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Dive Review of Ultimate Getaway in
The Continental USA/Florida, Dry Tortugas

Ultimate Getaway, Apr, 2005,

by John Hardison, MD, usa . Report 1653.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Fl Keys, West Palm (FL), Maryland, California, St. John, Belize, Grand Cayman, San Juan Islands (WA)
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy, dry Seas choppy
Water Temp 72 to 74 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions If your computer locked you out, you were done diving for the trip. If you dove tables, they would be checked for accuracy. 1st beer = last dive of the day.
Liveaboard? yes 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 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Seperate (and multiple) rinse buckets for washing or soaking camera equipment. Nice table for setting up your camera. Emphasis on handing your camera to you in the water and taking it when you came out.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Took a group of 9 divers on a 3 night live aboard to the Dry Tortugas (Gulf of Mexico). Total of 16 divers on board and 7 crew. First time with this operation for myself and my group. Some of other divers repeat customers. Water was choppy, windy, some current on the surface. Boat rolled a lot because of weather conditions and we had some seasickness. Offered four dives on day 1 and six on day 2. Advertised 7-10 dives per day. Third day advertised 2 special dives, but weather was poor and we made for port. Repeat divers said other trips had many more dives, calm seas. I have dove in worse conditions (Atlantic) and would have dove everytime they stoped the boat. Boat did a lot of puttering around same area without stopping. We think they were looking for good spots, but no communication ever to divers as to schedule, conditions, or what they were trying to do. Crew never entered water as guides or dove. Upon arrival at dock, crew very helpfull and took all luggage aboard. Upon return, divers did all the work. Nitrox available entire trip, $40 for unlimited refills (just wish we had more opportunities to refill). John, the cook, very personable and food was good. Al, the tank refiller, always had a joke to tell and paid close attention to cameras and getting tanks refilled. Other crew were invisible for the most part, helped grab cameras and fins when coming aboard, but that was it. Advertised 14' chase boat conspicuously absent from trip, it would have been helpful to get current-swept divers back on board. Community bunkroom was exactly as expected - no frills, and bunks were actually roomier than anticipated. On first dives, divers were told to swim to bow and decend on anchor line, but current was too strong. When divers complained to Captain Rick, resistance was met and he became defensive - not what you want when trying to work out a solution. Although we felt his communciation and customer service skills lacked, diving improved dramatically after discussion, with lines attached from stern to bow. We think we caught the crew at a bad time, some members were new, and the weather report may have had some of them thinking they would not be working that weekend because they did not seem "in to it" at all. Diving was good all around, always on a healthy reef with plenty of angels, small grouper, and the usual suspects. Spotted a 400lb. Goliath Grouper at 26 feet once, and 2 divers saw a hammerhead in 90 feet. Dolphins chased the boat but were absent on dives as well as turtles and any other sharks. The single night dive produced 6 snowflake eels and plenty of lobster. One diver reported a large octopus but I searched in vain for them. The area needs to have mooring bouys in popular locations, our boat's anchor was always lodged against live reef. Overall the experience was fair. Communication with the divers would have improved the trip 10 fold. Less chop and less surface current would have made things better, but crew cannot predict the weather, but I expect more than 10 dives on a three day live aboard. Not recommended for novice divers.
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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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