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October 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 37, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Tiburón Explorer; Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

comfy boat, exciting diving, and COVID

from the October, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

It had been five years since my last trip to the Galápagos Islands (on another liveaboard), and I knew that August conditions would be a lot colder since it was traditionally a cool and rough time of year. Roger that!

Tiburón Explorer at anchorAfter a short ride to the first dive site -- diving is exclusively from RIBs, rigid inflatables -- I back-rolled in, and, negatively buoyant, I descended immediately because of the current. We were at Baltra Island and a site known as Garbage Trash, a memento to when, after WWII, the U.S. Navy left lots of trash behind (now long gone). As soon as I hit the 69°F degree water, I was cold -- but not as cold as I would be a few days later. Though this first dive in low visibility was the usual weight-check mess, where we also demonstrated basic mask and regulator recovery skills to the DMs, I enjoyed a few razor surgeonfish, lots of parrotfish (including bumpheads), and whitetip sharks.

My trip, organized by a New York dive shop and run by Reef and Rainforest, had 14 divers, all from the U.S. We flew first to Quito, allowing an extra day in case lost luggage had to catch up, which was not a problem. It was my first trip to the Andean capital city (I'd previously flown in and out of Guayaquil on Ecuador's coast), and it was breathtaking, literally and figuratively, at an altitude of around 9,300 feet. The next morning, after a 4:45 a.m. trip to the airport from our old-city hotels, it was a 2.5-hour flight to Baltra. We disembarked at the world's first all-green airport, were met by the boat crew, and made our way to a jetty to board RIBs out to the boat.

Commissioned in 2020, the Tiburon Explorer is beamy, 125 feet long, with 11 crew, 16 guests in 9 staterooms, with a large salon, an upper deck with hot tub, and décor reminiscent of the glitz of a disco -- gold-painted trim, flashy lighting, and white furniture; tacky in fact. It's something of a disjunction if you are accustomed to nautical interiors. The upper deck cabins boasted lots of windows, quite glorious; cabins on the lower deck were roomier but less bright. Indeed, it's a comfortable craft, but I was disappointed John Travolta failed to appear....


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