Blackbeard’s Scuba Diving Scouts FAQ

Scuba Diving Scouts FAQs

Travel Planning

Blackbeard’s leaves Nassau on Saturday afternoon for the Exuma Cays. Each week is a new adventure with no fixed schedule. The Captain will check the weather and sit down with your leaders to find out what high adventure activities your group would like to do. He will then plan an itinerary that works everything in. During the week he will adjust it to meet any changes in what you would like to do and to adjust for changes in the weather. The last night of the trip will be spent in Nassau where you can explore the big island with your new buddies! Dinner on Thursday is served on board at the dock.

Dive liveaboard cruising is an appealing alternative to conventional land-based dive vacations and larger cruise ships. We offer a more flexible but inclusive travel experience – one that provides ”twice the fun at half the price”. Aboard Blackbeard’s you’ll get a camping-like experience at sea with good food, dormitory-style living arrangements, a fun and friendly crew and with plenty of great diving.

For flight planning purposes boarding is 12:00pm on Saturday and shove off by 3:00pm. Please be on board by 1:00pm at the latest. The latest we recommend landing is 12:00pm so that you have time to clear Bahamas Customs & Immigration and transfer to the dock. Once on board lunch is served; you will some have time to get settled in and then attend a mandatory safety briefing before we depart Nassau.

Blackbeard’s returns to Nassau on the following Thursday afternoon. Dinner is served on board at the dock and then you can spend the last evening exploring Nassau with your new friends! All passengers must disembark by 9:00am on Friday morning. If you have a flight later in the day, you may leave your luggage in the lobby while you sightsee. Your last dive is complete by early afternoon on Thursday. Plan your flight home according to your “NO FLY” standard from your certifying agency.

Please contact the vessel if you experience any changes or delays in travel to the Bahamas on Saturday as our U.S. Reservations Office is not open on the weekends. The cell phone numbers to the boats are 242-376-7608 and 242-376-7606. If you have arranged Ground Transfers through us with Island Escape Tours, please ALSO contact Mr. Wright directly at 242.449.7862. The U.S. Reservations Office can take your calls Monday thru Friday 9:00am — 5:00pm EST at 800.327.9600 or 954.734.7111.

Travel to Nassau on Friday is recommended when possible. We have hotels in Nassau we can recommend for the night. Also this takes the stress out of same day travel – no lost luggage or missed connections to worry about on the day of boarding! Let us know what you want to do and see while you are in the Bahamas and we’ll do our best to steer you in the right direction. Click here to go to the Trip Info page with hotels in Nassau. You might even want to check out one of the other Out Islands at the end of your trip!

All travelers to the Bahamas need a passport. As you arrive into Nassau Airport you will clear Bahamas Customs & Immigration. Be sure your plane ticket matches your documentation. Check with the Bahamas Embassy for visa requirements if you are not a U.S. citizen. U.K. Embassies act on behalf of the Bahamas as well. As you depart Nassau at the end of your trip, you will clear U.S. Customs & Immigration before arriving at your departure gate. Please plan extra time to check in for your flight home.

NAS is the airport code for Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport. All the major carriers fly into Nassau, most of them with very competitive fares.

Blackbeard’s sailboats dock at the Nassau Harbour Club Marina on East Bay Street, right across from the Starbucks. The ride is approximately 30-40 minutes from the airport to the dock.  If you need group transfers to or from the dock while in Nassau, we can assist. You can complete the Scout Troop Group Transfer form you will find on our Resources page or call our office at least 5 days prior to your departure. The cost is $18.00 per person per leg and must be prepaid. Taxis are readily available at the airport too.

Do I need any vaccinations? Most visitors to The Bahamas do not need special vaccinations before entering the country.

***Latin American Citizens:However, travelers over age one must provide a YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CERTIFICATE, if they are coming from countries with the risk of infection such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. They must be vaccinated 10 days before entering The Bahamas. Information can be found on the following sites:

Bahamas Entry Requirements

CDC Travelers’ Health

The liveaboard business is a service industry, and although the general public is seldom aware of it, gratuities are a major part of a crewmember’s salary. Few other recreational activities rely so heavily upon the professionals in charge for your enjoyment and safety. A gratuity for the crew is included in the pricing of the scout trips. You are welcome to leave more when they feel the service was outstanding. If you are disappointed with the service, you should inform the captain of your feelings right away so he may rectify the situation.

 

The fees cover the Bahamas government taxes and fees.

Various forms for each person must be in our U.S. Reservation Office two weeks prior to departure and must be originals. We suggest that leaders make copies of all forms to keep on file. See the Resources page.

If someone needs to get in contact with you because of a true emergency, they may contact the U.S. Reservations Office and we will relay the message. The boats travel to remote areas. The only possible way to contact them is to relay a request to return to cell range so they may call our office. Since the boat is frequently hours from the nearest tower, this can cause you and your fellow passengers to miss out on part or all of a day’s diving. This contact should be for true emergencies for this reason.

We strongly recommend purchasing dive accident and travel insurance for your trip. In order to maintain our reasonable cost and high level of service, we do not automatically insure your trip against the adverse effects of weather or other factors beyond our control. Your holiday represents a very large investment, and unforeseen circumstances such as named storms, injury or sickness, airline issues, and family emergencies can easily affect your ability to travel.

Diveassure: For annual combination trip and dive accident insurance.

Divers Alert Network: For annual combination trip and dive accident insurance.

Travelex: Travel protection for a single trip. You may choose the TRAVEL SELECT policy and select the optional ADVENTURE SPORTS COVERAGE upgrade which waives the policy exclusions for extreme sports such as scuba diving.

Here is our Scuba Diving Scouts Recommended Packing Checklist:

CLOTHING TO BRING: Space is limited on Blackbeard’s sailboats and the islands we visit are very casual. Several bathing suits, shorts, long pants, several t-shirts, blouse/shirt and wind breaker all packed in soft luggage. Also deck shoes, sandals, sunscreen (non-oil), a hat and sunglasses. Don’t forget jammies since this is dormitory style, you’ll need something to sleep in besides your birthday suit! In winter, sweatshirts or sweaters are advisable. Personal items such as aspirin and decongestants.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • 2 towels – nothing is worse than drying off with a wet towel. One for salt, one for fresh.
  • Leave-in conditioner – hair gets to be a tangled mess, this helps.
  • Socks in case your fins rub.
  • Motion sickness tablets – in case the motion of the ocean makes you queasy.

DIVE GEAR:

  • Dive logbook to keep track of your dives
  • Dive certification card: If you’re going on your open water course, they will give you a card
  • Mask, fins and snorkel*
  • Buoyancy compensator * **
  • Regulator with submersible pressure gauge * ** (Rental regulators have octopus and pressure and depth gauges)
  • Dive watch *
  • Depth gauge or computer * (Our rental regulators have depth gauges)
  • Wetsuit ** (Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended)
  • Dive light ** (Required for night dives)
  • Chemical light stick or suitable substitute (Required for night dives, may be purchased on board)

*Required for divers
**Available for rent with prior arrangements

OTHER

  • Your passport.
  • Money for port night.
  • Snacks – if you get hungry in between meals you can bring little snacks on board.
  • Special diets can be accommodated with prior arrangements.
  • A good book for between dives and you can swap it with others when you’re done.
  • Eye mask to block out light so you can fall asleep.
  • Lip balm – between the sun, salt, wind and water it’s a good thing to bring along.
  • Earplugs help motion sickness and drowns out boat noise.
  • Journal to write down daily thoughts and contact information for new friends.
  • Clothespins to keep your clothes from being blown into the ocean.
  • Deck of cards – always a good idea.

GEAR TO BE LEFT AT THE DOCK:

  • Suitcases, clothes, and toiletries for the return trip home, street shoes and everything else you won’t need on the boat–for this trip, less is more!

WHAT NOT TO BRING:

  • Big bulky bags – try to pack light and in soft-sided bags. You can leave your wheeled bags at the dock storage with your going home clothes.
  • Alarm clock – you are on vacation!

You can find a printable version of this list in the Blackbeard’ section on the Resources page.

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Policies

Blackbeard’s cruises are geared towards diving so the recommended age for children would be 10 for junior divers and 12 for open water divers. Keep in mind, children under 15 must be supervised by a parent or guardian at ALL times. While our crew is most gracious and good with all ages, they WILL NOT provide childcare services or supervision at ANY time during the cruise.

Groups of 18+ 9 or Less Bunks
On Booking $1,000.00 $500.00
November 15 $3,000.00 $1,500.00
Four Months Prior $3,000.00 $1,500.00
Two Months Prior Balance due Balance due

There is no refund for cancellations after Nov 15 unless space is filled, in which case there will be a full refund. We will waive this penalty if you communicate with us and allow us time to book other scouts into your unfilled space.

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Diving

We host all levels of divers from beginners on their check out dives to seasoned pros on vacation! Be sure to bring your certification card (c-card), we’ll need to see it. If not certified, you may take a Discover Scuba Diving course from our dive instructor for a $125.00 fee.

Our scuba diving instructor will give you basic instructions. This will allow you to make 2 dives under the supervision of our dive instructor. This resort course does not qualify you for certification. The BC and regulator are included with a resort course. The fee is $125.00.

We cannot provide full certification on board. The class and pool work must be done locally before you leave home. If open water check out dives are needed, we can finish your course with a referral from your local instructor. Resources to get your certification started:
Boy Scouts     Girl Scouts

Yes, our dive instructor can with prior arrangements. The cost is $15 per dive plus cost of the certification form if not provided. Many new divers choose to make their first dives in the gin clear and warm waters of the Bahamas instead of in cold muddy lakes!

We do two dives per day plus several night dives each week. Two dives a day provides for ample time for exploring a deserted island, for the halyard swing or for finding your own adventure.

All the dives will be planned to stay within 60 feet depth to meet the standards set for by the Boys Scouts of America.  The visibility and light penetration at these depths is always better so you’ll be able to enjoy the colors of the marine life too.

The Northern Exumas offer some of the most spectacular and varied diving in the Caribbean. Our specific itinerary varies with the winds to obtain maximum visibility for diving. The depths normally range from 20 to 60 feet. Each week we do a shark feeding dive (parental consent form required), a blue hole and drift dive.

The dives offered on Blackbeard’s are unescorted. The instructor on board will give you a very in depth briefing before each dive describing the conditions, the current, depth, and it will include a visual aide. The instructor and/or staff will be in the water for all drift dives and the shark feed! If your troop requires a dive guide in the water on all dives, an extra instructor can be added to the crew for a fee.

 

Certified scuba divers need snorkel, fins, mask, and regulator with pressure gauge, buoyancy compensator (BC), u/w watch, and depth gauge. For night dives the minimum requirement is two light sources: a dive light plus a backup dive light, a non-strobing marker light or a chemical light stick (cyalume). Cyalumes are $3.00 each and are sold on board. We provide tanks, weights and weight belts. Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended. There is storage on deck for all gear and we have rinse buckets for underwater cameras and regulators.

If you do not have your own equipment, we have “top of the line” buoyancy compensators (BCs), wetsuits, computers, dive lights and regulators with octopus and gauges available for rent. All rentals must be arranged prior to departure and need be ordered in advance. You will find a group rental form here on the Resources page under Blackbeard’s. We do not store our gear at the dock so last minute requests may not be available. We also have cyalumes available for sale at $3.00 each.

Rental Rates:

Regulator with octopus and gauges               $50

Buoyancy compensator (BC)                          $50

3mm wetsuit                                                      $35

Dive computer                                                   $50

Dive light                                                            $30

Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended for snorkeling and scuba diving in the Bahamas. When deciding what to bring, consider that you will be diving frequently each day and it takes your body a while to warm up after each dive. Air temperature, the wind and cloud coverage, all these factors affect how fast your body warms back up after a dive. Choosing a wetsuit is a very personal decision, some people wear a full suit in the summer and some dive with a shorty in the winter.

Month Water Temperature (F/C) Air Temperature (F/C) Wetsuit Recommendation:
January 72-75 / 22-24 72-80 / 22-27 Full Wetsuit 5mm
February 72-75 / 22-24 72-80 / 22-27 Full Wetsuit 5mm
March 73-77 / 23-25 72-85 / 22-29 Full Wetsuit 5mm
April 75-79 / 24-26 76-90 / 24-32 Shorty or Full
May 77-80 / 25-27 80-90 / 27-32 Skin or Shorty
June 79-81 / 26-27 80-90 / 27-32 Skin or Shorty
July 83-87 / 28-30 80-90 / 27-32 None
August 83-87 / 28-30 80-90 / 27-32 None
September 83-87 / 28-30 80-90 / 27-32 None
October 78-82 / 26-28 76-90 / 24-32 Skin or Shorty
November 75-80 / 25-27 72-85 / 22-29 Shorty or Full
December 73-78 / 24-26 72-85 / 22-29 Full Wetsuit 5mm

The reefs are perfect for snorkeling with crystal clear waters and lots of fish, both small and large! You can snorkel anytime the boat is anchored! You need to bring mask, fins and snorkel. The snorkeling is not supervised. If you have not snorkeled before, we also recommend a snorkel vest. You can enjoy a variety of snorkeling experiences whether on dive sites with coral heads that reach close to the surface or nearby mangrove nurseries close to shore, for example.

The Exumas are home to just a few wreck dives. We do visit the Austin Smith to dive. The wreck is not penetrable but it lies on a great reef and is the site of our shark feeding dive.

Yes, we normally do one shark feeding dive each trip. A shark release form must be signed by a parent if under 18. Sharks are seen on most dive sites throughout the Bahamas.

Yes, we have an electric 17 CFM compressor with dual water separator & filters onboard. This new electric compressor system will keep the noise down compared to the gas powered ones of the past! Tanks on board are typically 80’s. We do have 50’s, 63’s and 100’s available upon request. Each diver has a dedicated tank for the week with our tank benches.

Yes, but we follow Bahamian law which limits you to free diving only. No trigger and no tanks! We have Hawaiian slings & pole spears on board for you to use. The lobster season runs from Aug 1 until Mar 31st.

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On Board

Three complete meals are served daily, as well as snacks. Meals are served buffet and eaten picnic style. There is always a hammock of fresh fruits for those between meals snacks. We have coolers of punch or lemonade always available. Coffee and juice will be served with breakfast. There is no alcohol or soda on our youth/scout trips. We can accommodate special diets but please let us know in advance of the trip.

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free are pretty easy to work with as well as allergies so let us know upon booking if you require special meals. Please remember that you are participating in an adventure travel vacation that is occurring in a remote part of the world. Many of the modern conveniences, brands and pre-packaged goods we use at home are not available in remote destinations. As such, many special requests that are very specific may be difficult to accommodate.

Finally, if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other special life event, please let us know. Our crew stands ready to assist you in making your special day something to remember.

The best time for sailing is from October to April. During the period from May to September there is normally very little wind. The crew welcomes passenger participation or you may just relax in the sun.

Motion sickness medication should be brought along in the event that we encounter rough seas. We want you to be comfortable. The boat will spend the night in calm anchorages and normally scuba diving will be done on the lee side of the islands. The best thing about a liveaboard diving vacation is that we can flex our schedule to go where the weather and conditions are best!

Internet service is not offered on board, sorry. Unplug and relax while you dive all week! Your smart device may be able to connect to the Internet when we are within range of the 2 cell towers in the Central Bahamas. Be sure your cell provider has international service with the Bahamas before you go.

Yes, all the fishing gear is provided and our cook encourages it! Whatever we catch that is edible is cooked for passengers or used for sushi! The rest is saved for the chumsicle and the shark feeding dive. Just keep in mind that we spend a bit of time within the limits of the Land & Sea Park which is a marine sanctuary. There is no fishing or taking of any kind while we are within the park boundaries. The crew will show the scouts how to clean any fish or conch that is caught.

There is plenty of space for your snorkel & dive gear in our top side storage compartments. There is a shelf at the end of each bunk where you can store clothes and other personal items. Everything else must be stored in your luggage on the floor next to your bunk or in your bunk, so it is best to bring as little as possible. We have storage at our dock for any empty bags or any bags you won’t need.

Yes, one shower is equipped with both fresh and saltwater taps. Everyone cringes at the mention of a 30-second freshwater shower but it does warrant some explanation! There are two shower heads in the shower: one fresh and one salt. Saltwater use is unlimited so lather, shampoo, shave, etc., with the unlimited saltwater and then use the 30-seconds of freshwater at the end to rinse. You’ll feel fresh as a daisy! Bring your own towels-we recommend two – one for topside and one for showering.

Space is limited on Blackbeard’s liveaboards and the islands we visit are very casual. We suggest several bathing suits, shorts, long pants, several T-shirts, one shirt, and a wind breaker all packed in soft luggage. Also pack deck shoes or sneakers, sandals, towels, suntan lotion (non-oil), sunglasses and foul weather gear (pants and jacket) which is a necessity to keep dry from spray or rain. Personal items such as aspirin, decongestants and shampoos are also recommended. We provide all bedding. We have storage at our dock for any empty bags or any bags you won’t need. We recommend 2 towels – 1 for salt and 1 for showering. Each bunk has a shelf at the end where you can store clothes and other personal items and a few hooks to hang your ditty bag too. Click here for a quick checklist.

Sleeping Cabins #1-4 upper and lower bunks are single bunks with curtains for privacy. These have less space but are more private. #5 and 6 upper and lower bunks are double bunks meant for two people to share. This is typically where couples are housed. #7, 8 and 9 upper and lower bunks are in the main salon. These bunks are double wide but usually only sleep single passengers. There is less privacy here but more room. Think camping on the high seas only better — we have air conditioning and do all the work!

The Exuma Cays offers opportunities to go ashore and explore and enjoy the uninhabited beaches. For these occasions, we highly recommend proper footwear. Flip flops are not suitable. We suggest water shoes or TEVA type sandals. Sneakers are fine but they will get wet!

Yes, each vessel is equipped with a DVD player and an iPod docking station.

No smoking is allowed below deck. We ask that smokers step aft to the stern where a canister is kept for butts. Please do not throw them overboard.

Spending money for souvenirs is all they will need. The currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar which is on par with the US dollar and is used interchangeably.

We have regular 110 volt household current. No adapters needed for U.S. electrical plugs.

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