We've been here a while, so we've already been asked quite a few questions. Here are the answers to some of the more common questions asked.
Where is Bermuda?
Right here It's actually in the North Atlantic, on the same latitude as North Carolina, but because it sits in the Gulf Stream, which flows up past the Caribbean and the Eastern US coast from the Gulf of Mexico.
Tthe islands of Bermuda have evolved into a haven for marine life that is on a par with any of the islands further south. It's not strictly part of the Caribbean, though - technically, Bermuda is in the North Atlantic!
What's the diving like in Bermuda?
Bermuda has great diving all year round. In particular, Bermuda is famous for being surrounded by hundreds of historical shipwrecks (and even a few we sank on purpose), which are surrounded by a wide variety of corals and marine life very similar to those found throughout the Caribbean and Florida Keys
The reef areas are widely interspersed with sand holes - which means that the underwater visibility can vary a lot depending on wind strength and direction. If the wind has been calm for a few days, the sand and silt settles to the bottom and makes the visibility very good - but if it's windy, the visibility can be not-so-good, or even quite low depending on how bad the weather has been.
The best visibility is during calm weather in the colder months - because the temperatures are lower, there's less particle content in the water, so the visibility can sometimes be twice as far as it is in the summer months! (see here for averages by month). In the warmest months, the water temperature is high enough that you only need a dive skin, or don't need any wetsuit at all; in the winter months, a 5mm all-over suit is generally enough.
If I go diving with Blue Water Divers, am I going to get lost in the Bermuda Triangle?
Yes! If by “lost” you mean “awesome.” But if you mean Gilligan’s Island-type lost, then no - our Captain has a necklace that prevents mysterious disappearances
I don't like getting up too early when I'm on vacation, so I want to be close to your locations - where should I stay, and how do I get to you?
We have some links to Accommodations options on our website for you to browse through - but in general, you want to stay in the central or Western parishes.
Our locations are about 5 to 15 minutes by bus, taxi or moped from most places in the West end of the island, including King's Wharf (the cruise ship pier) out in Dockyard.
If you stay at the Pompano Beach Club, there's a shuttle bus that will bring you to Robinson's Marina, and pick you up after the trip gets back in, at no extra cost. We're working on a mini-bus schedule as well, but it's not in place yet - feel free to ask about it when you book and we'll tell you what the latest news is with that. Cambridge Beaches is also very close to the Robinson's location - less than 10 minutes in a taxi.
I've only done my Open Water Course, last time I was on vacation, and I'm a little nervous because I haven't been diving since then - are there Guides in the water with us or do we go off in our own Buddy teams? Should I do a Refresher?
We have set Guidelines on when we ask people to do a Refresher course, depending on how many total dives they have done and how long it's been since they were last diving - ask us about that when you're booking and we'll help you figure out the best way to proceed.
Generally, we put people in the water with a Guide, especially if it's their first time diving with us, and if they're diving for multiple days and don't necessarily want a Guide every day, they don't have to go with one.
I've done hundreds of dives and my last dive was 23 hours before I boarded the flight to Bermuda - I'd rather not go with a Guided group, but I don't have a Buddy. What are my options?
Experienced divers are covered in our set of Guidelines too (see question just above this one) and if they don't want to go with a Guide, we do our best to buddy them up with comparable divers, or sometimes with one of our Frequent Diver Club members (residents of Bermuda).
We encourage everyone to tell us what they'd prefer, and we'll do our best to make that work wherever possible, subject to local regulations.
What's your dive boat like? How many divers do you take on one trip?
Modern Sinbad (which runs only from the Robinson's Marina location) is a purpose-built dive boat - a Newton 36 - which has a large dive platform and ladder, tank racks and seating (plus seating on the top deck).
Local regulations require a full array of safety gear, including life jackets, flares, life raft, and emergency First Aid / Oxygen equipment. We provide drinking water, a fresh water shower, light refreshments between dives, and ample dry-storage space for personal items (or you can leave items at the dive shop).
If you have special needs, please ask when booking and we can provide more details. Last year we brought a service dog out on a trip with us J - though the dog didn't dive, we're pretty sure he had a good time.
BWD's maximum limit for divers is 18 plus staff/crew - however the boat is licensed for 30 passengers. We try to keep the numbers lower to maximize space on the trips. (Snorkelers and passengers may take numbers to over 18.)
Do I set up my own gear, or do you do it for me?
It depends! Our crew will ask you whether you need help with setting up your gear, and if you prefer to do your own, you certainly can - or if you prefer that we set it up for you, we certainly will.
Students in any Course (including a Refresher course) have to set up their own gear, as part of the Course requirements. Either way, we will definitely check your gear before you get in the water - and if no one asks you whether you need help with your gear, or you don't think anyone has checked it, please let the Captain know so that he/she can sort it out for you.
BWD no longer has a fixed policy that all certified divers set up their own gear - that changed along with new ownership in June 2012. While it is true that dive professionals can gauge a lot about divers from how well they are able to set up their gear, we don't use that as a reason for a fixed policy - we're focused on customer service just as much as we are on customer safety.
What types of tanks / tank valves do you use? What brands of Rental gear do you have?
BWD uses aluminum “80s” - which are standard 80 cubic foot capacity tanks. We have a small number of “60s” for kids or smaller adults who are good with air consumption and prefer to use a smaller tank. We have some tanks that accept a DIN adaptor - if you need a DIN adaptor; please let us know when booking so we can check availability.
If we don’t have a DIN valve tank available for your regulator when you arrive, you’re welcome to use one of our Rental regs at no extra cost. We are also cycling in new VINDICATOR valves into our rental tanks - most tanks will be equipped with Vindicators for the 2013 season. Our Rental gear is currently made up of BARE wetsuits, MARES BCDs and SCUBAPRO, SHERWOOD or MARES regulators. We have variety of styles and brands of masks and fins.
What time are your trips?
For the boat drive trips, we have morning and afternoon trips in the high season (summer months) and morning trips only in the shoulder season (winter months). Please try to arrive on time for Check-in so that the boat can leave on time.
It's not necessary to arrive earlier than the Check-in time - we start processing paperwork and payments at that time, and then distribute Rental gear and get set up on the boat prior to departure.
High Season - Morning Check-in - 8:15am, Boat Departs - 9:00am, Boat Returns - 12:45pm.
High Season (Summer Months) - Afternoon Check-in - 1:00pm, Boat Departs - 1:45pm, Boat Returns - 4:00pm
Shoulder Season (Winter Months) - Morning Check-in - 9:00am, Boat Departs - 9:45am, Boat Returns 1:30pm.
I want to do some diving courses or specialties while I'm on holiday. What can I do with you?
BWD is a PADI dive center, so we offer mainly PADI courses, from beginner courses up to and including Assistant Instructor level training. We also offer a variety of Specialty courses - check out our website's Courses page for more details.
You can bundle Specialty courses in with your dive package, if you want to! You're diving anyway - why not learn something ?
What time is the Midnight Buffet? Can I take my moped on the bus? Do these stairs go up or down? How deep do I have to go to get underneath the island? Why can't I scoop any of the turquoise water up into this bottle?
Here at Blue Water Divers, we believe there’s no such thing as a silly question. However, we do get some really “interesting” questions from time to time.
We’ll do our best to answer anything and everything, but if we look confused, it’s probably just that we haven’t had our coffee yet ...