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Catalina Island Charter Review

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Natural Selection

Well-Known Member
Sep 23, 2015
I went on a 3-day, 3-night Catalina Island spearfishing charter guided by Al Schneppershoff Jr this June. I was very unsatisfied with my experience. The cost was 4 figures for my portion. Here are the issues I had with Al’s charter:

• Clients are expected to pull and drop anchor by hand the entire trip. The
30’ boat does not have a winch. There was even a diver 60+ years of age
doing this deckhand work. Guide and Captain would not do this work.
This is unacceptable for a professional, high-cost charter.

• Al talked to me disrespectfully and unprofessionally on multiple occasions
during the trip:

o He called me “anchor boy”, and did stop when I made it clear I did not
like that.

o He asked all the clients what race their girlfriend/wife was.

o He told me I need to take spearfishing lessons because I had not shot
any fish by the 3rd day. Keep in mind that 3 other divers also went
home empty handed.

• Did not actively pursue fish. We continually went to the same locations
which had yielded no fish on previous days. Zero attempt was made to
try more productive locations.

• Charter was unlicensed. We were asked to “pretend we were all just
friends” because the boat was not authorized to run charters.

• 2 pieces of gear were badly damaged/destroyed:

o My float line got wrapped up in the propeller, after I had asked the
captain if it was safe to deploy my float. I spent 30 minutes diving
under the boat, trying to unwrap it until I was forced
cut it free, destroying the line. Captain did replace the line, but not the
integrated bungee.

o The butt of my custom wooden speargun was split while bouncing
around haphazardly on deck. The boat did not have a gun rack,
bungee system or a bin to safely store guns. Safe gun
storage is a basic necessity for a professional spearfishing boat.

• Price was changed upon arrival at the harbor, and I ended up overpaying
by $168.

I would not recommend this charter to anybody. It was unprofessional, and certainly was not worth the high price.
Doesn't surprise me considering the political atmosphere and place, I can imagine many people are desperate and flying under the radar to make a buck. Good to hear no one got hurt, scary to think how that type of scenario would play out with a crew exposing themselves to even simple liabilities. It's a shame, I have had exceptional experiences with scuba charters out of Avalon, hell when they treat us great we give them handsome tips to go and everyone is happy.