First rate staff, eager to help you enjoy your vacation in the best manner possible! We traveled to PA with a group of divers from Seattle. We were a diverse group---photographers, relatively new divers, experienced divers, instructors, even one 13 year old, and just folks who love to dive. I anticipated difficulty finding a way for dives to please everyone, but this was not the case at all.
From the moment we entered the shop, we all felt well taken care of. The owners and managers greeted us right away, showed us where to change into our wetsuits, and where the lockers were for any valuables. They gave us each a crate to put our gear into and rushed around to get the appropriate weights for everyone too. Amidst the chaos, they also had us sign releases and show our valid certification card. The release also included some information about our experience so that the DMs could gauge readiness for more advanced sites. I knew right away that these folks were safety oriented and that they were going to help us enjoy a fabulous time.
Once we were ready to roll, the gear in the crates was handcarted down to the boat by one of the staff members. They strapped BCs on tanks or allowed customers to do this themselves. I appreciated the kindness, but I prefer to prepare my own gear and go through my mental checklist. With so much gear variety---backplates and wings, jacket BCs, and even side mount, they never even seemed phased by challenges presented to preparing for the boat to go. Once all BCs and regs were mounted, loaded into the boat, and we were aboard we embarked on our short journey to the nearby reef.
As we exited the marina, the DM would tell us the site for that dive and ensure that everyone was comfortable with the depth or challenges presented. If we were all ok, a double check of buddies was done to make sure that everyone had a buddy. We were told to get ready on the way out since the dive sites are only 5-10 minutes by boat. Complete the wet suit donning, prepare the mask, put on fins, and while we were still moving the staff would bring BCs to divers to gear up. They were willing to help as much or as little as we wanted, most of us are cold water divers so we were comfortable with just putting our arms in and then managing the rest on our own.
Final pre-dive safety check, DM would remind us to check air, weights, inflate BCs, breathe both regs, hold loose items, and then would count to 3 then "GO!". On Go, we would all roll back off the edge of the boat together, come up, and give the OK sign. Once everyone was accounted for, we would do a recheck of all gear before descending together as a group. The DMs kept a close eye out the first dive especially in case of weight issues, and there were a couple. Once that was sorted out, we were cruising.
One DM would lead the dive, the other would bring up the stragglers. If there were any issues during the dive, they were watching folks to make sure that everyone and everything was ok. Along the way, if they found an interesting critter, they would get our attention and gather folks to look. All of the DMs we had this week were awesome at keeping track of folks as well as finding those elusive critters like seahorses. I had never seen a seahorse, so I was thrilled to see 6 of them over the course of 7 ocean dives.
As soon as one diver reached 1000psi the DM gave us the signal that it was time to gather up. Once everyone was there we would all ascend together to the 15 foot safety stop. Going by the most conservative dive computer, we would then ascend the remaining distance together(ish). The staff offered to have us take our BCs off in the water and hand them up, but I think we all preferred to just climb aboard wearing them. We just handed off fins and cameras.
I was fortunate enough to also go out with this company for 4 cenote tours of Chac Mool, Little Brother, Taj Majal, and Eden. All fabulous and fun sites. It was exhilarating to be inside the caverns, enjoying the stalagtites, stalagmites, fossils, and the few critters that followed the lights into the caverns. My guide was safety oriented and we were always careful to follow the rules of 3 even though we were within site of the exit most of the time.
I cannot wait to get back here and this operation would be my first choice for dive operators. They were amazing at keeping track of everything and making sure that the details were cared for so that we could just enjoy.
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