Ken Elkins - Captain/Instructor
April 12, 2003 at 00:21:45
Had decided that I wouldn't make posts here anymore but Schwager "the Bragger" keeps on "keeping on" with his suggestions about my lack of experience. So . . .
I am an Instructor. Been one for a long, long time (I'm 64). Will match my number of dives, dive sites, charter diveboats and certifications with "D. Bragger" the Divemaster any time, any place.
Schwager should note that none of my posts "slam" any liveaboard diveboat Company like his do. In fact I concur that those we both previously mentioned are good boats to charter. But, they all do offer, and strongly suggest, trip insurance. And, they all do have refund policies that are similar (if not nearly exact) to that of the so called "Screw You" Aggressor/Hughes fleets. Maybe David should do as I did and contact these other companies and get written policies. This is why I know what those policies are.
Turks and Caicos Aggressor Whale charter of 3/22 - 3/29/2003: Wonderful for us to have these encounters with these huge beautiful animals. To be able to swim without fear and be able to get close to them without spooking them is something I encourage all divers to do. We departed the dock in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic at midnight Saturday and were in the Silver Banks seeing Whales breach by 8:30 Sunday morning. The chase boats had us out with the whales from 8:30 to noon and from 2:00 till 5:30 every day. Some encounters were better than others such as when we swam with the "Rowdy Bunch" of males showing off for the females. And to be close enough to reach out and almost touch a calf with the mother just on the other side of it lets us know that the Mother trusts us to not harm her beautiful and playful calf. A truly exciting trip.
The Turks and Caicos Aggressor Captain and crew were professional, safety oriented and very courtious. Our every need was taken care of. We have a great video of our trip to share with our friends back home and to remind us just how lucky we were to have had this experience.
The boat was on it's last charter before being replaced by the new Turks and Caicos II . . . but it was still very comfortable with all the advertised goodies. Obvious that there had been a lot of elbow grease used but it could have used a touch of paint here and there too. The safety equipment consisted of two chase boats (dinghy's) including a spare outboard motor, two 10 person life floats, 24 never used life vests, 9 recently serviced (or new) fire extinguishers, 2 GPS, radar, fathometer, EPIRB, a flare gun with flares and four life rings with lines and lights attached. We had email for a small fee and a satelite phone for a cost per call fee.
David Schwager is certainly free to recommend any diveboat he wishes but he should keep his slanderous thoughts to himself when he talks about that which he thinks he is the expert but in reality is showing himself to be biased and ignorant. Maybe one day he will become a Captain and Instructor and then he may think he is qualified to judge without being there. I'm a lot older but I don't consider myself qualified to blanketly condem all boats in the "Hasson/Hughes cartel".
I am sure that there are nicer boats (and the new boat should be just that) but this boat was everything we expected and well worth the price we paid. As I have said previously, maybe we have just been lucky but all of our charters with the Aggressor Fleet (and other companies) have been great. Maybe one day we will have a bad experience like those who commented about the Galapagos Aggressor . . . but I hope not . . . and if we do then you can bet that I'll report it but I won't slam the other eleven boats in the Aggressor Fleet in the process.