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Dive Review of Bonsai Divers in
The Continental USA/Key West

Bonsai Divers, Mar, 2008,

by Rik Pavlescak, FL, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 3919.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Grand Cayman; Costa Rica; Playa del Carmen; Palm Beach County, Florida; Costa Brava, Spain; Key Largo
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy
Water Temp 0 to 0 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 0 to 0 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 1st dive: 3 divers plus guide to about 70', wreck dive; group headed back when first diver reached 1000 PSI to assure the safety stop. 2nd dive, about 20-25'reef dive; no restrictions
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

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

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Peter at Bonsai Divers is an easy-going, laid-back no-stress kind of guy. On Friday I contacted him about going diving on Saturday. He informed me that he would be taking 2 people coming in from a cruise ship in the morning, and that his boat could take 6 divers, so I was welcome to join. I made payment arrangements and found out where to meet him.

On Saturday morning I met him and he informed me that we'd have to wait a bit for the other couple as they were clearing customs from the cruise ship. This turned into about a 45 minute delay as Peter checked in with the couple from time to time. We boated over to the docks near the cruise ship and picked them up and then were on the way.

The weather report indicated choppy conditions--and they were. This is a 26' catamaran, and it bounced along the waves. Before the end of the trip 2 of 3 divers (including me) became seasick. The water conditions made it difficult to re-enter the boat after each dive as the ladder bounced out of reach. There was no platform.

That said, I can't really blame the dive operator for the water conditions. The first dive was the wreck of the Cayman. Peter gave a good pre-dive briefing telling us what to expect. He asked us to follow the line down to the wreck--visibility for the first dive wasn't great. When the 4 of us met at the bottom, he led us from bow to stern, and offered each of us a guided opportunity to penetrate the wreck through a hatch--emerging from a different hatch. My tank got stuck on a cable near the ladder on the exit hatch, and he was right there to assist. He picked up a scorpion fish to show us, and pointed out several other fish of interest. After a safe ascent, he boarded the boat first and assisted each of the divers in boarding the boat as best as he could in the choppy water.

He switched tanks for each diver, and got us to the next dive site as quickly as possible as the water chop was intensifying. Since the next dive was at about 20' deep he didn't require a lengthy surface interval. He provided another briefing explaining the reef and sent the three of us on our own to explore for as long as we wished. There was a strong current at the bottom making it difficult to swim along the reef. One of the divers surfaced after about 10 minutes. The other diver and I decided to keep exploring the reef as best as we could--basically kicking when the current was "with us" and then resting when the current went against us. We kept up with this "two steps forward, one step back" pattern for about 50 minutes before we decided to surface at about 1200 psi. It was a tiring dive and boarding the boat in the choppy water was very challenging. Peter assisted us onto the boat as best as he could--again, it was a difficult process given the bouncing ladder in choppy water.

Once on board Peter quickly stowed the gear and headed the boat back to the dock, indicating that we would sort out the gear, disconnect everything, etc. when we got back to the dock.

Definitely not the best diving day I've ever had; if the water wasn't as choppy it would've been great. I would definitely recommend Bonsai Divers in more calm waters: Peter is knowledgeable, friendly, easy-going, safety-conscious. The boat is pristine, and adequate for small groups--be warned that there is no platform (exit is a backward roll off the side) and that the ladder can be difficult to grasp and hold on to in choppy water. I hope I can visit again in better water conditions.
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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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