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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)/Islas Revillagigedas

Solmar V, Apr, 2009,

by Don Acheson, MD, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports). Report 5297.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, western and south Pacific, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, ...
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge
Water Temp 72 to 74 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales > 2
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters N/A Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 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]

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Four fellow dive club members ventured to Cabo San Lucas to board the Solmar V for a week of diving around the Islas Revillagigedas - an archipelago of three islands 250 nautical miles south-southwest of Cabo. Theyre about a 24 hour cruise from Cabo San Lucas. The trip out was easy; the trip back, rough.

The archipelago consists of San Benedicto and Socorro Islands and Roca Partida - two volcanic islands close to one another and a small rock, about 60 miles away, abruptly protruding above a the oceans surface. The latter, that tiny scrap of stone dropping precipitously to the bottom, offered an amazingly range of big animals - white tip reef sharks in amazing numbers; schooling scalloped hammerheads, a few silkies, silver tips, and Galapagos sharks; schools of big jacks; some tuna; manta rays; and, of course, the smaller fish closer to the base of the food pyramid upon which the larger fish feed. As if that wasnt enough, a number of humpback whales were in the area, often in a group of three - mother, calf, and escort . Some divers spotted them underwater while on scuba, others while snorkeling.

We boarded the Solmar V on Saturday afternoon and arrived at the San Benedicto Sunday afternoon in time for checkout dive. Three or four per day diving began on Monday morning around the same island, followed by a move to Socorro Island for a day, then two days at Roca Partida, and a last day at San Benedicto. The weather favored us. Roca Partida offers no shelter from the winds and seas for the Solmar V and its divers, so every trip doesnt venture there. Water temps were in the low 70's. Although we enjoyed good weather, every dive featured a lot of surge - not a problem away from the rocks, but definitely something to consider when close. I tried finding small stuff (which must be there) on a few dives, but it was too difficult. Macro photography? Forget it!

Diving took place both off the Solmar V and its two RIBs (Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boats), called pangas. The big boat has a spacious dive deck with ample room for 25 divers (including divemasters) and their equipment, including cameras, and a very nice dive platform and ladder. However, the pangas were crowded. We needed to use them only at Roca Partida, although both were in the water for every dive. The drill when diving from them consists of the divemasters loading BCs, tanks and regulators first, followed by divers with their fins, masks, and cameras. Fins, BC's, and tanks were donned at the dive site and everyone, perched on the sides of the RIB, backrolled together - on the count of three - into the water. At Roca Partida, the divemasters insisted on every one staying with their group. At the other dive sites, we were free to buddy up and roam about on our own.

With 22 divers and crew, the Solmar V is a bit crowded. In the lounge, four tables seat 16 and the remaining 6 divers had to seat themselves on eight bar stools around four tiny tables. The cabins are provided with their own small toilet and shower and up/down bunks except for the most forward cabin which had bunks on either side of the hull. My cabin mate got excited about being assigned this cabin since it appeared, on the boats deck plan, to be far more spacious than the others, but that was deceptive. The hull seriously intruded on the apparent spaciousness; getting in and out of my bunk was a stretch for this old man.

Meals were very good. Breakfast consisted of coffee, juice, toast, fresh fruit and cold cereal for the early risers and eggs and bacon, ham or sausage for those willing to wait until the designated breakfast time. Lunch often began with tasty soup and always included an appetizing entree. Dinner was substantial. Snacks were served between dives. Beer and wine were included in the price of the trip with the usual proviso that an alcoholic drink meant the end of ones diving for that day. Complimentary margaritas were usually offered after the last dive of the day.

The Solmar V practices whale chasing with their pangas, a practice of which I dont partake or approve. While it certainly must be exciting to see a whale underwater, I worry about the potential for injury to a whale or to a diver or snorkeler. Propellers are the obvious risk to the whale. To humans in the water with them, theyre huge animals, albeit without a reputation for violence. But accidents can happen. On one chase, which I observed from the deck of the Solmar V, one of the adult whales elevated its tail and slapped the waters surface vigorously a few times - perhaps in warning, perhaps not. In any case, a snorkeler underneath that tail most likely would have been seriously injured - and there were many snorkelers in the water near those whales at that time.

Cabo San Lucas, once a sleepy fishing village, is now resort and timeshare city. The international airport is about a 30 minute drive away in San Jose del Cabo and connects to several US gateways, so getting there and back is easy.

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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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