckage is in or close by the rock ledge itself.
When the aircraft carrier George Washington pulled in to St Maarten for the April 2006 Easter weekend, my daughter Dana and I flew down to meet her husband Ray for a few days of diving and touring.

The island is of volcanic origin, about 12 miles east to west and half that north to south, with steep hills reaching to 1315 feet. It has been shared by Holland and France since the 17th century, but there are no border guards, customs checkpoints, etc, only signs like the one in the first photo announcing the border. It is Sint Maarten on the Dutch side and St. Martin on the French side.

The international airport is on the Dutch side. Immigration is prefunctory, and customs is non existant. The island population is about 85,000. The biggest town, Phillipsburg, is the capital of the Dutch side. Marigot is the largest French town.
Due a masterpiece in coordination, my daughter and son in law stayed in The Flamboyant across Simpson Bay from the airport on the French side of the island, while I stayed at Captain Olivers, () also on the French side, but at the far eastern end of the island 11 miles away.

Traffic, narrow roads, slow buses on steep hills, speed bumps, chickens, potholes, goats, dogs and rastafarians having visions made the one way trip around half an hour. We had a rental car, but after riding a day with me, my daughter refused to drive in the melee, and the Navy was forbidden to drive anything on the island. Ergo dad did the shuttle service all over the island.

Food seemed to always be good on the French side, even nondescript little resturants, and the fresh bagettes from the grocery stores became the snacks de jour. Food on the Dutch side was decidedly average.
St Maarten & Saba Underwater Photos

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St Maarten and Saba Underwater Photos
St Maarten and Saba Underwater Photos
St Maarten and Saba Underwater Photos

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