Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
Join Undercurrent on Facebook
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
 

Dive Review of Reef Runner/N/A in
The Continental USA/Florida Middle Keys, Marathon

Reef Runner/N/A, Apr, 2004,

by Bert Brown, Eugene, OR., Oregon, U. S. A. . Report 1291.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cayman Islands, Truk Lagoon, Palau, Tahiti, GBR, Aruba, Bonaire, Cozumel, Baja Mexico, Roatan, San Juan Islands, Washington & Pacific Coast
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas choppy, noCurrents
Water Temp 80 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 0 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions imposed at all. Captain limited dive #4 to 30 minutes, gave us choice to go or not.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments This is a realitively small boat, if you consider 33 ft small. A day tripper, style cabin cruiser. I brought my Sony pocket sized DSC-P5 digital camera in an underwater housing, and got great pictures.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Overall, our Reef Runner dive trip was a positive experience, with a couple of potential Gotchas.

My dive buddy and I had driven to the Florida Keys with a pickup & 5th wheel trailer, allowing us to haul along all of our own dive gear. We were looking for a dive charter, and found the Reef Runner ([floridadivecharter.com link]) through Captain Ed @ Discount Divers (www.discountdiversbandb.com) in Marathon. We were sold by the idea two of us could charter the Reef Runner for $240, have the boat all to ourselves, with up to 5 dives depending on dive locations. Captain Sam Watson would take us wherever we pleased. This has obvious advantages of the dive not being influenced by other divers, be it inexperience, dive site preferences, crowding, or whatever.

At the time we booked our one day trip, we were the only two divers. Since Captain Sam does not accompany divers as a dive master, youre on your own, an OK thing for experienced divers we felt. The morning of the trip, we were informed that one other diver, Carol, would be going along. This put us between a rock and a hard place; if we go, we will have to dive as a threesome, and if we cancel out, the whole trip would be a bust, even for Carol, as Captain Sam wont take the boat out with less than the $240 two diver minimum aboard. We were there to dive, so we went along with the new plan, and as it turned out, Carol was a great person, a good diver, & was a positive addition to the experience. A potential Gotcha became a benefit. This is worth mentioning, because if you are in the same position, you might not be as lucky. Our fee dropped from the $120 each, we expected to pay, to $98 each for three. While this was not a major factor to us, its always nice to get more for less.

The trip itself was all that we expected of it. Our first dive was on the R/V Thunderbolt ([thefloridakeys.com link]) a great wreck dive. Captain Sam tied us onto one of the buoys marking the wreck site, easily found, very little current, and great visibility. A giant Jew fish was hiding below deck, and swam deeper into the wreck, through passages too narrow for a big guy like me to follow. Mark down dive one as a winner. We bottomed out at 123 feet, and lasted 27 minutes.

Our second dive was on Horseshoe Reef, with a maximum depth of 28 feet. Pretty shallow, but full of all kinds of sea life, great for the biomarine junky. We found a small nurse shark which we casually followed for quite awhile, and snapped several pictures. We spent 83 minutes on this reef until we finally came up for a break.

Dive # three was supposed to be on a 65 foot mini wall. Captain Sam dropped us off with instructions to Go thataway toward the wall, which we didnt, and ended up spending 52 minutes, at a max of 54 feet exploring the sand bottom, and several coral head outcroppings isolated from the normal reef. Our fault, we only had one compass, and I dont want to go into how it made us fin in a big circle. Captain Sam noted that we managed to turn away from the prescribed direction, and followed us along wondering whats up? But no complaints, we still saw a multitude of sea life, enough at least to keep our curiosity up as to whats next.

The fourth dive was offered to us on our choice. The time was getting short for the day, and we were advised that wed have to shorten it to 30 minutes by the time we were rigged, and ready to jump in. As stated, we were there to dive so, we didnt take long to get off the boat. It was another shallow reef dive, and by this time I was thinking 30 more minutes on a reef was probably enough reef for one day. Still, there was plenty of sea life to observe, and it was not wasted time. My computer stated 34 minutes @ max of 24 feet, we had over 2000 psig left in our tanks as we surfaced.

So, its over for the day, time to head back, and face Gotcha #2. We docked back at Captain Sams home on a canal inlet, helped load all the cylinders and dive gear into his Suburban, then drove back to Discount Divers to transfer the gear. As we were carrying the last few cylinders to the air station, Captain Sam informed us that our bill was $128 each. Far awhile we were at a loss as to how the $98 trip turned into $128 by the end of the day. Captain Sam explained the extra $30 was for the air fills. We had used 4 cylinder each @ $7.50 each. We had incorrectly assumed the air was covered in the $98 price for the dive trip. My dive buddy and I have used dive operators all over the world, and never, not once were we billed for air fills as a separate expense. Our dive package fees, be it one day, or a week have always included the air fills in the package price. So, begrudgingly, we forked over $260.

This $30 gotcha was probably the most negative part of the experience, but its not a major drawback. Had we known, we could have furnished 4 of our own cylinders, that we were filling for free. Mine were 100 cu. ft. cylinders, too. Capt. Ed & Sam are nice guys, and if anyone reading this report is interested in chartering a small boat to dive where and what you want, in the Middle Keys, I recommend them. Especially now that you know more about what to expect. Personally, Id use them again.
Was this report helpful to you?
Bookmark and Share
Leave a comment (Subscribers only -- 200 words max)
Subscribers can comment here
 

Subscribe Now
Subscribers can post comments, ask the reviewer questions, as well as getting immediate and complete access to ALL 570 dive reviews of The Continental USA and all other dive destinations. Complete access to all issues and Chapbooks is also included.

Bookmark and Share

Want to assemble your own collection of The Continental USA reports in one place?
Use the Mini Chapbook Facility to create your personalized collection.

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.

Undercurrent Home


Get more dive info like these and other important scuba updates sent monthly to your email.
And a FREE Recent Issue of Undercurrent

Free Undercurrent Issue
Get a free
monthly email and
a sample issue!



Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account | Login | Join |
| Travel Index | Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues |
| Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |


Copyright © 1996-2017 Undercurrent (www.undercurrent.org)
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.

Page displayed in 0.08 seconds