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Dive Review of Eclipse and Safari liveaboards/Safari in
Micronesia/Palau

January, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Jennifer Widom, CA, US
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6399
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Worldwide
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
Seas
calm, choppy, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
82   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
1
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
All dives were about an hour.
  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
Squadrons 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
No dedicated camera/charging area but it's a private liveaboard so no
problem creating one.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
4 stars
Food
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
N/A  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
Beginners
4 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
Palau diving is typically either land-based (2-3 dives per day with long
speedboat rides) or via one of the well-known liveaboards (e.g., Aggressor,
Dancer, Ocean Hunter) that carry up to 20 divers doing 4-5 dives per day.
There's a third option many are not aware of: Two small liveaboards,
Eclipse and Safari, cater to 2-4 divers. You reap the advantages of
sleeping at the best sites and diving several times a day, while getting a
more customized, personal experience than on the bigger liveaboards.
Furthermore, with four passengers (and free drinks!) the total cost can
undercut even the least expensive of the large liveaboards, significantly.

Both boats are owned by John McCready and are affiliated with Sam's, where
they dock. John normally captains the Eclipse, a 48' sailboat; his wife
Charlie is the cook/divemaster. Our family of four chartered Safari, a 36'
powerboat. Safari is nicely laid out with a comfortable master suite, a
forward cabin with two small single beds, a galley, dining table,
air-conditioning, three small deck areas, and a dive platform that works
well for up to four divers. Even though we had a dinghy along, we were able
to dive all sites easily from the main boat. Safari isn't perfect: She
could use a quieter/faster compressor (apparently it's coming), a larger
supply of fresh water, and a bit more shade, but we won't actually complain
-- we loved the boat.

We had two crew: Jason the captain, and René the cook/divemaster.
They worked together very well, getting amazing amounts done yet always
seeming relaxed. Jason, a friendly American who's built, lived on, and
piloted boats a good part of his adult life, was extremely competent at
both driving the boat and keeping all of its systems humming. René,
a charismatic and fun-loving German, runs a popular restaurant on Malakal
Island with his wife. The food on board was truly gourmet, the best we've
ever had on a liveaboard. (And since it was a private charter, the food
could be customized to our tastes.) In addition to being an amazing cook
and an excellent divemaster, René was a fount of information on just
about any topic -- fun company and a perfect "cruise director"
for our family.

As for the diving itself, what is there to say about Palau that hasn't been
said a thousand times already? Blue Corner and New Dropoff had ripping
currents and were teeming with sharks and large schools of fish. German
Channel yielded lengthy encounters with multiple mantas each time we dove
it. Other sites boasted healthy coral, beautiful walls, innumerable
turtles, a few eagle rays, stingrays, eels, sea snakes, etc. The macro
creatures weren't as numerous as, say, Indonesia or the Philippines, but
they were made up for by the good visibility and frequent company of the
big stuff. Our dive schedule on Safari had us doing four one-hour dives per
full day, starting at 7:00am and finishing just after dusk. (We managed
three dives the day we set out, and two dives plus Jellyfish Lake on the
last day.) The wide spacing of the dives was useful and safe, given that
some of them pushed our computers close to the no-deco limit. Where we dove
was a decision made jointly between our desires and René's knowledge
of currents, tides, and when each site was at its best. We also managed to
plan our dives so we rarely encountered other groups underwater, no small
feat given the hundreds of divers out there from the other liveaboards and
the many dayboats.

In summary, for a group of 2-4 divers who want the "hard core"
Palau diving experience, great crew, great food, a comfortable boat, and no
company, consider Safari (or Eclipse, though we don't have first-hand
experience to report). Depending on your group, it could even be
surprisingly easy on your wallet.
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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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