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Key West Vandenburg dive

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The Gen Hoyt Vandenburg was once a troop ship, then converted to a spacecraft/satellite tracking ship. It was sunk off Key West a few years ago with two satellites bolted onto the ship. Since we live only 74 miles away, we drove down to connect with a dive shop to dive the wreck on Tuesday, a double dip on the wreck. We used 32% nitrox blend, so we just wanted to check out the top half goodies of the ship. It starts in about 50' of water, bottoms out around 150'. The satellite dishes are around 70-90'.

 

The wreck was great! We were lucky with no current, but visibility was a little limited... about 40-50 feet.

 

Unfortunately, we chose the wrong dive shop for our purposes. For good or bad, we are used to making our own way through wrecks unless we penetrate, which we didn't want to do this time. We dive the wrecks in the Keys all the time and certainly don't need a guide.

 

Dive Key West is going to make sure that their liability insurance remains virginal. Diving with a guide was absolutely mandatory. If you became separated from the guide, they would go into "missing diver" protocol and would abort the dive for everyone. So to you photogs, NO LOITERING! You had to keep up with the group, which was from 4-6 divers per guide. You had to have a snorkel ( we borrowed them from a guide). You could not go below 100'. Lots of rules to follow!

 

We knew we weren't going to keep up with a large group, so we paid an extra $100 for a personal guide. We told him he was now our model. Nice guy, he took it well. The point at which annoyance turned to infuriation was when we found out that the dives were limited to 20 minutes bottom time, no exceptions. We could deal with the rest of the rules, but this was a show-stopper. My computer showed another 19 and 15 minutes left before deco on both dives before ascending, and I came up with 1800 lbs of air. It was a pretty expensive trip for just 40 minutes of bottom time.

 

My conclusion: if you are a new diver or a nervous diver or a not too bright diver, you might appreciate the anal handling of Dive Key West. However if you are an experienced diver and photographer, you may want to look at the other dive operators. We sure will the next time we visit the Vandenburg.

 

Fletcher

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Thanks for the feedback. I will make sure that I will avoid this shop. I'm heading down in August to Key largo to dive the deep wrecks and will head down for 1-2 days to do the Vandenburg. I was looking at diving with Captain Corner. Anyone have thoughts about that operator?

 

 

Kirk

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I would add SubTropic Dive Center to the list of people not to dive with in Key West also.

 

Paid for a dive trip .. got put on a boat with 8 snorkellers including 2 under 8 year olds, was promised we would be doing two proper dives.

We went to two 25ft max not very good sites. Perfect for snorkellers.

Complained when we got back, they had vouchers out on the side waiting for us. We gave the vouchers away as we didn't want to even bother again.

 

Oh and nice photo of the wreck!

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Some type of index for positive dive shop feedback and negative shop feedback might be useful for this site. Rather turns it into a diveadvisor type of arrangement. Many of us have had great trips...many terrible service. So far, search and read is the only way I know of to sort it out.

Thanks for adding your comments regarding places to avoid. Considering diving that area later in the yr and will use your advice.

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I've always used Captains Corner when diving the Vandenburg. They do a 2 tank dive or as we did 1 long deco dive.

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Some type of index for positive dive shop feedback and negative shop feedback might be useful for this site. Rather turns it into a diveadvisor type of arrangement. Many of us have had great trips...many terrible service. So far, search and read is the only way I know of to sort it out.

Thanks for adding your comments regarding places to avoid. Considering diving that area later in the yr and will use your advice.

 

Man, i would so agree! Something like undercurrent offers, but an index to look up all reviews. Undercurrent has saved me from several bad operators...

 

Allan

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