Aquatic Explorers christens Explorer I vessel in South Florida
(DiverWire) Scuba divers now have another dive boat option in South Florida. Last week, more than 150 people attended the Aquatic Explorers “Launch” party in Key Biscayne, Florida. Attendees saw the new 42’ Newton vessel, the Explorer I which was designed and outfitted specifically for SCUBA divers.
Aquatic Explorers staff is well-known in the local area. Ani Gonzalez has been working boats for 18 years and as a dive instructor for almost as long. She said they have been meeting with resort and hotel concierges learning most are sending snorkelers and divers to the Florida Keys because they weren’t aware of what was available in their own playground off Miami and in Biscayne National Park. She went on to say, “instead of spending an hour in a car driving south, you can spend 30 minutes on the boat crossing the bay, passing Stiltsville, checking out Key Biscayne Lighthouse and before you know it you’re at the reef. We are a full service dive charter, equipped with new sets of SCUBA and snorkel gear available for rent. In addition, we will be offering a range of specialty charters along with the regular trips. Groups can book the boat for spearfishing, underwater photography and reef clean-ups. If there’s something else you’d like to do, contact us with your ideas.”
The morning following the launch party and after months of preparation, Explorer I pulled out of the slip on Key Biscayne for its inaugural trip. Blessed by calm seas, clear water, and dolphins playing in the wake, she made her way to staff secret spots– areas marked by Rachel Hernandez, who has been a dive instructor since 1987, and has her own personal boat she’s used in the area for years. The first drop was christened Sapphire Reef, for the gorgeous blue water. It had an abundance of life and healthy soft corals. Next was a run over to Angel Reef, you guessed it, exploding with every kind of angel fish in the area: Queens, Blue, Grey and French swimming side by side with a visiting sea turtle.
Dive professionals, family and friends are enthusiastic about the new addition. “We only have a few boats serving the numerous wrecks and reef systems off Miami” commented Robert Quintana, owner of Ocean Safari. “This gives everyone more options” he stated.
After two successful dives Captain Nick pointed the bow back to the dock. He maneuvered the vessel like a pro. It was not a surprise, considering he has close to 30 years experience running boats in New York, the Carolina’s, and doing deliveries up and down the east coast as well as the Caribbean, some while working for NYPD. He’s happy to be retired and living in south Florida. “I got the chance to do a Discover SCUBA while on vacation in Hawaii 20 years ago and was hooked. It will be nice to combine work and diving.”
Aquatic Explorers Dive Charter (305-851-8180) offers an opportunity to save time and gas as you stay and play in your own back yard. Dip in for a Thursday night dive after a day at work and be home before the evening news. The launch of Explorer I heralds in a new age for the thriving dive community of Miami as well as keeping our tourism dollars in the county instead of sending them elsewhere.