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Dive Review of Nekton Pilot in
Bahamas/Northwest

Nekton Pilot, Aug, 2006,

by Ralph Asher, Co, USA . Report 2646.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Roatan, Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Bonaire
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 79 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 60 to 120 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None other than usual recreational limits
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments It was fine but nothing special. Small area for cameras with clean water and air gun. They didn't have the equipment to allow some to download digital pictures to their television which bothered some, but I brought my computer and didn't need anything.

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

Accommodations 1 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments I wish they didn't make us wait until 8 PM to board as I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 1 PM and had to loll around for 7 hours. When they did come to get us we were told that the A/C was not working and offered to a movie until it was repaired. We chose instead to wait on the upper deck until it was complete. When we arrived we were unimpressed at the look of the boat since it was definitely in need of an exterior painting. This was probably a harbinger of things to come. They did get the A/C working after a couple hours and we were soon under weigh.

The rooms are okay except that there were towels stuffed in the ceiling tiles to catch the water that would otherwise drip onto the beds. Two rooms, including mine, did not have working speakers and my roommate missed two briefings since she couldn't hear the announcements. I told them this was unacceptable since we would be unable to hear an emergency announcement if one were to come but I was told that the owner had decided not to purchase the necessary parts. I find this to be egregious and approaching negligence even. The room was comfortable enough and while the bathroom was cramped, it was okay.

We lost the opportunity to swim with the dolphins the next morning when it was discovered that the starboard engine was not working and actually ended up riding for several hours and missing at least two dives. Happily it did get repaired and we didn't need to return to Ft. Lauderdale. Two days later we were informed that we could not use the toilets. This lasted about six hours and it was not fun using the one public head which was filled to overflowing.

The Nekton boats carry too many divers for their size. The galley is almost dingy and much too crowded, and the small dive area just is not sufficient for the numbers. We had 32 divers and were bumping into each other constantly when trying to suit up. I didn't use Nitrox on this trip since no one else was using it and also because it costs $250 for the trip.

The two dive sites where we stayed for a total of six dives were boring. They were listed as "wrecks" but actually were piles of debris and very shallow with too much current. The novice divers liked it since there were so many fish but I lasted 15 minutes on each and got back on the boat. Between these boring sites and all the wasted time jockeying back and forth after those dolphins, I was only able to do 16 dives the entire trip. I had done 25 dives two months before on the Aqua Cat and was very disappointed.

The captain and the crew were fabulous. The food was average but was prepred well by a wonderful friendly lady. It was not her fault that she was not given better material to work with. We did one dive on Theo's wreck which was at 100 feet depth and had many openings for penetration. I spent the first dive on the site deciding where to enter and couldn't wait for the return - wishing that I had a nitrox tank for the extra time it would allow. When I arrived on board I was appalled to learn that the rest of the divers didn't like the dive and insisted that the captain take them to where they could see fish. The captain saw I was disappointed and arranged to send me in a small skiff with two crew members for a two miile trip back to the wreck that afternoon and I had the dive of my life. One of the crew penetrated with me at about 75 feet and took a multitude of pictures as we went three rooms deep into the ship and finally exited through a small opening near the bottom at 100 feet. I actually ran my decompression time to the limit. I had never been more than a few feet into a wreck and this was more fun than I could have imagined. When we got to our 3 minute safety stop a remora played with us the entire time. I felt like a navy seal and it was my first experience diving from a small boat like this. I will be forever grateful to that captain and those crew members.

On the way to a later site the captain spotted a pod of dolphins and again showed his flexibility. He got as many of us as desried into the water to snorkel with the beautiful animals and kept shepherding them to us. Then on the last day he took us to a site but the current was strong. Again, his ability to be flexible rose to the occasion. He changed the dive to a drift dive and it was a wonderful final dive to the trip. I can't say enough for this captain that went by the nickname "Big Daddy" and he and his wonderful crew made what was otherwise a poor live-aboard experience into a dive trip I will not forget.

I took my equipment in for its yearly maintenance when I got home and the technician told me that he had found a strange type of corrosion - not the usual from salt or fresh water. He said that it appeared to be the kind of gunk one used to find in dirty steel tanks. He said he now understoon when I told him that Nekton used steel tanks. That was the final straw for me and I won't use Nekton again.
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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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