There's no question that the Helen B is meant for fishing. The 26-foot Florida-built boat boasts ample rod holders, a completely open deck, and an inboard motor so the fishing lines won't get tangled underneath.
Alternatively, a 36-footer option allows for longer time offshore with a full head, galley, and areas to rest between intense octopus-arm-wrestling matches.
Yet no boat's feature is more important than the man at the helm, and the Helen B's nautical know-it-all is USCG certified captain Chris Viprino. Captain Viprino brings years of local fishing knowledge onto his vessel, and—upon request—he also brings along an experienced mate to assist guests during their trip and clean all of the catches at the end of the day.
Once out in the water, anglers turn their attention to a variety of aquatic game: striped bass, bluefish, and tuna just to name a few. When fishing's not on the agenda, Helen B Charters embarks on SCUBA tours, sunset cruises, and sightseeing cruises in search of seals and whales to notarize the captain's sea charts.
Established in 1977 by the late Phil Cohagan, one of Louisiana's diving pioneers, Seven Seas' legacy lives on through National Association of Underwater Instructors trainer Nancy Cohagan and her two children. Nancy leads a team of experienced, NAUI-certified instructors who train students to NAUI standards through intensive in-water classes. They introduce scuba theory and beginner technique during a basic certification program, which includes sessions in an onsite classroom and a custom-built, heated pool, as well as five dives in local waters. To help students build on these skills, instructors also lead advanced diving courses on topics such as search and recovery, nonpenetration wreck diving, and underwater photography, as well as certification programs for nitrox and rescue divers.
In Seven Seas' dive shop, staff members help customers navigate racks of gear for sale or rental. They offer basic student packages that contain all the pieces needed for class, as well as individual wetsuits, masks, gauges, and accessories from brands such as PADI, NAUI, O'Neill, and ScubaPro. The shop's staff can also repair broken or worn equipment, and proofread messages in bottles before they're tossed out to sea.
Underwater Adventures's owner and veteran diver Mark Smith has spent the past 22 years assembling exclusively NAUI–certified instructors for his team.
For the company's classes, they hop into pools or natural bodies of water to help pupils as young as 10 to achieve a diving certification. In addition to teaching recreational scuba and seahorse riding, they also train first responders on underwater search-and-rescue tactics and public-safety diving. Mark is also an instructor for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department and has facilitated dive training for several municipal agencies including the Louisiana State Police and multiple fire departments.