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Thread: Galapagos trip report (long) on a rebreather: Humboldt Explorer Aug 16th to 22nd 2010

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    Galapagos trip report (long) on a rebreather: Humboldt Explorer Aug 16th to 22nd 2010

    Galapagos Trip Report August 12th to 26th 2010

    Introduction
    This trip was my third visit to the Galapagos archipelago, but undoubtedly the best as I got to realise a dream, to dive on a closed circuit rebreather at Darwin and Wolf islands, the Northern islands in the archipelago and famous for Whale sharks, Manta Rays, Galapagos sharks and the schooling Hammerheads.
    I have been diving closed circuit rebreather since 2006, and had previously travelled to Cocos Island, Costa Rica, for a diving trip. Whilst I had a great experience, and enriching encounters with the aquatic life that lives there, I chose Cocoís Island as there was no rebreather support at that time in the Galapagos. In 2009 I conducted my second trip to the Galapagos and dove from the live-aboard the ĎEstrella Del Marí using open circuit scuba as there was still no rebreather support available. Undeterred I spent several months after that trip talking with management of Explorer Ventures, the company that used the vessel for the liveaboard trip, and after a meeting with the owner at the DEMA 2009 show, and further discussion by e-mail, I was given permission to take my Megaladon CCR on a week long live-aboard trip on the Humboldt Explorer, a new vessel launched in June 2010 and operated under Explorer Ventures, this trip was also a group- booking I had organised and there were 16 of us on the boat though I was the only diver on CCR.
    Gaining permission to take my rebreather on the live aboard was just the first of many challenges in conducting this trip. In February I started to look at how I could import a keg of Sofnolime into the country, and to the islands. An initial contact I had was with a dive centre owner, located in Guayaquil on the mainland, who talked with customs about duties in importing Sofnolime and the feedback I received was a special certificate might be needed. At this point I was considering simply vacuum sealing into packages and checking in, and paying any excess baggage charges. However at the same time I happened to browse the South America dive travel section of Scubaboard and saw a posting from a Galapagos resident, and technical/rebreather Instructor Jorge A. Mahauad, offering rebreather support and services. I immediately contacted Jorge and explained my situation to him, and he promptly responded and offered to rent me his tanks, a booster pump and would import Sofnolime. Over the next few weeks/months I corresponded with Jorge A. Mahauad on a regular basis and he always responded promptly and with good information, and he would also provide me with updates on the progress of the shipping/customs, as he ordered 10 kegs of Sofnolime, and an extra 2 sets of 2 litre cylinders, and early enough so they would clear customs and be available for my trip.
    As I was planning to be in Ecuador for a total of 3 weeks, and didnít want to get hit by excessive roaming charges for checking e-mails/internet use on my smart phone, Jorge also arranged a local SIM card for me with a monthís data plan, so I would be able to check e-mails/access internet, and another sign of his professionalism and service was arranging for it to be at the hotel reception when I checked in so I had immediate access. As far as customer service goes this truly impressed me!!!

    The Travel
    I arrived in Quito on August 9th, I live and work in Honduras part of the year, so flew to Miami, met my girlfriend and then we flew to Ecuador. I transported the head of the rebreather, and my backplate in my carry on, and TSA security stopped me on both check inís (one in Honduras and the other in Miami) more concerned with the backplate, than the electronics, but let it through. My 2 checked bags weighed 51 and 54 pounds, and I had to move some items around to get them down from 53 and 57 at check in.
    We flew over to Baltra airport on the 12th August, and then after a 5 minute bus ride to the canal, took a short ferry crossing of 5 minutes to the main island of Santa Cruz and then a taxi to the main town of Puerto Ayora as we had were staying there until we had to embark the boat on the 16th August. Although the boat was going to leave from the neighbouring island of San Cristobal we chose to stay in Puerto Ayora as I planned to do a check out dive with Jorge, and collect the booster pump, tanks and sofnolime. There was also more to do in Puerto Ayora and we visited the Darwin station and took a walk to Tortuga beach to see the Iguanas.
    I met with Jorge on the afternoon of the 13th August and we set up the rebreathers, and he briefed me on the operation of his booster pump. Jorge was just as professional and pleasant in person as his e-mails suggested and we discussed the potential for rebreather diving on the Galapagos and also diver training and technical training in general. Once the rebreathers were packed and set up, and gases analysed we moved the gear to the dive shop, Scuba Iguana, where we were meeting the next day at 7am to calibrate the units and then go diving for 2 dives.

    The land based diving
    Saturday 14th August
    I met Jorge at the Scuba Iguana dive centre at 7am and we proceeded to check and calibrate the units. We then loaded the gear, and had a 1 hour taxi ride to the channel of Santa Cruz/Baltra where we boarded the boat and headed to the dive site of Mosquera for our first check dive. Jorge briefed the dive crew on emergency procedures for CCR divers as they had never had anyone with a rebreather on board before. Mosquera is a small island with a sea lion colony living there, and after descent/bubble checks we ran a 62 minute dive, to a maximum depth of 22 meters/73 feet at a set point of 1.3, air was used as diluents and we carried an AL80 with air for bail out. The dive went smoothly, and we saw a sea lion, a Manta Ray glided above us, and it was nice to flip on my back and look up with a clear view and no bubbles, and we also had a very curious black tip reef shark swimming around us. The water temp was 19c/66f and after our safety stop, we just had to be very cautious ascending as we chose not to deploy the SMB and the boat was close by and we were the last 2 divers to ascend. After passing up the bail-out we could climb on board wearing the units, as there was a ladder.
    For the second dive we went to Gordon Rocks, which is one of the best dive sites on the Southern islands for encountering Hammerheads, Mantas and turtles. The site is on an underwater volcano (obviously extinct) and has a steep drop off on one side, and the other side is the crater. Upon running the pre-dive checks Jorge had a cell failure so dived on OC, which I put down to the unit being set up on Friday 13th! We descended and within a few minutes had a sighting of 5-6 Hammerhead sharks at a depth of 20 meters/66 feet and our dive time was 51 minutes and again a set point of 1.3. The conditions were choppy on the surface, with strong surge and a 2 knot current underwater in places. There were many turtles at the site, and we also had an Eagle ray on the bottom, and an abundance of fish.
    The boat actually took us back to the harbour of Puerto Ayora, and then we moved the rebreathers to Jorges, disinfected the units, and refilled the tanks and I repacked for the next day.
    I had purchased 1 full keg of Sofnolime from Jorge, but as I had already used 2 fills on the land based diving, an anticipated another 6 fills, Jorge sold me a used keg that had about 2.5 fills in it so I could be sure of having enough Sofnolime.

    Sunday 15th August
    We hadnít planned to dive this day, but the representative for Explorer Ventures, Jennifer Cumming, arranged a boat for us at a special rate, so our group of 4 recreational divers, and me and Jorge took up the offer, and we decided to do another 2 dives at Gordon Rocks. Jorge changed out his sensor as my girlfriend had brought down a couple of spares.
    The water temperatures had dropped from the day before and we had a low of 17c/63f at the bottom depth. Our first dive had a run time of 62 minutes, and a max depth of 35.7 meters/120 feet as Jorge showed me the drop off at one edge of the crater. On this dive we descended into a school of 10 Hammerheads, and Iím not sure who was more surprised them or us! Throughout the dive we continued to have several more Hammer head encounters, and saw several turtles, and sea lions. This was by far the best dive so far, mainly due to the Hammerhead but also seeing the potential for diving/exploring the site and afterwards we talked about future dives using trimix.
    We made the second dive slightly shorter with a run time of 48 minutes as we were feeling cold and only in 5mm wetsuits, the max depth was 25 meters/84 feet. We didnít see any Hammerheads this dive but had a sea lion and more turtles, Jorge also guided me on the sheer cliff face side of the volcano and pointed out where a cave entrance is.
    After the dives we took the boat ride back to the channel, and Jorge arranged for the kegs of sofnolime, O2 bottle, and booster pump to be put on the Humboldt Explorer as it was docked there on the Sunday with the current weekís guests for their last day/highland tour. This was extremely convenient for me, as I could also put my rebreather on the boat, and it saved me transporting this the next day when we took the passenger ferry to board the Humboldt at the island of San Cristobal. Again small details, but great attention to detail, and logistical support from Jorge to make this trip run so smoothly.

    Monday 16th August Ė The live-aboard
    The other part of the group had already arrived in San Cristobal and boarded the boat, so when we took the 2 hour ferry crossing over, they were on their check dive, but we boarded the boat around 6pm, and received our briefing from the guides, Jaime and Maccaron, and had dinner at 7pm. I knew Maccaron from my last visit to the Galapagos and was happy we had 2 guides, each with 15 years experience guiding. There were 16 passengers in total on the boat, and 9 crew including the 2 guides, and we had 2 pangas to dive from. After dinner I set up the rebreather, and then had an early night as I wanted to calibrate the unit and text at 6.30 am in case there were any problems, breakfast was to be at 7am and the first briefing at 8am.
    The Humboldt Explorer is a new live aboard, so was in good condition, with spacious rooms by live aboard standards, and a nice open top deck, with a tub and shade. The dining area had 2 tables that seated 8 each, so it was more social than some of the smaller tables on other live aboards. The drinks were complimentary, and a nice sofa area. Each room had a flat screen and DVD player.
    The dive area had 2 set upís to each side of the boat, and another set up area on the lower stern deck, where we boarded the pangas, this made it a little crowded for the divers who were ready and wanted to board the pangas, if the divers on the lower deck were not ready, especially if youíre wearing a rebreather and carrying a bail out.
    I had a nice covered area for setting up the unit, and charging the tanks, and also camera storage.

    Tuesday 17th August
    1st dive Mosquera; We dived with Maccaron for this and the next dive. The max depth was 24 meters/80 feet with a dive time of 43 minutes, we planned 60, but surfaced earlier as we noticed one of the group missing, but they had returned to the boat without alerting anyone, fortunately this was not Darwin! I was familiar with this site from my check dive with Jorge. There was a slight current which we drifted with, and aside from the sea lion and fish, there wasnít much action.
    We returned to the boat for breakfast, I havenít said much about the food yet, but so far it was amazing.
    2nd dive Seymour; This dive was also uneventful as far as the big stuff goes, but Maccaron is a great guide and pointed out some cool Nudibranchs and sting rays. The dive time was 59 minutes and a max depth of 20 meters/66 feet.
    After the second dive we collected some more supplies, and then the boat set off for the world famous Darwin, the highlight of this trip for myself on CCR and also the OC divers.
    In the evening I prepared the rebreather for the next day and filled the tanks.
    The water temp on these dives was 19c/66f.


    Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th August at Darwin
    We made 4 dives each day at approximately 8am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm with snacks in between dives and lunch served at 12.30pm to 1pm.
    We were given a maximum dive time of 60 minutes, which for most of the OC divers was realistic for the first 2 dives of the day but then the afternoon dives tended to be shorter at depth. As a rebreather diver I kept the same run as the group, but the guides allowed me to stay off to the side and a little deeper, and I maintained a set point of 1.3.
    The profiles I ran were;

    Wednesday; Dive 1-25mt/84ft for 54min, Dive 2-27mt/90ft for 57min, Dive 3-26mt/87ft for 61 min, Dive 4-22mt/70ft for 51min.
    Thursday; Dive 1-29mt/97ft for 53min, Dive 2-32mt/107ft for 44min, Dive 3-30mt/100ft for 55min, Dive 4-27mt/90ft for 45min.
    The water temperature was warmer than the Southern islands and around 23c/73f, and the entries/descents were the challenging part of the dives, as it was negative entries and meet around 10mt/33ft to continue the descent. So immediately upon entering I ran descent checks and had my girlfriend do the bubble check and at depth pass me the camera, the surge/current made it tricky as well.

    After the last dive I would disinfect the unit and let it dry, after dinner I would repack the scrubber, refill the tanks and assemble. The crew would top off my diluent, but I would operate the booster pump as it had been rented and the crew had no experience with this and I wanted to take care of it. Each morning I would get up before breakfast to calibrate and run the checks. The boat was rebreather friendly in terms of set up, a large deck with a camera area and I had a shelf for the rebreather parts, a hose with fresh water, my bottle of O2 out of the way, and a cupboard where I kept my sofnolime. There were also these air hoses which I used for drying the hoses/lungs. I noticed my primary handset was getting low on the battery, around 5.2v under load so I changed to my spare battery, however it didnít work, so note to self, always test spare batteries before departure. I then switched the secondary with the primary as a short term solution which lasted the duration of the trip.

    For the aquatic life it was just incredible, each day we would spend part of the dive just fixed to the rocks so we had Hammerhead encounters as they would pass and check us out, and also Galapagos sharks. There were moray eels, schools of trevallys, and we also had several Whale shark encounters. Silkyís would circle the boat as well, and Dolphins accompany us on the panga rides.
    The best dive was the last one on Thursday, we noticed on dive 3 the schools of Hammerheads increasing in size, and on a sand area, so we spent dive 4 with 10 minutes on the rocks then moved to about 20mt/67ft, but I moved off from the group and stayed around 26mt/87ft, and was circled/buzzed/shocked/awed by hundreds of Hammerheads going above and around me, and several came within 1mt/3ft!!!!
    In the evening the boat made the 3 hour crossing to Wolf island for the next dayís diving.

    Friday 20th August Wolf Island
    Wolf Island is larger than Darwin Island so we were briefed on the days diving early in the AM, and that involved 4 dives at 3-4 different dive sites. My profiles were very similar to Darwin;
    Dive 1-30mt/100ft with runtime 54 minutes, Dive 227mt/90ft with runtime 46 minutes, Dive 3-26mt/87ft with runtime 60 minutes, Dive 4-27mt/90ft with runtime 41 minutes (briefed for 40 as we were losing daylight soon).
    There were less chances of a Whale shark encounter at Wolf Island, and we didnít get one, but the action from the Hammerheads made up for it and on the first dive they seemed really agitated and we would find out later why. We dived on sloping walls/rocks, and so the schools of Hammerheads would pass to the side in walls as opposed to swimming directly overhead. On all dives I kept my distance from the group on OC, but within sight of their bubbles. One of the better Hammerhead encounters was when a school of 100 passed me, some swimming directly over me, and then the school circled and came back to check me out. The Galapagos sharks were very curious, and I had one circle me over 6 times.
    Between Dive 1 and 2 we had Orca whales come into the island to hunt and feed, in fact one of the guides actually saw one Orca take out a Hammerhead, and he said in 15 years of guiding/diving the island it was only the second time he had seen an Orca underwater on a dive, and thatís what was making the Hammerheads so anxious and swimming frantically around the rocks. We followed in the pangas and actually dropped in the water in snorkel gear, hanging onto the side of the panga to take videos/stills.
    There was a little incident after dive 2, when we surfaced the panga was nowhere in sight and we surfaced to the South of Wolf, and the pangas and liveaboard were on the East side. We deployed the surface markers and kept together as a group, and we drifted for 20 minutes before the panga came to pick us up. During this time a school of silky sharks gathered below us. The panga driver apologised as he followed the wrong set of bubbles as the other group had broke in 2. This made me think how more challenging it would be to follow a dedicated group of rebreather divers.
    I topped up my tanks at lunch time again, and maybe on the next trip I would use 3 litres instead as Jorge had these available.
    We had the same action with the Hammerheads in the afternoon as the morning, and the last dive was a little shorter as we were losing daylight, and the local laws require all divers to be out of the water before sunset.
    There was no one else in the group who consistently had such close encounters with the Hammerheads. I canít describe the level of intimacy that diving on a CCR allows you to get from the aquatic encounters, it was almost as if the sharks would come to check me out, and I hyperlinked my amateur videos below, and in one of them you can see the Hammerheads turn and buzz me! This kind of think wouldnít be achievable on open circuit, as my fellow divers testified.
    At 6 pm we left Wolf and made the crossing to the island of Isabella, for the next dayís diving. I cleaned the unit, inspected it for any damage as with the surge I had taken some knocks against the rocks. After dinner I then repacked and filled tanks for the next day.
    The water temps were also 23c/73f.

    Saturday 21st August
    The briefing for Cabo Marshall, Isabela, was a little earlier at 7.45am, and we were offered the option of 3 dives, or 2 dives, and a panga ride on the shoreline. Due to the lowered water temperature to 19c/66f and reduced visibility, all divers opted for the 2 dives and panga ride.
    Isabela is the largest and highest altitude of the Southern islands, and was formed from the eruptions of at least six former volcanoes that ended up forming a big lava mass, which is actually the largest island in the archipelago today. The site was a sloping rocky wall, formed from lava rock and with small tube formations, to a bottom of 45mt/133ft, and the dive profile was advised to be 10mt/33ft to 20mt/66ft.
    I followed ahead most of the group on this dive, with 2 open circuit buddies, and after we all saw a Manta Ray, approx 5mt/15ft wide, on descent, had another 2 sightings, though due to condensation on the camera was unable to get good footage, plus the other 2 encounters were very brief. After 40 minutes I ascended to the safety stop and had my 3rd encounter by myself with a smaller Manta passing.
    After the surface interval only half of the group made the second dive. To reduce the chances of condensation in the camera housing I put the camera in the AC cabin to cool, and packed the housing with toilet paper. It worked, as throughout the second dive I had no condensation at all. For the second dive I spent most of it by myself, but within site so I could see the other open circuit diverís bubbles. This was by far my best opportunity for better Manta Ray encounters, as at an average depth of 15mt/38ft, I had at least 5 decent encounters, and got some good video footage and swam with one Manta for 1.5 minutes underneath.
    My 2 profiles were;
    Dive 1-19mt/63ft for 43 minutes
    Dive 1-16mt/54ft for 48 minutes
    After the second dive the guides took us on a short 15 minute snorkel tour in a lagoon to see sea lions. Due to national park guidelines the liveaboard had to leave the area by 1pm to the island of Santa Cruz for our destination of Cousins dive site for the last day of diving.
    When we got back to the boat I cleaned the rebreather, filled tanks and left the parts to dry, whilst I sealed the scrubber in a plastic bin liner, as I only had 90 minutes of use I planned to use this for the last day of diving.
    The boat ride to Santa Cruz was 5 hours and a smooth crossing with time to update this report and back up photos/video plus time for a siesta.

    Sunday 22nd August last dive
    We arrived at Cousins Rock the previous night, and after breakfast received the briefing. This dive site was more for the macro life rather than the big action we had encountered during the trip, and was a volcanic rock, with different topography on each side, a sloping wall, to steeper drop offís. The dive time was planned to 40-50 minutes due to the lower water temperatures of 16c/63f. I had planned just 1 dive at this point as I needed a bit of extra time to clean, dry out and put away the rebreather.
    The dive was pretty tame compared to what we had seen so far, but there were sea lions and some of the other divers had a Manta pass by. My profile was 20mt/66ft, set point 1.3, for runtime of 45 minutes.
    After the dive I broke down the unit, cleaned and then put the equipment out to dry. The head went back in my carry on bag, with the canister, and everything else in the dive bag. I also cleaned the booster pump, and set the remainder of my sofnolime on the deck for taking back to the town where we would stay for a few days. The liveaboard moored between Baltra and Santa Cruz and after lunch and farewell cocktails the pangas took the entire group to the dock where a mini bus was waiting to take the group for a highland tour at a turtle farm. After the tour the group would then go souvenir shopping in the town before returning to the boat at 6.30pm. Myself and 4 others skipped the tour as we had previously done this, and there were 5 of us that would disembark now from the trip and stay in Puerto Ayora, whilst the rest of the guests and the boat continued onto San Cristobal where they would disembark the next day.
    The crew were extremely helpful and transferred all our baggage, and the O2 bottle, booster pump and Sofnolime for me, and when we arrived at Puerto Ayora I delivered them back to Jorge A. Mahauad at his office, and arranged to meet him the next day at 2pm for a debrief on the trip, and to plan one last land based CCR dive for Tuesday with Jorge.
    Tuesday 24th August Ė Back to land based diving
    I met with Jorge the day before and I debriefed him on my trip on the liveaboard and showed him the videos. He was very delighted with the interaction I had with the aquatic life, and from someone who has lived in the Galapagos most of his life that was very impressive. We both agreed that it would be rare for open circuit divers to have such intimate encounters though they could have the sighting, and the primary goal of rebreather diving in the Galapagos would be for aquatic interaction, and extended bottom times, rather than deep exploration, though this could be a separate mission objective and organised logistically if required.
    We prepared the rebreathers Monday pm, and discussed the dive plan, it was to be a multi level profile, 40mt/130ft for 20 minutes, then 25mt/83ft for 25 minutes followed by 15mt/50ft for another 20 minutes, with a set point of 1.3. Our purpose was to return to Gordon Rocks and check out a cavern/cave on the outside of the Volcano on the deep wall.
    I arrived at Jorges at 6am and we calibrated and ran the pre dive checks. Then we loaded our gear onto Jorges own boat, this was a smaller boat powered by 2 outboard motors but capable of comfortably supporting 4-5 rebreather divers and support crew. The ride time to the site from Puerto Ayora was 1 hour, same as the regular dive boats, and the boat was captained by Charles Wittmer, Jorgeís uncle and business partner.
    We arrived at the site and geared up, ran the checks again and were dropped off on the outer wall. We descended to 40mt/130ft and hit a thermocline but the visibility opened up to 20mt/66ft and the water temp read 14c/57f, it was cold for a 5mm wetsuit! We followed the wall for 17 minutes till we found the cavern opening, Jorge waited on the outside with his video camera and I went into the cavern entrance but couldnít move far as I was at max depth, there was a big sand patch at the bottom of the cavern (this was the only sand patch on this side of the volcano wall) and looked like a small passage proceeded further into the cavern. I suspected if there was an opening it would lead through to the other side of the collapsed crater, where there is a big sand patch, however it would need some trimix and side mount to check out properly. I came back out of the cavern and then we ascended to our next level at 25mt/83ft where the water temp increased to 20c/68f (though the vis dropped to 10mt/33ft) and ran through the remainder of the dive as planned.
    After arriving back at Jorgeís place we cleaned up the equipment, and I retuned the tanks, and myself, Jorge and Charles had a beer and chatted about the diving on Galapagos and about the great potential for rebreather diving tours and how rebreather divers would get so much more from the Galapagos than open circuit encounters.
    I arranged to meet Jorge for dinner the next night so we could discuss future trips and I could say goodbye to a great support operator and a new friend.

    Wednesday 25th August Ė Dinner with Jorge
    I met Jorge at 5.30pm at Il Giardino, a nice Italian restaurant, with 3 decks, overlooking the bay, and Jorge interviewed me about the trip, rebreather diving in Galapagos, and the potential for technical diving in the area as well. We discussed how to improve the services and logistics for visiting rebreather divers, and how support for groups would differ to what he had provided me, and risks that needed to be considered in organising rebreather tours in the Galapagos. My girlfriend insisted her next time here would be on a rebreather mainly for the experiences with the aquatic life. After dinner we said our goodbyes and I thanked Jorge for his support, help, and complimented him on his vision and commitment to provide rebreather support for visiting divers. Itís always sad to say goodbye after such a great trip but I smiled at the thought of having made a great new friend and professional acquaintance and looked forward to when we next met and my next trip to the Galapagos.

    Thursday 26th/Friday 27th August Ė The departure
    We left Puerto Ayora, the two of us, by taxi ($15) to the canal at 8.30am, arriving 9.15am, then boarded the ferry/bus to the airport and arrived 9.35am. Upon checking in we were informed we would be charged $80 excess baggage, and although I tried to explain we had come in as a group with no charges, the check in clerk insisted we had to pay. It worked out about $40 each for 1 extra bag to check in. This was the first time on the trip we had excess charges, and I guess if we hadnít come over from Quito to Baltra in a group would have had the same charges. We arrived in Quito 2.10pm local time, and then took our own taxi (no transfer was arranged and we were aware) to the Rio Amazonas for our last night in Ecuador.
    I recommend a great little Indian restaurant, actually named appropriately the ĎGreat Indian Restaurantí a few hundred yards from the Rio Amazonas, and dinner for with starters came to $17.
    At night the music blaring from the Mariscal district was so loud, that even on the 6th floor it kept us awake, but the reception gave us another room on the opposite side of the hotel on the 1st floor which was sheltered from the noise.
    On the Friday am, we checked in 4 pieces of baggage between 2 and I had the same packing arrangements as before (head in carry on) so no excess charges, except this time I placed my back plate in my girlfriends checked bags so I had less in my carry on, plus I didnít want to take a chance that my back plate may have been confiscated by an overzealous TSA agent as it had aroused suspicion on the way down. We picked up the baggage in Miami and then cleared customs and dropped off again as we had an onward connection to Montreal.

    During this trip I used 8 fills of scrubber, including 3 land based days diving, otherwise 1 keg would do for the liveaboard based on the profiles I conducted.
    My photos/video are amateurish and taken with a Canon A640 Powershot and Ikelite housing.
    I used a Suunto D6 dive computer and set the Nitrox mix to give me a PPO of 1.3 on my max depth, crude but conservative and effective within the scope of the profiles I was running.
    Hereís a few links to this trip as well;
    Jorge Mahauads blog
    My videos on You Tube

    Hope this report helps anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos and on a rebreather.

  2. #2
    RBW Member lemon has a spectacular aura about lemon has a spectacular aura about lemon has a spectacular aura about lemon has a spectacular aura about lemon has a spectacular aura about lemon's Avatar
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    Re: Galapagos trip report (long) on a rebreather: Humboldt Explorer Aug 16th to 22nd

    Thanks for the great - and detailed - report!

    Diving with hammerheads on OC in Cocos and the Galapagos is pretty much what convinced me to move to CCR diving. I'm not sure whether there is a more skittish fish in the ocean than the hammerhead! Great videos too - looks like you had some great action.

    This type of diving is exactly what I envision using my poseidon mk6 for. While some CCR divers don't understand the idea of a recreational depth rebreather, I think your post makes a very compelling argument for such a thing as all of your dives were rec depths of 130 feet or less.

    It's encouraging to hear that the humboldt explorer allowed you aboard with your unit - although you may have had more sway given your large group booking. Any idea if they will continue to allow rebreathers or did you get the sense that this really was just a once off? I dove with explorer ventures on the estrella del mar last october and although the diving was superb, I wasn't particularly impressed by the operation itself. I suppose that if they start allowing rebreathers - and now that they have their new boat - I might give them another look in future.

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    Down in Honduras GoProHonduras is an unknown quantity at this point GoProHonduras's Avatar
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    Re: Galapagos trip report (long) on a rebreather: Humboldt Explorer Aug 16th to 22nd

    Quote Originally Posted by lemon  View Original Post
    Thanks for the great - and detailed - report!

    Diving with hammerheads on OC in Cocos and the Galapagos is pretty much what convinced me to move to CCR diving. I'm not sure whether there is a more skittish fish in the ocean than the hammerhead! Great videos too - looks like you had some great action.

    This type of diving is exactly what I envision using my poseidon mk6 for. While some CCR divers don't understand the idea of a recreational depth rebreather, I think your post makes a very compelling argument for such a thing as all of your dives were rec depths of 130 feet or less.

    It's encouraging to hear that the humboldt explorer allowed you aboard with your unit - although you may have had more sway given your large group booking. Any idea if they will continue to allow rebreathers or did you get the sense that this really was just a once off? I dove with explorer ventures on the estrella del mar last october and although the diving was superb, I wasn't particularly impressed by the operation itself. I suppose that if they start allowing rebreathers - and now that they have their new boat - I might give them another look in future.
    Hi Lemon,

    I think that Explorer Ventures may allow it again, I think if you can demonstrate experience on the unit/similar conditions, and have insurance they will. I'm looking into returning next year so hopefully it is not a one off.

    You hit the nail on the head, Galapagos is ideal for recreational CCR use, you don't need to go deep or deco unless your objective is exploration, the encounters I had would not have been possible on OC.

    Also deco/hangs in the Galapagos has it's own challenges.

    Regards,
    Andy

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    Re: Galapagos trip report (long) on a rebreather: Humboldt Explorer Aug 16th to 22nd

    Hello Andy, thanks for the detailed report. The Galapagos is on my list, ahead of Cocos and Malpelo as it sounds like there is more variety in the animal life, but still with all the same big animals found in those other two places.

    Was a 5mm suit enough most of the time? Are there other times of the year when the water temps are warmer and if so, is the wildlife the same during the warmer season? Thanks, -Andy

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    Re: Galapagos trip report (long) on a rebreather: Humboldt Explorer Aug 16th to 22nd

    Quote Originally Posted by silent running  View Original Post
    Hello Andy, thanks for the detailed report. The Galapagos is on my list, ahead of Cocos and Malpelo as it sounds like there is more variety in the animal life, but still with all the same big animals found in those other two places.

    Was a 5mm suit enough most of the time? Are there other times of the year when the water temps are warmer and if so, is the wildlife the same during the warmer season? Thanks, -Andy

    For Darwin/Wolf a 5mm wetsuit with another 5mm vest/hood was fine, for the Southern islands it got colder, but bearable for 50-60 minute dive times. I think Dec to May are the warmer months.

    I think you get the best action when the water temp is around 21-23 for Hammers, last year we had about 25-26 and few sightings.

    Your right about the variety in life, it's incredible, also you see the behaviour more closely.

    Go for it, on CCR it's incredible!
    Last edited by GoProHonduras; 30th August 2010 at 19:33. Reason: More info

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