The dive trip was a 3 day live-aboard with a company called Truth Aquatics. They have a great reputation, so Joe (owner of San Diego Divers Supply) arranged the trip. We got a fairly good price per diver, and I am definitely glad I went along. I had a good time, but the trip itself could have been better.
So here is my review of the trip. I will add one disclaimer - I have only been on one other live-aboard, and it was fantastic. So this is not the review of a seasoned boat diver. But it is a summary of what I thought was good and bad. I may even email the link to this post to the owner of the dive boat company. Who doesn't appreciate constructive criticism?
What was great about the trip? Annie Crawley. She seemed to be everywhere on the boat. She filled our tanks after dives. She cleaned up in the galley. She gave us a presentation on the underwater world of the Channel Islands. Most importantly, she was friendly and always willing to answer any questions I had about the dive conditions and locations. She was, in fact, the perfect dive captain. (That may not even be a real job, but it works for me.)
What else was great? The food. Maya and Annie were in charge of the galley, and the food was delicious. There was plenty of it, it was served on time and piping hot, and they even managed to keep smiling and be friendly throughout the trip. Not easy when you are feeding 30+ divers and a hungry crew.
What else was great? Diving the East End Pinnacles. Each of the dive sites offered something unique and enjoyable, but the Pinnacles were far and away the highlight of the trip for me. The visibility seemed to be 50+ feet, and there was every sort of sea life to enjoy. Greg and I moved quickly through the currents to get to depth, and at 100 feet the water was calm. It was an incredible dive, and I felt like I was back in Hawaii. (Well, other than the water temperature. Brrr.)
And the not-so-great aspects of the trip? We spent a great deal of time searching for dive spots, which means we had less time than expected for actual diving. Our first day, Sunday, we only made three dives. That's it. Three. The next day was better with five, and the last day we only did two. So I dove every chance I could, and I only had ten dives on a 3 day live-aboard. That isn't good.
And because of all the moving around, we never really knew when we would be diving. So many times we would wander below deck to nap between dives. Unfortunately, when the Captain found a spot, he would make his announcement AND his dive brief immediately. But since we were below in our bunks, we could barely make out anything he was saying. By the time I got topside, all I heard was "the gate is open." (And that is why Annie was so helpful. I would always ask her to repeat the dive briefing, and she did. Each time.)
Other criticisms? Not too many. All and all it was a good trip, and I know the Captain struggled against strong currents, swells, surges and tides. It just felt like many of the crew were just sort of hanging out, rather than being there to help us with our dive needs. I am pretty low-maintenance in that respect, but I would like a little customer service. I tip very well, and I think the dive support folks could make the effort to pick my fins up off the deck after I board the boat, instead of just dropping them to the deck so the next diver walks all over them. Little stuff like that makes a big difference, and that is really why I am paying for the convenience of a live-aboard.
So, there you go. A good trip that could have been better. I give it one-fin up out of two. I am sure I will go out on the boat again, but I doubt it will be anytime soon.