Nancy Barnett (aka: aviddiver.her)
the Bay Islands Aggressor
photography friendliness: Excellent
tables/prep area: Excellent
rinse tanks: Excellent
Diving: Average Caribbean
Please note: Images chosen for the trip report were chosen to
this report. For our favorite images of the Bay Islands
please see our gallery: Nancy's Bay Islands Gallery
The Plans Change:
We plan well in advance.
months prior to departure, our friends Marilyn and Hal and we made
for Cayman Islands Aggressor. Unfortunately, six days before our trip,
Ivan demolished Grand Cayman. From the news seeping into the internet,
was blatantly obvious Grand Cayman would not be accessible to tourists
the near future. However, the Cayman Aggressor was undamaged so
took two more days for Aggressor to accept that they had the cancel the
Aggressor agreed to transfer our trip to Bay Islands Aggressor, but
of airline connections we had to leave a day early giving us three days
departure. (That's making a really long, incredibly stressful story
short) . We flew into Roatan, Honduras to meet the Aggressor.
loading our gear on the boat, we had lunch with the other Aggressor
at a nearby café. Upon talking with the couple next to us, the
made a comment about a photo of a jaw fish with eggs. Having remembered
a photo on Digital Diver (an internet community of digital underwater
we frequent), I made some inquires and discovered it was one of
other internet site regular posters (“Peaches”) and her husband!
View of the Bay Islands
Aggressor from the Cafe.
The Bay Islands Aggressor is
one of the oldest ships in the Aggressor Fleet. It is 120 ft. long by
28 ft. wide.
While the boat makes its own water, we needed to be a little cautious
fresh water so as not to out pace the storage and making capacity. The
on the main deck have a queen bed with a twin bunk over it. Also
there are two King rooms upstairs that are a little bigger and at
cost. Floor space is limited in the Queen rooms but there is a private
bathroom and shower. Air-conditioning is not individually controlled
but we found we
could open and close the vent to control the temperature adequately.
is large and when we were wet sometimes so we needed a cover up at
We found the warmest place was to sit along the wall beside the air
That way it did not blow directly on us. Dinner was seafood about every
night. They accommodate special dietary needs if you ask them in
The food was good according to the seafood eaters. Not being a seafood
I found the special meals they prepared for me okay. I don’t expect a
lot when they have to prepare something different for just a few of us.
Kurt, by way of a warning and apology, during the boat briefing told
17 passengers that many guests complain that the generator and engine
noisy. To us it was rather quiet, but we are used to California
that are converted fishing boats and very noisy. Dives were done
off of a very large comfortable swim platform on the boat's stern.
Swim to the bow of the
We dove sites around Roatan,
Utila and Cayos Cochinos
Quick overview of the diving:
There were usually two dives in the morning at one site, and two dives
at a different site in the afternoon, then a night dive at the same
afternoon site. On many dives the dive masters spent some time feeding
fish and eels.
We had a choice on all except one dive to follow the dive master or go
our own. We went out on our own except for a couple dives where the
master knew where to find a specific critter. There was always one,
two dive masters in the water with the 17 passengers (max. capacity
Most of the diving was beginner level and a few intermediate. Depths
easily kept under 100 feet. Our personal maximum was 90ft. but usually
less. Some others dove deeper especially to get right down on the
wrecks. There was no significant surge and occasionally a mild current
that was mostly noticeable near the surface. Several dives required a
surface swim from stern to bow (120ft) to descend at the anchor line.
When there was current we descended to 15 ft. and swam under the boat
to the anchor.
Topography was typically flat top plateaus of varying heights. For the
most part we started our dives on the sides (or walls) of the plateau
and ended on the top, depending upon the depths. We saw the typical
reef critters and reef formations. We saw one nurse shark, and no whale
sharks (wrong season according to Capt. Kurt). Only “Peaches” saw an
eagle ray. There was a rare turtle; we saw one. There were a few Moray
Eels and a few other smaller types of eels. Groupers were mostly at one
site over a deep wreck that were well fed by the dive masters. Other
than that I saw one grouper on our last dive. Barracuda where common
but not schooling in significant numbers and were rather
shy. The highlight for me was my first sea horse. We saw two this
We dove three wrecks. For dive images see our gallery: Nancy's Bay Islands Gallery. If interested there is more dive
specific information with dive images at the bottom of this
Captain: Kurt, Steward:
Randy, Cooks: Candy and Francine, Dive Masters: Nester and Eddie. Were
all great. No Complaints whatsoever.
Steward Randy Cook Candy
Crew images by
They say we had the best
possible weather. It was a humid and hot 85-90 degrees but the salon
and rooms had AC. Sunny every day with occasional brief thunder storms.
Underwater visibility was rather poor. At times near the surface it was
down to 10 feet vis. Deeper than 50 feet or so the vis improved.
The Side Excursions:
Mid-week there was a dusk
dive in place of the night dive so we could go ashore at Utila. There
was one gift
shop open, two street venders and several bars. A place called the Jade
was a bar and hotel very uniquely decorated with walls of glass bottles
concrete, glass beads in concrete and beautiful tiles. Every bit of
was a work of art. The restrooms, both men's and women's were
and well worth the half mile or so walk to the place to check out.
after a short visit most passengers went racing back to the boat to
the biting insects!
The last dive day was a 2 morning dive day . Afternoon excursions were
offered. Either swing through the jungle canopies on cables or take a
bus tour of the
island and shop a bit or stay on the boat for a massage. I got out
to 1 for fear of bug bites in the jungle so we did the bus tour. I was
disappointed however. We visited an iguana farm with hundreds of
a marine reserve with tarpon, baby turtles, lobster and conch. There
also two small white faced monkeys (not indigenous to Roatan) in a
was allowed into the cage with the monkeys. I decided to join him to
photos of him with the monkeys. After finding his pockets empty one
climbed on me and tried to unzip my purse with two hands. The monkey
would not have had any trouble with the zipper except I was preventing
her. All the while I was trying to photograph the other monkey who was
The monkey climbing on me decided she liked her image in my camera
Too bad the camera was not on super macro at the time. Scott managed a
of her adoring herself. Eventually she did get my purse
, stole my chap stick and ran off. She was trying to bite the cap off
I feared she would swallow it and get sick. So, determined, I battled
monkey until I got that chap stick back. As I stepped back she rallied,
on me, started biting me and trying to take the chap stick back.
she did not break skin or get the chap stick back. The shopping
was brief and was dampened by children swarming our group in attempt to
or swindle money.
Of six of us who
compared notes, five found the diving “okay”, but a bit bland.
Keep in mind that
we have all dove many other places and just prefer some of those
was the exception, he liked the diving quite well but was very
disappointed with the poor visibility.. I know many people
whom return to Roatan
year after year because they love it so much. Perhaps it would have
us a bit more if the vis were better. I believe the signature dive
Mary's Place on Roatan, would have been more dramatic with clear water.
all liked the boat and the crew very well.
The Dive Sites:
9/19/04 dives 1 and
2: Roatan at 40 ft. Point:
Our Maximum depth 50 ft.
This is a plateau with a drop off to 90 feet. It was loaded with
critters most notably a tiny Golden eel on the first dive and a Moray
Eel on the second dive who was swimming about and came within foot of
9/19/04 dives 3 and 4: Roatan at Taviana's Wall
depth 58 feet
This was an area of many large rock areas. On the first dive
there was a mild surface current to swim against to get to the anchor
line for descent.
Here we saw our first Pedersen's Shrimp who was inside a corkscrew
which was also a first. Additionally, when we crossed paths with
dive master he pointed out a Lettuce Leaf slug, again, something we had
Lettuce Leaf Slug
When we entered the water for our second dive we discovered the current
was much stronger. We descended diagonally under to boat swimming
into the current toward the front of the boat. Eighteen minutes
into the dive we finally reached the front of the boat where we began
our exploring while constantly swimming against a bit of current.
Toward the end of
the dive I noticed a juvenile Spotted Drum. We cut the dive short
36 minutes to allow enough residual air to deal with the current at the
if necessary. To our surprise the surface current was now gone.
9/20/04 dive 5: Roatan at Wreck of Aguila
Our maximum depth 86 feet but we stayed well above the wreck.
At the bow of the wreck in about 95 feet of water there several
and a large Moray that are well fed by the dive masters. The
nearby reef we found un-impressive.
9/20/04 dive 6: Roatan at Wreck of the Odyssey
Our maximum depth 71 feet. Again, potential for deeper.
This wreck is split in half with the two pieces separated and pointing
different directions. We swam to the bow of the boat and beyond
where we found a very beautiful sun drenched wall. This exquisite wall
was unknown to our
divemasters because they never venture off this deep wreck.
Scott at the Odyssey
Trumpet fish at the reef near Odyssey
9/20/04 dives 7 and 8: Roatan at Eels Garden
Our maximum depth 40 feet. Potential for more.
This is a wall with a shallow sandy area at the top that is lined with
rocks. I spent most of this the first feeling like a
paparazzi as I
chased reef fish while battling digital shutter lag in attempt to
9/20/04 dive 9 (night dive): Roatan at Eels Garden
Our maximum depth 45 feet
Swam the rocks around the sandy plateau. We saw two squid
and two octopuses. While attempting to photograph one of the
squid it attacked my camera's focus light while giving me a gentle tap
on my shutter release finger before jetting off. . I called it a “kiss”
until I discovered a tiny superficial skin tear where it had apparently
scratched me with the “teeth” squid have around their suckers.
9/21/04 dive 10: Utila at the wreck of the Halliburton
Our maximum depth 84 feet with a potential for deeper.
This is a flat bed wreck with a tower of rooms at one end where most of
the divers spent their time. It was a good dive for macro where
of the railings are covered with Encrusting sponge housing many tiny
critters. One notable feature of this dive is the bicycle
strapped to one of the rails on the tower. Many divers were
unhappy with this dive. I believe because there was only a small
area of interest where we all spent our time. A second dive was
planned here but the passengers declared a mutiny, called a vote and
demanded we move on to another site.
9/21/04 dive 11, 12 and 13: Utila at Jack Neals
Our maximum depth 70 ft with potential for deeper
Jack Neals provided plenty of variety and room to spread out. The
divers seemed satisfied with their choice to move to this site.
are walls and pinnaces at this site. Here I saw my first sea
a Longsnout Seahorse. We also saw a moray and pipefish along with
the usual suspects.
9/22/04 dive 14, 15 and 16: Utila at Cocco's Sea Mount
Our maximum depth 69 with potential for deeper
Here there are two large flat top sea mounts side by side attached by a
deep saddle unique with very large barrel sponges. This day we
dove the larger of the two mounts. They are too large to cover
both mounts on a single dive. Cocco's was one of our favorite
dives of the trip. The first dive at this site stared out a bit
bland but as we swam the perimeter of the mount we started finding more
surprises. Our only turtle of
the trip, schools of Atlantic Spade fish, schools of barracuda and
larger fish. On subsequent dives there was a nurse shark tucked
a ledge. I also spotted my first red lipped blenny.
Red Lipped Blenny
Turtle at Coccos
9/22/04 dive 17: Cayos
Cochinos at Toon Town
Our maximum depth 45 feet with potential for more.
This dive is known for it's profusion of Blue Bell Tunicates hence
“Toon Town”. Unfortunately, this was a dusk dive in very
murky water which wasn't ideal conditions for showing off the Blue
Bells. We never found the “wall” with nudibranchs that was
described in the dive briefing. Just a gentle slope and no
Blue Bells by Scott
9/23/04 dive 18 and 19: Utila at Little Cocco's Sea Mount
Our maximum depth 67 feet with potential for more.
Today we dove the smaller of the two Cocco's Sea Mounts. All in
all another pretty dive.
9/23/04 dives 20 and 21: Roatan at Connie's Dream
Our maximum depth 61 feet.
This site has hills with sand channels running between them. The
dive masters found us another sea horse. There were several queen
Angels and trumpet fish here.
9/24/04 dives 22 and 23: Roatan at Mary's Place
Our maximum depth 80 feet with a potential and temptation for much
This was our final day of diving. The first of these two dives
was the only one Aggressor crew required we follow the dive
master. They lead us through a dramatic, deep, narrow maze of
crevices which we swam through
single file. Given the depth and narrowness in a
situation, we were asked not to stop thus it was difficult to take any
images at this site filled with potential. Most of the beauty
dives of 65+ feet. Although we were on our own the second dive,
chose not to go deeper than 65 feet due to flying the next day.
Consequently we were still not able to explore the potential of
this beautiful site. The visibility was poor in the shallows
(less than 20 feet in places). Visibility improved below 60
feet. This dive would have been much better done earlier in the
week and with better vis.
Barracuda at Mary's Place
That's about it,
Nancy (aka: aviddiver.her)