We did the AM AirJaws breaching and cage dive trip. We did see a few sharks underwater, no breaching, the seals on the island were pretty cool as well as the dolphins. My rating is not at all based on the sharks, as that is nature and there is zero control over them. The captain and crew do try their best to find, and attract, the sharks and I give them lots of credit there. I did have a hard time deciding between Average and Very Good for my rating, and went with Very Good because the Capt. and Crew did seem to try their best to make it a good trip. They were very nice, helpful when asked questions, and seemed to enjoy their job. We were picked up at our hotel in Cape Town promptly by a very friendly driver, made a few stops and took a full van to the dock. We waited in the van a while until the boat was brought around and prepped for boarding. After a very quick briefing, we were under way for the short ride out to Seal Island to look for the sharks, toss a decoy and do some chumming.
When it was decided that it is time to get in the water, Things were very rushed, and I understand that if sharks are seen it is time to move, but some passengers were not sure what to do. Wetsuits were brought out from down below for each person going in the water. This is one thing that made me wonder about the rating -the suits were wet and smelled bad. They do not seem to be regularly washed and allowed to dry out (as much as possible) between dives. I guess they get a quick hang up on the deck after the dive and go back down below until the next group gets on. They do a good job of guessing each passenger's size. The main issue is that most people on board appeared to have never been on a dive boat and were unsure of where to put their things, how to easily get into a wet suit, not to lock themselves in the head to be seasick, or basic boat etiquette. That is not the fault of Eco-Charters, but a more detailed briefing to help those who did not know what to do or expect on a boat would have made it a bit easier for everyone. We were the only 2 divers on our charter, I am not sure if that is normal, but not everyone was very comfortable with the process. The website and paperwork emailed before the trip is very detailed, just take that a step further to make sure all passengers know what to expect, and what to do. Even something in writing to go out with your reservation papers would be a good idea.
The regulators were a bit hit or miss, I used two different ones and each breathed very differently. One was good, but the other was a hard draw for breath. Using the regs seemed confusing to some people - I never heard any instructions being given to just relax and try to breathe normally with the reg in your mouth; and watched a couple of people just hold their breath, bob up to get a mouth full of air and go back under. I think it would be worth the 2 minutes on the way out to make people comfortable who have never been on SCUBA to know the quick basics. That being said, I chose this charter because you are on air, and not using a snorkel. I think being on snorkel for this trip would be horrible, and you would not get the same viewing experience. Eco-Charters is the only shop I could find who used air. Be prepared for a less than easy or graceful entry into the cage. It is bouncing with the water, and there is no ladder for getting in or out. Once you are in, there is a hand rail to hold and a rail on the bottom to hook your toes and hold yourself in place. Booties, hoods, mask and a weight belt are supplied. Once in and settled, it was fun to watch for the sharks. They are really beautiful.
We were in the cage about 25 minutes or so. Not everyone on board went in the cage and several people only stayed in a few minutes. There was no asking if you wanted a 2nd turn as I have read in some reviews, and I would say less than an hour total was spent with people in the water. I guess because the sharks were not very active that day. The boat had soda and sandwiches on board, which was a nice touch considering the short trip that it is.
All in all the trip was fun, and something that I always wanted to do in SA.
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