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March 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Cape Eleuthera, Fiji, Maui, Mexico

two more Baja boats, a new dive shop, and a great night dive

from the March, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Two Other Baja California Boats. In addition to our opening story about a trip aboard the Solmar V to the Revillagigedos, we must mention the Nautilus Explorer, another excellent craft that dives there, which subscriber Michael J. Millet (Dublin, CA) took in January. With more than 1,000 dives under his belt, his reports can be counted on. "This was my fifth trip aboard, but it began a bit dicey. One of the diesel engines was in need of repair, and the boat was having difficulty getting the necessary parts. So on the first day, we did a couple of dives in local waters near Cabo San Lucas. It was cold and dark -- not an uplifting experience. Fortunately, the engine was repaired by the next morning and we headed out. We spent one day diving at the Boiler at San Benedicto Island, an awesome location for mantas. We encountered several on most dives, including large black mantas. The water seemed a bit colder this year, between 70 and 73 degrees, and the visibility has been better on past trips. The next day was spent at Socorro Island with three dives at Cabo Pearce; we didn't get to Punta Tosca for some reason. More close encounters with mantas and a brief encounter with dolphins; lots of octopus. Visibility ranged from 25 to 75 feet. The next two days were spent at Roca Partida, known for its shark encounters -- hammerheads, silvertips, whitetips, Galapagos, dusky, silky. Visibility was much better. The last day was spent back at San Benedicto. We attempted to dive the Canyon but the current was too strong, so we enjoyed the mantas at the Boiler for a second day. I am pleased with the service and the diving offered by the Explorer, however, the camera table needs to be expanded, and I thought the food did not have the variety as in past trips. Nevertheless, I will probably make a sixth trip." ( www.nautilusexplorer.com )

The Rocio del Mar is another craft that makes the trip and, like the Nautilus Explorer, travels the Sea of Cortez in the summer. David J. Inman (Devon, PA) was aboard in November and reports, "Our group traveled from Punto Punasco to Cabo San Lucas, cruising 800 miles down the Baja peninsula and making 25 dives along the way. Conditions varied greatly in terms of water temperature, current and visibility. The northern areas were generally cooler than the southern areas in terms of water temperature. A 5-mm suit and full hood kept me comfortable the entire time. The boat is sturdy, roomy and well appointed. Rocio del Mar is owned by a family, not a corporation, and most of the current crew were involved in the boat construction. The staff is very responsive to suggestions by guests, and many changes have been made to the boat since I sailed with them just a year ago. A rebuilt camera table on the dive deck is roomy and well appointed. Laptop stations in the lounge are quite nice for uploading and working on photos." ( www.rociodelmarliveaboard.com )

Cape Eleuthera Divers. While the water in the Bahamas can be downright chilly this time of year, it gets warm later on, and there is one great dive, the Current Cut, that I'll always remember. Peter Formanek (Scarsdale, NY) was at the Cape Eleuthera Resort & Yacht Club in November in nice 80-degree water, and says, "Best dive of my life: a half-mile drift dive at 75 feet, awesome wall, great visibility, awesome guide, huge coral heads, and awesome night skies for stargazing. The unique location supplies calm diving even when winds are 20 mp.h. or more. Neal Watson Jr. is the son of Neal Watson in Bimini, and he is the real deal. Picks you up right at your luxury condo dock. Dozens of solid dive sites are a short boat ride away. Stop at Rock Sound grocery store and stock up on food. The resort has new full kitchens, phenomenal ambiance for divers, and a great setting for non-divers, too. A very good value and experience." ( www.capeeleuthera.com )

Wananavu Beach Resort, Fiji. Divers who have come to love this resort were concerned when Ra Divers pulled out, but our readers report it's as good as ever. John Bayless (Malibu, CA) visited in November and reports, "The resort is an interesting two-and-a-half hour ride by van from Nadi's airport and located far from any significant towns. It consists of 34 very nice bures built on the side of a hill looking out on the surrounding islands. The grounds are lush with many palm trees, and there is a nice tidal beach. The staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Jeremy and Kristen David expertly manage the Reef Safari dive operation. A couple we were traveling with completed their openwater certification with Kristen; I have never seen a more thorough and attentive instructor. The dive staff was quite friendly and capable, and divemasters were good at pointing out many of the critters we might have missed. They take care of everyone's gear from the time you arrive until you leave. The diving is some of the best I've encountered in Fiji, with wonderful, densely packed soft and hard coral reefs in excellent condition. The access to the Vuta-I-Ra Passage is what attracted my interest. Some of the most interesting reefs in this area are about an hour's boat ride east. Although we were limited to two days in this area because of rough seas, what we saw was outstanding. Although I saw few large fish or sharks, others at the resort had swum with whales and dolphins on the two days before we arrived. On the first day of diving, or when rough seas prevent access to Vuta-I-Ra, the dive boats go to Sailstone Reef, 30 minutes northwest of the resort. Very impressive reef formations, many swimthroughs, and many interesting life forms, including Spanish dancers, cauliflower soft coral, leaf scorpionfish, and blue dragon nudibranchs. The resort is well set up for beach snorkeling and diving, which can be very nice although the visibility is not as good as on the outlying reefs. The restaurant has a wonderful view and serves many fine dishes to the accompaniment of local musicians." ( www.wananavu.com )

Divers versus Fisherman. Mario Mizrahi from Mexico City tells us, "Every winter in Playa del Carmen (a 30-minute ferry ride across the channel from Cozumel), pregnant female bull sharks arrive, most likely to give birth. As soon as dive operators start seeing them close to shore, a big happening starts, with divers passing the word and flocking to get a look at this occurrence. I take a small boat with Scuba Playa 200 meters from shore to get into the water with a group. Previously, the dive operators have fed fish to the sharks to keep them interested. As soon as we jump into the water, we start seeing them. Depending on your luck, up to 12 can appear at a time, and sometimes they will swim very close (watch my video on YouTube by searching for "Mario Mizrahi Bull Sharks"). The depth will vary from 70 to 90 feet. I did this two days in a row last December and saw eight sharks, plus remoras and a turtle. The sad part that upon hearing of the sharks, fishermen from nearby Puerto Morelos arrive promptly to fish them out and sell them at market. Authorities have been powerless to stop them and thus the story ends every year, until they'll come no more." ( www.divingplayadelcarmen.com )

Maui Night Dive. Perhaps the first commercial dive spot in Maui during the 60s was Black Rock, by the Sheraton. Lynda Durfee (Alexandria, VA) says it's still a winner. "This was a shore dive, max depth about 40 feet. I saw turtles, lobster, crabs, lots of big eels swimming and feeding, nudis and small fish. Easy entry from the Sheraton's dive shop at the Sheraton. Rob, our guide, knew where the critters were and pointed them out after giving us a heads-up in the briefing about what to expect. The $99 dive includes all gear and wetsuit. I did this during the full moon, so maybe that's why it was even better than last year's dive." ( www.sheraton-maui.com )

- - Ben Davison

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