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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Canada/Alaska & BC

Nautilus Explorer, Jul, 2009,

by Lee Fenner, OH, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 4940.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Great Lakes, Galapagos, Keys, Cozumel, Roatan, Hawaii
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas surge, currents
Water Temp 41 to 55 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No unplanned deco diving, otherwise return by posted time, due to changing tides. Deco diving permitted after dive plan approved by Capt Mike. No other restrictions.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales > 2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Superb setup included separate wet and dry areas. Multiple rinse tanks. Cameras handled with care by staff when getting on/off skiff.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Our trip with the Nautilus Explorer (NE) departed 19 Jul from Sitka and arrived ten days later in Vancouver. During our nine days aboard we had eight days of two dives and one day exploring Le Conte Glacier. To sum up, the NE ship and crew are absolutely fantastic; Alaska/BC diving, while very challenging, is unbelievable; and topside scenery is breathtaking.
We headed north from Sitka and entered Cross Sound and dove two days around Inian Islands. Hordes of Stellar sea lions! Multiple sightings of Humpback whales, sea otter, and bald eagles during zodiac tours. Then we travelled south via Icy Strait along the east side of Baranoff Island making two dives on Baranoff Wall while enroute to Warm Springs Bay. Here we bathed in hot spring pools next to a roaring stream. Then further south to Deep Cove Bay and two dives with moon jellyfish. There were easily thousands in the smudge extending from surface down to 55 ft, maybe 25 yards wide. Underneath they blot out the surface. What a blast to swim through! Then we motored northeast around Kuiu Island and southeast past Kupreanof Island to Le Conte Bay where the glacier stands at the end. Only a small vessel like the NE can make it into this bay due to shallow shoals. After admiring the glacier up close from a quarter mile away and seeing multiple icebergs formed by calving, Capt Mike retreated a bit and then we could swim or kayak over to a small iceberg. There we received our drink order via the zodiac. Nothing like single malt cooled by glacier ice! Then we continued via Petersburg and the Wrangell Narrows south past Ketchikan and made two dives on a pinnacle near Foggy Bay (ratfish and huge lingcod), our last stop in Alaska. Upon entering Canadian waters, the weather miraculously cleared and became sunny. Happens all the time according to our Canadian crew. The final three days we dove near Butedale (Transpac wreck and harbor muck dive), on Dillon Rock (octopus and wolf eels), and finally near Pearse islands (coral, anemones, and nudibranchs).
The NE is designed for diving and the ship layout works not only for diving but also provides lots of space in the common areas and cabins. All diving is done from the Inde, a 31 ft aluminum skiff, either away from or while moored to the NE. You have your own dive station for the trip with space underneath the seat for loose gear. Giant stride entries and two ladders (fin on alternating rungs or fin off standard type) for exiting the water. Nitrox is $125 and a steel HP 100 cu ft tank $32 for the trip. The skiff crew is always ready to assist in any way.
Diving is an adventure. Dive times are scheduled around slack tide; otherwise currents can run in some places over 10 knots. Sometimes there is still a current and you deal with it or surface where the crew is watching ready for a speedy pickup. Surface water temps varied from low 50s/high 40s and at depth from 41 to 45. Definitely dry suit diving. Visibility probably averaged around 30 ft, due to plankton mostly, which attracts lots of marine life. Normally two divemasters, Dan and Stefan, dove and you could choose to go with them or strike out on your own.
Food was excellent and varied. Enrique, the chef, and Megan and Katharine, hostesses, made mealtime and social time memorable.
The crew (Capt Mike, Ed, Tim, Dan, Stefan, Enrique, Megan, Katherine, and Bayu) work so hard and pull together to make the trip the best it can be. They and the NE are our new standard for liveaboards. We plan on more trips with them in Mexico and again in Alaska in 2011.
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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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