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May 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Key Largo, Maui, New Zealand . . .

maiden voyage kinks in Thailand, a rude photo pro in Bonaire

from the May, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Thailand Aggressor. I like to keep you abreast of developments at popular destinations and new opportunities, and of course, we have cautioned in the past about rushing to board that new liveaboard in a new location. Last summer, the maiden month of voyages on the Carib Dancer faced all sorts of problems, and had plenty of unhappy divers (read our story about that in the October 2012 issue). The Thailand Aggressor, which also just got underway, has its headaches, says Gale French and Shaya Zucker (Austin, TX) of their April tour. "We just returned from a seven-day voyage on the 'new' Thailand Aggressor in the North Andaman Sea. The first four days was diving around the Similan Islands. The 'yo-yo' divemasters searched to show the divers something. There were no schools of fish and very little sea life, just huge underwater rocks and boulders. The famous Richelieu Rock dive site had some sea life, mainly sea anemones on the rocks. There were nine liveaboards anchored there, and a traffic jam of divers underwater. During the entire trip, we did not see a shark or a manta ray. We saw just two turtles, few tropical fish, some small sea fans, and no whale sharks or coral reefs. What we did see were commercial fishing boats at night in the national park . . . We were all appalled with the conditions of the boat. The toilets and water stopped working for two days out at sea. After they started working again, the cabins and hallways smelled like sewage. The nitrox mixes were never consistent, so the additional fee charge for nitrox was dropped. The one person diving air found that nitrox had been mixed into her tank, so she had to analyze her tank each dive, but never had a reading of more than 21 percent air. The inflatable skiffs were small and unstable for entry to and exit from the water. After nearly sinking in the skiff, the entry into the water was changed to a grand stride. Divers were instructed to swim away from the boat "as fast as you can" to avoid the propellers. There was no ladder off the back of the boat, the rinse-off showers were scalding hot, and the dry-off towels were never washed. Gear was tossed and piled into the skiffs when exiting the dive sites. One couple canceled their second week on the boat due to the disastrous boat condition and lack of sea life . . . Upon returning home, we sent complaints to the Aggressor owners. Their response was they were sorry that our trip didn't give us the full 'Aggressor experience.' Their letter did not fully address our list of safety concerns. They sent vouchers for $1,000 off another Aggressor trip to be taken within the next 12 months."...

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