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Dive Review of Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventure in
The Continental USA/Palm Beach, FL

Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventure, May, 2009,

by Mort Rolleston, DC, United States (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 5115.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Key Largo, Pensacola, North Carolina wrecks, Thailand, Great Barrier Reef, Bonaire, Puerto Rico, Providenciales, Nassau, Catalina Island CA, Monterey, St Lawrence River wrecks
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 78 to 78 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 60 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions As it was a drift dive, you had to stay within sight of the dive master with the dive flag. Otherwise, no limits.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments I seem to remember a small separate tub for cameras. While I didn't use, I was under impression the main dive shop had very high end facilities as the shop's staff take and publish world class photos that are widely published.

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments While visiting Fort Lauderdale, we heard from local divers that the diving was better up in Palm Beach, where we had read about its drift diving and big critters. So, we drove the one hour north to see what the hubbub was about. The main difference compared to Fort Lauderdale is that the Gulf Stream comes all the way up to the beach in Palm Beach, bringing with it much clearer water, healthy reefs, lots of Caribbean reef fish, and yes, the big pelagics such as manta rays, sharks (including whale sharks, hammerheads, lemons, spinners, and bulls), sailfish, and turtles (including the somewhat rare, and huge, loggerheads and leatherbacks). Diving the Gulf Stream also means current, so drift diving is the name of the game. The drill is to enter the water and stay in sight of the dive master, who lugged the dive flag, until you reached 500 psi at which point you surfaced to get picked up by the boat.

It is important to emphasize that this type of diving obviously attracts more advanced divers and Jim Abernathys shop (and likely all the other operators in this area), in a good way, has pretty high expectations of your skill level and treats you as such. That doesnt imply that they are not helpful or completely left you alone. To the contrary, they were very professional, fun and helpful. My only small complaint was that the boat (Deep Obsession) did put out some fumes, but not obnoxiously so. They are the same dive operator known for the shark diving focused liveaboard trips to the Bahamas (including the famous tiger sharks in shallow water you always see in dive shops). So it is a pretty substantial and well known dive operator. We may have to try one of those trips sometime! Note: the dive shop and the boat dock are in two different locations (close, but not walking distance) in the not-so-pretty Riviera Beach area. They also get extra credit for filling my tanks more than most (at least according to my air integrated dive computer). Another unexpected bonus was the timing we were there during Memorial Day weekend when the locals flood the shores and shallows of the Intracoastal Waterway there with revelers and their boats.

Put simply, their worldwide reputation for drift diving is much deserved. The conditions were perfect; the fish life was, well, fishy; the coral was healthy; and while we didnt get to see all the pelagics that frequent these parts, we did see sharks, a huge loggerhead turtle under a ledge, large rays, a goliath grouper, and a hawksbill turtle. Our first drift dive covered Rons Reef and Rock Flower Garden. The second was a half mile right offshore of the world famous (and absolutely humongous!) Breakers Hotel (indeed the sites name Fourth Window is apparently named after the window at the hotel they use to navigate to the site). The depth was generally 40-60 feet and each dive lasted more than 50 minutes.

In sum, the diving here is generally up to the standards of many of the best sites in the Caribbean weve been to (and probably better than most for experiencing pelagics). Just remember it is all drift diving. While not difficult, I would not recommend it for beginners. But comfortable intermediates with good buoyancy and comfortable in currents would probably be fine.
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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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