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Reviews (4)

Fling Liveaboard


For years I've heard about diving the Flower Garden Banks off of Texas. A coral garden, and a National Marine Sanctuary. In researching how to get there, it seemed the dive boat Fling was, for the most part, was the only choice. My buddy, Bill and I booked a trip in August 2013. It was one of their rare 3 day trips. They usually do 2 day trips. They cater to a local crowd. For us from SoCalifornia, it was an ordeal. Plane flight, rental car and hotel stay.

Once we found the dirt road to the dock, and gave a pint of blood to the mosquitos as we loaded our gear. We huddled in the salon until we were underway and the breeze kept said mosquitos at bay. My definition of a liveaboard is SolmarV or the Nai'a. The Fling does not fit this definition. I'd put this in the same category as SoCal's Peace, Horizon and Truth 'liveaboards'. She's 100' long, and holds 34 passengers. The bunk rooms are mostly, two sets of bunk beds. There are communal bathrooms. She's a refitted oil rig crew boat, sort of like a large Spectre (another SoCal dive boat). And like the Spectre, she tends to roll a bit. The one job I wouldn't want on this boat is the galley crew. They were always cooking. I woke up, food was ready. I went to bed, they were cooking or cleaning. Food was plentiful, and always available. I did like the galley setup. On some of liveaboards I've been on, the galley is hidden. Who wants to see the kitchen? On the Fling, the galley crew were a part of the experience. They'd answer questions, offer advise, or a snack.

The divemasters worked well together. And they had rules. Lots of rules. In fairness, they were Boat-rules. Rules to the point of frustration for me and Bill. When Bill would get overly frustrated over the rules. I'd tell him, 'What was the last question on the form we filled out? 'Did you ever dive salt water?'" The Fling takes a lot of Midwestern divers, who have only dove lakes and quarries, out into the middle of the Gulf. On deep dives, with currents, swells, and no sign of land. I thought they did it very well. Being this is Texas, they set up a corral for us divers. A DM would attach a line half way down the mooring line. This line had floats on it. The other end was attached to the stern of the boat. The weakest diver would make a giant stride, float to the back of the boat and encounter the floating line. Then he'd pull himself to the mooring line. On night dives, they would hang lights on the mooring line to find it. The DM's didn't lead dives. But they did make the dives, just to survey their herd. And eventually, cut a bit of slack on the rules to those that seemed to have tasted saltwater before.

We dove the Flower Gardens, Stetsons Reef and a couple of oil rigs. I always heard things are bigger in Texas. SoCal's oil rigs dwarf the ones we dove. I would definitely recommend this fine vessel. The crew works hard and takes you to fairly advanced sites. Weather can be an issue. It's not uncommon for the trip to cancel due to weather. Prior to the trip, I was very busy at work. I prayed for a hurricane. A usual, the lord messed with me, and gave us mirror-like glassy conditions. If you ever find yourself near the Texas Gulf, this should be a 'must do'. If you're looking for an inexpensive and out of the ordinary, warm water experience. Try a little Fling.

My video http://youtu.be/JHW6aYvDqiU

Visited on 08/2013 - Submitted on 02/05/2014

Socorro Island Diving


Diving the Isla Revillagigedo has always been on my bucked list. I was finally able to cross it off in early December 2013. A short flight from LAX brought us to Cabo San Lucas. We overnighted in Cabo, and the next afternoon boarded theboat for the 22 hour ride to the islands. Our first stop was Isla San Benedicto. The boilers had a few manta rays circling us. Our next stop was Roca Pardita. A rock in the middle of the ocean, known for lots of pelagic fish cruising by. But not when we were there. I did see a group of hammerhead sharks deep. The pile of white tip sharks in the crevices was worth the ride. Then off to Isla Soccoro. Cabo Pearce had dolphin, turtles, schooling fish, lobsters and manta rays. Finally back to San Benedicto, and The Canyon. Dolphins and more mantas. Our final destination was The Boilers once more. And, more mantas.

This trip was basically Manta Madness. We had up to 7 flying carpets on one dive. I was told to make lots of noise. Apparently mantas like that sort of thing. I tested it. A manta would come by, I sang and screamed, it circled and circled. Same manta would swim by later in the dive. I was mute. It slowly glided by. Even later in the dive, said same manta approached, I sang and screamed (some say it's the same). Said manta circled and circled. I was perplexed why are the mantas approaching us bubble breathers? We don't offer food, nor cleaning. We aren't even allow to touch them. I think they're just as perplexed at the insane bubble breathers. A behavior I thought interesting, they would unwind their cephalic lobes in my face, and wind them back up. I wasn't sure what was proper reply was, so I just sang and screamed. Also, a manta with no tail, would come straight at me (and others), shoot straight up. Then like a stalled biplane, drop back down. Recover and do it again. I had always thought that mammals only did things for FUN. I was wrong, these guys may have had more fun the we had.

I would consider this a fairly advanced sort of trip. Long bumpy boat ride (bring your meds). Help is a long way away. Large ocean swells, and currents. But the reward is great big animal encounters. I tend to do macro videography. I even brought my macro stuff along. Save luggage weight, leave the macro stuff at home. His is a wide angle adventure.

My video of can be seen at http://youtu.be/jpvltm_n1i4 Please give it a like.

Visited on 12/2013 - Submitted on 02/06/2014
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Solmar V Liveaboard


I dove the luxury dive liveaboard, Solmar V in December 2013 to the Socorro Islands. First off, I love the paint job, a very striking vessel. When I arrived at the dock, they were helpful in loading our gear. I found the stateroom clean and spacious, with ample outlets to plug in all our battery charges. The food was plentiful, and nicely presented. With a good variety. They easily made concessions to my 'no fish' request. At the end of every dive day, it was margarita happy hour time.

The dive deck was quite roomy. I never felt crowded. The dive masters were very knowledgeable about the dive spots and critter spotting. The videopro was helpful with peoples cameras, and post production. The diving was a mixture of jumping off the back of the boat, and via inflatables. The boatmen were happy to give you a quick island tour, between dives. Nitrox was available. My only negative was no larger tanks, for an 'air pig' such as myself. It had a large camera table, with plenty of room. I liked their briefing of the sites.

The salon was ample with plenty of seating for all guest. They had a huge selection of movies to watch on their TV. A few more outlets for laptops would have been nice.

Overall, I really enjoyed my week aboard. My only negative is that I'm not on it right now.

A video of my trip http://youtu.be/jpvltm_n1i4 Please 'Like" it.

Visited on 12/2013 - Submitted on 02/09/2014
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Club Cantamar Resort, La Paz


I've been to Club Cantamar eight times. I've always said that you can pay a whole lot more, to see a whole lot less.

First the bad news, the beds are rock hard. Water pressure is slight. No elevators. Spartenly appointed rooms. But they have A/C. The food is awful. This is from guy who sez, that I don't go to a resort/boat for the food, I go for the diving. Thus, I've visited eight times.

Now the good new. They are the closet resort to the diving. They have their own recompression chamber, just in case. And, they have the fastest boats. The boats are also sparten, but spacious. Remember what I said about the food? They have larger tanks, for us heavy breathers and will even accommodate rebreathers. They pump Nitrox, be sure to bring your own analyzer. They will take you to some incredible dive spots.

I've led a few groups here. My dive destination plan was: 1) El Bajo - Los Islotes - El Bajito. 2) La Reina - La Reinita. 3) Los Animas - San Francisquito (a long ride). There are other nice spots, but these are the prime spots to me. Don't miss a night dive at Swanne. Critter life can be great for both wide angle and macro. I've seen whale sharks, hammerheads, manta rays, tons of friendly sea lions and nudibranchs. The life is not just underwater, also on the drive to the spot. Dolphins, orcas, pilot whales, etc. The resort will send up an ultra light to spot whale sharks and other large pelagic life. But like any other destination in the world, it's weather dependent.

I've found the entire staff very accommodating. But, you need to be proactive. If you're planning a trip on your own, I'd recommend letting them know of what you expect, before you arrive.

Club Cantamar is situated on a lovely bay. With picturesque sunsets and sunrises. And, some nice restaurants a short walk around the bay. I can't wait for visit number nine. From California, I'll spend way more, to see way less.

Here's a video of my last trip http://vimeo.com/18157140

La Paz 2010 from Walter Marti on Vimeo.

Visited on 07/2010 - Submitted on 02/09/2014
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