August 28, 2019

KEY LARGO — Divers and snorkelers who head to the Florida Keys reef with Sail Fish Scuba come back with more than memories.

“We have guides for every six people and we take underwater photos of our customers,” said Jen Kerr, who owns the dive shop with husband Chris. “We’re the only shop in Key Largo to offer a free set of photos.”

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Jen and Chris Kerr of Sail Fish Scuba in Key Largo keep divers, snorkelers and kayakers returning by offering personalized service and escorted trips from the bayside shop near mile marker 103.

Providing instructors or dive masters as guides ensures divers get to see the best spots at Upper Keys sites, and these professionals also protect the fragile reef by keeping an eye on less-skilled visitors who may need a little extra help to avoid damaging coral or maintain proper buoyancy, she said.

Sail Fish Scuba sets a limit of 18 passengers aboard its 38-foot Delta dive boat named Deeper, which is rated for 24 passengers.

“We like to ensure our folks have plenty of room to move around without bumping into others,” Kerr said. “It kind of makes us more of a boutique dive shop.

“We don’t have a set schedule. The first person to book a half-day trip for a particular day gets to pick one of the two dive sites. That makes it fun for us and makes sure we go to different areas that people want to see.”

In addition to Professional Association of Diving Instructors class certifications from beginner to dive master, the shop also offers guided kayak tours through the mangroves, with a guide and free photos.

The front of Sail Fish Scuba’s shop, now in its eighth year, sports a modest appearance in a bayside plaza at mile marker 103.1. But a walk through the door reveals an expansive array of gear and apparel.

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Passengers aboard Deeper, the 38-foot Delta dive boat run by Sail Fish Scuba in Key Largo, find extra space since owners Jen and Chris Kerr limit trips to 18 divers, six spots below the vessel certification.

Cressi is one of the store’s major lines with service available on site. Sherwood, Genesis and Akona are other popular lines. A large assortment of Scuba Max dive masks with dozens of prescription lenses are ready to hit the water.

The dive boat (once the featured vessel in a PADI boat-diving manual) docks directly behind the shop. Upon return from a trip, outdoor showers with towels allow customers to rinse off before dining or driving back to the mainland.

Secure gear storage is offered for visitors in town for multiple days, and regular air fills and Nitrox mixes are available.

The Kerrs have worked in dive operations in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, in addition to Islamorada.

“At a certain point, we decided we’ve been doing it long enough to open our own shop,” Kerr said. “And the Florida Keys are the prime place for diving.

“This environment is good for us. It just felt like home. Our hearts are here.”

Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, see Sail Fish Scuba on Facebook, visit sailfishscuba.com, email info@sailfishscuba.com or call 305-453-3446.

kwadlow@keysnews.com