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Dive Review of The Nautilus Explorer in
Canada/British Columbia

August, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by douglas banik, ct, usa
Report Number 1907
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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

calm, currents  
Water Temp
45   to 50    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dry suit diving.  Time limits (very generous for all but the CCR
diver)only, due largely to currents.  Solo diving okay  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
Shore Facilities  
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
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
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
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