Had another great experience at Express Watersports. Chase was a great Ranger, took us out on our... read more
Had another great experience at Express Watersports. Chase was a great Ranger, took us out on our... read more
Excellent day both weather and crew members. They made you feel comfortable and were also very informative! Would highly recommend!!
I am writing this from the perspective of this dive operation and the diving in this area. I am a certified instructor with almost 500 logged dives, and my buddy has almost 300. We have experience in a variety of geographies, and have used over 20 different SCUBA boat operators. I am sharing this not as an attack on this provider, but as some suggested preparation so that you, as a diver, will have a great experience rather than a less than mediocre experience like we did. That being said:
1. The boat and shop staff were courteous and offered help regularly. Positive marks on that.
2. We rented all of our gear. I was told on the phone on the day prior to the dive trip that our consoles would have working computers. We checked my buddy’s console closely, and it had one. Mine did not, and it is on me that I believed that it did and did not check more closely.
2. I noticed that I did not have a computer in the console prior to the dive while on the boat. My buddy and I agreed that we would remain close, dive conservatively based on our air supplies and proceed with the dive after learning that max depth at the site was 40 feet. We would utilize her computer to remain within appropriate parameters.
3. During the dive, my buddy’s computer failed and switched to it’s clock function only to time the dive. We later determined that the batteries had not been changed in some time. We had checked the computer prior to the dive, and did not see any low battery indication.
4. The pre-dive briefing did not include any in-depth location insights regarding the site itself—no directional orientation, max dive time allotment, or wildlife details (other than that they had seen unspecified sharks and a turtle in the past).
5. The planned dive site had changed and we were given no reasons for that change.
6. We were guided at depth around the sunken tug twice. Our guide was new, and she was asking for our air levels about every 2 minutes. No agreed to signaling on air levels were part of the pre-dive briefing. There is a unique style to the amount-of-air hand signs on this boat that I have not encountered anywhere before. The extremely frequent checking was annoying, but our guide was new so my buddy and I took that into consideration. Again, she was very nice and pleasant.
7. After circling the tug twice during the dive, we were shocked to be given the ascend signal by the guide. My buddy and I each had over 2000 psi of air still in our tanks and only 20 minutes had passed. We thought there may have been a problem so we did ascend.
8. The guide attempted to get us to ascend from 15 feet after only about 30 seconds. We remained at 15 feet insisting on the standard 3 minutes and then ascended.
9. We were again shocked to discover that all other passengers were also onboard, but there wasn’t any issue present. Apparently, the style on this boat is to circle a small wreck no more than twice and return. I have never made dives this way before.
10. Visibility was <10 feet, and no compass was provided or offered. The only pre-dive guidance related to planning was a reminder about the standard reunion procedure.
11. The second dive was going to include a sunken plane and barge after about a 30-minute surface interval. No second pre-dive briefing was given. These wrecks were connected to the tug by a rope. The plane was very small, and we expected to search for more wildlife around the barge. Instead, we stopped at the barge and turned around. Again, we were directed to ascend with 2000 psi remaining.
12. Shortly after descent during the second dive, the integrated weight pouch on my BC failed, and almost dropped the weights on my left side. My buddy and I were able to address this and continue with the dive.
13. The crew was very helpful in getting us back on board from the water when dives ended, and our guide did offer to move our gear to the second tanks.
14. No wildlife that we saw was identified by or discussed by the crew.
15. When we returned to the dock, we carried our rental gear to the back of the shop. Once checked in, we were directed to rinse each piece of gear in a tub with water that was quite grey and appeared to be in need of changing. We were then directed to hang up each piece. I suspect that the gear would undergo additional cleaning and disinfection before being rented again, but I cannot verify this. I am not complaining about being asked to carry rental gear from the boat/dock and rinse each piece. I only am noting this because no other dive boat operator has asked me to do this. Other operators have taken it from the boat and rinsed/cleaned it.
16. The boat was quite clean and comfortable.
17. My rental SCUBA mask was fitted properly with help from the shop staff. It was fogging during the dives even with plenty of defogger applied. I suspect that it had not ever been slightly abraded on the inside before (e.g. toothpaste rubbed and rinsed on the inside prior to use) which is typical standard procedure with masks to ensure that defogger works.
18. I was told of the current ocean temperature when I asked at the shop and fitted with the appropriate wetsuit.
19. There were hunters on this boat and fish were speared. Be aware of that if you have any issues with spear fishing where and when you are diving.
Bear in mind that if I had read a review like this and done more of what I should have done prior to these dives, this would have been a more positive review. I am trying to be fair in telling you that it is possible to have a much better experience with Express Water Sports if you plan and execute more appropriately. So what do I advise so that if you are a SCUBA diver, you will have a 5 instead of a 2? Here you go:
1. If you rent gear, check it VERY thoroughly. Do not assume anything no matter what you may be told prior to renting. This includes all details noted above. This was the most negligent area on my part. I would probably be sure to bring a backup computer or at least a dive watch to keep time just in case there is an issue with the rental gear.
2. Do more preparation regarding the wildlife that you might see if you are into this aspect of diving. This does not appear to be of high interest in this area—note that I could not find a fish ID card in this or other shops. This lack of readily available fish ID info should have told me something.
3. Ask more questions about the site prior to the dive. I researched what I could ahead of time, but the site was changed which neutralized the effectiveness of my prep. I should have researched possible alternate sites ahead of time as well. I should have asked more about directional orientation, too.
4. If you use a guide, check with them on the air-level signals that they will use prior to entering the water. What you may be used to with your buddy might confuse them.
5. Before booking, ask for details about typical diving processes on that boat. Can you dive until you reach 750 psi? Is there a max dive time allowed or is the dive time based on some shorter benchmark? This will set your expectations appropriately.
6. Take a compass. Visibility here can get quite low under certain conditions. With some directional orientation from the crew, compass navigation would get you back to the boat if you get separated from your guide or blown off of the wrecks.
I hope that this advice helps you enjoy what Express Water Sports and the area has to offer.
Hello.. this is quite a review. Thank you for your insight
You stated you and your partner were a seasoned certified divers. You are also an instructor.
You are correct . Any certified diver is responsible to check their own gear rented or personal. We asked that this is done at the dock before we leave . Divers set up their first tank and do a gear check. We have a well maintained maintenance schedule for our gear. We service all of our gear regularly including batteries. This does not mean that we will not have a hickup with gear. We do carry 2 spare sets at all times on the boat.
The Capt gave a full dive briefing once on the site used a PADI diving Slate to do it. Standard procedure.
Dive sites . We chose to go inshore because the price was the same, the ride shorter, and the same visibility was here as well.
Vis was 20-25 ft not less than 10.
The Dive guide is a newer Dive master candidate working her way up the ranks. Yes she should have given better information and we are grooming her for this role. Your original dive guide who is a stronger and seasoned diver was paired with people on the charter that had less experience than you two. We paired up the weaker divers with a stronger guide and a New DM learning the ropes with seasoned Divers as yourselves..
I failing to understand why if on dive 1 you felt there was a judgement lacking in your guide and that you surfaced early why you would use the guide again for the second dive? Im also wondering why you didnt communicate your issues or concerns with the guide or the remaining crew. Communication is a 2 way street. Adjustments could have been made.
Perhaps your guide was low on air and thats why she surfaced. I dont know.
We dont set time limits on divers. The site was 45 ft deep and we have a hang line at 15 for a surface interval. You made the right choice and did your stop.
We carry 2 fish IDs on the boat. one is a chart and the other is a book. As with all dive boats with an abundance of gear they may have been covered up. Again speaking up and asking the crew would have helped.
We do spearfish here and its a sport enjoyed by many divers.
We thank you for your viewpoint on the dive operation.
We feel that your disappointment boiled down to lack of communication between you and your dive guide , dive team and crew. All the questions you pointed out in your review for "tips to a better dive" could have been easily asked on board by our dive team on the actual dive. The same for the gear rental problems. If you would have communicated the issue of rental equipment during your set up we could have easily fixed the issue.
Please on future dives either with us or anyone else communicate. It helps everyone meet expectations , and get information they need.
Thank you for the review and we hope to see you on a future dive
We went out on a Friday evening for the one hour sunset cruise and had a great time! Lucked out with perfect weather and sunset, but the free and steady supply of alcohol and good vibes helped the trip! Patient captain answered a lot of questions, and we were served very well!
(Tip: if you can pay the extra bit for the captain’s seating do it. It’s a nicer view and you are still served just as much)
Accidentally made an error in the booking process and the company was so accommodating and fixed the problem with no obligation to do so. Really made a huge difference for us! On the boat- the ride was smooth, the drinks were flowing, and the service staff was happy to keep your plate and cup full! Definitely worth the price of the ticket.
The crew is amazing always there to help ya don/doff gear, get set up for following dive and pointing out highlights of each site! Store staff is very friendly and helping no matter the need be it gear purchasing or explaining whatever activity you want to do.
My jet ski ride in the ocean was awesome! I was leary about renting a jet ski since we have one at home, but let me tell you, riding a jet ski on a lake does not compare to riding one on the ocean! It was awesome! The waves were huge! It was so much fun! I also saw a dolphin, swimming about 50 feet from me!! David was the BEST ranger! I would definitely do this again!!