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Dive Review of The Nautilus Explorer in
Canada/British Columbia

The Nautilus Explorer, Aug, 2005,

by douglas banik, ct, usa . Report 1907.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving :Priot to this trip, most of my diving as been tropical: Souteast Asia, Carribean, Florida, Baja
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 45 to 50 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 30 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dry suit diving. Time limits (very generous for all but the CCR diver)only, due largely to currents. Solo diving okay
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales >2
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 1 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments I'm not a photographer myself, but there were two very large rinse tanks for cameraqs only and ample dry shelf speace for the largets rigs. Also many AC outlets available for battery charging. (Twelve chairs, no waiting.)

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Nautilus Explorer is a brilliantly designed dive boat. It consists of two boats really: a 116' motoryacht with cabins for up to 24 divers; large salon with HDTV for viewing digital photos, videos; large, uncrowded dining room that seats 24 comfortably. Not ultra luxury, but "ship shape and Bristol." The second boat is a 38' skiff that is hauled up longitudinally into the stern of the NE itself. You actually dive from the skiff, which has 24 dive stations that are generally more roomy than on most day boats. Upon arrival, you set up your dive gear on a tank at your station, throw the odds and ends in a large bin below. After that you only touch your gear when you gear up to dive. Tanks are filled on the skiff. The skiff is very well designed. it has minimal freebaord -- about a foot, I'd say. And it has hand rails running the length of the skiff for divers to grab while waiting to climb out of the water. Boarding from the NE is a snap as, even if the skip has been launched, the decks of the two boats are precisely level. and when exiting the water, there are three ladders, two usable while wearing fins. But mostly divers let the crew remove their fins while in the water and climbed the third, more conventional (but conveniently deep) ladder. The key to the Nautilus Explorer experience if that everything is built around the divers' convenience, not the crew's. So you can use aluminum or steel tanks, DIN or yoke, air, nitrox or trimix (with prior notice), single, double, or rebreathers. the crew will buddy up single if they want, but most of the serious photographers dived solo. the oly limitations have to do with currents: all diving is at "slack" as the tides change and are generally limited to 60 minutes. Anylonger and the current become hazardous. The water is cold, so dry suits are de rigueur. Since for me the combination of DUI FLX and Weezle Wear -- together with a mysterious 15 lbs. that appeared around my waistline -- made lifting foot to knee an effort, the crew was quick to help me done my fins. I was the "baby" on this trip with just 65 dives to my credit. the next fewest was 180, but most of the divers counted there dives by the thousands. And about half were back for their second, fourth or eleventh time on the NE. Captain Mike Lever is responsible for all this. He clearly know what divers need, where the best sites are, when to dive them, and how to build an itinerary that provides lots of diving (3-4 dive per day, even a night dive)while not seeming ruched or hurried, not an easy trick when 24 divers don and remove drysuits for each dive. The crew is fantastic: knowledgeable (all have degrees in marine biology!), helpful, and skilled. The British Columbia cruises are not for dilletantes: the diving is challenging and there's little else to do on board (though they did make an effort to break the routine with a crab cookout on the beach, a trek up a salmon run, and a visit to a quaint fishing village). The Alaska (yes, you read that correctly) dive trips have more on-shore excursions and attract about 30% non-divers; the NE moves to Mexico for the winter where wetsuits are the rule and currents are infrequent. So there are alternatives. But I have to tell you, as someone new to cold water diving, the trip was awesome. In fact two of us first-timers (on the NE) are already p-lanning our next trip. If you love to dive and are not intimidated by diving dry, this is the trip of a lifetime.
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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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