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Dive Review of Peter Hughes/Sky Dancer in
Canada/Central & Nortnern Islands

Peter Hughes/Sky Dancer, May, 2008,

by Dave Hayden, Kent, UK (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 4101.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I have just returned from a trip aboard Peter Hughes Sky Dancer (May 11th - 18th 2008). Wow what an adventure!

I flew into Guayaquil, late in the evening and was met by an Ecoventure Rep (Peter Hughes partners in Ecuador). I was then taken to my hotel, The Hilton, which I would definitely recommend. Ver reasonably priced, large modern rooms with King sized bed and a 50inch plasma screen TV. Perfect for a last night of relaxation before the real adventure began.

In the morning the Rep was waiting for me in reception, she took me to the airport, she checked in my luggage, briefed me on what to expect etc. She was great. I then went through to departures, where as a Sky Dancer passenger, you have a pass to a VIP lounge.

I was collected at the airport in the Galapagos by one of our dive guides and naturalist, "Ruly", who took us to the harbour, where Sky Dancer was waiting for us. Our luggage would be on board waiting for us.

My initial impression as we were transported by panga, from the pier to the Sky Dancer was that it was an impressive vessel. We were welcomed on board and given a lengthy but informal briefing, before we set sail for our checkout dive. It had all run so smoothly, with everything taken care of for me. The staff made sure all I had to worry about was enjoying the experience, and this set the tone for the rest of the trip.

The group of 16 was divided into 2 groups of 8 and all diving was done from 2 Pangas, which you would board wearing all equipment except fins, which are then passed down to you to don whilst travelling the short distance to each dive site. The water was choppy and this took some getting used to. The pangas bobbled a little over the waves when you were climbing aboard from the dive deck of the Sky Dancer although the crew were always there with a steady hand to help. Hauling yourself out of the water, back on board the panga at the end of each dive was slightly trickier for some members of the group, although we were a mixed bunch ranging in age and fitness levels, and nobody complained or indicated that they felt it was too difficult. Upon returning to the Sky Dancer, we were greeted with fresh towels and freshly baked cakes or pizza with hot chocolate or water after every single dive. On top of this the crew’s enthusiasm to help you remove your wetsuit and equipment and then rinse all equipment for you was unfaltering.

Despite the 1st class service from the Peter Hughes team, after a couple of days of diving 3 dives before lunch! then another dive in the afternoon, I was beginning to feel strangely un-fulfilled. We’d snorkelled with Galapagos penguins and found the red lipped bat fish on a night dive. My dive log book listed individual hammerheads, eagle rays and small schools of mobula rays for every dive, yet I’d only ticked the “good dive” box for each. How could this be? If I’d been lucky enough to see some of these animals in the Red Sea, I’d have been singing from the crows nest. So what else could I ask for?

I almost felt ashamed of myself as secret thoughts whispered though my mind and I dared to ask for more. “Where are the schools of sharks that I’d heard patrol the waters of these unique islands. “Where are the vast numbers of pelagics that I’d come to expect from these waters, despite having never been here before?” Was I being ungrateful? Was I being unrealistic? More importantly had I been naïve to believe the hype of all those dive magazines and T.V programmes? You see, where as other premier dive locations of the world have beautiful coral and huge schools of tropical fish, clouding the water like swarms of bees for you to marvel at between sightings of “The special stuff”. Here you only have barnacle covered volcanic boulders. The visibility isn’t great and the fish life wasn’t what I’d call prolific although what was there looked like it was on steroids. So the diving in the central islands was only “Good”. It certainly wasn't the life altering experience I had read about, or worth the long, complicated trip or the high price. I was hoping for more from the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin. They did not disappoint.

The long overnight sail to Wolf was the 1st indication that things were going to be different. Throughout the night I was literally rolled from one side of my single bed to the other as the boat rolled with the large swells. I gave up on the idea of sleeping at around 6:00am, just as day broke, and headed to the bow. Ahead, the shadow of Wolf Island the only blemish on a horizon that offered nothing for 360 degrees. This was remote. The rest of the group were also up, joking about the night’s lack of sleep, but concerned about the thick clouds that seemed to offer rain. A few hours later the Sky Dancer was idling under the intimidating cliff face of Wolfs South East corner. Flocks of seabirds circled high above, dolphins leaped from the water, first a few in the distance, then suddenly in huge numbers, everywhere. The waters were rough and alive with animals, waves crashed against the cliffs sending white spray high into the air. This was more like it.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Red Sea, Sipidan, Zanzibar, Australia, Cyprus
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 65-79°F / 18-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-20 M / 33-66 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions We were given detailed dive briefings, where max depth and dive times were given.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Great for large animals, good for video. But the currents coupled with the visibility made it difficult to take good photos.
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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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