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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)/Socorro

May, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Bruce Busfield, NJ, USA
Report Number 1058
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
72   to 78    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
0   to 0    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
130' and 50 minutes  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
It was a little over 24 hours sailing from Cabo San Lucis southward to the
first of the Islas Revilla Gigedo.  Also referred to as Socorro, which was
the largest of four islands, this is a remote area of the Pacific visited
for diving only by the Solmar V.  The main attractions were manta rays and
sharks, seen on almost everydive, and large schools of fish such as tuna
and jacks.  The bottom topography was always stark rock which made many of
the local fish, in particular the orange, outlined in brilliant blue,
Clarion angle fish really stand out.  The crevalle jacks were also
spectacular with their iridescent blue color.  The Solmar V is a nicely
designed dive boat that is well maintained.  The crew of ten were always
very enthusiastic and helpful.  The food was excellent with good verity. 
The cabins were not big.  The tiniest of them all were cabins 201 and 203,
one of which I stayed in.  With only a floor space of about 2'x 2'to stand
on, these cabins are fine for singles but would be very tight for two. 
Each cabin had its own combined shower/head, so everything gets wet when
the shower is used.  I preferred to rinse off at one of the two showers at
the back of the boat in the dive area.  And the dive area was laid out as
nice as any I've seen.  Plenty of room for dive equipment to be stowed and
lots of room for cameras on the camera table with several tiers underneath.
 The dive platform was great.  Two wide stairs go down to the transom
platform and then the same into the water.  With nice flat steps and hand
rails on either side it was possible to walk into the water up to your
waist with all your gear on, including fins, and then cast off into the
ocean!  When the dive site required, dives were made from two zodiac type
pangas.  These were crowded and a confusion of fins, weight belts and
cameras but all somehow went smoothly.  We all rolled in backwards at the
count of three.  The panga drivers were execellent at following bubbles and
retrieving divers scattered all across the ocean.  Safety sausages were
provided but they ran out by the time they got to me - fortunately I
brought my own.  Weight belts, BCD's and fins were handed up from the water
making the ladder climb back up into the panga easy.  All week I saw only 5
hammerheads.  There were a fair number of silky and whitetips, but no
Galapagos sharks to be seen.  When the boat arrived at Roca Partida, a rock
just sticking out of the ocean 68 miles west of Socorro Island, there was a
long line fishing boat illegally within the limit of the marine preserve. 
Our captain radioed the Mexican Navy to complain.  The next morning we
awoke to see 6 bouys floating near by to mark the location of the long
lines the fishing boat put out during the night.  After a morning dive our
panga approached within several hundred feet of the fishing boat and we
watched as they pulled live sharks out of the ocean - to be finned.  This
is part of the marine life we came to see and they were stripping the place
clean!  Shortly thereafter a Mexican Navy patrol boat appeared on the
horizon and seized the boat.  Two days later when we returned to Socorro
Island, which had the Navy base, the illegal fishing boat was still there
in custody.  We will never know if they were in serious trouble or
eventually let go with only a small fine.  One of the return divers on the
trip, however, thought there were many more sharks four years ago.  A
highlight of the trip was snorkling with about 20 false killer whales. 
They swam all around us in groups of 6 or 7 in very tight formation, often
swimming on their backs or side to eyeball our pathetic human group staring
from above.  Our snorkling activity also attracted silkys that immediately
appeared when the whales moved off. When the whales returned over and over
the sharks just dove down a little deeper to get out of their way.  I would
definitely do this remarkable trip again, but soon, while there are still
big fish to be seen.  
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