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Thread: Caribb-LEM Mark III, March 1st-11th of 2017 (or March 4th-11th if you want 7 days)

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Caribb-LEM Mark III, March 1st-11th of 2017 (or March 4th-11th if you want 7 days)

    Caribb-LEM Mark III is on, folks! Sign up today and reserve your room. To book your room reservation, send a check with your deposit to:

    Hardbie Inc
    PO Box 7204
    Chico, CA 95927


    We have 2 options: A 7 day, and a 10 day.

    7 day trip is Saturday, March 4th through Saturday, March 11th.
    Cost is $720 per person for a single, or $650 per person for two people sharing a room. Deposit is $350 per person, with the balance due by Feb 10th.

    10 day trip is Wednesday, March 1st through Saturday, March 11th.
    Cost is $900 per person for a single, or $800 per person for two people sharing a room. Deposit is $450 per person, with the balance due by Feb 10th.

    The cost above includes your room at the Coral View Resort, plus Breakfast and Lunch each day. (Dinner is on you.)

    The cost above *ALSO* includes internal airfare to get you from one of the two international airports in Honduras (SAP and RTB) to and from the island of Utila. Here's how that works:

    You first need to decide which option you want - the 7 day or the 10 day. Then you need to figure out how you want to fly to Honduras. There are two options:

    1) Fly to San Pedro Sula airport (SAP) in the capital city on the mainland of Honduras. Your flight must land no later than 12:45 PM, because you need time to clear customs, retrieve your checked bags, and check-in at the CM airlines desk in time to catch the flight to Utila, which departs at 3 PM. The ticket for your flight to Utila will be waiting for you at the CM airlines counter, and the counter attendant (along with most Airport employees) will speak English. The flight will be on a reasonable-sized plane as the flight is direct to Utila and must be pressurized in order to climb high enough to cross the mountain range between SAP and the coastline. The return flight will have you back in SAP by 10 AM on Saturday, March 11th so you can catch your international flight home from SAP. (Most flights leave after 1 PM.)

    2) Fly to the airport on Roatan island (RTB). This island is a popular tourist spot (it has a cruise ship termina) so the airport is pretty nice given how small the island is. You have more flexibility on your landing times here, since you will be taking a chartered flight to Utila, and it's just a short hop. If your flight arrives later in the afternoon, the charter flight can wait for you. Depending on how many people choose this option, you may end up on a 3 passenger plane, or a 5 passenger plane, or larger craft up to around 19 passengers or so. The flight to Utila is less than 20 minutes from RTB. The return flight on Saturday, March 11th can be scheduled at any convenient time for you to catch your international flight home from RTB.

    The advantage to flying into SAP is that flights are usually cheaper, and there are many options with different airlines to get there. Nearly all the international flights arrive around noon, which gives you enough time to make the connection with CM airlines to get to Utila. This is the airport that Brad, Hank, and I will be using, and we are all going to do the 10-day trip, so we'll be flying on Wednesday. (Brad and I will be flying Delta, but I think Hank is on United.)

    The appeal of flying into RTB is that the airport has some nice creature comforts like a VIP lounge and free Wi-Fi, and you have more flexibility on your landing time because the charter flight can wait for you. Plus once you do board the charter flight, you're only looking at a very short hop and you're on Utila. Everyone speaks English at RTB, and since you will be on a charter flight there will be a representative there to help whisk you through customs and get you to your plane. Also, even though there are fewer flights into RTB, the times may actually work out better for some people in the midwest and southwest. People on the east and west cost are mostly screwed though. Need to compare flights for your location to be sure. One other thing to consider: flying into RTB is about $200 more expensive, on average, verses flying into SAP.

    Remember: in either case, your airfare to and from the island of Utila (either from SAP or from RTB) is INCLUDED in the above cost for your room and board. (Minus dinner, as mentioned above.)

    So if you are budgeting, you need to figure out what your airfare will be. Then add the rates quoted above for whichever option you prefer. And then add in about $15 per day for dinner. (You will eat like a damned king on $15, trust me! The food on Utila is amazing, and it's cheap too!) Then add in any money you plan to spend on SCUBA diving, and finally toss in some cash for alcohol, trinkets, and tips. Oh yeah, and don't forget the $35 "departure fee" per person that you have to pay when leaving the country. It's plainly a money-grab by the Honduran government, but you still have to pay it.

    Since we're talking about SCUBA diving, here's some rate information:

    Package of 10 tank dives, including boat fees, reef fees, guide fees, and FULL rental gear is $300
    This is normally broken up into 5 boat trips, with each trip being a 2-tank dive. You dive one location, surface, have some snacks while the boat moves to another location, and when your surface interval is up you go back in the water for your second dive. Boat usually leaves around 8 AM and is back in time for lunch. On busy days we may run a second trip in the afternoon if enough people want to do more diving.

    Fun dives off the dock can be done at any time. Full gear rental plus a tank is $30 when done as a single, and you just wade out from the dock about 50 ft and you're on the reef! You and your buddy can explore the area as much as you want.

    Note that snorkeling off the dock is always free, and you are welcome to borrow mask, snorkel, and fins from the dive shop for free as well. So if your significant other doesn't dive, but wants to see the reef anyway, go diving in the morning and then go snorkeling in the afternoon!

    SCUBA classes are also offered. Rich will have updated prices for anyone interested. There are several ways to take these classes:

    1) E-learning prior to arrival, all pool and open-water skills done on Utila. This is the best option, in my opinion, and this is how I completed my rescue diver certification last year. You do all the course work (including testing) on-line at home before you go to Utila. Course work mostly consists of watching videos and power-point presentations, but you also have permanent access to an electronic copy of the SCUBA diver's manual to read and refer to. When you arrive on Utila, you take a short quiz to verify your knowledge, and then you do all your check-dives right there on the island. When the boat goes out, some divers will be just diving for fun, while others will be performing skills with their instructor. This way you spend lots of time together with the group while still learning what you need to know.

    2) All training done on the island. This is the way I did my advanced open-water course back in 2013. It meant spending my afternoons with my nose in a SCUBA book when I could have been exploring the island or playing with lasers in the dive shop. It was still enjoyable, and I had great access to the instructors, but I felt that I wasted some valuable island time studying. To compare, I only went on 7 dives that first trip. My second trip I went on 14 dives, despite the fact that I only stayed 1 extra day!

    3) Get certified at home before you fly to Utila. This is another option if you have a good dive shop near your location. It allows you to go diving as soon as you arrive on Utila, so you can maximize your time in the water. It's probably going to be more expensive though. (The prices at the Coral View Dive shop are hard to beat!)

    4) Some combination of #3 and #1. If you don't like the idea of doing your coursework alone on the Internet and would prefer a classroom environment but you also don't want to spend your time in Utila studying in a room, you can attend a class at your local dive shop and then perform the underwater portion of the training on the island. This will need to be coordinated with Rich and your local dive shop, and again, the price will be a bit higher since most shops can't match Rich's prices, but it is a nice compromise that still gives you the classroom experience and the Utila diving while maximizing your available free time on the island. Be sure to contact Rich if you decide to do this though.

    The diving on Utila is amazing! I have more video that I'll upload soon, but here's a taste (already posted in another thread):



    I also have video from the laser shows we did last time. I'll try to get those uploaded soon as well.

    Adam

  2. #2
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    Very very Interested!!!

  3. #3
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    One word of caution: Because of poor turnout in previous years, Rich has decided to open this event up to patrons at his Dive Shop in Chico, California. He is hoping to fill up the resort this time. Unfortunately, this year we actually do have considerable interest in the event among the PL crowd. (We've already got 3 people booked, in fact!) So the best rooms will go fast.

    Rooms will be assigned on a first-come, first served basis. If you want an ocean-view room, book early!

    Adam

  4. #4
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    I will sign up. Just need to figure out 7 or 10 days. It's tough because I need to figure out leave.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffo View Post
    The appeal of flying into RTB is that the airport has some nice creature comforts like a VIP lounge and free Wi-Fi,
    Just FYI -- last time I had a 6 hour layover at SAP on the return flight. They have a very nice air-conditioned VIP lounge there, too.

    https://www.prioritypass.com/en/Loun...nales-VIP-Club

    I think it was $20 for the day, which includes lunch(sandwich), two beers/drinks, snacks, etc. It worked out great.

  6. #6
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    Scoping out costs, it seems that Roatan is actually my cheaper option. A non-overnight layover to San Pedro is $791, a non-overnight to Roatan is $666 (not sure if I should tempt it).

    Any rare Pokemon on Utila?

    Is there a max occupancy that may negatively affect those who pull the trigger late?

    Is there a registration fee through you as well to pay for venue, like for SELEM?
    Last edited by SoulFeast; 08-29-2016 at 05:13.
    Only an electron wiggler like you would resonate at 30cm.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulFeast View Post
    Is there a registration fee through you as well to pay for venue, like for SELEM?
    The fees are:
    - your airfare to SAP or RTN
    - The resort fee (room and board) $720 or $900 (includes transfer from SAP or RTN to Utila)
    - Diving fees per day or package deal
    - Any PADI training you may want
    - Money for dinners and excursions (i.e. the now infamous "CaribbLEM Pub Crawl")

    There's no general registration fee.

    Also of important note to anyone SCUBA diving (Rich may correct me on this), but you'll most likely need a physical exam from your doctor and a signed PADI release from them saying you're OK to dive. You should get this well before your trip. Last time, I didn't realize this and had to schedule an emergency Dr visit the day before I left for Utila. Rich says you can get this exam on the island, but it's expensive and slows things down. It's better to have all your PADI documentation ready before you leave.

    Also when I went diving in St. Lucia earlier this year, it had been more than a year since the last CaribbLEM, so I had to go to my local dive shop and do the PADI Refresher course for $100 where you go dive in a pool for an hour or two to relearn all the important stuff. The St. Lucia dive shop checked my logbook and required this course before letting me dive. Of course, they offered the refresher course to me on-site, but it was $200 until I showed them I had the official PADI sticker for the refresher course.

    Also, while you're at it, make sure your passport is in order. I know some countries won't let you in if your passport is within a few months of expiring.

    And if you haven't done it yet, now might be a good time to apply for Global Entry which will seriously expedite your re-entry into the US/Customs. It's just $100 for 5 years, and also includes TSA-Pre for domestic travel. With Global Entry, you get to skip the long immigration lines and just go to a kiosk, swipe your passport, answer a few customs questions, and you're good to go. And since in includes TSA-Pre, that makes domestic security a lot easier (no 3-3-3 bags, keep shoes, belt and jacket on, keep laptops in the bags, shorter security lines, etc). For just $20/year, it's almosts a no-brainer. So there's plenty of time to apply for that before Utila.. it usually takes about a month to get approved and go in for an interview. It's really very simple - apply here: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-t...s/global-entry (P.S. If you apply for just TSA-Pre, it's $85/5 years, so GE is only $15 more).

  8. #8
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    Oh, and most importantly, you must watch the official Utila video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX-H-zF9PJ4

  9. #9
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    This looks reaaaaaaly interesting (And besides, I couldn't break a habit of going now could I?!)
    - There is no such word as "can't" -
    - 60% of the time it works every time -

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by SoulFeast View Post
    Scoping out costs, it seems that Roatan is actually my cheaper option.
    Yeah, flying to RTB works out for some people. Basically you need to be on that flight out of Houston (the one that leaves at 10:20 AM) in order to make it work. Otherwise SAP is the better choice. But if you are in an area that can get you to Houston by like 9:30 AM or earlier, you can probably save time (and sometimes money) by flying into RTB.

    Is there a max occupancy that may negatively affect those who pull the trigger late?
    Unfortunately, yes. And this year Rich has opened the trip up to people at his Dive Shop in Chico, California, so there's even more pressure. (It's our own fault though - the last two years we blocked out nearly all the rooms and then only filled 5 of them each time.)

    So yeah, this year once all the rooms at the resort are taken, that's it. (I think there will be ~20 rooms available for us, since the resort always has a few tourists there and thus we can't block out all the rooms.)

    Is there a registration fee through you as well to pay for venue, like for SELEM?
    As Hank explained (thanks dude!), there are no further registration fees. The only other thing you'll spend money on is your own entertainment!

    Quote Originally Posted by HankLloydRight View Post
    you'll most likely need a physical exam from your doctor and a signed PADI release from them saying you're OK to dive. You should get this well before your trip.
    This is especially required if you have a chronic medical condition like I do. It's very easy to get from your doctor - just tell him that you plan to do some diving and that you need a medical release. If he doesn't have the forms, Rich can provide them. But yeah, get it done early so you're all set when you arrive on the Island.

    I had to go to my local dive shop and do the PADI Refresher course for $100 where you go dive in a pool for an hour or two to relearn all the important stuff.
    This is absolutely not required. If you *want* to do a refresher just to be more comfortable, that's fine, but it's not something Rich will require. Furthermore, if anyone gets to the island and suddenly feels that they don't remember enough, Rich will be happy to do a brief refresher for anyone that wants it. (And if you want to do a full-blown refresher course, you can do that on Utila as well!)

    More to the point, however: the dive masters on the island are there to make you feel at ease, not to bleed you dry of cash. If you are unsure of something, just ask, and they'll be happy to explain it to you. I think the folks in St. Lucia that Hank had to deal with were just looking to make a quick $200 on the unsuspecting tourists. Utila is *NEVER* like that.

    make sure your passport is in order.
    This goes without saying, but yes. And the $100 for TSA Global Entry is also a smart idea... I think I'll sign up for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by HankLloydRight View Post
    Oh, and most importantly, you must watch the official Utila video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX-H-zF9PJ4
    All of us who attended the second Caribb-LEM got a chance to meet the guy who made this video! (He's the guy who does the rapping pre-dive brefing in the middle of the video. He's also the guy who rides the bike off the roof into the water...) He was the divemaster who led our dives for the first few days (Ginsky). And later in the week we ran into him at the infamous Skid Row bar, where he was both bartending and DJing at the same time! Quite the character. (Fun fact: the bike he rode off the roof in the video is now on the sea floor near the SS Haliburton wreck dive site, and I have video of it!)

    Quote Originally Posted by danielbriggs View Post
    This looks reaaaaaaly interesting (And besides, I couldn't break a habit of going now could I?!)
    Damn straight, boy! Hell, you, me, and Rich are the only veterans left! Gotta keep traditions up, right? (Besides, the pub crawl wouldn't be the same without you...)

    Adam

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