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Dive Review of M.Y. Galapagos Sky in
Galapagos Islands

M.Y. Galapagos Sky, May, 2011,

by Chet Moore, CA, US ( 1 report). Report 6181.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Red Sea, PNG, Solomons, Cocos, Indonesia,
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas choppy
Water Temp 68 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 50 to 90 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Most of the guests were on 32% nitrox with appropriate depth limitation.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 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 Cameras ranged from point and shoot stills to high end still and video. There is a large camera table, a protected charging station, the crew quickly learned what each diver preferred in camera handling. Each camera was rinsed by the crew after each dive in fresh water. Could not have asked for more.

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 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This is the Tale of Two Charters. I was on the Galapagos Sky (GS) immediately after Mr. Shanis (see report 6068 and Mr. "Davisons" gratitutious reiteration of the complaints in that report in the August, 2011 UC). I regret not getting this review in earlier to off set the negative tone of the review and the reprint. In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Peter Hughes for many years, in both a professional and a social context. I consider him a friend. I did not see the prior review until my return and did have an opportunity to review the content with Ali and Peter at a subsequent dive show. Indeed, Mr. Shanis's charter did not warrant five stars...however with a change of crew, including the Captain, the follow on charter was the complete opposite and more in line with what one would expect from the owner, Peter, and DivEncounters..

Peter was on this charter as well as videographer/journalist John McIntrye who was filming a piece for BBC World...see www.news.bbc.co.uk./1/hi/programmes/fast_track/9554939.stm .
Getting to the Galapagos is a cake walk. Get to Miami, 4.5 hours on American Airlines to Guyaquil, overnight, (I arrived a day early, just in case), back to the airport, 90 minute flight on AeroGal's new Airbus 320's, to one of two airports where you are met by the crew. Point out your bags, and it is off to the boat.

The hotel of choice in Guyaquil is the Hotel Oro Verde which provides complimentary transfers to and from the airport. The check in procedure for Galapagos is managed efficiently by the Ecoventura staff. Guyaquil is a busy, neat, attractive city that is great for walking.

Galapagos Sky is owned and operated by Ecoventura/Santiago Dunn. There are three other "identical" boats in the fleet, all dedicated to land tours. GS is the only one dedicated to diving. Max capacity is 16, we had 12 guests and 11 crew. None of the guests had any issues with hotels, transfers, and the like. DivEncounters markets the GS.

After the welcoming fruit drinks and initial crew intro's, there was an extensive safety briefing, including an assembly at the muster station. Then, it was in the water for the one dive of the day, a check out dive at a perscribed location. And no, the scenery is not great...rocks, sand, and sea lions. Then it is off to the good stuff. Starting this year, the Euadorian government has imposed new conditions on dive operations in the zone. No more than 3 dives a day. All dive locations are predetermined and pre-permitted. Liveaboards are permitted to the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin. Day boats stay south. Land tours are likewise limited to one...to see tortoises. Wolf and Darwin have current and surge. Bounce to the bottom, grab a rock and wait. Most of the dives ended with moving away from the wall and into the water column...hammerheads below, above and with you. A pixel rich environment.

The Captain(they do rotate),Victor, was gracious, informative, and always on the dive deck assisting his crew. The bridge was always open to the passengers. The naturalists,Santiago and Natasha,serve as dive masters and alternated between the two RIB "pangas" and were very attentive to their dive groups. Each dive was preceeded by an indepth Power Point briefing. When you return to the boat, you are immediatly assisted out of your wetsuit, handed a hot chocolate and a warm towel. Of note, breakfast and lunch are buffet. Dinner is served. All meals are at the high end of dive boat cuisine.

On this charter, the compressor/nitrox system was fully functioning. There had indeed been isssues on the earlier charter and the not so mini compressor was still on board. To that extent one of the mains had received a questionable rebuild while in the shipyard and was basically rebuilt during the changeover at the end of our charter. The ice machine was at full tilt and adult beverages are included in your charter cost. Although the naturalists (government employees) change from time to time, ours were great...great knowledge, great personalities and great fun. Evasion and untruthfulness...not! Yes, you will dive several times at the same sites on Wolf and Darwin. Why? Because that is where the Hammers, Galapagos, and whale sharks are. We even had a tiger sighting...and on another dive, a huge mola mola.

In our some thirty years of diving off of liveaboards, we have had our share of busted nitrox systems, cranky compressors, and yes, even a nonfunctioning ice machine. Dive boats coming out of a ship yard afer a major refit, more often than not, and especially in a third world environment have issues...some major, some minor...and you just roll with it.

Would I go back to the Galapagos Sky...in a heartbeat. Why Mr. Shanis's review warranted a "republication" in the August issue is a mystery of the cosmos...especially since it represented only one charter out of several years of outstanding service. I know that had Mr. Shanis been on the subsequent charter, he would have spent an equal amount of time praising the trip. Would "Ben" have reprinted it? I think not.

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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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