• Flower Gardens 2024 Trips

Flower Gardens 2024 Trips

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No refunds on vacations once payments have been made. Each travel vendor has cancellation policies that must be reviewed individually. This does not apply to flower gardens trips.

Weekend Flower Garden Tour

7 dives
This is our most popular tour of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
We depart Freeport in the evening and motor out to the West Bank, famous for sighting manta rays, so divers must remember to LOOK UP!
After lunch we stop off at an oil platform. Be prepared to be impressed. Divers often go on this dive with modest expectations,
but the deep-water oil platforms change a lot of minds. And many divers tell us the rig dive is the best we offer.
The evening is spent at the East Bank where divers will usually find turtles that hang out and aren’t shy about getting their photo
Overnight we motor to Stetson Bank for two more dives before heading back to port for a Sunday evening arrival around 5-6PM.

Departs Friday evening at 7PM
Saturday Wake-up at 7AM
Dives 1&2 at the West Bank, famous for cruising Manta Rays
Lunch, then Oil Platform Dive
Dives 4&5 at the East Bank, visit with the turtles, Dive 5 is a night dive
Sunday Wake-up at 6AM
Dives 6&7 at Stetson Bank, nowhere for the critters to hide
Return to Freeport at about 5:30-6PM

Price: $794

3-Day Extended Flower Garden Tour
(long-weekends, holiday weekends, weekday excursions)
11 dives
Day 1 Wake-up at 7AM
Dives 1&2 at the West Bank, famous for cruising Manta Rays
Lunch, then Oil Platform Dive
Dives 4&5 at the East Bank, visit with the turtles, Dive 5 is a night dive
Day 2 Wake-up at 7AM
Dives 6&7 at the East Bank, “the wall” with the sun coming up bathing it in light
Lunch, transit to Stetson Bank
Dives 8&9 at Stetson Bank, including the famous night dive at Stetson!
Day 3 Wake-up at 6AM
Dives 10&11, Stetson Bank
Return to Freeport at about 5:30-6PM

Stetson-Kraken Day Trip
(30 hours)
4 dives
New for 2023, we’re going for a quick trip! As usual, you’ll SLEEP on the way out and wake up to world-class diving.
This trip features two dives at Stetson Bank and two at the Kraken artificial reef. These four dives are designed to get you out to
world-class, blue-water diving in a shorter weather window.
Stetson Bank is a salt dome that has pushed up from deep water. It’s known for the much larger and more visible variety of
animals, including big sharks!
The Kraken is a 371-ft long cargo ship that was deliberately sunk near Stetson Bank. Like most artificial reefs, it’s known for its
sport fish congregations. The ship was sunk in 2017 and has since grown all manner of marine animals and creatures.

Friday, Arrive at 7PM, Board at 7:30 and depart soon after
Saturday Wake-up at 6AM
Dives 1&2, Stetson Bank
Dives 3&4, Kraken Reef
Arrive in port at midnight, disembark at 7AM Sunday

Price: $485

Stetson-Kraken 2-Day
7 dives
One of the highest rated dives in our inventory is the very special Night Dive at Stetson Bank. Stetson bank is most notable for
it’s LACK of coral reef cover, resulting in many of the same animals but with nowhere to hide from snooping divers. The
wildlife at Stetson is a real treat, but at night, an entirely new set of creepy animals comes out from hiding. And prowling out in
the deep water, beyond the drop-off of the bank, big sharks (a resident Sandbar for example) and other visitors are common.
The Kraken is a 371-ft long cargo ship that was deliberately sunk near Stetson Bank. Like most artificial reefs, it’s known for its
sport fish congregations. The ship was sunk in 2017 and has since grown all manner of marine animals and creatures.

Wednesday, Arrive at 7PM, Board at 7:30 and depart soon after
Thursday, Wake-up at 7AM
Dives 1&2 at Stetson #1
Dives 3-5 at Stetson #3 (including the famous night dive!)
Friday, Wake-up and 6AM
Dives 6&7 at the Kraken reef
Arrive at the dock about 5:30PM

Price: $735

Oil Platform Adventure 2-Day
6-7 dives
Most of our excursions focus on “natural” reefs that have formed and built up over thousands of years, but the Gulf also holds
some special, man-made, “vertical reefs.” Since the 1950-1960s, oil companies have installed structures in the Gulf to facilitate
the extraction of fossil fuels from the depths. Some of these platforms are within sight of land (boring), but our Oil Platform
Adventure brings you far afield, where water depths reach 900+ ft.
The special feature on the adventure is the Cerveza Platform. Built in 1983, it has stood in 935 ft of water for decades, as a
result, one of the things divers won’t see is the platform itself. There’s too much growing on it! Mollusks and crabs and worms
and all manner of creatures, some hiding in their shells and others hiding behind the others. There’s plenty to see. And don’t
forget the big game fish.
Oil platforms “retire” when their production runs out, and some of them will be “reefed” in deep water. Some are simply cut-off
in place, but others are cut off at the mud-line and moved elsewhere. These “toppled rigs” provide an entirely different dive
experience, and these are the rigs we’ll dive on Friday before returning to port.

Wednesday, Arrive at 7PM, Board at 7:30 and depart soon after
Thursday, Wake-up at 7AM
Dives 1&2 at Cerveza Platform
Dives 3-4 at the “Intersection Rigs” (near Stetson Bank) – Are you up for a night dive on an oil platform?
(Night Dive if conditions allow)
Friday, Wake-up and 6AM
Dives 5&6 at the Matagorda toppled rigs
Arrive at the dock about 5:30PM

Price: $735

Gulf of Mexico Tour 4-Day
17 dives
New for 2023
For divers who want to get away for a longer trip, we’re offering a tour of all the features described on other trips. Designed to
capture the divers who will travel from further in order to see all the Gulf has to offer, this trip has it all:
o The Flower Garden Banks
o Oil Platforms (variety, including Cerveza)
o Deep-water (6000+ ft), Black Water Drift Dives
o Toppled rigs
o Stetson Bank
o The Kraken Reef

Sunday, Arrive at 7PM, board at 7:30, depart shortly after
Monday Wake-up at 7AM
Dives 1&2 at West Flower Garden Bank
Dive 3 at Oil Platform HI376-A (or other nearby)
Dives 4&5 at East Flower Garden Bank
Tuesday Wake-up at 7AM
Dives 6&7 at Cerveza Platform
Dives 8-10 Stetson Bank
Dives 11&12 at Stetson Bank
Dive 14&15 at Oil Platform (intersection rigs)
Dives 16&17 Matagorda toppled rigs
Return to port at about 5:30PM

Price: $1326

Coral Spawn Experience 4-Day
(2023 is a “split spawn” year, featuring 2 coral spawn events)
16 dives
Each year, a few days after the full moon in August (and sometimes again in September) corals the world over release their gametes into the ocean currents. These magical moments happen just after dark at the Flower Garden Banks reefs, and we designed this trip to put you into the mix with all that spawning.
There’s more! All that spawn in the water attracts other bigger animals too, especially the sharks and filter feeders like Mantas.
This trip is four days and five nights of diving and is designed to place you in the action for as many corals as possible. During the day, you’ll enjoy all the reef has to offer, plus an oil platform or two.
(No itinerary. Specific dive sites determined by expected spawn locations and times.)

Price: $1326

Non-Dive Excursions
In 2023, the Fling will offer wildlife and educational excursions. We’ll offer two birding itineraries from Freeport, one east to the Louisiana border and the other south to Rockport. These trips, while not immune from the weather, are inshore and less dependent on good weather offshore.

Eastern Wildlife Adventure
Texas is blessed with some of the best birding grounds in the country. High Island is a prominence located to the north and east of Bolivar and is a world-famous birding feature. Our eastern wildlife excursion will start on Saturday morning at Texas Point, the southeastern corner of the state and the mouth of the Sabine River. We’ll travel up the river to the intracoastal waterway and turn back toward High Island, approaching through a puzzle of wildlife preserves:
o Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)
o Candy Cain Abshier Wildlife Management Area (WMA)
o Big Hill Bayou WMA
o McFadden NWR
o Anahuac NWR (High Island area)
o Goat Island and “back lakes”
o Brazoria NWR
The Fling is well-suited to wildlife viewing. Our spacious upper deck offers clear, 360 degrees of viewing. Passengers are encouraged to bring their favorite folding chair.

Southern Wildlife Adventure
Our other wildlife excursion races down the coast to Rockport, TX where the famous Whooping Cranes nest each season, then wanders the way back inshore through healthy and productive wetlands. These birds are making a precarious come-back from the brink of extinction, and the nesting grounds in the Aransas NWR have been a critical habitat for their recovery. To make this trip even better, there’s plenty of other productive wetland habitat the entire route home, passing through several preserves.
o Aransas NWR
o Matagorda Bay
o Mad Island WMA
o Big Boggy NWR
o San Bernard NWR and Cedar Lakes (accessible only by water)
o Justin Hurst WMA and Jones Creek

Field Trip Afloat
This year, the Fling is offering a unique chance for students (and teachers too) to spend a weekend afloat, at sea and in the estuary, learning about the coastal habitats, ocean sciences, nautical science, and other lessons you won’t find anywhere else.
From the time you come aboard, we’ll start our study of safety of life at sea with a case study. That will be followed by a demonstration of an important principle, light pollution, and we’ll demonstrate it by escaping from the lights that obscure the night sky! Spend the night at anchor and wake up Saturday to begin looking closely at marine and ocean science topics. We’ll pull a bottom trawl and go through the catch to ID the fish we catch. A plankton seine will give students a chance to work with the microscope.
In the afternoon and evening, we’ll examine nautical science, and the students will have a chance to drive the Fling in and around the harbor entrance (with close supervision from the Captain, of course). This lesson will demonstrate line-of-position navigation, bridge-to-bridge communications, passing arrangements, and more.
We’re not posting a specific itinerary because these trips will vary based on weather (which we will study) and conditions. We’ll adapt to what we find in the field, but spend two full days learning about the world around us.
Each minor student must be accompanied by an adult. We recommend booking a top / bottom bunk for a parent – child pair, or a whole cabin for a parent (or two) and two or three kiddos.

Complete topic list
o Astronomy – star ID, light pollution, time zones
o Marine Science – Fish ID, Classifications, ecosystems, estuary habitat, plankton ecology
o Ocean Science – Salinity, turbidity, haloclines thermoclines, and other segmentation, currents
o Nautical Science – Basic Navigation, true motion vs relative motion, bridge operations
o Fire science – Fire prevention, Extinguisher operation, Evacuation planning and execution
o Weather – Cloud classification, convective systems, frontal zones, soundings
o Critical Reading – “Sea Stories” and other literature

This list includes more topics than we’ll have time for on our trip, because some may not be available. For example, star identification is not possible on cloud-covered weekends. Our specific itinerary for these trips will be determined by the weather conditions for each trip, but we’ll squeeze in as many activities as we’re able.
As always, passengers on these trips will enjoy all the benefits of our full galley and cozy bunk rooms.

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