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

March, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Rik Pavlescak, FL, US
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 3919
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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

sunny, windy, dry  
Water Temp
0   to 0    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
0   to 0    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
4 stars    
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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