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Best Scuba Diving Spots in South Florida

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Photograph of a scuba diver in silhouette. The diver is rising to the surface of the ocean. The sunlight is on the top of the water.

With the tight economy forcing American boaters to reconsider expensive trips abroad, the appeal of Florida yacht charters has increased dramatically in the past two years.  Perhaps not on par with a Virgin Islands yacht charter, there are still plenty of points of interest while cruising along the South Florida coast, especially for charterers who also enjoy scuba diving.  

While the Florida Keys may be known for their fishing and scuba diving locations, both Broward and Miami-Dade counties have some of the best spots to scuba dive in the nation. From natural reefs to sunken ships, it’s amazing what can be found off the shores of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.   Many of the reefs and wrecks can be found in 60 to 80 feet of water, making South Florida a great choice for both novice and advanced divers.

Here are some of our top picks:

Photograph of a scuba diver swimming next to a dive site of a sunken ship called the Tugboat Jay Scutti in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

 

TUGBOAT JAY SCUTTI

First, Tugboat Jay Scutti (off Ft. Lauderdale)
Sunk in Sept. 1986, this 95 foot tug was seized by the government in a drug smuggling operation. It was bought at auction by a man who renamed it the “Jay Scutti,” after his son. The wreck lies in 70 feet of water and is centered between a 45 foot wreck named “Moonshot” and another named “Pride,” a 95 foot sailboat.  All three wrecks are tethered together by a cable. Divers can usually explore two of the wrecks in one dive. Lots of fish inhabit the Jay Scutti, and it’s possible to enter the wreck through various openings.

HAMMERHEAD REEF

Second, Hammerhead Reef (off Ft. Lauderdale)
Located just south of Port Everglades and running to the Dania Pier, this two and a half mile reef is famous for its sharks, rays, and large grouper.  The front portion of the reef is in 60 feet of water, while the back side plunges to 80 feet.  In some spots, the reef rises to nearly 20 feet. Tons of marine life call this reef home and make it a great spot for reef diving.

MIAMI BEACH WRECK TREK

Third, Miami Beach Wreck Trek (off Miami Beach)
It’s pretty impressive how artificial reefs have been created by linking multiple wrecks together via a guide cable. The Miami Beach Wreck Trek is a shallow dive, about 50 to 60 feet of water.  It begins with a pair of army tanks on the southern end. As they swim north, divers encounter several tons of limestone boulders and more wrecks like the “Rio Miami,” a 105 foot tug which sits upright in about 65 feet of water.

 

THE BELZONA TRIO

Fourth, also off the Miami Beach coast is a trio of sunken tug boats. The “Belzona Ona,” lies in 85 feet of water.  About 75 feet away is the second tug, “Belzona Two,” in 60 feet of water. The deepest of the trio, “Belzona Three,” is a 100 foot tug at a depth of 85 feet.

 

BELCHER BARGE

Finally, not far away is the “Belcher Barge #27,” a 195 foot steel barge that was sunk in 1985. The barge flipped on its way to the bottom, but experienced divers can penetrate it and swim the ship’s entire length.

 

PLEASE CONTACT US WITH YOUR THOUGHTS

Please comment to let us know about your experiences diving these awesome Florida dive sites!

In addition to cruising in south Florida, Bahama yacht charters are great options for closer-to-home getaways.  Contact our local charter guides for more details in Miami, the Florida Keys and nearby Bimini, Bahamas.

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Center Stage Belongs To Florida Luxury Yacht Charter Vessels at Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show

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The  2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, October 31-Nov 4, 2013, has drawn to a close.  Picture-perfect weather brought out record numbers of boating enthusiasts.
The 54th installment of the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, FLIBS, covers six locations and over 3 million square feet of space. Exhibits range from yacht builders and designers, to exotic cars and brokerage yachts. A variety of boats are on display, both in water and on land – runabouts, center consoles, cabin cruisers, skiffs, sailing yachts, tenders, superyachts, megayachts, powerboats, catamarans, and monohull sailboats.
florida yacht charter megayachts at ft lauderdale international boat show superyachts south florida
Of course the star attractions each year remain the extraordinary superyacht vessels that dominate the Caribbean yacht charter marketplace each winter.  
“For us, FLIBS represents the launch of the winter charter season,” says Jana Sheeder , President of SailAway Yacht Charters and 1-800 Yacht Charters“This is our chance to introduce our clients to the winter season’s best options for Florida yacht charter vacations.  Additionally, many of these yachts will consider relocating to the nearby islands to accept Bahamas yacht charter bookings.”
Among the charter yachts on hand at FLIBS were: 
2009 187 foot #sailboat yacht MONTIGNE 
2010 224 foot Nobiskrug motor yacht SYCARA V
2010 190 foot Trinity super yacht MI SUENO
In addition to the hundreds of yachts on display, Sheeder points out the show is the perfect venue for inspecting and testing the hottest new watertoys.
“If we see a ‘must have’ toy that we feel will enhance the charter experience for our clients, we’ll be the first to promote it to the charter yacht owners.  There is truly something for everyone at FLIBS.”
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Miami Yacht Show Yacht Charter Maven – Leg Up On The Competition

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ADVANTAGE, SHEEDER…

There is an old saying in football.  When your team is on offense, “take what the defense gives you.”  In other words, make the most of the opportunities that come your way.

No one understands that mentality more than our head honcho, Jana Sheeder, President of 1-800 Yacht Charters.

Every President’s Day weekend, #Jana rallies our team, and we invade the Miami Yacht Show.  The show is held in Miami Beach, Florida.  This year’s show runs from February 15 – 19, 2018.

The Miami Yacht Show

The Miami Yacht Show is known predominately as a “sales” show.  Few yacht charter brokers attend.  They prefer to wait until the charter-only show season in late Spring.  What they don’t realize, and Jana does, makes her a leader in the industry.  Multiple charter yachts quietly list for sale.  They attend shows like #Miami before entering the charter season.

Sheeder and her team use this opportunity to inspect yachts and interview crews privately.  Competitors cannot try to eavesdrop on our conversations.   They are not in attendance!  Fewer distractions and interruptions enable us to spend quality time with the crews.  Firstly, we discuss our past charters. Secondly, we plan fresh itineraries and activities for guests.  We look for ways to deliver a unique #Superyacht Experience to our repeat and new clients.


UBER?  NO, THANK YOU…

Of course, having more time to see the yachts only matters if you can get to the yachts – a tall task when the superyachts are spread across Miami Beach in two locations – one in front of the classic hotels along Collins Avenue, and the other 4 miles to the south, at Jungle Island Deep Harbor Marina.

Anyone who has visited Miami Beach during the yacht show knows the roadways are snarled by heavy vehicle congestion. It can literally take an hour in traffic to travel just one mile along Collins Avenue, with drivers cruising slowly to gawk at and take photos of the hundreds of yachts docked just feet away from the roadway.  Whether in a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or private car – it’s all the same: traffic, traffic, traffic…

Fortunately for us, Jana developed the ultimate solution to avoid gridlock – we zip around the marinas and pull up at the docks via boat!  Professional, fun, and unique – wonder what she has up her sleeve for the future?

Jana Sheeder leans on side of Jupiter yacht as it races along Miami skyline at sunset

 

We use limousines and suv’s at every show to cater to clients. Cars and traffic do not mix.

For this year’s show, we used a Jupiter 31 center console model (after our Van Dutch 55 had mechanical problems).  [Side bar:  The Van Dutch is a stylish cruiser, and some of our superyacht clients had flown in to inspect several luxury yacht charter vessels with us.  We thought they would be bummed not to cruise “in style” on the Van Dutch 55.  Turns out they had a blast with Jana – roaring around Biscayne Bay in the fast Jupiter, and cruising up the Miami River for a dockside late lunch and sunset at the Casablanca Seafood Restaurant.  A special bonus was the sighting of a manatee and dolphins!  The Miami Magic…]

 

FOR CHARTER…

Some of our most popular charter yachts (and crews) came to town, including:

  • DOUBLE DOWN – 213 Foot Codedasa superyacht selected last season by one of our clients for a 10–day Greek yacht charter odyssey through the Ionian islands. [Click on the yacht name to see photos we took at the Miami Yacht Show…]
  • BLISS – 145 Foot Heesen charteryacht – a fantastic modern yacht with a fun-loving crew who delivered a memorable Balearic islands yacht charter holiday to one of our Dutch clients and his family last July.
  • QUITE ESSENTIAL – 180 Foot Heesen – eco-friendly motoryacht with impressive looks and great interior comfort.  Another great superyacht for clients.

 

STUNNING NEW YACHT…

We also took the opportunity to inspect some brand new yachts for sale.  Why would we look at yachts not currently in charter?  Many buyers in the market for a brand new yacht will often buy a yacht, then enter it into the charter marketplace.  If this is done after the boat show season, there may not be an opportunity to inspect the yacht for many months.  We prefer to promote charter yachts that we have inspected, and while that’s not always the case, taking the time to look at popular, newly-built models increases the odds that we will see a new charter yacht before our competitors do.  We’re always looking for ways to stay a step ahead!

Our favorite new model at this year’s show is the NAVETTA 33, from the custom series of yachts built by Italy’s Ferretti Yachts.

Ferretti Custom Line 33 superyacht underway - heading to left of screen

 

Ferretti has already sold ten hulls since the model was launched in 2017.  After inspecting this yacht, it is easy to see why. The Navetta 33 Ferretti features a voluminous interior flooded with natural light through  floor-to-ceiling windows.  We walked through with one of our clients who has designed contemporary interiors for luxury suites in NBA arenas – and she was just as impressed!

 

THE 1-800 YACHT CHARTER DIFFERENCE…

So there you have it – another great yacht show for 1-800 Yacht Charters.  Jana took our team (and our clients) on some of the most popular luxury yacht charter vessels found anywhere in the world.  We also saw newly built yachts, and we’re anxious to see them enter the charter market.

Most importantly, we had the opportunity to spend quality time with our clients and share with them another aspect of our dedication to Delivering The Superyacht Experience… 

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New Strategy to Halt Lionfish Invasion – Eat ‘Em!

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Lionfish photograph. The fish is swimming toward the left of the screen. The blurred background is coral rock on a bed of sand.

We see great menus on Caribbean yacht charter boats, but we’re not sure this next recipe hits with yacht charter chefs:

Florida marine conservationists have a simple “recipe.”   They say, EAT the lionfish!

With few natural predators, Lionfish rapidly spread throughout the Caribbean and Atlantic waters.  They voraciously prey on local fish, shrimp, and crab populations across the region and in Florida.  Lionfish are a huge risk to world-famous coral reefs of the south.

Bahamas yacht charter clients constantly see these venomous creatures.  

The Key Largo-based REEF conservation organization released “The Lionfish Cookbook.”  It is a  collection of 45 recipes to combat the red lionfish.

With no government funds available to provide bounties or removal programs, conservationists hope to create a commercial demand for the fish.

“It’s absolutely good eating — a delicacy. It’s delicately-flavored white meat, very buttery,” boasts Lad Akins.  He is the director of special projects for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. Akins authored the cookbook along with professional chef Tricia Ferguson.

Researchers believe that Hurricane Andrew caused Red Lionfish to invade Florida waters in 1992.  During that year, an aquarium broke and at least six fish spilled into Miami’s Biscayne Bay.

The cookbook not only shares useful tips on collecting, handling, and preparing lionfish, but also provides expert background on its ecological impact.

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Are you ready to explore the Caribbean and taste some delicious lionfish menu items?  Click https://www.1800yachtcharters.com/book-now-contact-us/ to start planning your vacation with 1-800 Yacht Charters. 

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With Crew or Without – Which Private Yacht Charter Option is Right for You?

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“My husband and I are thinking about taking the family on a boating vacation in the Florida Keys late Spring/early Summer. I’m assuming it’s more affordable to rent a boat and run it ourselves.  Do you agree?”

Pam K, Coral Gables, FL

 

What a great idea, Pam – since you live in South Florida, a Florida yacht charter vacation in early summer is a great way to explore your “backyard,” at a time when most tourists have left the area.  Fewer crowds equates to quiet anchorages!

As a general rule, it IS more affordable to “DIY” (Do It Yourself) and drive your own bareboat (a boat that you rent without a hired crew). Affordability, however, is not the only important concern.

Deciding if a Florida Keys #bareboat yacht charter or a crewed Florida yacht charter is your best bet depends upon three primary factors:

  1. Capability
  2. Responsibility
  3. Budget

solid white power catamaran underway

 

CAPABILITY – When you rent a car, you are required to have a driver’s license.  While no license is required to rent a bareboat, you ARE required to demonstrate experience and competency.  If you are not capable of operating a bareboat, based on the submittal of a cruising qualifications resume, you will be required to retain a professional crew to operate your rental boat.

RESPONSIBILITY – Even if you are qualified to rent a boat without crew, you must decide if you want the responsibility of  operating your own yacht.  When you rent a bareboat, you do it all – from safe navigation, to cooking and cleaning.  Some people love the hands-on experience.  Of course, this is not for everybody, as some people prefer to sit back, relax, and leave all chores and responsibilities to someone else.  If this better describes you and your family, then a yacht with a crew is the way to go.  On a crewed yacht charter, your crew is fully-responsible for the operation of the yacht, as well as cleaning/maintaining the yacht and preparing the meals for the guests.

BUDGET – Like most vacations, your desired budget will often dictate which option is best for you.  IF you are capable and enjoy the responsibility of operating a boat on your own, a bareboat #yachtcharter will give you the best bang for your dollar. If you want and can afford more than a “bare bones” vacation – one where you are served and #pampered the entire time – then a private luxury crewed yacht charter is the way to go.

A 47 foot bareboat power catamaran in #Miami, suitable for 8 passengers, can be rented in the late spring, early summer for under $10,000 per week.  In addition, you need to factor in the local tax (about 7%) and mandatory damage insurance (estimated at $50 per day).  Of course, don’t forget to consider the cost of food and beverages for your family for the week (or for however long you charter your bareboat).

A similar-sized crewed yacht, such as a 51 foot power catamaran, will cost approximately $21,000 per week, but this rate includes your meals, beverages, and a professional crew of 2.  The only “unknown” expenditure is an optional gratuity for your crew.

Here’s the good news!  Whichever type of chartering is right for you – with or without crew — there is surely a boat out there within your budget and in line with your qualifications, capabilities, and desires.  Let’s go #boating!!!

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For price quotes and availability, contact 1-800 BAREBOAT  for self-drive, DIY boating options, and 1-800 YACHT CHARTERS for fully-crewed luxury yachts. #1800yachtcharters #1800bareboat

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