Another Year of Traveling — Part One (At Sea: Nautilus Belle Amie and Yemaya)
This year has been, as always, a lot of traveling around and a lot of navigation in the seas. After a monthlong visit to Sweden, I found myself in the shipyard in Ensenada, helping to put the finishing touches to Nautilus Belle Amie, a new live-aboard vessel. A crazy project with so many challenges to solve, we had day and night shifts—sometimes I worked both—with around 60 people more or less climbing on top of each other just to finish everything before the deadline. I was on the first trips to Revillagigedo and they were not without problems; the boat turned out very well later on, though.
Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro Island)
The first trip I made this season was on Nautilus Belle Amie. It is always interesting to come down here when you haven’t seen the islands for a few months. March was the last time I was down here. The water was clear blue in the three islands we visited: San Benedicto, Roca Partida and Socorro. Average visibility was easily 30 meters. And it was warm! (28-29 C)
Then I was off to Panama for 3 months, focusing on the Colombian island of Malpelo. It is not a dive site for fainthearted divers. Strong current, big surge, and waves crashing on the sheer rocky island that you can only get on by climbing a 10-meter-long rope ladder hanging from a ramp that sticks out from the island. IF it is calm.
On one trip a very strong storm that took place south of us, by Chile and Argentina, caused swells to reach us with such force that the waves rolling in crashed against the rocks and splashed up to 70 meters high! It moved 2-cubic-meter boulders stationed 35 meters deep in the water. I could not even dive close to the island. Luckily, we had hammerheads and silkies in the blue water, so we still had good diving.
It was a good year in Malpelo; we had a lot of silky sharks, whale sharks—some of the latter are curious and crazy big—and several bait balls with hundreds of mostly silky sharks but also Galapagos sharks, yellowfin tunas, mullet snappers and bottlenose dolphins. One day we had a total of four bait balls.
20-day combination trip to Cocos and Malpelo
We took Yemaya up to Golfito in Costa Rica, then embarked on a 30+ hour crossing to the beautiful, green and lush island of Cocos. The diving was ok, but not fantastic. It was really nice to see the tiger sharks, and the diving was a bit calmer and different than in Malpelo. I enjoyed very much hiking on the island; the jungle was beautiful and I wish I could have stayed longer. Tanya, my wife, was with me; even if she easily gets seasick, the stubborn woman decided to tag along for 20 days at sea. And it actually went very well for her—not once did she have to feed the fish. Arriving to Malpelo, we had this fantastic diving for 6 days; although when it was over, I really just wanted to get back home to Baja.
Great white sharks of Guadalupe
It has been 5 years since I last worked with the white sharks in Guadalupe and it was interesting to be back; this year I was onboard for 8 trips. I still recognized some of the sharks; Old Bruce was still there… Towards the end of the season more of the bigger sharks were coming compared to the beginning, when almost all were smaller males. (They are still around 4 meters long, so they are not really small.)