by Melissa Hart – Sunset Divers Boat Captain & Instructor
Being a dive boat captain is easy right? Drive around a boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea with beautiful warm blue water calling your name, picking your favorite dive sites, mingling with the customers everyday. Sounds amazing right? Let me tell you what it actually takes to be a boat captain at Sunset Divers.
Well it’s not for the faint of heart to be a captain here at Sunset Divers. I mean, who actually wants to park a ‘million dollar’ boat in a concrete box. What’s the concrete box you ask? Well that’s our dock where we pick you, the guest, up from in front of the Resort. Ever wonder what’s on our minds? Safety. Our safety briefing about the vessel is the first thing you will hear from the captain or crew before we depart. It’s important to pay attention!
Every day a captain looks at the weather, wind direction and the wind strength. This all plays a big roll in our day and customer comfort. We are always checking the waves and swells, because that can make the dock challenging when it’s all combined together. Also confirming the guest numbers for your vessel and the number of tanks required equally as important for the trip. Before every departure the captain completes an engine check on the vessel before it’s started and communicates to the dive shop for anything required and finally we record the engine hours and fuel. Captains at Sunset Divers aren’t made overnight, it takes hours of practice docking, leaderships skills, professional attitude and exceptional customer service.
Picking a dive site can be easy or challenging. We try our utmost to pick the best, but if the dive site is taken we move on to plan b, c, and then d, until we can find one that is appropriate for the level of divers onboard. At the same time we are assessing the current, sea conditions, weather, other vessels on the water, and the overall safety. Once secured on the mooring, the best is yet to come, the dive briefing. Our captains and crew deliver their briefings showcasing their charm & wit, while ensuring you are listening carefully to the safety procedures.
At the end of the trip, we ‘put the boat to bed’ on one of our house reef moorings where she sits waiting for our next trip. But the Captain’s duties are not over yet, we have to check over the boat, turn everything off and then it’s either time for lunch or the end of day.
Ask The Captain:
Q: How do you get out to your boat everyday?
A: The answer to my friends is we swim to and from the boat every time. Sometimes we can take the kayak, but usually we swim.
Q: Where do you fuel the boats?
A: Right here at Sunset House. We have a bowser (some of us would know it was a slip tank) which we use fuel the boats while on the dock.
Q: Why is the boat always in gear while we are at the dock?
A: We use the engine power and the spring-line to hold the boat against the dock to keep it as stable as possible while we load guests and gear on board.
Q: How many boats do you have?
A: In the water, we have 6! One boat on the north side of the island which is our biggest v-hull Ocean Spirit, 2 brand new catamarans Eagle Ray 2 and Leopard Ray 2, a further 2 v-hulls Sunset Diver 2 and Sea Ray, and finally everyone’s favorite Eagle Ray.
A bit about myself, I am Mel, originally from the rolling hills of Alberta, Canada where my boat driving skills all began. I have been an instructor for over 10 years, the last 5 as a PADI IDC Staff instructor with 2017/18/19 Elite 50 status. Crazy to believe I joined the Sunset family 5 years ago, time flies when you’re living the dream.