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Dive Review of Narcosis Dive Charters/NA in
The Continental USA/Southeast Florida

Narcosis Dive Charters/NA: "Drift dive Palm Beach", Sep, 2016,

by Jim Garren, FL, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 6 Helpful votes). Report 9046.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Our last live-aboard trip was so disappointing we have been staying closer to home so, prompted by a request from Undercurrent for reader reports I thought I would review a couple of local favorites. See my separate report on Loggerhead Dive Charters operating out of Boynton Beach.
We are truly blessed living in South East Florida, many times following our first local dive after returning from some far off destination my wife and I comment that diving here is pretty darn good.
While not fair to local boats I will admit that we are selfish and prefer to keep it a secret, if there is any downside to local diving it is that booking a favorite boat can be a problem during the peak dive season (summer months) There are lots of dive boats locally however so you should be able to find a spot after making some calls and prices are cheap thanks to competition for divers.
Because we dive Narcosis every month of the year this report is general in nature and not representative of one specific trip.
Located in the newly renovated Riviera Beach Marina [rivierabeachmarina.com link] Narcosis Dive Charters [narcosisdivecharters.com link] is a twin engine Pro 48 designed specifically for scuba diving. Captain Van Blakeman is one of the most experienced in the area and well respected by local regulars. His incredible crew includes back up licensed captain Dave Finch, Damien and Aqua. Narcosis typically puts two DMís in the water, one to guide and a second DM to follow and keep an eye out for stragglers, safety is always a priority. This fast roomy boat is a favorite because it gets to any local dive site quickly and in comfort, even when full there is plenty of room. Dedicated camera rinse tank will be appreciated by photographers; also welcome is the warm water shower after a dive, snacks, drinks and marine head.
No 30 hour marathon flights/layovers to get here, more like 20 minutes from our home in Boynton Beach. For those not lucky enough to live locally Palm Beach is still within easy driving distance of Orlando or the Gulf side and many divers from those locations dive here often. Palm Beach airport in West Palm Beach about 10 minutes away makes the area accessible from anywhere and it is worth the visit. Try the world renowned shore dive at Blue Heron Bridge while you are visiting.
Dive conditions are outstanding nearly year round with water temperature ranging from upper 60's in the winter to mid 80's in the summer, 3mm wetsuit is the norm, but you will want a 5mm if you come during winter months. Visibility can vary widely depending on local weather but averages 50' year round. One nice benefit of winter diving that offsets the need for a 5mm wetsuit is that viz of 80 to 100' is not uncommon.
There are 3 offshore parallel reefs at approximately 30, 60 and 90' depths, and also many ship wrecks deliberately sunk as artificial reefs. ALL local diving with the exception of some wrecks is drift diving. For those not familiar with the term understand that Palm Beach County is closer to the Gulf Stream than any other location in the country so there is always current. Usually north or south the current varies in direction and strength, prior to the "drop" Captain Van will determine the best drop spot for the site chosen. DMís give a thorough briefing and tell divers what to expect once in the water prior to each dive. On the short boat ride from the marina to the dive sites (one half hour to 45 minutes) DMís organize divers into groups depending on experience, buddy choice or dive objective.
The DM leading your group will tow a dive flag per Florida law to make boats aware that divers are below and for Captain Van to track his divers. Spear fisherman and hunters can chose to be dropped on their own and surface using a personal Surface Marker Buoy or lift bag. Once in the water divers simply "go with the flow" and allow the current to take them on a tour of the incredible ledges and reefs, you will use your fins to steer rather than propel your journey, this is lazy diving indeed!
When groups get low on air or bottom time they make a slow accent to safety stop depth together then surface on the flag or their own SMB, they then signal the boat which then comes to pick them up, couldn't be simpler no navigation required!
On any given dive expect to see huge schools of grunts and snappers, enormous French, Blue and Queen Angelfish bigger than a dinner plate, Atlantic Spadefish, Parrotfish, several species of Butterflyfish, green and spotted Moray eels, Hawksbill and "signature" Loggerhead turtles. Dive sites north of Palm Beach inlet are known for frequent shark sightings, species Iíve seen include Nurse, Bull, Lemon, Tiger and Hammerhead. Plenty of Spiney Lobsters abound year round, bring some back in season if you have your Florida permit. Spear fishing is popular on this boat and you may see Captain Van do some during the typical one hour surface interval between dives. Most hunters Iíve seen on this boat are competent with the skills to do so responsibly, beware you may be treated harshly for unsafe or unsportsmanlike behavior!

Late August and September expect to visit some of the local wrecks to witness aggregations of Goliath Groupers in the spawning mode, yes they are as big as you have heard and mob local wrecks at this time of year, bring your camera!
Most local divers feel Palm Beach offers diving superior to the better publicized Keys, I may get my ass kicked for letting you in on the secret, but look forward to meeting you if you decide to come, if we miss connections I have every confidence Narcosis will not disappoint!
Websites Narcosis Dive Charters   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Hawaii, Bahamas, Caymans, Roatan, Belize, Turks and Caicos, Australia, Red Sea, Maldives, Galapagos, Thailand
Closest Airport Palm Beach Getting There Easy!

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80-82°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions on the surface in one hour or 500PSI remaining
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments Dedicated rinse tank for cameras, crew accommodating and careful with gear
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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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