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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat in

July, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Mark Kimmey, NY, USA
Report Number 1930
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
New York, Hawaii, Kwajalein, California, Florida Keys, Grenada
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
80   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
3 stars    
Planning this trip through the resort's North American reservations agent,
Maduro Travel, Inc., was not without its problems.  It took a flurry of
email traffic over a period of days before we felt we had a reservation,
and even then we were a little nervous of what we might find when we
arrived.  Simply, the agent kept screwing up the reservation: we would ask
for something, he would price something close.  Or he would forget to price
something we asked for, or would misspell our names (it's email for crying
out loud, so it's not like he had to decipher my writing), or the math on
the invoice was off.  We wouldn't have spotted the last if we hadn't grown
leery of the operation toward the end and started checking everything more
closely than we otherwise might have.  By the time we arrived in Bonaire,
we were apprehensive that Captain Don's might be as slipshod as their
reservation agent.  (We later found out that the guy handling our trip left
Maduro shortly after our trip.)

Fortunately, Captain Don's met most of our expectations.  Rooms were clean
and accommodated diving (tile floors, clothes lines, etc.), though a bit
under-cooled.  The "habitat" cottage we stayed in had coolers in
the two bedrooms, only: the common areas (kitchenette, sitting area and
bath/shower) had no cooling.  The resort's restaurant served good food at
good prices, and the dive staff was proficient and friendly.

The only area of concern was maintenance of their rental gear.  Since I'm a
certified technician and once owned my own equipment servicing business,
this has always been something on which I keep an eye: I believe it's
indicative of the overall responsibility of a dive operation.  During the
week, my son was issued two BCs, the first of which leaked.  More alarming,
9 of 10 tanks bled air, either from the tank valve o-ring, the tank neck
o-ring, or in one disturbing case, from the bursting disk retaining plug. 
When taking tanks for shore dives about the island, it was not uncommon to
find that tanks had bled 300-400 psi from the time we picked them up at the
filling station to when we actually began a dive, sometimes after
snorkeling out to the reef.  We tagged the problem bottles, but attempts to
report what seemed to be a systemic problem to the staff were met with
polite indifference.  In the case of the leaking bursting disk screw, we
found the problem in the water during a boat dive and duly reported it to
the divemaster upon exit: he looked at me like I was an idiot and simply
put the problem bottle with all the others.  What I should have done was
pull the bad valve o-rings to force the fill operator to replace them.  As
it was, I checked tank pressure on every bottle we pulled from the
"ready" pile before loading them into the truck, and only
replaced the valve o-rings when it was obvious there was a problem.  I
would dive with Captain Don's again, but unless they get their maintenance
act together, I'll resort to automatically replacing the o-rings on their
tanks when I draw them.
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