Interested in Socorro: Looking for Basic Info

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dflaher

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Hi,
I’ve been doing a little research here and other places about a Socorro trip. I have only heard about the Islands in the past, but have never really looked into them as a dive destination. As I became more educated, I became more interested. You know how that goes…

Instead of hijacking some of the great Socorro threads here with my specific questions, I thought I would start my own post. I will be diving as a solo diver, and will likely do the Cabo San Lucas checkout dives prior to boarding.

LOB Operator/Boats

The Nautilus fleet contains (I believe) three boats: Belle Amie, Explorer and Under Sea. From SB posts it seems like the Belle Amie is the most luxurious, but it also seems like its full capacity of 33 divers is A LOT on board and in the water at the same time. @scubadada noted in his review that the Explorer was a better fit for the Soccoros. @Palawan dived off the Vortex and claimed that due to its architecture it was an awful ride ourt and back. The Solmar V also gets good reviews here. Any tips? Being a single diver, I am not too concerned about size of the room or non-basic amenities...just great crew, above average food, and a smooth sail.

Water Conditions/Time of Year

- Temperature: I am a wimpy diver when it comes to temperature. I will wear a 5 mm if I have to but really prefer a skin and water temps in the low 80s.
- Current: I have about 250 dives under my belt, with about half of those drift diving in Cozumel; also one trip to Fiji’s Somosomo Straits. I feel like I can handle moderate current, but wouldn’t want to be in ripping currents everyday.
- Marine Life: Would want to obviously maximize the types of pelagics and other fish that I see, but not at the expense of cold water and ripping currents.

Given this is there a time of year the you would recommend? @living4experiences says that a trip made in November was warm and calm, but one made in May was just the opposite. It seems like fall/early winter might fit my bill, but not quite sure.

Workload/Misc

I’m in my mid-60s but in above average shape. How are the skiffs/RIBs/Zodiacs boarded? Do you gear up on the main deck sans fins, then walk down the stairs, and onto the RIB with tank and BCD on? And at the end of the dive do you board the RIB geared up. or take the BCD off in the water and hand up?

Are DSMBs required? Gloves? I see some YT videos where divers have PLBs. Are they required also?

I’ll stop there :wink:. TIA for any info you can provide.
 

Manuel Sam

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Boat: as you may have read in other Mexico threads on this subject, I've done the bulk of my trips on the Solmar. I've also done the Nautilus Undersea once. There are pluses and minus to both. On the Solmar I try to always grab one of the two singles. It's their most expensive cabin and yet the teeniesst, but it is fine with me and it has plenty of storage space, including 3 drawers and one mini-closet. See my comments on Peeweediver's Solmar Trip Report. On the Undersea last May and in the middle of the pandemic, I was more than willing to pay the single supplement of 25-30% (cheap!) to get a cabin all to myself. Those doubles on the Undersea are huge in comparison.

Water Temps: Indeed, November is when I have found the warmest temps - warm enough that I used to dive it with a Henderson 0.5mm. Now, at 67, I've become too wimpy and use a 2.5mm if the water is 80 and above, like in November. But when I went this past December, it dropped to 78, so I had to add a 2mm hooded vest to the 2.5mm, and for 3rd and 4th dives, sometimes doubled up on the 2mm vest. and it gets progressively colder with each successive winter month down to low 70's. BUT, and I alluded to this in at least one other thread, I've had two trips diverted due to storms in November - in 2016 and in 2019. Never used to happen, but now apparently with climate change......

Currents: Generally speaking, nothing as strong as when currents are strong in Cocos, Galapagos or Tuamotus in French Polynesia, so strong tat you cannot swim against. If it was strong, we'd just turn around. Against a mild one like to get around a corner in Roca Partida, yes. Once you get to the face of the wall that faces the current, you can stay in place and watch the action. At a site like The Boiler, you can seek out the sheltered side. In any case, the dive guides don't usually take divers into the current. And regardless of where you end up, the pangas will pick you up.

Gearing Up: On the Solmar, your gear is loaded onto the RIB. Divers board the RIBs from each side of the boat, by sitting on the edge of the deck and at the proper moment, sliding forward onto the RIB. Either the dive guide or the RIB driver is there to grab your arm and pull you in, if necessary. Once the RIB gets to the site, they help you gear up.

On the Nautilus Undersea (I don't know about the other Nautilus boats) you gear up at your dive station on the main deck, walk down the steps onto the dive platform at the stern of the boat, hand your fins to the crew assisting the boarding, and board the RIB with gear on. They show you how to properly board - it is not hard. The RIB is driven up onto the dive platform, so you are stepping from dive deck to RIB deck - not reaching across water.

Getting back on the RIB: You remove your weight belt and BCD and pass them up to the RIB driver or diveguide while pushing up on the bottom of the tank. All RIBs have ladders, and if using the ladder, you hand up the fins before climbing. Otherwise, you keep your fins on and do a pull-up (or try to) a la sea lion onto the RIB.

Dive sausages are required - if you do not have one, they will lend you one. In addition, on Nautilus boats, they lend you a Nautilus Lifeline. I don't use gloves. Off the top of my head, I can't remember if they are allowed.
 

Couv

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...delete...wrong thread.
 

Dan

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Setting up our dive gears and handling them were pretty typical liveaboard with RIB. Once we kit up our dive gears at our assigned stations in the dive deck and ready to board on the RIB, the deckhand would take our fins and cameras. We then walked 3 steps down to the loading platform, got on the RIB by grabbing on a rope, put our legs over the side of the RIB (one at a time), sit on the RIB side and slided to the back of the RIB. Once everyone was onboard, the deckhand would then handed over the fins and the cameras and off we went to the dive site.

The RIB can take 10 people (including DMs and the RIB pilot). There were 20 divers on that trip. We were divided, depending on the diver skill levels and preferences, into 3 groups of 7 divers in Shark 1, 7 divers in Shark 2 and 6 divers in Mantas. Shark 1 and 2 are for the experienced self-reliant divers looking for complete freedom on their dives. Mantas is for less experienced (especially in diving in blue water) looking for the reassurance of being with a DM to guide and lead the group.

When we were ready to go diving in a new dive site, we would meet at the sun deck area, listen to the dive briefing and headed back down to dive deck afterwards to suit up. Figure 6, below, shows the dive deck area with dive-gear station on the right side, gas-filling station on the left side, and camera station on the background.

IMG_2514.JPEG

Figure 6: Nautilus Belle Amie dive deck

For water entry, the RIB pilot would count to 3 and we all backrolled into the water together at the same time. Each group would descend together following the DM.

Above quote are some of the answers (including my trip report) to your quoted questions, below.
I’m in my mid-60s but in above average shape. How are the skiffs/RIBs/Zodiacs boarded? Do you gear up on the main deck sans fins, then walk down the stairs, and onto the RIB with tank and BCD on? And at the end of the dive do you board the RIB geared up. or take the BCD off in the water and hand up?
No gloves are allowed in Socorro (Marine Park).
 
OP
dflaher

dflaher

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This should help you decide. 😉
Wow! Thanks NYC - stunning video and music. Do you happen to recall the water temps/conditions in late December? I may have missed the "warm water window" for this year; boats look pretty booked up.
 

scubaNYC16

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The weather and conditions were good. It was my 2nd trip on the Belle Amie at the same time of the year. Crossings were smooth on both trips and like glass coming back this time. Water temp was 77 to 79 but mostly 77-78. I get cold but was comfortable in a 5mm wetsuit with hooded Lavacore vest underneath.
 

scubadada

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Hi @dflaher

Looks like you read my review. I think Nautilus goes to the Revillagigedos Dec-June. I was there in May, water was 72-74, I was comfortable in a full 7 mm with a 5/3 hooded vest. We had 23 out of a max of 25 divers on the Explorer, more than enough divers for me. I also chose the Explorer for a single cabin, UnderSea does not have any.
 
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dflaher

dflaher

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I also chose the Explorer for a single cabin, UnderSea does not have any
Thanks @scubadada. Does the Explorer charge a single premium? I would likely goess a single diver, but could room with someone if needed.
 

scubaNYC16

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I had my own cabin on the Belle Amie this last trip. I believe there are only 1 or 2 single cabins per trip. There is a premium.
 
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