Stuart Cove’s Dive South Ocean

Extreme Adventure, Extremely Easy

Bill Harrigan

Stuart and Michelle Cove’s motto should be ‘Extreme Adventure, Extremely Easy.’ They make it easy for divers to have fun with the latest in high tech gear. At Dive South Ocean, you can choose your own adventure. Ever wished you could zoom effortlessly through the water as graceful as a dolphin; a living coral wall on one side and the deep blue ocean on the other? How about gliding silently along a wreck using a sophisticated semi-closed circuit rebreather? Have you wanted to expand your photography skills with an ultra wide angle lens? These adventures and many more await you at Dive South Ocean in Nassau.

Swimming with Sharks: Naturally, the Shark Adventure is one of the most popular attractions at Stuart Cove’s. The first half of this adventure takes place on Shark Wall, where you share a swim on a real reef with real sharks. There is nothing contrived about this experience; it’s an opportunity to see sharks behaving naturally in their natural habitat. The other part of the adventure is the Shark Feed, which will give you an unforgettable close-up look at these magnificent creatures.

All diving at Dive South Ocean is conducted with environmental conservation in mind. The bait is all natural and Stuart uses only the fish heads and carcasses that would otherwise be thrown out by local fish houses and restaurants. The Shark Adventure is more than just thrills, too. You’ll learn many fascinating things about sharks and you can earn the PADI Shark Awareness certification. The course is easy, with the academics on video.

High Tech Sampler: Dive South Ocean was the world’s first resort to offer rebreathers and it has four Dr拡er Atlantis I semi-closed circuit rebreathers available. You can take the introductory course or the full rebreather certification course.

The use of nitrox in sport diving has been growing steadily as divers realize its benefits. Although nitrox can extend your no decompression bottom time if you dive according to a nitrox table or computer, many dive nitrox as an additional buffer against decompression sickness. Using nitrox with air tables or an air computer puts you farther from the potential danger of unwanted bubbles than using air. Of course there are some special considerations, such as the maximum operating depth for the percentage of oxygen contained in each mixture, so a certification course is required. At Dive South Ocean, you can get your certification at the beginning of your trip and enjoy the benefits of nitrox for the rest of your dives.

Another recent Stuart Cove innovation is Wall Flying with Apollo AV-1 underwater scooters. Sixteen of these diver propulsion vehicles are ready to take you on an underwater flight you won’t forget. Most divers only need a couple of minutes to get comfortable with steering the scooter and then away they go in a streak of yellow.

Dozens of Dive Sites : Sharks are by no means the only attraction at Dive South Ocean. There are many excellent dive sites, such as Fansea Purple, a shallow reef thick with gently waving purple seafans, tall Star Coral heads and swarms of tropical fish. Round Star Coral heads are so numerous along the edge of the wall that local fishermen call another area Pumpkin Patch. The heads are easily visible 40 feet down and from there the reef drops off precipitously. The Willaurie is a 130 foot freighter that was sunk in 55 feet of water in 1989 and now sports a nice growth of corals and sponges. The Bahama Mama is another artificial reef, sunk in 1995 in only 40 feet on a sandy bottom. Sharks, Spadefish, jacks and schools of tiny Silversides have already made themselves at home on the Bahama Mama. The Tunnel Wall is another site you shouldn’t miss. This is a relatively shallow reef with tunnels cut into the side. It’s not the sort of thing you need special cave diving experience for but the meandering tunnels make an unusual dive. Oasis is a deep wall dive on the north side of the island that is great when the wind conditions are right. There is a tower draped in plate coral here with many lobster, eels and fish.

Dive South Ocean: Walk through the gate at Dive South Ocean and you’ll see a well organized operation with a lot of smiling faces. Neatly arranged along the waterfront are the dive boutique, camera center, rental equipment and gear storage areas. Show up with only your C-card and a swimming suit if you want and the staff will outfit you quickly with everything you need. Dive South Ocean’s three big compressors and a 90,000 cubic foot cascade system ensure there is plenty of clean, safe air. Seven custom dive boats let Stuart separate the divers into small groups to avoid crowding. Look around any of the boats and you’ll see a very high standard of maintenance and an outstanding attention to detail. The dive ladders extend well into the water at a comfortable angle and there are big, solid handrails to grab onto as you exit. Camera rinse barrels, dry storage areas, coolers, drinking water, freshwater rinse and emergency oxygen are standard features.

The Hollywood Quotient: Hollywood movie making has been an integral part of business at Dive South Ocean since 1980, when Stuart worked as a diver, double and shark handler on the James Bond thriller For Your Eyes Only. More movie work followed, with Never Say Never Again, Splash, Cocoon and Jaws; the Revenge. Hollywood turns to Stuart Cove’s time and again because the high quality of the operation is a perfect match for the consistently excellent diving conditions. The entire dive shop and dock area was transformed into a fishing village recently for the movie version of Flipper. Most of the set is still intact, making a fascinating backdrop for the daily dive preparations.

Travel Information: Direct flights to Nassau are available from many East Coast cities, including Miami, New York, Newark, Boston and Washington, D.C. U.S. citizens need a passport or a certified birth certificate and photo ID for entry. U.S. and Bahamian dollars are interchangeable and the electrical systems are compatible. The dress standard is casual, although long pants or resort elegant wear may come in handy if you plan to dine out at one of the more formal restaurants.

For more information or reservations, call Stuart Cove’s Dive South Ocean at (800) 879-9832. Outside the U.S., call (954) 524-5755 or fax (954) 524-5925. The e-mail address is SCove1045@aol. com.