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Dive Review of AquaCat in
Bahamas/Exumas

AquaCat, May, 2007,

by David Steinberg, OR, USA ( 1 report). Report 3369.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Puget Sound, Vancouver Island, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, Cozumel, Palau, Belize, Hawaii, Florida
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 78 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 25 to 200 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Return to boat with 500 psi
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales >2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The dive deck had 2 separate fresh water tanks for cameras and a dry table for equipment maintenance. There was ample power for battery chargers both on the dive deck and in the salon. Additionally, the AquaCat had a film processing station on board too.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was our second live aboard trip in 14 years of diving and was a real treat. The Aqua Cat is a 102' catamaran with a 35' beam and 6' draft. Commissioned in May, 2001, it was built in Australia while Captain Mark Bailey was on hand during the boat's finishing and was trained on all the systems and the entire layout. There are 11 cabins for up to 30 passengers, each cabin having its own shower and head, A/C- climate controls and mini-refrigerator. The boat has been cared for with extraordinary efforts. No rust or mold was present anywhere and the entire boat had a feeling of daily polishing. With helpful assistance from Jesse, the house mouse, linens were changed as requested and fresh towels available as needed. Three reverse osmosis de-salinators keep an ample supply of fresh water, including the two hot water shower stalls on the dive deck.

The dive deck has 24 very roomy dive slots and 50/63/80/100 aluminum tanks available for any diver. Nitrox (32% only) was an additional $100 for the five diving days. Tanks are filled after each dive while nested in your assigned slot- just remove the first stage. There are 4 points for entering the water. Two gates are directly on the dive deck allowing for a giant stride into the water from either the port or starboard side. The other two points of entry are located on the aft water level pontoons. Exit the water via these same lower platforms on diver friendly ladder and crew assist. You even get fresh water hosing down right there. The dive crew, Janine, Max, Kat and Mike are all instructors, (as is Captain Mark, first mate Desmond and chief engineer Pete).

Our dive trip was in conjunction with a REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) field survey and as such most of the divers were experienced and well-trained in fish identification. We also had the pleasure of Ned and Anna Deloach, world renowned underwater photo/video researchers and Aqua Cat owner, Bruce Purdy. Bruce was very concerned with the invasion of lionfish in the Bahamas and Exumas waters and actively hunted them on most dives for topside research. We were treated to a couple of the Deloach's slide shows at night.

The food was exceptional, prepared by Chef Kirk Bell and his able assistant, souschef Kelly. Breakfast always included something hot off the grill, pancakes or eggs, with bacon or sausage, and variety of fruits, yogurt, oatmeal and bread. Hot chocolate was a favorite and the entire case was depleted on the 6th day. Lunch was also something hot including a couple of fancy Mexican dishes. Dinner was always superb- beef dishes, pork loin, fish and always with a soup and salad. You did not go hungry on this boat.

The dive spots were spectacular and included the Exumas Land and Sea Park along with other notables such as Amberjack Reef, Shroud Wall, and Hammerhead Gulch. The corals all appeared healthy with an abundance of fish including various species and sizes of the signature Nassau grouper. There were up to five dives per day including a night or dusk dive and two drift dives that were well timed. The feature dive was the shark dive where all participants had to sign an additional waiver. What a show that was as the bait ball disappeared after about 20 minutes.

Overall, the Aqua Cat provided superior service, the staff was very qualified, able and friendly and the diving was outstanding.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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