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Dive Review of M/V Spree in
The Continental USA/Flower Gardens, Texas

August, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Larry Deweese, TX, US
Report Number 2675
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Baja, Belize, Bonaire, Brazil, BC, California, Cozumel, Florida, Hawaii,
Truk, Roatan, Tobago, Texas, Washington
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
130' max first dive of the day & 100' max depth after that.  2.5 hour
syrface intervals.  Buddy diving required.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
I don't take u/w pictures.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
4 stars    
This is not a report about a single trip.  I live in South Texas and
consider the Flower Gardens my back yard.  As such, I average at least 50
dives per year there.  At the time of this writing my last trip was Aug 3 
6, 2006.   
The Flower Gardens is currently serviced by two live aboards  the M/V
Spree and the M/V Fling.  Both boats are owned and operated by Gulf Diving
LLC. Spots on the boats must be purchased through dive shops. The best way
to book a spot on one of the boats is to figure out when you want to go and
then go to the Gulf Diving web site, , and look at the
calendars.  There are links to the dive shops that are selling spots for
each date.  The boats begin running trips in February on weekends only.  As
it gets closer to the summer months the schedule is generally Mon  Wed,
Thur/Fri, & Sat/Sun.  All trips board the night before the date shown
on the calendar.  Special trips are sprinkled through the schedule such as
4-day and week long trips.  By October the sport trips are usually scaled
back to weekends only.
The M/V Fling and the M/V Spree are 100 converted off-shore oil field
boats.  The boats are always clean and comfortable but do not expect
Aggressor type accommodations.  The sleeping quarters are bunk bed style. 
There are two fully functional heads and one partial head.  The food is
always plentiful and delicious and is served cafeteria style.  The boats
can accommodate up to 34 divers with a crew of 6.  The dive shops that sell
the trips generally get a free spot for a trip leader.  32% nitrox is
available from the on-board membrane system.  
The typical week end trip begins with a short dock briefing at 8:30pm on
Friday evening.  Passengers are then allowed to board the boat, claim a
bunk, complete the necessary paper work and then bring on their dive gear
and get it set up.  The boats get underway by 9:30pm and head to the West
Bank which is approximately 110 miles off shore.  The DMs wake up the
customers at 6:00am and the first dive is at 7:00.  All dives are done at
specific times.  Before the first dive a continental breakfast is provided.
 After the first dive a full hot breakfast is served.  The number one
diving rule is that the first dive of the day is limited to 130 maximum
and 100 maximum on all subsequent dives of the day.  Divers violating this
rule will have to sit out a dive.  The other rule is that when divers
return to the swim platform they must be able to take at least one breath
from their regulator.  Divers who run out of air are not allowed to dive
for the rest of the trip.  Divers are required to dive with a buddy and no
planned decompression dives are allowed.  A 2.5 hour surface interval is
done between all dives (on a two day trip).  Dive two is also at the West
Bank, dive three may be at a deep water oil platform depending on
conditions, and dives four and five are at the East Bank, with the last
dive on Saturday being a night dive.   On Saturday night the boats move to
Stetson Banks which is about 70 miles off shore.  Two dives on Sunday are
done at Stetson and then the boats head home for the 6 hour boat ride.  The
boats generally arrive at the dock by 5:30pm on Sunday.  There are
permanent moorings at the Flower Gardens.  The boats tie up to the moorings
and then run a side line from the stern to the mooring line.  Three down
lines are lowered into the water with a regulator tied to one of them at
15.  A DM is always ready to jump into the chase boat to pickup divers who
surface away from the boat.  
If you are fortunate to go out on a trip in February or March you will
experience water temperatures in the low 60s but the pay off is that there
are schooling hammerhead sharks.  In the summer months the water warms up
to the low 80s and you have the chance to see manta rays, eagle rays,
turtles, and even the occasional whale shark.  The viz can vary from 50 to
as much as 150.  The viz and water temp at Stetson is usually a little
less than at the West and East Banks regardless of the time of year.  The
currents in the Gulf can range from none at all to rip snorting.  Surface
conditions can range from flat seas to 4  5 waves.  Diving an oil
platform is a great experience because of the density of fish.  Whereas the
West and East Banks have the beautiful coral, Stetson Banks is completely
different with clay and pinnacles.  What makes Stetson special is the
variety and density of marine life.  Eels, scorpion fish, turtles, sharks,
eagle rays, and small stuff like spotted drum, jawfish, and blennies.  Dive
trips of three days or longer include one or more night dives at Stetson
Banks which I consider a world class dive.  Each year on the 7th  9th
night after the full moon in August one of the best coral spawns in the
world occurs at the Flower Gardens.  These are week long trips and must be
booked well in advance.  You can probably tell that I like this place and
Im sure you will as well.   
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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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