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Dive Review of Atocha Adventure in
The Continental USA/Key West

Atocha Adventure, Jul, 2009,

by Michael Marmesh, FL, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 4982.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, ABC Islands, assorted Caribbean, Costa Rica,
Galapagos, Honduras
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy
Water Temp 83 to 87 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30 to 40 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Unique situation--salvage diving in a specific limited site.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters N/A Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 1 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments I read about the opportunity to dive with the Mel Fisher Atocha/Margarita treasure salvage operation in your Flotsam & Jetsam section. Signed up to give it a try and headed for Key West.
The cost is $2500/wk/person. We participated in the second week of this new program, so they were still shaking out minor bugs. They take groups of 6 divers for one week. Included are nice accommodations in the Truman Annex area(a condo for my wife and I and a 4 bdrm. house with a pool for the 4 single divers),a welcome dinner, a 2-tank check out dive to evaluate skills and demonstrate UW search techniques, an in-depth tour of the restoration facility and labs, a tour of the Mel Fisher Museum, two days diving on the wreck site (weather permitting) with approximately 3 dives each day, and a farewell sunset wine cruise.
On the checkout dive, our divemaster demonstrated the use of underwater metal detector, fanning techniques to remove sand cover, and the collection process. Found lots of sinkers, fish hooks, 2 quarters, and scrap metal.
The Atocha trail dives involve working on the wreck site 35 miles off of Key West, approximately 90 min. boat ride by small craft. You then transfer to the salvage vessel. We were on the Dare. The other main vessel is the Magruder. You are on a real working salvage vessel and though you are made to feel welcome, you need to be able to follow their protocols and get out of the way when necessary. The procedure is to blow a hole in the sandy ocean bottom by directing the the thrust of the ship's props downward thru devices referred to as mailboxes(a 45 to 60 min. process). This makes a pit 15 to 20 ft deep with a bedrock bottom. (For the ecology-minded this might not be the trip for you.) Two of the crew jump in and search with a metal detector, as well as visually. Guests and the assigned divemaster are allowed to follow and help search. Diving is negatively buoyant(usually 8 lbs. or more than you normally carry)to help keep you on the bottom. During our trip one guest found a shard of pottery. Another guest found a clump of 3 silver coins. If you're lucky enough to find something you are given treasure up to the value of what you spent on the trip. Unfortunately we didn't find anything but we had fun trying.
If you're traveling with a non-diving companion, Key West has many attractions and distractions to offer.
In the interest of full disclosure the Mel Fisher group is interested in signing up adventure divers as investors. It is not a high pressure sell, however my wife and I did sign up for one year. This entitles us to go back and dive again throughout the year.
For more information check the website at www.melfisher.com
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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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