D2D New Years 2006: Revillagigedos
December 27, 2005 through January 5, 2006
The Revillagigedo Archipelago is south of Baja California (by more than 100 miles). Currently leaving out of La Paz, Mexico, the Nautilus Explorer takes more than a day to make it to San Benedicto. After a couple of days at San Benedicto, the trip continues on to Socorro, the largest of the islands (a mandatory stop – the archipelago is considered environmentally protected, and the only two commercial vessels allowed in the area must check in each visit to the Navy base at Socorro). After a day or so at Socorro, we continued on to Roca Partida, a rock sticking out of the water that barely qualifies as an “island” (if it’s larger than the Nautilus Explorer, it’s barely so). There is a fourth island that is considered part of the archipelago, but I can’t remember the name – we didn’t visit it because it’s considerably farther away from the other three than they are from each other. Aside from the Hammerhead Sharks and giant Manta Rays (10+ feet), Silvertip and Whitetip sharks are plentiful, along with nightly sightings (from the boat – no night diving) of Silky Sharks and the odd Galapagos Shark. Dolphin sightings are possible, as are the odd Whale Shark. We even saw some other whales breaching in the distance, but they didn’t come close enough to see under water. The giant Mantas in the area are occasionally very sociable with divers – they enjoy swimming through bubble streams and have been known to swim over outstretched hands, allowing a diver to stroke the middle of the body. While riding (or even touching) the backs of the mantas are now forbidden, divers can carefully draft with them. During our New Years trip, the water was a solid 73 F.
About the boat
The Nautilus Explorer is a 116’ Canadian boat that has two itineraries: Its summer itinerary is up near the pacific coast of Canada. The winter itinerary is the Revillagigedo Archipelago. The Revillagigedo itinerary is flexible; given enough hammerhead or manta activity at a given site, the Nautilus Explorer will stay. The rooms aboard the boat are reminiscent of the Nekton Pilot, but better. The beds feel more solid, and the hot water is always hot. The owner/captain Mike was very conscientious and safety minded – if you didn’t attend the nightly site briefings, you couldn’t dive. The minimum SIT was 90 minutes. Considering the advanced nature of the diving (walls or pinnacles that disappear into the deep, or opportunities for “blue water” diving, where it’s just you and the fish, no reef in sight), and the possibility of an inexperienced diver moving off of the reef, chasing after something, and loosing sight of the reef and being swept away by current), Mike’s obsession with safety was not at all annoying – it was welcome. However, things were not all rosy; I’m not sure how many seasons the Nautilus Explorer has been doing the Revillagigedo itinerary; some of the folks I traveled with had some comments:
I flew into Los Cabos on December 27th. I bumped into some of the D2D contingent in the airport; everyone’s flight was delayed, as Los Cabos was a busy airport that day – my flight was at least 45 minutes late leaving Houston, and spent a little more time in the air than expected. The Nautilus Explorer had arranged for transport – we stopped off at a hotel, met pretty much everyone there (after a couple of more airport trips, or including the folks who had arrived the day or two before).
The water temperatures can dip into the 60’s F. You’ll want to make sure you have sufficient thermal protection. At this time I can safely say my Pinnacle Fusion 5/4 and 3/7 vested hood (with Merino wool lining in both, and a seal system where the neck of the hood meshed with the neck of the jump suit) kept me comfortable once my body warmed up the water in it.
On To The Dives
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