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

Solmar V, Aug, 2005,

by Steve Maguire, OH, USA ( 2 reports). Report 1890.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Caribean, Pacific
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 85 to 75 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 30 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Must stay above 130 ft. Diving from pangas and night dives restricted to 50 minutes. No deco diving.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The camera table was crowded, and there were only four working outlets, but only two of the outlets were ever used. Most overcrowding came from strobe arms not being folded down. Two big camera rinse tanks, although at least once I was told someone dunked their wetsuit in the camera bucket as my housing was soaking. There was a great deal to shoot, so most people had photo gear of some kind, and to my knowlege, there was no dammage reported on the crowded surface of the table.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I dedided to dive the Sea of Cortez aboard the Solmar V to see something different from the Caribean Liveaboards I have done. I was not dissapointed. The life here was significantly different. The highlight of the trip was the sea lions. We encountered them at three or four locations, the biggest colony was at Los Islotes. The young sea lions were eager to enter the water and cavort with divers. They would chew plafully on fingers, fins, and cameras if given the chance, and encouraging them with your own acrobatics made them even more entertaining. One day we skipped two afternoon dives to look for reported whale sharks in La Paz Bay. To my surprise we found them, and spent several hours snorkeling with them from the boat's pangas. There were no hammerheads present at El Bajo, but the site is pretty good without them. I have never seen green morays in these numbers before. There were hundreds of green morays with multiple heads (up to five) in many of the crevices. Most of the sites also featured clouds of schooling fish that range from very small to medium sized, getting progessively larger as you get away from the structure. It was a profusion of life. In general, most of the things I saw were in larger numbers and sizes than ther caribean counterparts, with quite a few things I had never seen before.
The boat itself was very comfortable, although I think the air conditioning was pushed to its limits. My cabin was usually warmer than I would like it until the middle of the night when the cabin ac finally caught up. The crew and the food were all definitely up to luxury liveaboard standards.
The dive deck was well laid out, except for the last 4 spots on each side. I was assigned one of these stations, where the main cabin started and we were on the outside walkway, and on the other side of us was the wetsuit storage. So each time I leaned down to access my gear, I would have to stop and let somebody through to get their wetsuit. That got a little annoying. But the divemasters were good, and the diving itself was great by my standards. Even in August we hit some distinct thermoclines on many dives, usually below 60 feet, but surface temps were in the mid 80's.
With storage in the cabins very scarce, I would recommend packing even lighter than usual for a liveaboard.
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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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