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

September, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Paul Selden, MI, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 4536
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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

Water Temp
59   to 69    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
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):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
4 stars    
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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