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

May, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Mort Rolleston, DC, United States
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 5115
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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

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
78   to 78    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
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):
Service and Attitude
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
2 stars   
4 stars    
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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