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Dive Charters Good and Bad
shellback0 - 7/15/2014 3:44 PM
Category: Travel
Replies: 4

South Florida Diving Headquarters
This past Sunday we went out with South Florida Diving Headquarters; on their boat “Aquaview”. This is one charter service I will never use again and recommend that you stay clear of them also.

To start with, the shop is extremely disorganized, which made it hard to check in. Getting my tanks filled was a calamity of errors. They use a partial presser fill system requiring them to drain each tank before filling with Oxygen. This would have been fine, except in their rush they forget to open the tank valve and was reading the O2 whip hose presser; not the tank pressure before they topped the tank with air. The error was discovered when I analyzing the tank. They told me there wasn’t time to drain and refill my tank so they gave me a rental tank and told me mine would be ready when we got back. I was OK with that until during the trip I found my tank was given to someone else to use on the boat.

Next after mooring to the wreck we were told there was a strong 2 knot current, however no stern line and float were put out, also no traverse line from the mooring buoy were used. When one of the divers missed the buoy line off the bow she was swept under the boat. A deck hand then had to jump in to grab her and get her to the side ladder. If he had missed her there was nothing for her to grab; she would have been swept away. The boat would have had to let-go it’s mooring to get her; leaving divers on the buoy line (extremely unsafe). When the dive was over we had to let go of the buoy line; letting the current push us down the side of the boat to try to catch the ladder. If you were holding a camera you only had one had to use. This captain was improperly trained or showed little concern for the safety of the divers. She should have used the proper safety lines or modified the itinerary due to water conditions.

The next dive was a drift dive. One of my group was to be dropped on my flag after all the other divers were in the water. Instead of the captain dropping her up current of my flag and allowing her to drift down; the captain dropped her down current and she was not able to swim against the current to my flag. The captain told her to grab the side ladder and hold on while she repositioned the boat. While moving the boat the water beat her against the ladder bruising her chest and legs, she told me she was black and blue. The boat was crowded (cattle boat) a roll call was taken before leaving the dock and after the first dive, none was taken after the drift dive. I don’t feel SFDH has our safety at heart.
Mcclaren - 7/15/2014 8:10 PM
Thank you for hint ill keep in mind
shellback0 - 7/16/2014 12:50 PM
This past Saturday we went out with Capt. SL8R charters out of Jupiter FL.
This guy goes all out to makes you feel at home. He caters to your every need, the boat (Kyalami) was designed with the diver’s comfort in mind.
From when you arrive at the pier to when you depart to go home a crew member will be there to help you. There is room for dry storage in the forward birth and plenty of water and SL8R-ade (lemonade) to drink and snacks with fresh fruit. He evens grills lunch on the Sunday’s trip
shellback0 - 7/16/2014 5:57 PM
Dolphin Sun Boynton Beach, FL
Last May I dove on the Dolphin Sun, this is a farther son operation and they work well as a team. The boat is older butt she’s in good shape with ample room for gear and to move about. there is some dry storage. They have cold water, soda and snacks.
There is no parking by the pair so you need to drive up Load /unload and find a Parking spot. There are other diving and fishing boats that are loading/ unloading at the same time so the line can get long and slow.
The reef system off Boynton Beach is full of plant life, soft and hard coral, plenty of fish.
Hawkeye54 - 8/07/2014 8:54 AM
I’ve had both good and bad experiences with SFDHQ, but they are a $60 charter in South Florida: You kind of have to place your expectations in that realm. (Most operators in South Fla charge $80+ for a two tank dive w/ air) I’m not dissing you or dismissing the crew’s behavior if they were rude on any given day, but it’s ultimately each diver and buddy team’s responsibility to plan and conduct their dives. Unless hiring a guide, I wouldn’t hold expectations any higher than that the crew would get me to/from the dive site on schedule. Having dove with them before, I’d agree that the crew is less individually-attentive at SFDHQ than at other operators, but their price is also the lowest in town. If you want an affordable ride to/from a popular dive site along with 10-15 other divers, SFDHQ is there to meet that need. If you expect full-service, book a private boat or hire a guide from the shop.

An operator should never offer a client’s personal equipment as rental to another client - That’s a bad, bad mistake and I hope they comped your tank fills for it.

I’ve also heard good things about Capt SL8R and if you’re into advanced blue water or wreck diving with good probability of seeing sharks, I recommend both Emerald Charters and Calypso Dive Charters in Jupiter - But not if you’re looking for full service. The latter two vessels require experience and leave most responsibility with the individual divers. In other words: They don’t babysit.

Glad to hear you found the service you were looking for in other operators! :)