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Dive Review of Blackbeard Cruises in
Bahamas

Blackbeard Cruises, Jan, 2009,

by Lee Fenner, OH, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 4596.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Great Lakes, Galapagos, Kauai, Kona, Roatan, Oriskany, Keys, Destin, Cozumel
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, dry Seas surge
Water Temp 73 to 78 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco, max depths except one dive were above 130 ft
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Plastic 55 gal drum with fresh water changed daily for rinse. No dedicated camera table.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments My 18-dive cruise was from 27 Dec to 2 Jan on the Pirates Lady. We departed Blackbeards dock at about 4 pm on Saturday and did one dive prior to motoring to the Bimini area overnight. The next three days featured 4 dives including a night dive each evening. On New Years Eve, we dove three times near Port Lucaya, Grand Bahamas, and arrived at the dock about 4 pm. New Years Day featured two dives after leaving the port at about 8:30 am. Due to three foot swells, we ducked back into port for lunch in between dives. We were back at homeport by 3:30 pm and off the boat by 9 am on the 2nd.

Blackbeard is an excellent value for a lot of diving in minimum time. The living conditions on the 65-foot boat are good, but Pirates Lady should have a refit soon as most wood surfaces need to be refinished, rust scraped, and surfaces repainted. The crew cleaned the marine heads three times a day keeping them in satisfactory but rustic condition. There were 13 divers on this trip, so there was plenty of room to spread out.

The crew of five worked extremely hard to insure everyone had a good time. The skipper, Pedro, and the cook, Carrie, were exceptional. Food was plentiful and well-prepared. Rum punch, beer, and wine were included and available when done diving for the day.

Diving was fun, but marine life is lacking compared to the Keys and Cozumel. Not too many large fish probably because there are no marine sanctuaries and spear fishing is allowed off scuba. You can spear lionfish on scuba. Several wrecks, particularly the Theos and Seastar were excellent. The shark dive was a highlight and run very safely. Exit from the boat was giant stride from either side and entry was from a long ladder on the stern. You had to remove your fins and put them on your wrist to safely climb the ladder. Once back on board a crew member guided you to a bench seat with a tank cut-out. They had whips to refill the tanks so your BC stayed on the same 80 cu ft AL tank for the entire trip. Tanks were filled consistently to 3000 psi. No nitrox available. Only the one drift dive was guided. Most dive sites had pretty straight forward natural navigation, but divers need to have reasonable situational awareness and compass skills since currents can pickup/change and the visibility made the anchor line difficult to see at times. Water temps varied from 73 to 78, mainly 75. With the wind, frequent cloud cover, and multiple dives I was very happy to have my dry suit and noticed most divers missed some dives because they were cold.

The crew was very safety conscious but two incidents did occur that I felt could have been handled better. On the last diving day, the first dive was a wreck in about 95 ft. Swells were 3 ft and the wind was shifting in direction making the boat buck and roll pretty good. On the way back up at about 25 ft, we saw a crew member in the water motioning to us seeming to want to check our air status. We signaled OK, but then the propeller was turned on for several seconds a couple times. Divers were a safe distance away but it was still disconcerting. I asked about it on board and was told the sea conditions required a slight change in direction. While I can understand this need, the underwater communication would have been clearer with a slate or better hand signals. Then on the last dive of the trip, we dove on an old navy Higgins boat briefed at a max depth of 50 ft, but it was actually in 90 ft. A crew member had to set the anchor and then came back on board in time to correct the briefing, but didnt. While divers should be able to handle this situation, briefings to known sites should have accurate max depths.

A travel word to the wise. Dont count on checking the Internet to reconfirm your flights since Wi-Fi is spotty. Make the phone call when in cellular range a couple days before. I neglected to do this and I missed my original Continental return flights as flights/times were changed to two hours earlier than I had booked.
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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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