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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)/Sea of Cortez

September, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Mark Buchfuhrer, CA, USA
Report Number 1316
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
All over the world, mostly south Pacific
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, surge, currents  
Water Temp
79   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
10   to 40    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
130 feet (fine by me), but only 50 minutes when diving from pangas.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
1 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
The photography table was too small for 22 divers (luckily, only about 7
cameras, but still not enough room).  Only 3 outlets for charging and they
are outdoors under dripping stairs.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
1 stars    
The cost of the diving on the Solmar V is similar to other first class
live-aboards.  However, the operation has much more in common with less
expensive boats.  They do not pick you up at the airport (I spent $80 on a
taxi from the airport to the boat) and no welcome T-shirt on my bed.  As
noted by many others, the rooms are tiny and my son and I could not stand
without touching each other (and there were actually smaller 2 person
rooms!). The food was on a par with most live-aboards and quite plentiful. 
They did have sodas, but no juices included. Visibility was usually 10-30
feet making sightings of pelagics virtually impossible.  We saw only one
small white tip shark on the last day when diving in the southern most
area.  A whale shark was seen the week before us, but there was nothing
even close on our trip.  The highlights of our trip included 2-3 turtles,
many seals, 2 jawfish, 7 sea horses (on one site) and one school of small
baracuda.  I did see 2 nudibranchs the entire trip (so much for my macro
photography!). Many of the divers had been on the Solmar several times and
kept saying that more pelagics were seen over 3-5 years ago. There was open
diving at times from the stern of the boat, but diving from the pangas was
limited to 50 mintues (that was a first for me on a live-aboard...I prefer
live-aboards because they do not limit your dive time except when the must
travel to the next site).  There are too many divers for the 3 divemasters
as with visiblity of 10 feet it was easy to get separated from the group
(especially when taking pictures) and several times I ended up diving alone
(despite their warning us not to dive alone) missing out on the few
interesting things on the dive.  I had to fight for space on the
photography table and their were only 7 cameras.  Imagine if all 22 divers
were taking pictures! There were no secure indoor charging stations and the
main area to charge was outside under dripping stairs with only 3 double
sockets. As far as how pretty the reef was, fish life and photography
opportunities, this has been the worst trip that I have ever taken,
live-aboard or land based! The most positive aspect of the trip is the
short 2 hour plane ride from southern California (where I live) to the
Solmar's port in Cabo San Lucas.
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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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