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Scuba Cat Charters is the New Cat in Town

Swim through an 80-foot long tugboat with Goliath grouper, friendly nurse sharks and barracuda on one of your diving trips with the newest business in Gulfport; Scuba Cat Charters.

Scuba Cat Charters can easily be described with three simple words: "relax and dive", according to owner Jeff Barfoot.

Jeff says starting the dive charter with his wife, Elissa, is a dream come true.

"Three weeks ago I was wearing a tie and slacks. I traded it in for shorts and sandals," Jeff said at the grand opening ceremony on Friday, July 27 at the Gulfport Marina.

That's right, Jeff worked for an industrial chemical company and moved here, with his wife, from Nashville, TN. Elissa, also a diver, is a certified nurse midwife at Tampa General Hospital.

"We like the water. We really didn't want to teach, (with a charter boat) you get to be in the water," Jeff said.

Jeff and Elissa picked Gulfport because "Tampa has some of the biggest fish around," he said.

They also picked this spot because there aren't many charters in this area. He says there are plenty to choose from in North Pinellas County and near Clearwater Beach, but not here. He wants people in Gulfport and neighboring cities to have an option close to home. He believes there's a need and it seems he may be right.

"We've already been contacted by resorts on the beaches," Jeff said.

If you book with Scuba Cat you can expect trips to Tug Orange, Twin Peaks, Fin Barge and Gunsmoke. Jeff plans to emphasize trips to Tug Orange because it can be seen during a half day trip and is about 200 feet east of the center point of South County Reef, which is about 11 miles from John's Pass. The area is home to a variety of sea life including Goliath grouper, king mackerel, jacks, bonita, nurse sharks and barracuda.

The crew includes Divemasters Jeff and Elissa and Dive Master Pete Bignotti, Captain Dave and Captain Dan. Captain Dave has been a Charter Captain since 1996, according to Scuba Cat's website. Captain Dan is originally from Oregon and has 16 years of experience as a Captain. Pete Bignottie has three years of experience as a diver and is currently an EMT in Pinellas County. Prior to that, Bignotti lived in West Virginia and was an urban search & rescue diver in Wyoming County.

The crew will offer charters on the weekends and upon request. There's room for six people on the 29' Baha Cruiser King Cat. Dive prices start at $100 a diver. The business also offer's rental equipment.

Scuba Cat is located at the Gulfport Municipal Marina Slip #8, 4630 29th Ave S.

For more information call 813-404-1119 or check out their website and don't forget to see photos from their Maiden voyage on Saturday, July 28.

Lynda July 31, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Great idea!! I have emailed a copy of the article to my diving friends and relatives. Hope this new business is very successful.
Cherlene Willis July 31, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Thanks so much for spreading the word! I know Jeff told me that they aren't very many dive charters near Gulfport and St. Pete, so they hope to fill that void!

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