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Dive Review of Horizon Charters/M/V Horizon in
The Continental USA/San Clemente, Catalina Islands

Horizon Charters/M/V Horizon, Sep, 2008,

by Paul Selden, MI, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 4536.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Tobermory, Lake Michigan, Straits of Mackinaw, Florida Keys, Mexico, Belize, Andros, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Galapagos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 59 to 69 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco diving. Divers could dive solo if they wished. Dive masters didn't accompany divers, so we could dive any non-deco profile we liked.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters 2 stars 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 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Unpadded bins on deck for storing cameras between dives, inside shelving in dining area for overnight. Limited tablespace and plugs but easy to make do. Large camera-only rinse tank on deck, plus outdoor warm shower.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Joined the San Diego Dive Club aboard the M/V Horizon, an 80 ft. live aboard, for their annual trip to Santa Catalina and San Clemente Islands. Boat sailed Thursday night, returning Sunday night, with 12 dives spread over three days of diving. This was my first time in the kelp forests off Southern California. It was a bit like diving through 100-foot high stalks of corn--if they grew underwater. The dive club members gave great advice on how to deal with entanglement. Like celery, kelp snaps most easily if you bend it back on itself and dont try to break it by pulling. After one dive, where I got plenty of practice freeing my fin straps and first stage from the rope-like stalks, I was pretty much at ease with the experience and enjoyed my swims through the forest. Most of the divers dove dry suits, many with thick undergarments, but some were in 7mil wet suits. The water temps were unexpectedly warm (high 60s--a bit like our local Michigan lakes), but I was glad I packed my dry suit anyway since it is relatively light to pack in checked luggage compared to my wet suit. The waves were rather rough during our trip, and the long overnight haul to Santa Catalina made many of the divers glad they had Bonine with them. At Santa Catalina we dove Little Geiger, Bird Rock and Torqua Springs Reef but missed diving Farnsworth Bank due to rough weather on the unsheltered ocean side of the island. Captain Greg Grivetto informed us that, due to the weather we would be heading for San Clemente Island over night, where more dive sites were accessible in kind of seas we were experiencing. That night after dinner onboard we took a water taxi into Avalon, a tidy little resort town. There we had waffle cones at Big Olafs and walked the length of the harbor along the Via Casino from the public landing to the landmark Catalina Casino, now converted into a movie theatre. Behind the movie theatre there is a well-known public Dive Park with wide steps down into the water. Even after dark at 9pm, many divers were suiting up to enter the water. Waking in San Clemente Island after a hard slog through choppy 8-10 ft. seas over night, many of the experienced San Diego Dive Club members were happy with the captains decision. They said San Clemente Island had more numerous interesting sites than Santa Catalina, although its use as a Navy target range prevented anyone from making visits on land. Dive sites included Petters Rock, Little Flower Reef, Fish Hook Reef, The Arch, Twin Peaks, and Pyramid Head. Most had dramatic underwater structures, ranging from walls to mysterious glades of kelp forest to a huge arch formation. Sea life was interesting, including a close encounter with a torpedo ray (fortunately, not in the mood to shock), a night dive sighting of a small horned shark, abalone and many colorful orange giribaldi. On our trip back to San Diego we saw numerous dolphins and a number of Finback whales. Life on the liveaboard was cramped, but not bad. I told myself it would be like camping, so was not disappointed. Cabins were available, but not to late-comers; I got the top of a triple bunk separated from the aisle by a curtain. There were two showers and two marine heads to share among the close to 30 passengers, but amazingly, people seemed to work out non-conflicting routines, so line-ups were very rare. Dry gear storage was limited to an approx. 4 cu. ft. open bin; dive gear remained on deck on pegs/dive bags/tanks. Chef Mark and his assistant Rachelle produced excellent meals out of the galley; their grilled cheese on thick sourdough bread was incredible. House beer and wine was included in the price; the overall cost was less than lodging and meals alone would be for a three day business trip to San Diego. The San Diego Dive Club was very welcoming to this Michigander; many members came from states as far away as Utah and Texas anyway, and new friendships were easy to make. Trip leader Scott Brown and the club members organized the trip well, having chartered this trip many times before. Their safety procedures were notable; Scott or another club member noted everyone who entered the water, and checked names off as people got back on board. Dive masters did not escort divers in the water (leading to a couple of missed highlights), but Capt. Greg gave dive site orientations and safety briefings before each dive, and the friendly crew made sure everyone was good to go prior to entering the water.
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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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