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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Mexico (Western)/Sea of Cortez

Nautilus Explorer, May, 2014,

by Gary, AB, CA (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports). Report 7614.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The title of this review was supposed to be Socorro Island (actually Isla Revillagigedos Biosphere to be more precise) – May 25 to June 2, 2014:
• Live aboard ready: check
• Competent crew available: check
• Cooperative Mother Nature: Not so much
It was is the earliest Category 4 Hurricane (Amanda) that anybody could ever remember in this area and nothing was going out to the islands on that day or the next week. The Mexican Government was not issuing any permits. It was a crushing blow to all on board but there was absolutely nothing the company could do about it. There were at least two or three other live aboards in the same boat (pun intended) so all vessels turned north to the Sea of Cortez.
The Boat:
Very well laid out IMO. We had an upper deck room with a view (try to get the Emerald Room) and lots of space. Although I was skeptical at first, it accommodated 25 divers quite well. The tanks were on a gently sloping ramp and you just stood up to put your tanks on – so much easier than sitting down to strap on your tanks. Diving was done both from the platform and the Zodiacs and both were a breeze to get into or out of the water. There was one drawback however that only became noticeable when we came back south to the La Paz area – the heat. The dining room and upper cabins are hot. I believe the company is looking into refitting the air conditioning system. Until then if you can’t tolerate heat and you are going to the Sea of Cortez in the Summer, you will be uncomfortable.
The Crew:
The best team I have dived with so far (over 10 live aboards): From Calm Captain Dave to the unbelievably talented Chef Jane to the perfect combination of competency and easy-goingness – Dive Master Colton (also the hardest working crew member I have ever seen). The other crew were fabulous as well but in the interest of brevity, I won’t pull the Academy Awards gambit and include thanking distant relatives and acquaintances.
The Diving:
To start with, anybody who has dived the West Coast knows the plankton bloom and other lovely precursors to summer start poking their heads out of the “ground” come May and June. So although we occasionally hit 60 – 70’ visibility, 15 – 20’ was not unusual either. As for the water temperature, it was such a mixed bag depending on thermoclines. Typically it averaged around 76 to 77 at the surface but below (i.e. 68’), it often went down to the high 60s or low 70s. We also travelled much further North (> 250 miles north of Cabo San Lucas) than the normal Sea of Cortez Live Aboard cruises in the quest of exploratory diving.
The highlight of Sea of Cortez Diving to me is the Sea Lion encounters (Isla Esprito near Le Paz) to name but one location. Some are really playful and like to give gentle nips and tug on your gear. You will also encounter lots (and I do mean lots) of Green Morays and many varieties of rays (Sting, Ray of Cortez, Bull Eye…). Toss in some big schools of fish (Barracuda, Jacks…) and very large Puffer and Angel fish and you have quite a mix to look forward to. The current tended to be mild and nowhere near the strength of say Komodo (Indonesia), French Polynesia, Cocos Island…etc.
This was my 4th trip to the area but as stated at the beginning, not by design. For me, this is a perfect place for someone’s first live aboard. The current and depth of Socorro Island is probably too much for a novice diver so this is ideal for them. Also depending on the time of the year, whales and other big stuff is very possible. However the days of the Hammerheads are long gong here (presumably due to over fishing) and for a very experienced boat like the guests on this one, well it just wasn’t Socorro. I can see the attraction of a combo trip (2 - 3 days Sea of Cortez) and 7 for Socorro (including travelling) but I have dived the Sea of Cortez enough times to be fully satisfied and would not come back for a full week.
P.S. Mike Lever (owner of the Nautilus Explorer) offered all of us a credit of 50% of our dive trip towards a future Nautilus excursion. This was very appreciated by all because legally he was not obligated to do anything.
Websites Nautilus Explorer   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Cocos, French Polynesia, Malfives, Sipidan, Micronesia, Carribean...
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 68-78°F / 20-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 15-70 Ft/ 5-21 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minutes max
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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