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mantastrip1 mantastrip2 mantastrip3 Manta Ray - Flower Gardens, Gulf of Mexico 2000 dutchwestindies From Arkansas to the Dutch West Indies 2007 All images Copyright 2009 Michael Tierney


Swimming in liquid topaz

Dive Log 14:
Dutch West Indies concluded -- February 9, 2007
Saint Bartholomew's
The Green Flash

Saint Bartholomew's, a.k.a Saint Barths in French, Saint Barts in English

While you should be careful where you go on some of the Caribbean islands, as there are bad spots a tourist wouldn't want to get caught, Saint Barths is the playboy's playground of the Caribbean. The only thing you have to worry about on this island is if you can afford to go to the spots you want. Speaking strictly as a guy, wear sunglasses here, as you will see some of the most beautiful women in the world.

Saint Barts 2 Saint Barts 1 Saint Barts 4

This dive would be conducted by a local Divemaster, and I have to say that I was very disappointed. Not only was it the most expensive side excursion that I've ever taken, it was also too short.

Went to a of depth 50 feet and then bounced up and down the reef for 40 minutes. You should never bounce dive. You're supposed to go to your lowest level and then work your way back up, which we could have easily done by spiraling around the site. And I hate surfacing with most of my air left.

Even worse, this dive was conducted only a hundred yards from where the Polynesia was anchored! I could have snorkeled over to the site, and still seen all the same sights.

Saint Barts 4 Saint Barts 6 Saint Barts 7 Saint Barts 8 Saint Barts 9 Saint Barts 10 Saint Barts 11 Saint Barts 12 Saint Barts 13 Saint Barts 14

Afterwards, I joined the other divers and their wives/girlfriends on a trip to the other side of the island, where we lunched at an outdoor French restaurant located on the beachfront, right next to the airstrip and a topless beach (this was a European community).

Taking a long swim in the beautiful turquoise waters along the beach, I did worry a little bit about the propeller planes that were whizzing by a couple of dozen feet above my head, hoping they didn't get distracted by the beauties on the topless beach.

It was a very short landing strip, where planes either approached from the sea and set down right at the edge of the beach, or they dropped down over the mountain at the other end. At one point, I started to worry that a hurricane might be coming in on the other side of the island, as plane after plane left the island for a solid hour, with none arriving. It started to look like a mass exodus. But, finally, a couple of more planes flew in, and I stopped wondering if I needed to start hotfooting it back to the ship.

The Green Flash

February 07 vacation 5

Since I now owned a digital SLR camera, in addition to my dive camera, I took a ton of pictures at sunset, trying to catch the legendary "Green Flash."

For those not already familiar with the term, a green flash is an optical phenomenon that occurs either right after sunset, or just before sunrise, where a small green flash of light occurs at the spot immediately above the sun. It's a triple play of the refraction and magnification of light, bundled into a mirage.

It's a very rare event.

While I didn't capture the Green Flash, I almost had to run like the comic book version of the Flash on my way home.

I was on the last boat off the Polynesia, when they told us that the dock where we'd originally loaded was busy, but all of our luggage was there, already loaded on the bus. They dropped us down the boardwalk a mile away, and told us that we had 5 minutes to make the bus to the airport.

Having run track and cross country (a two-mile run) in High School, I knew that had to be an exaggeration. My best time for the mile was only around 5:12. But the message worked, as everyone took out running. Other passengers who taken earlier boats saw us, and also came running out of the shops and ice cream parlors.

When my flight finally touched down at Atlanta, my connection wasn't for an hour-and-a-half, so I thought I was in good shape time wise. Then we sat on the tarmac for over an hour. By the time we finally unloaded, my connection was due to depart in 20 minutes.

Immigration went quickly as I got my passport stamped, but then I had to pass through customs. Sure enough, the moment after I picked up my luggage, customs officers suddenly descended from every direction, and pounced on the couple right in front of me. They were smuggling cheese.

I was waved on.

Back in the main concourse, I had to reenter the security area, but the station closest was closed. Now I was running again. Got to the next X-Ray station, which was crowded. Finally getting past that hurdle, I was already past my departure time, and running as fast as I could while toting luggage.

Finally got to the departure area, half a mile or more away, and there was no plane. A stewardess ushered me out to a cart on the tarmac and up a ladder into the plane, closing the door behind us.

All of that rushing around certainly cuts into the feeling of relaxation that you'd been building while on vacation.

When I got home, the employee turnover that I'd thought wasn't going to happen, happened anyway. It was the first call I got.

I was back to a seven day work week, again.

But at least I had work to do. Later that same year, the Barefoot Cruise Line went bankrupt. Like so much of the now bleached coral reefs, my Windjammer adventures are experiences never to be had again.

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