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“Super diving”
Review of Jolly Dive Center

Jolly Dive Center
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 23, 2012

Mid-April we went diving with Jolly Dive, it was a wonderfull dive ! All was well organized,safe and a lots of fun! A big THANK YOU to Paul and Cornelia who made this trip so special. We saw lots of fish and were treated with much kindness. My first sharks and a lot of expert advice.

2  Thank Julien P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"bow tie"
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"the reefs"
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"big john"
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"nurse sharks"
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"jolly beach resort"
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"excellent diving"
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"rental gear"
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"fish"
in 23 reviews
"safety checks"
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"mad max"
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"these guys"
in 9 reviews
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131 - 135 of 152 reviews

Reviewed March 5, 2012

We stayed at the Jolly Beach Resort which was a last minute change as we had expected to go to Kenya for the Whale Shark tagging season but due to the problems in Kenya it had been cancelled. We took our diving gear and wanted to get a few dives in around Antigua and so Jolly Dive was a last minute decision.

Our first encounter with the operation was by way of a Canadian who we met at the Gym, he described the Dive Centre as “pretty rough kit with a guy who talks incessantly about himself, they don’t know what safety procedures are but if you are an experienced diver you should be ok”.

We went over to the centre 3 times on our first Sunday as the notice on the door said it would be open but it didn’t. We went back on the Monday at 8 when it should have been open and eventually at 8:25 someone turned up and we booked a two tank dive for the following Friday.

On Friday we went loaded with all our kit to the centre for 8:30 and a young local girl was just opening up, she gave us some forms to fill in and then disappeared, various people came and went and for the next twenty five minutes we were ignored. Eventually we were told to go to the boat and miss miserable took real offence when I asked where this boat might be found.

The boat was an aging tatty 30 ft +, mono-hull, open deck with forward wheel house and if you think of Tugboat Willy you have got the picture, it was fitted with a very Heath-Robinson tank storage system in the middle of the rear deck. We met Paul our larger than life Canadian Dive Master who learnt to dive in the 1960’s and has been running the centre for 30+years, I won’t bore you with detail because if you decide to use this centre he will do that by the bucket load.

At this point it is usual to get a boat briefing on safety, lifejackets etc. but I think Paul has been doing this for too many years to worry about such trivia. Paul cranked up the aging diesel engine and we made way slowly along the coast to pick up two students, even at this speed the engine was churning out thick black smoke and was clearly very worn and we noticed that the fire extinguisher holders were devoid of fire extinguisher and were now been used as a sunglass holder. Paul dropped the anchor and veered back onto a beach to pick up two students and all I can say is if it was me I would have stood my ground and said if you want my money you need to pick me up off the beach not except me to swim out to you, how the young girl didn’t drown in this appalling peace of seamanship was complete luck.

We then made way to an offshore reef just over one nautical mile off the coast and by this time we were in a 5 to 6 foot ground swell with a 2 to 3 foot chop across the swell and an offshore wind gusting to 32 knots. Our captain dropped 1 anchor which he did'nt check and we began the process of gearing up to dive.

This is the point that the dive master gives the dive briefing, the recall procedure, the safety and buddy briefing, the emergency recovery procedure for the boat, the location of first aid and emergency oxygen, but I think Paul has been doing this for too many years to worry about such trivia. All we got was see you on the bottom, which he meant literally, as he and the other guide disappeared leaving us to get ourselves sorted.

The moment we dropped into the water I realised that this was a stupid mistake, the air tasted tainted and thin, my wife was expressing grave concerns about the dive as we drifted down to the bottom in a strong current and heavy surge. Paul our dive master has abandoned modern dive gear for his 1960’s rig of a back plate dive cylinder, weight belt, shorts and shirt, his only safety gear been a light and a slate.

So scenario 1, and not to make it too hard, one of us suffers a catastrophic equipment failure or major health problem such as stroke, heart attack or go into unconsciousness, but not Dive Master Paul. The group surface but not Dive Master Paul because he is negatively buoyant and has no bcd so is basically useless in this scenario. He would have to leave the group in appalling sea conditions, drifting parallel but over a nautical mile from land and been push over the reef out to sea in very strong winds. He would need to swim back to the boat, find the trainees who shouldn’t be out doing skills in sea conditions like these at 18 meters, get them back onto the boat, get the anchor up and then try and find the small group of divers all wearing black. You would be lucky to walk away from this one.

So scenario 2, we all surface after the dive and find the dive boat gone, its dragged it anchor, or the anchor shackle has snapped, or the anchor rope has snagged on coral and been cut through etc etc, but because this ageing badly maintained dive boat has been left on only one anchor in extremely rough sea conditions the possibility of this happening outweighs the possibility of it not happening. Dive Master Paul is now the biggest liability with no wetsuit or bcd and no smb but so what the group is probably dead anyway it’s just he will be the first to go.

After about 30 minutes into the dive I started to feel nauseous so I called the dive off and once back on the boat was very sick. Dive Master Paul moved the boat to a new dive site and by this time my wife was being sick. We made it clear that we wouldn’t be doing the second dive and so we were left on the boat whilst they all went off on another jolly. I took this opportunity to analyse the gas that we had used and it showed 19.2 O2 for my wife’s cylinder and 18.7O2 for mine, so that explains the sickness along with the boat been tossed all over the place. I analysed a number of other cylinders and some were ok but two others showed low O2 levels.

Interestingly we went back to jolly dive the next day to tell them that we wouldn’t be diving with them again but before we could say anything we were told that all diving had been cancelled for the next week, but they still charged us for 2 dives even though we only did 1.

Now looking through the reviews many people seem to think this outfit is the best thing since sliced bread, so to demonstrate that this is not just another moaning disgruntled punter. I qualified in Fort William 1982 as a commercial diver, I did my PADI in 2002 because most centres didn’t recognise my commercial qualification, I’m a qualifies gas blender, I hold a commercial maritime crew certificate, I hold an ocean masters certificate and I worked for the RNLI as a senior helmsman for 10 years, in short I know what I’m talking about. Everything I have identified here has been said before on tripadvisor but for us it just all came at once.

It’s up to you, I have given you the facts you make the choices but I have been asked to send a report to PADI and to the Antigua Maritime safety ministry. A few observations about their website, they make the claim on their web site that they are the best in the Caribbean, this is not true by such a wide mark it’s not worth the words, the boat on the website is the boat they use now but the picture was taken when it was new because it sure doesn’t look like that now and finally Dive Master Paul appears in one photo but he’s wearing a bcd, must have been “just for looks” because he doesn’t use any of this new-fangled safety gear now. For those of you who are still not put off and your finger is hovering over the book now button on the website, it says (encrypted for maximum security) it’s not, it has no security encryption whatsoever but taking risks with your money is nothing compared to risks with your life. "it's up to you"

32  Thank Discovered
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 20, 2012

Today I went diving with Jolly Dive, what a awesome day! Very well organized,safe and a lots of fun! All you can ask for. Saw a lot of fish, huge and I mean HUGE turle, big lobsters, octopus, nursing shark...Ahhhhhhh....It was a pleasure to dive under the expert supervision of Paul and Cornelia..I would highly recommend this company to everyone.. They seem to know all the best spots...what can I say..I WILL BE BACK!

1  Thank Sushifreak2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2011

Had a great 2 tank dive, great visibility, stingrays, turtles, lots of lobsters amongst an array of colourful fish. New to diving as only recently qualified in Maldives, however Antigua as good. Big plus to dive team, Paul, Cornelia and Tim.! Informative, professional, safety conscious but very funny! Transport to Dive Centre and back by "Big John" original owner of Dive Centre, and that was an experience not to be missed, "What a guy" Well done to all and keep up the good work!!

1  Thank ib1963
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 1, 2011

Just returned from two great weeks at Tranquility Bay Resort. What a beautiful setting. The bay is absolutely the best shade of blue-green with no seaweed. One of the great perks about Tranquility Bay is the Jolly Dive Shop just 100 yards from our room. Diane, Chris, Paul, and Bobby were always very helpful in setting up any kind of dive we wanted. Paul even dressed for the occasion with a dress shirt and bow tie. The last dive was over an hour long. Lots of fun!!

Thank Oldgray49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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