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Dive Review of Great Escape Charter Company in
Australia/Western Australia

Great Escape Charter Company: "Good diving in the Indian Ocean", Nov, 2014,

by Robert & Gayle, OR, US (Contributor Contributor 13 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 8027.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The Great Escape is a lovely boat. We had one of the panorama cabins which are at the bow on the salon/dive deck level. There is a small refrigerator in the room. The TV in the cabin only plays what's on the TV in the salon, but had a DVD player. Unfortunately, the DVD selection was sparse. There are 7 staterooms, so no more than 14 divers on board, plus a crew of 6. They will do guest's laundry upon request. Their office will arrange with a local liquor store to have your liquor purchases delivered on board, as this is a BYOB boat. They will pick you up at your hotel in Broome or at the airport, and deliver you to the boat. Upon return, they will deliver you to the airport or the hotel of your choice. You should plan to spend a couple days in Broome, it is a town with an interesting history.

Rowley Shoals is only dove 3 months out of the year. It is said that only 400 divers per year visit this remote area. The Great Escape had 7-day trips to Rowley Shoals for the first 3 weeks of November. Their main business is Kimberley expeditions in the dry season. (Of the other boat operators, True North had 5-day trips in September; the Odyssey had 7-day trips in October.) The Rowley Shoals schedules vary, depending on when the boats leave the Kimberly. The Great Escape does not have Nitrox. There are two rear platforms at water level, but only one has a ladder. Some of the dives were drift dives, usually off the big boat. Current on drift dives was usually slight to moderate. There were some channel 'rides' on the outgoing tides, both snorkeling and diving. Typically, there were 4 dives per day. With 3-rung ladders, the dinghies are not easy to board, particularly if it's choppy. They used the dinghies for snorkeling and on a few dives inside the lagoons. Otherwise, they prefer to have you swim back to the boat. On drift dives, they bring the big boat to you, after you have swum out from the reef. One dive at Mermaid Atoll was a "blue hang" to 100 feet with 4 divers hanging off a buoy line, crinkling water bottles and looking for pelagics, but we didn't see anything. Late one afternoon, in lieu of a night dive, we had a picnic on Bedwell Island. The crew ferried over tables, chairs, food and drink (and guests!) to the beach. We walked around the island a bit, but were warned to stay away from the nesting red-tailed tropicbirds. Each morning there was a continental breakfast, the first dive, then a breakfast buffet, then dive, eat, dive, night dive, eat.

Overall, communication was not the best. You have to keep in mind that this is not a dedicated dive boat. Briefings were usually oral only, not diagrammed. Dive times were merely guidelines. They did have a check-out/check-in procedure in place. They continually had trouble dealing with PSI vs. bar; they wanted us to convert our PSI to bar, but we didn't know how. The food is diverse (we thought it was a little odd sometimes, but we were the only Americans on board) and it appeared to be well-prepared. There were 13 guests, of which 2 were snorkelers. But, even so, the dive deck was overcrowded. The 15-hour run to Rowley Shoals from Broome was brutal, but only two guests admitted to being seasick.

There were a lot of hard corals and large numbers and/or sizeable schools of the usual suspects: butterfly fish, reef sharks, squirrel fish, coral trout, trevally, cod, batfish, sweetlips, Moorish Idols, unicorn fish, surgeon fish, blue tangs, parrot fish, humphead parrot fish, Christmas Tree worms. Less prevalent were soft corals and sea fans. There were good amounts of anemone fish, giant clams, wrasse, angels, trigger fish, banner fish, longnose hawkfish. Occasionally, we saw leopard sharks, octopus, eels, cuttlefish, tuna, porcupine fish, a flounder, eagle rays. Other divers reported seeing a hammerhead shark, but we did not see it. So, overall, not a lot of big stuff, but still a lot of stuff to see.
Websites Great Escape Charter Company   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Australia, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, Palau, Truk, Fiji, Tahiti, Red Sea, Indonesia, Philippines, PNG, Raja Ampat, Solomons.
Closest Airport Broome Getting There SYD to PER to BME. No direct flights on Qantas from Sydney to Broome.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30-100 Ft/ 9-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco, 60 minute dives.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Subscriber's Comments

By keith brashear in FL, US at Jan 06, 2015 20:03 EST  
I was confused reading information in undercurrent regarding Diving in Australia. One sentence in Undercurrents Diving Australia Overview it says -"The best diving, with pristine reefs and oodles of fish, is to the north, reachable only by live-aboard during their summer months, roughly November to March." Then in another paragraph on the same page Diving Australia Overview states, " The best season to dive Australia on a liveaboard (really the only way to see the best) is July through November. What is the best time? I would think November thru March?
By joanne pannell in Mandurah , AU at Aug 03, 2016 20:21 EST  
Australia is similar in size to America. You are effectively comparing the east coast to the west coast, or Florida to Alaska. The best time of year to dive depends on where you are going. This article is about the northwest corner of the country, which is the opposite side to the great barrier reef.
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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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