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

Solmar V, Mar, 2003,

by Barbara Petrecca, MD, USA . Report 657.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Turks & Caicos, St Thomas, Maui, Monterey (CA), Pensacola, Hatteras, Southport, Cooper River (Charleston, SC), Bimini
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas surge, currents
Water Temp 74 to 76 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 130 foot Depth Limit, No Deco Diving
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Surge and current can take time to get used to.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 1 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I was very disappointed... I know the dive conditions and marine life can not be controlled but the emails and website are a bit misleading. We did see whales off in a distance but we could not get close to them as bragged about in their emails. There were dolphins - but they were pretty much like the whales... unapproachable. I am sorry but I can see these animals while I am on the surface at home. No whale sharks but this was expected as I was told right before we left by Jay that I probably wouldn't see one. This was alittle disheartening as the whale sharks were part of the reason we chose the Socorro and the Solmar V. I believed what was written on the WebPages. Upon my return, I read that the Galapagos had 25 sightings of whale sharks in December along with schools of Hammerheads showing that the El Nino was not having an effect on the life there. So if "These islands have been compared to Galapagos or Coccos in the quality of Big Animal encounters they provide and they have in fact been called "Mexican Galapagos" (quoted from their website) - what happened? And speaking of Hammerheads, I believe we saw approximately 5 (2 at Split Rock and 3 at San Benedicto) - hardly what I would call huge schools. We saw a few Galapagos sharks here and there. Split Rock did have quite a few Silver Tips which was a plus. And of course the Silkies were always under the boat (more on that later.)

The mantas were magnificent. The most I saw were two in the water at the same time while diving. However, I was told other divers saw 5 at one time. We did not make it to the Boiler (maybe the rest of the mantas were there). We were told we would be going there on the last day - definitely by Panga if the Solmar was unable to find shelter there. Unfortunately we did not, nor were we given any explanation why we did not - we just anchored and did 4 more dives at the Canyon.

Dive Master/Dive Operations - I was alittle disappointed with some of the actions by the dive masters on board. Their procedure of getting time and depth information from each returning diver was frequently leaving the back of the boat unmanned. This made it alittle difficult for other divers to exit the water with camera equipment. Of the three dive masters, two were usually in the water while one remained on deck.

Remember the silkies I mentioned above - there was a reason they were under the boat. They were being fed. During one dive in particular, one of the divemasters was throwing raw fish into the water by the ladders while divers were on the hang line. Although Silkies seem rather mild and remind me of nurse sharks, this feeding did make one rather aggressive and caused concern. During the next dive the same dive master was in the water feeding the silkies near the hang line. I realize it might not seem like a major issue but it only takes one mistake to get someone bit.

Thought I am not aware of the number of dive sites available on this trip, I found that diving the same dive site 7 times alittle much. We only did 17 dives. I was also very disappointed about not making it to the Boiler especially when we were told that we would definitely go there.

Cuisine - They need a new chef onboard. I found that the food was not up to the standards I would expect - hardly "gourmet meals" mentioned on the WebPages. They were plain and prepared poorly. The portion sizes, although sufficient for myself, were small for others. If more of the main course was available, we were unaware we could ask for it. Even my request for more flour tortillas at one lunch was declined. There were also no snacks put out after dives (something I am used to and mentioned on your website as well) until a guest requested it. Even then, it was like pulling teeth to actually get it. And what kind of afternoon receptions were you speaking of? It felt like we were being "rationed" on food. I have taken two Blackbeard Cruises (which are similar to diving camping trips) and received better meals, both in quality and quantity, then on the Solmar.

I did enjoy my night at the Solmar Suites until I discovered I had paid much more for our room than other guests from the Solmar 5. I had to fight with Jay for the discount I did get for the one night reservation and I still paid approximately 25% more. And let's not discuss the discounted Solmar 5 rates given to those late booking guests so you could fill the boat ($900.00 - we did get a $300 discount).

I would not recommend this liveaboard. For the money and diving --there are much better options available... Don't be fooled by their hype. I wish I had read my several Chapbook's before I made my reservations. Solmar's response to my concerns - "you would change your mind if you experienced the real Socorro Islands" & "I also would like you to come back and see that we took your comments seriously, as we do all constructive criticism, as far as the boat operations". After all this time in the business, Solmar should have had it right on my first trip...
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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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