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Author: Jett & Kathryn Britnell

Last Tango in Paris: Napoléon’s Tomb

“Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.”~ Napoléon Bonaparte “That was the greatest and finest moment of my life!” a smallish man in a white raincoat proclaimed loudly as he exited the domed church at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris. Moments before, this man stood trembling with excitement and removed his cap out of respect as he gazed for a long time at an ornate marble tomb. It was June 23rd, 1940; just three days after the French capital had become German-occupied territory. The following day during his official sightseeing city tour,...

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Graveyard of the Great Lakes: Tobermory’s Shipwrecks

“Voyaging begins when one burns one’s boats,  adventures begin with a shipwreck.” ~ Michel Serres Canada’s maritime history is replete with stories of ill-fated schooners, container ships, trawlers, passenger vessels and other craft that have foundered due to nasty squalls, thick fog banks, menacing currents, jagged shoals, human error and a host of other perils. Over the centuries countless lives have been lost, and thousands of storm-battered ships have been violently pulled under into the stygian depths. In reverence to the thousands of shipwrecks entombed on the bottom of Canada’s Great Lakes, mariners have ominously nicknamed this recurrent zone...

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Raptures of the Deep: Beneath British Columbia’s Emerald Sea

In his best-selling book, “The Silent World”, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau waxed poetically about his intrepid 50-fathom dives into the zone of rapture, that precarious depth where… “divers become like drunken gods”. Cousteau was recounting his early experiences deep diving under the mind-numbing effects of nitrogen narcosis. He described these intoxicating seizures as “l’ivresse des grandes profundeurs” which when translated means “rapture or intoxication, of the great depths”.  “Raptures of the Deep” is an evocative phrase that accurately describes the dizzying underwater grandeur beneath British Columbia’s Emerald Sea. Splendor In The Pass Queen Charlotte Strait lies between the “top end”...

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Fish Photography: The Ultimate Undersea Skill

In keeping with our promise to provide Shoot Like a Pro photography tips, this time we’ll delve deeper into fish photography. Photographing fish is widely considered to be the most rewarding specialty in underwater photography. In his book, Mastering Underwater Photography, renowned fish photographer, Carl Roessler, dubbed it “the ultimate undersea skill.” While an entire book could be written on this subject, what follows are some quick tips for novice underwater photographers to help them successfully photograph these moving targets. Use the right tools These days just about any digital camera is a capable tool for making fish pictures....

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Realm of the Giant Pacific Octopus

“Below the thunders of the upper deep, Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth…” (excerpt from The Kraken, by Lord Alfred Tennyson) “Supple as leather, tough as steel, cold as night!” was how Victor Hugo described the writhing tentacles of a giant octopus in his 1866 novel, Les Travailleurs de la Mer. Hugo wrote of an unimaginable account of a man embroiled in a life or death struggle with a malevolent blood-thirsty cephalopod.  Indeed, what could be more horrible than to find oneself suddenly trapped in a nightmarish death struggle with...

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The President and the Lady: World’s Greatest Diveable Intact Shipwreck?

In this column we are transporting you to the Republic of Vanuatu, a South Pacific Ocean nation comprised of roughly 80 islands that stretch 8,000 miles across cerulean blue sea. One island, Espiritu Santo, attracts scuba divers from around the globe to not only dive its coral reefs and walls, but primarily to explore a WWII-era American troopship called the SS President Coolidge, considered by many to be “one of the world’s greatest shipwreck dives!” The Fog of War Bathed in a shroud of dim pale blue light the silent steel hulk looms up from the shadowy depths. An...

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Gulet Odyssey: Blue Voyage of Dreams

“If you come to the top of this hill, you will see Bodrum. Don’t think that you will leave the same person as when you arrived. To all those who came before you, it happened that way: they lost their hearts in Bodrum.” ~ Cevat Şakir, the Fisherman of Halicarnassus There’s a likely chance you may never have heard about a Blue Voyage before? A Blue Voyage, or Blue Cruise as it is also called, offers a truly unique and unusual recreational yacht charter adventure aboard a gulet which navigates along the ancient ruins-strewn coastlines of Greece’s beautiful Dodecanese...

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Unconventional Underwater Photography Tips

“Marine photography is just another form of photography, and if one learns more from what has been done before—on land or by the great artists—one can bring this with oneself underwater and create better images.” – Amos Nachoum When we started our Third Age Expeditions column here on Luxe Beat, we promised to provide some photography tips and tricks from time to time. This month we are sharing some tips to help improve your underwater photography. If you’re seeking something more enlightening than just being told, “Get Close, Get Closer and Shoot at an Upward Angle,” then you’re in...

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Feliz Navidad From Isla Cozumel

Celebrating Christmas in the tropics promised to be a grand family adventure with no snow, no tree, no turkey, no stuffing and zero stress. During the traditional season of gift giving, Cozumel was the present we gave to ourselves! Cozumel’s Tormentos Reef “That was one of the best dives I’ve ever done!”, Kathryn proclaimed after surfacing at Cozumel’s Tormentos Reef. Comprised of coral pinnacles towering approximately 20 to 30 feet high and interspersed with wide, sandy areas. The colorful coral heads are adorned with purple and orange sponges, brain and whip corals. Tormentos is a veritable ocean garden where...

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Unknown Titanic of the Pacific

“For God’s sake, hurry. The water is coming into my room!” (One of the last dispatches from the telegraph operator aboard the Princess Sophia.) S.S. Princess Sophia The steamship SS Princess Sophia was a steel-built coastal passenger liner in the coastal service fleet of the Canadian Pacific Steamship Line. Built in 1911, the vessel was known as a coastal class “pocket liner.” Named after Princess Sophia, granddaughter of Queen Victoria and daughter of Emperor Frederick III of Germany, the ship entered service in 1912 and plied the coastline of British Columbia from Vancouver and Victoria up to Skagway, Alaska as a...

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3 Ways to Ruin Your Riviera Maya Vacation

Riviera Maya is a fanciful 20th century tourist slogan given to a rather scenic stretch of Caribbean coastline on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula. Famous for its beautiful sun-drenched beaches and all-inclusive resorts and hotels, Riviera Maya’s tourism district lies approximately 17-kilometres (10-miles) south of Cancun, Mexico beginning at the quiet fishing village of Puerto Morelos and stretching south to Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras and Akumal before coming to an end at the Maya town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Two thousand years ago, long before they were conquered by Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century, the Yucatán Peninsula was...

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Descend Into Sombrero Island’s Tubastraea Heart

“The ocean is everything I want to be: beautiful, mysterious, wild and free.” ~ Anonymous Okay, this is our third column. How are we doing so far? We received a request for a scuba diving destination piece, so without further ado, I’ll share with you one of our favorite off the beaten path dive sites. In 2006, international marine scientists proclaimed the Philippines as being the center of marine biodiversity in the world, surpassing even the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. In an archipelago with more than 7,000 tropical islands, Sombrero Island is one tiny isle that definitely stands...

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