Author Topic: Galapagos  (Read 7081 times)

LeeScuba

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Galapagos
« on: July 11, 2008, 18:52:03 UTC »
My wife and I just got back from Peter Hughes Sky Dancer, 29 Jun - 6 Jul. Diving was awesome - exciting and challenging (20 dives - 6 each at Wolf and Darwin) and water temp was warmer than expected (80-81, except for Gordon Rocks which was 73-75). We saw whale sharks on 4 of 6 dives at Darwin and large hammerhead schools at Wolf. Night dives are done at Wolf Anchorage and James Bay, Santiago (red-lipped batfish). Four land excursions: James Bay, Santiago; Bartolmeo; Charles Darwin Research Station; and Visitor Center on San Cristobal.

We went through Quito giving ourselves an extra night before the cruise in case of any problems. I would now recommend Guayaquil: nicer airport; saves a stop on the flight to and from the Galapagos, and back home; and less security hassle. It seemed Quito security wasn't up to Delta standards. So on the flight home which stops at Guayaquil, continuing passengers had to get off the plane with all their carry-on and go through scanner, metal detectors, and have each bag hand searched before reboarding. This got us into Atlanta over an hour late.

Sky Dancer is a great boat and crew was terrific. Only minor item was their weights were unmarked lead. They had a scale but it couldn't be zeroed out. The check-out dive was for weighting, but it was still a challenge. It seems better to be heavy since you need to go immediately down at Wolf and Darwin. If you have integrated weights, I would recommend taking an extra pouch or two. To get back on the panga (dive boat), you take your weights out of the BCD so the driver can have an easier time hauling it on board. When the seas are up and you're hanging on the rope with one hand, it is easy to lose your grip on the pouch.

If you're thinking about going and have any questions, I'll try to help.

Eagleray

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Re: Galapagos
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2008, 19:57:30 UTC »
Please file this, and all travel reports, as a Reader Report by filling out the form at www.undercurrent.org/members/UCnow/ma_rdrrpt.php.  Then it will be available for inclusion in the Chapbook and easier to find by others (see www.undercurrent.org/members/UCnow/DestIRR/25).  If you then do a posting referencing something about this report, you can either quote from it or reference it as a link, something like [url]www.undercurrent.org/members/UCnow/IRRpts/080310223902618[/url] will allow people to view it directly just by clicking on it.  Just make sure the last number is that of your report.
Please post forum support questions/problems in the Forum Feedback board

jeffd73

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Re: Galapagos
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2008, 02:33:29 UTC »
My son and I are leaving for the Galapagos on August 2 with diving aboard Explorer Ventures' Estrella del Mar.
Is boat traffic down with only 5 boats permitted for Wolf and Darwin?
The information posted by our operator is that night dives are not allowed.  Your report indicates that is inaccurate.
How rough was the crossing to Wolf and Darwin?
What kind of exposure protection were you wearing? We have 7 mil wetsuits.
Were you diving nitrox? What are the depth ranges you dived?
We are also going through Quito, but we are staying there for a week after the diving to do some exploring.
How is the banking system? Did you carry a lot of cash or traveler's checks, use ATM's or credit cards?

LeeScuba

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Re: Galapagos
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2008, 14:55:42 UTC »
As far as the boat traffic, I only know that our dive leader said the Aggressor and Peter Hughes boats visit Wolf and Darwin on different days. At Darwin on one dive, there were divers from another boat in the water, but that was the only time during the week we were at the same place with another dive boat.
I was confused about night diving because the Peter Hughes planning guide said no night, but the itinerary said there was. I called Peter Hughes and was told the planning guide jumped the gun and that the itinerary could include night dives. It seems the park regulations aren't strictly enforced. We had two night dives, one in the Anchorage at Wolf Island and the other at James Bay, Santiago.
I don't get seasick, but the crossings were bumpy. They were done at night and didn't keep me or my wife awake. We had pretty good weather so I think we were fortunate. If you get seasick, I would recommend taking medication for the entire cruise portion. The panga rides to the dive sites can get rough.
I wore a Pinnacle Semi-Dry Kodiak, 8/6. I was prepared for cooler temps and the water ended up being warmer than expected. The lowest water temp was 73 at Gordon Rocks. Most of the time it was 78 to 81. I think a 7 would work fine. Take a hood and use it if you get cold. That's what I did. Make sure you have gloves with reinforced palms and finger tips. You definitely will be holding onto barnacle encrusted rock at Wolf and Darwin. We experienced up to 4 knot currents and you need both hands to hold on.
We dove Nitrox for 11 dives until their compressor (Nitrox) broke down. There were 3 straight days of 4 dives a day and we didn't get close to deco. Most of the dives were in the 60 to 80 ft range. However, we did spend some time around 100 ft on 5 dives of 20. Deepest was 120 ft when we were looking for mola-molas (Sunfish) at Cape Marshall, Isabela. I would recommend using Nitrox if available. Ours was 32% when it was available.
I would bring cash in small denominations for tips. In Quito, there were plenty of ATMs and most places take Visa, MC, and Amex. There are entry/departure fees that must be paid in cash. The two going into the Galapagos you may have already paid as part of your total cost. One is $100 and the other is $10. If not included, you pay the $10 in Quito before departing for the islands and the $100 upon arrival. There is a $41.50 departure tax leaving Ecuador for home.

DWP

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Re: Galapagos
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2008, 11:42:24 UTC »
I also dove Galapagos about the same time as LeeScuba June 26-July 2 aboard the Aggressor II. I'll post a more detailed report later but have to get off to work. Regarding boat traffic - only 3 Liveaboards were operating at the time I was there (the 2 Aggressors and the Peter Hughes boat) but the Ecuadorian Govt is supposed to open it to the other boats in August.

Lee is right on about the water temps while we were there. I used a 5mm with no hood most of the time and used a 5-3 hooded vest on the last 2 dives. That said - those water temps were higher than normal.

antonias

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Re: Galapagos
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2008, 14:45:24 UTC »
My husband and I are scheduled to go on the Peter Hughes Galapagos trip in early January. He's been diving for over ten years but I've only been diving for two years. When I see someone say the diving is "Challenging"  it makes me nervous.  Could you be more specific? 

jeffd73

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Re: Galapagos
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2008, 15:01:58 UTC »
It is important to be comfortable with wearing thick wetsuits (5-7 mm), although it appears water temps are higher than typically reported. When we were there is August, the coldest temp was 73 and most were in the 75-79 range.
Getting in the water is easy as you just roll off the side of the panga. Getting back in the panga can be difficult, but usually you have plenty of help.
The stronger the current, the more careful you have to be. You want to avoid getting swept away and separated from the group. We had moderate currents in August except for one time near Wolf Island. We just pulled ourselves along by the rocks.
Doing your safety stop in open water with no points of reference is tricky and buoyancy control is a key.
The other factor is not being freaked out by close encounters with large sharks. We never had any incidents when we actually felt threatened, but it is sometimes disconcerting.
I have attached my full trip report. 

antonias

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Re: Galapagos
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2008, 16:35:08 UTC »
thank you! That's very helpful. 

 

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