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Dive Review of Nekton/Rorqual in
Bahamas/Cal Sal Bank

Nekton/Rorqual, Jun, 2008,

by Randy W. Saffell, OK, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports). Report 4176.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Flower Gardens, Cozumel, Saba, Bonaire, Truk Lagoon, Thailand, Florida, Sea of Cortez, Isla Guadalupe
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 84 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 30 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Do not go into deco.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There are four outside camera tables on the boat with air hoses, there are no electrical outlets. The Rorqual seems to be still in the age of film cameras and has no facilities for cameras larger than point and shoot. My wife and I both have larger systems with multiple strobes and numerous batteries to be recharged. Our room had only one two outlet receptacle. The only other receptacles are in the salon, near the floor if you want to charge your batteries where everyone is walking and sitting. Personally I do not like to put my camera equipment on the floor for everyone else to walk around. There was no table or chairs in our room so one of us worked on our camera on the bed and the other in the floor. We took turns sharing the single outlet, getting up in the middle of the night to change chargers.

The Nekton really needs to upgrade the indoor space and facilities for larger camera systems; systems like Ikelite, Gates or Light & Motion do require some space and battery recharging facilities. However, the crew was excellent in camera handling, both in and out of the water. Again, kudos crew!

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 2 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Boat

The Rorqual was delivered into service for Nekton in the fall of 2001 and since then has been rode hard and put up wet. She is in need of new carpeting on all decks from stem to stern, new upholstery and needs old paint/rust sandblasted off and completely repainted, inside and out. The lack of upkeep was a real shock to me upon boarding, apparently there has been no maintenance in these areas since she was launched. One of her two rudders is missing.


Food

The food on the Rorqual was excellent, and I do mean excellent. The chef had gourmet meals for dinner, prime rib, salmon, pork and pastas. This was some of the best food we have ever been served on a live a board. There were plenty of salads, vegetables and fruit. All served with a special quality that made each meal something to look forward to. Breakfast and lunch was equally well prepared and served, all you can eat, served buffet style.

Crew

All of the crew members were instructors for various certification agencies, except for one which was a divemaster. They were very helpful with every request and did an excellent job of getting you in and out of the water. All were fun to interact with and made a real effort to learn your name and get to know you. I really enjoyed the crew. Both the captain and first mate were very easy to interact with and relaxed during the trip. The crew really worked to make sure you had a good time.

Dive Deck

The dive deck on the Rorqual is very small for the number of tanks and divers they try to cram onto it. Tanks are as close together as possible and you cannot gear up while divers on either side of you are gearing up. I would expect this type of arrangement on a day boat carrying as many divers as possible, not a live a aboard like the Rorqual which is advertised as a first class dive boat. Several of us were diving Nitrox and there was only one 02 analyzer, normally there was a wait for it to go around. The dive deck is a weak spot on the Rorqual, to many tanks and divers for the size.

Diving

The normal dive day was two morning dives on a site and move the boat during lunch. Afternoon dives and the nigh dive were done at the next site. That makes five possible dives a day at two sites. The dive sites are big enough and varied enough that repeating them was not a problem. I did like making the night dive on a site that I had been at twice that day. The critters are all different and I know the lay of the land.

We visited three Blue Holes (Silver Sides, Ladies Secret & Big Hole) and an airplane wreck (Water Cay) with the rest of the dives on reefs. There were lots of sharks at Big Hole. Two of the dives were drift dives on a deep reef (Elbow Cay) with each dive lasting about 30 minutes. The drift dives were my least favorite due to the depth of 100 and current there was no time to explore the reef or take pictures. Most of our dives for the week averaged between 60 and 80 minutes with the steel 95s provided. We dove Nitrox and the crew was very good about changing the gas mixture for each dive, less 02 for deep stuff, more for shallow, up to the max of 32%. There is a hang bar with tank and regulators at 15 for safety stops.

Over the course of 6 days I managed 26 dives with a good variety of bottom topography. Visibility was between 30 to 50 with lots of particulate in the water.

All and all it was a good trip, but the Rorqual is severely lacking in upkeep and being upgraded, lack of camera facilities and the dive deck being too small for the number of divers. The diving, the crew and the food made the trip.

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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