Ocean Hunter, October 1995, Gary E. Vierheller, Guam. "Sunny and cloudy. Water: calm, flat, strong currents, 85°. Sharks, mantas, turtles. 4 Dolphins. Ocean Hunter is a 60 foot sailing/motor vessel that sleeps six comfortably, with 2 sets of bunk beds forward (one set per cabin, two cabins) and a "master" cabin aft. Master cabin has own shower, forward cabins shared a complete facility. All cabins air conditioned and well appointed. Galley amidships with a spacious "U" shape dining table. Menus varied and in accordance with the wishes of the guests. Aft deck the staging area for dives; tanks and attached BCs secured there. Clothesline to hand and secure your wetsuit, benches with hinged seats and storage baskets. Relatively quiet compressor was used immediately after each dive, so noise didn't interfere with dinner or resting. . . . Novot Bornovski and crew knowledgeable about the sites and the islands. Advised conservative diving and gave complete briefings. Treated us as adults. Novot's philosophy: "If a customer is unhappy, you must try harder to please." Each night we were told the following day's plan and the floor was open to feedback. Requests were attended to. One of the finest operations we've encountered in ten years."
Ocean Hunter, November 1995, Stephen Fickes, San Francisco, CA. "Big schools of fish, sharks in the currents; electricity at feeding time on Blue Corner; watching big mantas cruise in the German Channel - better than Fiji, Red Sea, Philippines, Maldives and Cozumel. Caught the best sites in the best conditions, thanks to Captain Navot. Had a wonderful 80 year old diving companion and Navot went out of his way to accommodate him on the better dives. Food fresh and well prepared, especially fish. Terrific time on the four Japanese World War II wrecks we dove in Koror Lagoon; hundreds of dolphins surrounded the boat and swam with us when we jumped in."
Ocean Hunter, November 1995, Brad & Shelley Billik, Los Angeles, CA. "Comfortable 60' motor sailer; puts divers on top of site, while others transport divers in tenders. Six divers and three crew; unlimited fresh-water (watermaker). Navot, the boats owner, accommodated requests of sites and timed dives to avoid other boats. Captain or divemaster available as guides and provided good briefings and help with equipment. Freedom to dive own profiles. The currents are strong, so bring a safety sausage! Snorkeled with a large pod of dolphins for nearly an hour!"
Ocean Hunter, May 1996, Steve Nielson, Danville, CA. "Big fish, Napoleon wrasse, sharks, barracuda, 12' leopard shark. Terrific walls. Great night dives, huge lobsters, swimming morays, squid. Beautiful tridacna clams bigger than Fiji. All drift dives, use safety sausage. WWII relics and tour by Peleliu's historian, excellent. 46 dives a day, with no effort. Schools of fish pouring up, down and along wall. Vis: 75125 ft. water: 8486°."
Ocean Hunter, May 1996, Max Dreyer, Petaluma, CA. "Disappointed. Captain never discussed plans, so we were unable to provide input. Due to the weather, which he felt was bad, we did not go to Pelileu, though we were diving only a few miles away. When someone asked if we were going to a particular location, his response was "what do you think?" All we hear about was the Rainbow Hunter; he had little enthusiasm left for the Ocean Hunter. Didn't put on fast current drift dives, what Palau is famous for and the reason I booked the trip. vis: 75100 ft. water: 8590°."
Ocean Hunter, June 1996, Mel McCombie, New Haven, CT. "High expectations fulfilled in some departments not others. Three staterooms wildly different; See & Sea has no business charging the same price for all. Stern stateroom is great, V-berth barely okay, middle room a joke. Toua was unable to sail and do the cooking (owing to being pregnant) and the food was indifferent. Better to dive from the mother ship w/only 6 divers than the cattleboats and dinghies of other live-aboards. Got to several remote locations no one else dives. vis: 10150 ft. water: 8284°."
Ocean Hunter, August 1996, Emiliano H. Ruiz, San Juan, PR. "Diving excellent. Variety of reefs and wrecks (including airplanes). Jellyfish Lake unique; blue holes and cavern diving outstanding. School of barracudas had no end. Drift diving easy, as the boat followed the bubbles with efficiency. Outstanding to good vis; calm seas. Many whitetips and reef sharks; one tiger. Sail boat (capacity six divers). Size personal touch of the owner Navot made a difference!"
Palau Aggressor, July 1995, Steven Marshall, Sunnyvale, CA. "Made to be a dive boat. Large rooms, shower, lots of hot water, easy access to and from water, great photo table. Professional crew. Wonderful, no hassle great dive trip. It takes work to get to Palau, with time wasted at a hotel before and after."
Palau Aggressor II, September 1995, Ann Kaufmann, Philadelphia, PA. "The boat is decadent. OK vis but it rained a bit (65'). In diving wrecks we saw tanks on decks, airplanes in holds or in the sand (Zeros and the Betty Bomber), all manner of wartime artifacts. Unfortunately, people have carted off things, so the local guides (land-based) have their own 'stash' of china, gas masks, and an occasional skull which they put out on display to be 'found' by divers. Aggressor will not dive the San Francisco, but we arranged an excursion. It is a decompression dive to approximately 180' plus to a pristine ship with 3 tanks on deck, mines in the hold. Unfortunately, you only get about 12 min bottom time, but it is worth doing. Also entails a 30 min hang time. My favorite wreck is the Shinkoku, a beautiful soft-coral encrusted ship with as much marine life as artifact. The trip was taken with Stan Waterman, a jewel of a man who enthralled all, and Jim Church, who was quite knowledgeable on the wrecks themselves and where things were to photograph as well as his photographic expertise."
Palau Aggressor, November 1995, Stella Gornicki, Livermore, CA. "Can't say enough about the boat, the crew, or the franchise! Boat motto is "Eat, Sleep, Dive" - and they deliver! Five fabulous dives every day. vis: 60100 ft. water: 7679°."
Palau Aggressor, November 1995, Hal and Lou Stewart, Bakersfield, CA. "Lots of sharks and barracuda. vis: 50100 ft.water:78°82° Currents really get going. Best boat we have been on, good service. Rooms had full bathroom and shower. Dive deck well designed; large camera table."
Palau Aggressor, February 1996, Peter Salmeron, Wichita, KS. "Excellent trip, excellent operations. Vis. 50150 ft. Water: 8082°"
Palau Aggressor II, March 1996, Ari Requicha, Manhattan Beach, CA. "Scattered clouds and periods of rain, (Palau gets 12 feet/year; expect rain almost every day), sea calm, stable boat. Water below 80. With a two-ply SSA Darlexx I was cold after the third dive had to add a 3mm. At Blue Corner vertical currents push you up and over the reef in no time. Watch for fish swimming vertically! Hook yourself to some rock with hooks provided by the crew. If you miss, you are gone to the other side of the reef. Fish schools impressive, lots of sharks and Napoleon wrasses. After you unhook yourself, drifting at high speed by yourself towards blue water after seeing all those sharks can be unnerving. Staying with your buddy is not easy. Divemasters always checked current before we got in, but it changed. Usually two divemasters in the water and two crew in the skiff. Crew good at spotting you on the surface and picking you up. Safety sausages provided by he crew were a necessity, with people surfacing at large distances from one another. You go with it, and the crew will find you. . . . From the West Coast one has to spend a night in Hawaii or Guam. On arrival the crew takes you to the Palau Pacific Resort and picks you up at 4:30 pm for boarding. On departure day you go back to the hotel after breakfast. Note: Should provide hot water for the deck showers and get rid of some bad smells that hit the upper decks."
Palau Aggressor II, May 1996, Carly Lampmann, Miami, FL. "vis: 60100ft. Water: 8285°. First live-aboard experience and we're spoiled."
Sun Dancer, July 1995, Mary M. Grab, Westland, MI. "First 'world class' diving destination, first live-aboard. Diving ranged from serenely beautiful, pristine reefs to mind jarring, electric, high voltage dives with so many sharks you couldn't count them and who cared! Facilities and staff top-notch. Fine accommodations, great food, and a friendly, warm, capable staff"
Sun Dancer, August 1995, Rand Taylor, Grand Juntion, CO. "Perfect weather, wildlife, diving, and crew. Sharks every dive. Large pelagics abundant. Vis excellent. Accommodations remarkable. Food to die for. I have hundreds of dives throughout the Caribbean and the Sun Dancer blew me away. Strong currents, tunnels, caves, and large schools of sharks demand a cool head, excellent skills, and dead center buoyancy control."
Sun Dancer/D-W Motel, October 1995, Bob and Gayle Bringas, Gaston, OR. "Not for beginners. Strong, unpredictable currents. Crew and boat were everything we expect from Peter Hughes. New cook not used to dealing with the quality of local foods, so sometimes dinner was okay (for example, serving the steaks with papaya instead of marinating it in papaya). Desserts super. . . . Chase boat (the "Magic Bus") was fast, comfortable, safe, easy to board. Never a long wait to be picked up. Gear stayed on the chase boat; tanks filled in place. Water: 85 to 90°. Vis: 100 to 130 ft. . . . Two days enough for sightseeing and shopping. . . . Palau Pacific Resort is the top-of-the-line ($200/night). D-W Motel in Koror: cracked linoleum floors, no tv, one light bulb on the wall, thin curtains, rusty refrigerator. No ATM's on the island. Few businesses (other than hotels) take credit cards. Ben Franklin store was an exception; excellent souvenir selection. Betel nut chewers. It's a gross national habit. People spit wherever they happen to be. The sidewalks are covered with red splotches. Ugh!"
Sun Dancer, October 1995, James Hyneman, Menifee, CA, "Crew catered to guests. Two divemasters on every dive. Common to surface as much as 1/2 mile apart, but the skip boat never missed a diver. Diving exquisite, coral formations dumbfounding. A winner - and I went during so-called rainy season."
Sun Dancer, November 1995, Joe Johnston, M.D., Mt. Olive, MS. "Safe Boat auxiliary superb. Gourmet cooking. Tight ship dedicated to safety; best diving in thirty years. Frank, Jessica and Debby did a great job of finding the best dive sites. Blue Corner; hook your reef hook and stay for hours watching the scene . . . unbelievable! Many sharks, Napoleon wrasse, eagle rays, bumphead parrots, huge school of barracudas . . . and thousands of smaller fish. End-of-the-week wrap-up with the highlights of the week with slide and video show by the crew."
Sun Dancer, November 1995, Stella Gornicki, Livermore, CA. "The "Magic Bus: dive skiff broke on the second day. The crew worked their butts off, trying to take care of us with shore-based boats which came out each day. I have nothing but praise for the crew. After my return, I wrote about missed dive opportunities and inconveniences and requested a voucher to be applied to a subsequent trip. I got a letter saying that those who participate in marine activities should be willing to accept the chance of equipment failure. I disagree; when a vacation costs close to $5K, I expect to get my money's worth, or get compensated!"
Sun Dancer, November 1995, Mel Butler, Claremont, CA. "Arrived in AM, taken to Palau Pacific, then boarded ship at 4PM. Shower in bathroom, limited drawer space, but adequate. Spacious camera table, rinse tanks and suit drying area. BC's, regulators remain on one tank/diver which is refilled in place. 'Bus' is safe jet drive, twin diesel with very shallow draft, which delivers divers to site and picks them up easily. E-6 processing and photo advice helpful. Excellent food by Chef Steve. Buy story boards at jail."
Sun Dancer, January 1996, Donald Parker, Las Vegas, NV. "King size bed, picture window, private toilets, endless hot water, comfortable lounge, air conditioned. . . . No pretrip instructions were received and we were not expected by Sun Dancer crew; a fax we carat from Peter Hughes Diving saved our bacon. Arrived mid-morning and bussed to Palau Pacific Resort to hang around in a room for ten divers at $15 each until 4: p.m. Luggage had gone on to Sun Dancer; with predive info could have had snorkeling gear handy. . . . Vis. 75100 ft. water: 83° Gave each diver a safety sausage (scuba tuba). I had purchased my own from our local dive shop and, sure enough, got caught in a current and was carried several hundred yards from the pickup boat. I inflated my safety signal, but it was only 3'6" long (vs. 7 +long for the scuba tubes supplied) and the pickup crew could not see me. They radioed the Sun Dancer and with their three story advantage and binoculars, located me right away. Some anxious moments. Lesson learned by both me and the crew. Should have compared the devices we had with the ones they used at the initial briefing. . . . Turned off by a "request" at the end of the trip for a 10% tip for the crew. At the least, at the time reservations are made, divers should be told that the price does not include a 10% tip - which is close to being mandatory."
Sun Dancer, January 1996, Larry S. Roberts, Homestead, FL. "Upholds the high standards of Peter Hughes. Excellent trip. vis: 50100 ft. water: 8082°."
Sun Dancer, February 1996, Victor B. Kenton, Calabasas, CA. "Fabulous diving, extremely well run. Food terrific. Divemasters know the sites. Excellent shark action. Helped us on a land trip tour of Pelilieu. Good night diving. vis: 50100 ft. water: 80°."
Sun Dancer, February 1996, Charles Scogin, Dallas, TX. "Wonderful time. Met our group at the airport and made us feel welcome. Crew is great and new divemaster Betty from Israel is a breath of fresh air. Food was almost too good and plenty of it. Diving great; saw more large creatures and sharks than I ever Good briefings, then we all got into the 40 foot jet powered craft that can go in shallow water and has no propeller to hurt anyone. Side trip to Pelilieu, where one worst WWII battles took place here."
Sun Dancer, February 1996, Lloyd Schwengel, Brea, CA. "Most days sunny with some clouds and short storms, other times rained nearly all day. No place for beginners, try drift diving in Cozumel first. Dive operation was safety conscious, but no policing of your choices, just follow your training. Saw sharks on nearly every dive. Blue Corner matched its reputation, including strong current. Used reef hooks at Blue Corner and Peleliu cut, a good idea. Big drop off a fantastic wall, beautiful soft corals and lots of critters. Several excellent coral gardens. Don't miss Jellyfish Lake. . . . Operation is friendly to photographers and videographers. Good food, accommodations, staff. vis: 75150 ft. water: 8182°."
Truk Aggressor, April 1995, Stephen Pahl, San Jose, CA. "Ease of diving, from having the equipment permanently set up, to mooring directly over each dive site. Accommodated our desires, from dive locations to guided tours on wrecks. Diving phenomenal. Watching the divers from the Thorfinn jostled in chase boats near our dive sites reaffirmed that we made the very best decision."
Truk Aggressor, August 1995, Mary M. Grab, Westland, MI. "Wreck diving I'm not interested in, but this knocked my booties off. Do an Island excursion. You will think back 50 years. Wrecks are incredible; loads of artifacts, gorgeous anemones with fish families and towering masts decorated with coral and rife with macro life. Penetration sometimes easy, sometimes adventuresome. Johnny will give you a tour you'll never forget. Accommodations good; food good; did an admirable job keeping this non-meateater happy. Staff knowledgeable, hard working and fun."
Truk Aggressor II, October 1995, Bob and Gayle Bringas, Gaston, OR. "Truk Lagoon has no currents. Poor vis (40 ft., Water: 85°.) combined with typical dives to 130 ft. and wreck penetration make this for experienced. . . . Aggressor is a nice, well-run operation. Don't book rooms 4 or 5: no drawers for storage. Food excellent, thanks to Chef Fred Lopez. No chase boat; the Aggressor moors directly over the wrecks. . . . Spent three days on Moen for landbased activities: one would have been plenty. Little sightseeing or shopping. . . . Truk Continental is long in tooth, but the best on the island due to the location. Outside of town, well-kept grounds, beaches. There are options in town, if you don't mind the noise, the smells. No ATM's; only the hotels take credit cards. Take cash in small denominations."
Thorfinn, July, 1995 Doris & Bob Schaffer, Fallbrook, CA. "Accommodations tired and tacky. Uses dive tenders to take a few divers to different wrecks. Crews competent and friendly, but when Lance, the captain, is not on the boat there is less efficiency. Don't let them develop your slides. Several rolls were ruined for which we paid $10 per. Truk Lagoon itself has deteriorated considerably since we were last there 11 years ago; clarity is not as good and the Lagoon bacteria count is way up , but the wrecks are still intact and the diving is good."
Thorfinn, January 1996, Carol Bok, Santa Monica, CA. "Captain Lance Higgs is a great WWII historian; paints a compelling picture of life in Truk Lagoon during the Japanese build-up and occupation. Has detailed drawings the many fantastic wrecks to preview before and after each dive. Secured mooring buoys by the wrecks; uses Zodiac to transport divers. Thorfinn just refitted; still "soft spots" but overall accommodations, dive operation and food were very good. Corals and creatures are wonderful along with the amazing collection of wrecks. vis: 2080 ft. water: 80°. Multiple safety stops because of deep dives."
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