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

July, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Michael Marmesh, FL, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4982
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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

Water Temp
83   to 87    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 40    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Unique situation--salvage diving in a specific limited site.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
1 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
3 stars    
    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 
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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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