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Dive Review of Paradise Charters in
Bahamas/Bimini and south to Ocean Cay

Paradise Charters, Apr, 2006,

by Eric Dahlgren, CO, USA . Report 2463.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Hawaii, Florida Keys, Tortola, Saba, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Cabo San Lucas, Akumal, Cozumal, Channel Islands, Curaco, Honduras, Caymans, Turks & Caicos, Dry Tortugas, St.Lucia, St.Kitts, St.Maarten, Walker's Cay
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 78 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 100 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Stay within computers, do safety stop, come up with 500 pounds in tank
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Separate fresh water rinse tank for cameras, crew assistance with cameras in and out of water, no separate camera table, no film processing, usual cable hookups to TV for video viewing.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Diving on the Easy Goin' is like being with family. The boat is immaculately clean with lots of homey, personal touches. The 62' steel crew boat, which they converted themselves into a dive boat, is home for Captain Chuck Petrozella and First Mate Peg Schwallen (www.paradisecharters.com). Divemaster/deck hand Dave Shoemaker lives on the boat much of the time also. The boat is docked at the Bahia Mar marina on the Intercoastal in Fort Lauderdale about 20 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport. They do weekend dives off Fort Lauderdale and Bimini, mini-and week trips to Bimini or Grand Turk, and Dolphin trips. The boat has an impressive array of safety and nav gear and Chuck invites guests to hang out in the wheelhouse anytime and listen to his never-ending repertoire of jokes and stories which had us in stitches most of the time. A thorough safety briefing is given before leaving the dock for the 6-hour ride to Bimini, and safety is a priority throughout the entire trip. The boat holds six divers in three guest rooms located below decks. Rooms have adequate space for two people once the gear is stowed. There is a single bunk above a smallish double bunk, but there is storage space at the head of each bed, under the lower bunk, and in a small cabinet. Divers share the head which also has a shower and sink.

Even though she was recovering from a double knee replacement, Peg managed to supply the hungry divers and crew with delicious, hearty meals in vast quantities. She got rave reviews from our group, especially for her just-baked breads and desserts. She always had fresh fruit waiting after dives and snacks were available anytime. Drinks, beer, and wine are included in the trip cost but any alcohol consumption means your diving day is done.

Dive gear is stowed on the back deck in seats below the tanks and there is a bar with large hangers for drying wetsuits. A roomy dive platform is three steps down from the deck and it has a large ladder for easy reboarding after the dive. There is a warm water hose for rinsing off the salt and biodegradable soap for a nice shower under the stars after the last dive. A stairway lets you climb above the main salon to the small "Melonoma Deck" which has lounge chairs for catching the sun. Towels are provided for in-room use but you'll need to bring your own deck towel.

Most of our diving on this trip was drift diving on reefs in the 50-75' depth range. On several dives the current was a ripping 4-5 knots and we would drift a mile or more. Dave would tow a float and the divers would queue up on him at the end of the dive for the safety stop, then everyone would come to the surface together. Only when all divers were on the surface in a small group would Chuck bring the boat in close and throw out a tag line so we could haul ourselves to the dive platform and climb back on the boat. This worked quite well since all of us used air at roughly the same rate. Other boats in the area with larger numbers of divers couldn't follow their groups in this manner so they generally had to anchor. This meant that their divers had to stay close to the boat and fight the currents. I much preferred our method.

There was a lot of shark action on several of our dives, usually reef sharks but occasionally a nurse shark could be found on the sand under a ledge. We often spotted hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, sting rays, lobsters, crabs, large barracuda, and the usual assortment of reef fishes (but not in huge numbers) and less often, small morey eels and garden eels. The reefs seemed to be generally in good shape with colorful hard and soft corals and lots of sponges. In one area, weedy algae covered much of the reef. Many areas have lots of cuts, crevasses, chimneys, and swim-throughs which make for fun, interesting diving. The locals are allowed to take conch and lobster on hookah so we would sometimes see one "mother boat" surrounded by several smaller dinghies. Their divers would literally comb the reefs and sandy areas taking anything of commercial value. Even so, we saw large lobsters on every night dive, often protecting the eggs that were attached to their swimmerets, and conch were plentiful in the sandy areas. Blackbeards and a couple other liveaboards were in the area but we never saw other divers in the water.

Our group got a rare treat on the trip over to Bimini as we stood on the bow after dark and watched bioluminescence trails from three dolphins that were riding our bow wave. We couldn't see them when they leaped out of the water, but the green sparks flew in all directions when they splashed back down and the double green trail appeared again.

The Captain is willing to adjust the itinerary within reason to fit the desires of the group and the weather conditions. There is a $65 Bahamas fee and the trip cost is $1,525 pp double occupancy. With good weather, and depending on your flight schedules, you can count on 20-25 dives. Note: with ever-increasing fuel costs, Paradise Charters may be forced to add a fuel surcharge as many other boats have already done.
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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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