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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Canada/British Columbia, Port Hardy

October, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by DONALD MCCOY, OR, US
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 6305
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Grand Cayman, Cocos Island, Socorro Islands, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii,
Washington State, Oregon Coast, British Columbia, Channel Islands, Sea of
Cortez, Galapagos Islands
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

windy, rainy  
Water Temp
45   to 47    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 30    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
1 stars   
5 stars    
October Trip on the Nautilus Swell

Don and Melinda McCoy, Al Sekol and Bev Ort left Saturday morning October
1st and drove to Port Angeles to catch the ferry to Victoria.  From there,
they drove to Nainaimo and spent the night.  The next day, they drove to
Port Hardy where they boarded the Nautilus Swell at 6:00PM.  We were
extremely lucky that our Captain was Mike Lever himself who hadnt actually
captained this boat.  The Swell is a 99 year old refurbished Tug.  It is 90
ft long and the interior has been completely redone.  It has a single large
stainless steel prop and has a 12 cylinder Detroit Diesel Engine.  It
carries 4000 gallons of diesel fuel.  Can you imagine paying that bill. 
Alongside the Swell is the 34ft Indie Aluminum dive boat that was
originally designed to fit inside the Nautilus Explorer.  It holds up to 24
divers.  We had nine passengers and five crew.  Two divers were from
Poland, two were from Seattle and another from San Francisco.  The four of
us made up the rest of the passengers.  The crew was made up of Captain
Mike, Divemaster Dan, First Mate Karl, Hostess Meg and Chef Mark.

After helping with the luggage, the crew had us assemble in the galley
where  we had dinner.  After a  briefing, we  headed north since a storm
was coming in.  That evening we hid in the lee of Baklava Island.  Even
though the weather was windy and rainy, we were able to dive Browning
Passage, Snowfall and Seven Tree Reef over the next two days.  The walls
were spectacular with an abundance of  Plumose anemones, Fish and all the
little things you expect to see.  This has always supported a tremendous
amount of life in a small area due to the currents that pass through here
daily.  Somehow, the dive operators were able to get us on the walls with
very little current.  There were a lot of giant barnacles and inside empty
one, I saw some jelly like material that I couldnt figure out what it was.
 That is, until I saw a male and female greenling mating and underneath
them was a barnacle with eggs in it.  I confirmed it with Andy Lambs

On Wednesday, we headed to Dillon rock.  This pinnacle has been home to
Wolf eels for years.  On our first trips here, we often fed the eels with
urchins and they would come out of their dens.  They stopped feeding them,
and they rarely come out anymore. We were able to consistently find four of
them in their dens.  The reef also had a significant number of octopi.  I
would see at least four on each dive and three of them would be out. 
Melinda and Bev got out the kayaks and paddled all over Sushatie Bay
looking at underwater life, birds  and Black bears on the beach

On Thursday, we headed over to Hope Island where the USS Suwanee sunk on
July 9, 1868.  The boat was built on the east coast and sailed around to
protect the Pacific Coast. It was a double ended iron hulled sidewheel
propelled gunboat which was 255ft in length and a beam of 35ft.  The boat
is located in Shadwell Passage where it ran aground.  A lot of the hull is
still there, but is fairly shallow.  The wreck is covered with kelp and
there are numerous rockfish, greenling and even a few ling cod on the

After the Thursday dive, we headed south past Port Hardy towards Alert Bay.
 We anchored for the night and then went into Alert Bay for the morning.  A
number of people visited the town and The U'mista Cultural Centre which is
aptly named for a museum that showcases a remarkable collection of potlatch
regalia confiscated in the early 1920s, as provincial authorities enforced
a ban on this cultural and family ceremony. Gradually these items have been
repatriated from museums in Ottawa, Toronto, Washington, DC (the
Smithsonian Institute) and London, England (The British Museum).  Umista
means return of  something really important.  After that, we dove
Haddington Island which has a number of large pieces of limestone broken
off from a limestone quarry.  It is a sanctuary and has a lot of large ling
cod.  We headed for Telegraph Cove, diving at Walts Wall on the way and
got to Telegraph Cove in time to visit the Whale Museum.  In addition to a
lot of skeletons of sea lions, orca and minkes, there is the skeleton of
the huge fin whale that was caught on the bow of a cruise boat.  It was
pretty impressive.  We then dove another tank under the dock.  The most
impressive thing we saw was a Decorated Warbonnet hiding in a toilet. 
Hopefully, Al got a good picture of it.

Since the weather was picking up, we headed over to Hanson Island and
anchored in the lee.  The wind picked up overnight, but we were able to
dive in Plumper Pass and Blowhole which both had spectacular walls.  They
would have been great if we hadnt been spoiled by Browning Wall.  We still
saw a lot of life and as if they were waving goodbye, a herd of Stellar sea
lions cavorted in the water in front of the divers while they were hanging
off the kelp.  What a great send off!

That night, we headed back to Port Hardy.  We docked in the evening, took
care of the bar bill, bought T shirts and packed.  We headed out at 7:00AM
on Sunday morning fpr the 2:00PM ferry out of Victoria.  Between Port Hardy
and Campbell River, we saw two Black Bear along the road.  Of course in
Victoria, we ran right into the Victoria Marathon. We were able to drive
around it and spent the ride back with a lot of Marathon finishers. 
Unfortunately, we never saw the Killer Whalesthe one thing we didnt see.
 However, on the way to Port Angeles a Pod performed for the crowd and Al
and Bev got to cap off their trip with Orca!  A late night, but we made it
home by 10:00PM back to Portland.  
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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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