Getting up at 3:30 am is usually not a happy time. But I had an instant smile on my face. Dec. 30, 2011-Jan. 01, 2012 – Socorro Island, Baja California, Mexico.

copyright 2012 - Nautilus Explorer, Dive Master

Day 1 Dec 30.2011
Getting up at 3:30am is usually not a happy time.  Yet as my 3 alarms were ringing in the morning I had an instant smile on my face.  I didn’t even need coffee.  I was up and ready for action. I had to catch a plane to Cabo San Lucas Mexico…  Always a risk for airline delays or lost luggage, I would not recommend anyone else traveling to the boat to fly in the same day. As it turns out later my luggage arrive safe, however, 2 other guests coming in from separate locations both lost their luggage and had 15 minutes to by a few tacky tourist t-shirts before jumping on the boat for the week.  We managed to piece together enough dive gear for them both but it was pretty close for sure.
Getting on the boat is a breeze, the crew met us at the dock and carried all of our luggage onto the boat and into our rooms, we just had to board, settle in and we were off.  The seas were flat calm, so calm that it was actually a nice and rare treat for the crossing to be so smooth.
Day 2 Dec 31.2011
After a fantastic sleep being rocked all night by the gentle roll of the ocean swell we awoke in the middle of the blue. Being over 150 mi west of Cabo San lucas it takes about 22 hours to steam out to the islands.  The entire day was spent getting to know the guests and chatting about all the amazing diving that everyone has encountered.  Lots of anticipation and excitement was building for the trip.
That night we celebrated Feliz Ano Nuevo, or Feliz Nuevo Ano in portuguese, and a happy new year it was for everyone on board.  As we approached San Benedicto in the dark there was a pod of dolphins that surfed the bow wave.  Under the light of the ship we could see the dolphins taking turns at the front effortlessly gliding in front of the boat. All the guests were lined up along the bow to enjoy the amazing show.  Flying fish were everywhere leaping out of the way of the torpedo like dolphins.  Every once in a while a huge cheer let up as a dolphin would fly out of the water in a giant leap and splash.  Finally we settled into a bay and we could see the dark mass of the island blocking out a section of stars.  The engines were shut off and after 22 hours all was quiet except the lapping of water against the hull.  After a quick champagne toast to the new year we all rushed to bed for a good rest for what is to come.
Day 3 Jan 1.2012
Waking up at San Benedicto Island is surreal.  The sun was rising over the ocean revealing the towering cliffs of the island as we sat nestled in the bay.  The giant volcanic striations rippled down like a massive sand dune.  Geologically very new, this island was born out of fire and rock to form this remote haven for the Mantas, sharks, whale sharks and rich biodiversity that provides the food for these giants of the deep.  This is the first day of 2012 and what a way to bring in the new year.  Anticipation is high as everyone is hopeful but understands that this is big animal diving. A true underwater safari where anything can happen and often does.
Guest Comments First Dive
How was your dive?
Incredible,  at the bottom of the anchor line we were visited by dolphins,  Then after a fight against the current we reached Manta rock and had a school of at least 40 hammerhead sharks cruise by within 15 meters, and turning around we saw 2 divers with a manta inches away from them, then the manta turned and came straight for us, it glided overhead and must have been at least 12 feet across.  We can go home now. We are happy.
Marisa – Brazil
We fought against the current and then my tank fell off and we could not get it back on under water.  We had to turn around. It is OK because this is the checkout dive and something always happens with the gear.
Robin – Utah, USA
What a dive!  I had problems with my new mask fogging up but the crew on deck were able to sort that out, then I had weight issues due to my brand new suit.  However, my camera was rolling the whole time and when that Manta came by it turned into the best dive I have ever had.  I can’t wait to get back in the water.
RJ – Vancouver, Canada
It was OK, We went the other way than most to the Hammerhead feeding station, we saw 6 hammerheads in the distance, but when we go to the station and waited, no more came by.  Next time I will try the other Direction.
– Germany
Well I did not see anything at the Hammerhead feeding station, Visibility was about 50 feet but it was good to get all my gear in order. I saw one Hammerhead on the way to the cleaning station.
Li – Switzerland
Fantastic, We saw the Manta and had an incredible time, we are very happy and this is only the first dive.
William – Brazil
Trying to fight the current with full camera gear was challenging but when we hit Manta rock and got buzzed by the big chevron manta I totally forgot and was happy to have my buddy tugging my arm to let me know I was getting low on air and time to leave.  I would have stayed much much longer if I could.  The Manta followed us as we headed back to the boat and teased us all the way.
Noel – Vancouver, Canada
Guest Comments Second Dive
I saw a huge school of Hammerheads.  They were in the distance and I swam as fast as I could but they all quickly vanished into the depths. I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got back
Michael – Germany
We did not see any big animals this dive but we were very happy with the small dives.
Marisa – Brazil
Visibility was not great so that was a bit disappointing as I know this dive can be so amazing.  Still very entertaining.
Claudine – UK
We saw the hammerheads when we first hit the rocky ledge leading up to the feeding station.  They quickly swam away and we headed over to the station.  All of the Clarion Anglefish waiting impatiently for the Hammerheads that would not come during our dive.  They were very entertaining to watch.
Noel – Vancouver, Canada
To be continued – Stay tuned for the next adventure – The Boiler.
– Jason

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