“Best Kept Secret in the U.S.”
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.
DIA Dives with Dive Boat Narcosis: On December 10th, 2011 we had an opportunity to dive Palm Beach, Florida with legendary Dive Boat Skipper, Captain Van Blakeman. Our new friend from Palm Beach County, Dan Volker, set us up with a boat dive on the Dive Boat Narcosis and got us tanks and weights from Pura Vida Divers, in Palm Beach, Florida. With an early morning dive already behind us, Dan Volker, Dave Bertrand, Al Kidder and I boarded the Narcosis and headed out for a two tank dive. Despite the 6-8 foot swells on this otherwise beautiful almost winter day, Capt. Van put us on a nice wreck in 85 feet of water like it was child’s play. As soon as I hit the water and quickly began my descent, I realized that Palm Beach County was one of the best kept secrets of the diving world. First of all, it was winter diving and I was wearing my Oceanic 3/2mm full suit and a 3mm vest from Undersea Designs and by the end of the dive I was still warm as toast. Second, the visibility was great and there was little or no current on the wreck at 85 feet. For a dive that was just a few hundred yards off the beach, I was very happy to see Turtles and Goliath Groupers on the wreck.
Boats in Palm Beach don’t anchor off or tie up to the wreck. They drop you off in buddy pairs or small groups on different parts of the wreck or reef. Each group has its own dive flag and each diver has his own Safety Sausage. The boat crew tracks each flag and picks up the divers as they surface. It was during our pick-up part of the dive when I saw first hand what an experienced boat captain we had. Capt. Van came in for the pick-up, swung the boat around, and put the swim step right in front of us for an easy boarding. WOW! I have to tell you, I haven’t seen anyone make a diver pick-up look so easy as Captain Van did that day. So yes, we will return to Palm Beach as soon as possible. Not only for the excellent boat diving with Captain Van but for the Whales, Whale Sharks, Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Goliath Groupers, and the countless other photo opts that are waiting for us just a few hundred yards off shore.
Captain Van Blakeman: Owner and Captain of the Dive Boat Narcosis. Captain Van has a love for the ocean, diving, and people that make Narcosis Dive Charters the perfect place for him. Starting back in Marathon, Florida in the late 1960’s, his work over the years with tugboats, while enjoying plenty of sailing and fishing, combined with diving experience ensures the confidence of his charter customers. His continued awe of the world, respect for the environment and desire to have fun keeps his customers coming back.
For more information on Narcosis Dive Charters, contact Captain Van Blakeman, Dive Boat Narcosis, Riviera Beach Marina, Slip #52, Riviera Beach, FL 33404. Phone: 866-627-2674. eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.NarcosisDiveCharters.com