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Galapagos Islands this November

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Hey Gang,

I'm going on a trip to the Galapagos Islands this November, actually in 3 weeks! I've never been to the Islands and was looking for some advice on the gear I should come with (Camera setups, Scuba gear, clothes, etc...). I'm trying to pack light as I don't want to overdue what I bring. And of course I'm trying to stay under the 50 lbs bag limits for the AA plane travel. Also, this is my first liveaboard (Deep Blue) and needed some feedback on liveaboard stays... There has been some suggestions from Deep Blue, but I'd like to hear from folks that have actually done these types of trips.

 

My trip does not end at the Galapagos as it will continue onto Peru and Cuzco/Machu Picchu. If you have any advice for this region I would also appreciate that!

 

Thank you for any feedback that you may have for this trip..

 

Cheers

Derek...

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I suggest you take a 7 mm wet suit plus hooded vest . Multiple diving days and current make you feel colder than real water temp. Good gloves ( no thick but protected with something like kevlar ) you will need it to hold on the rocks covered with barnacles' shells . But take care , barnacles are part of the ecosystem there and also empty shells sometimes are the house of some blennies.

 

You are well covered with the 10-22 mm , also if you are in to macro the 60 mm is perfect , but Galapagos is not easy for macro ; currents and being surronded by big animal can make the things harder.

 

You will have great oportunities for land /wildlife photography , subjects allow to get really close but anyhow i can recommend to take a long zoom lens, not too heavy ( something around 100-300 mm ) to make tighter compositions and portraits .

 

Good luck

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Just back from a trip on the Galapagos Aggressor 1.

I have posted a trip report on scuba board

http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/south-ame...t-oct-08-a.html.

 

The water is warmer than what you would expect at this time of year. I had a pinnacle 7/5 mm combination suit and was confortable in both the North & South. You definately need a hood for the Southern site. Also definately need good gloves. Most of the other divers dived in a 5mm + vest/skin + hood.

 

Topside . You will need a jumper & light jacket. As it can get windy/cool in the evenings.

 

As far as photography, i was using a P&S, decided not to dive with my strobe after the 1st day. Some of the diving at wolf was really difficult ,even with a small set up. Need 2 hands free to hold onto the rocks due to current & surge. Conditions elsewhere were ok.

Edited by Kevster

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Just back from a trip on the Galapagos Aggressor 1.

I have posted a trip report on scuba board

http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/south-ame...t-oct-08-a.html.

 

The water is warmer than normal. I had a pinnacle 7/5 mm combination suit and was confortable in both the North & South. You definately need a hood for the Southern site. Also definately need good gloves.

 

Topside . You will need a jumper & light jacket. As it can get windy/cool in the evenings.

 

As far as photography, i was using P&S, decided not to dive with my strobe after the 1st day. Some of the diving at wolf was really difficult to dive ,even a small set up.

 

Hey Kevster and Elbuzo,

thank you for the feedback, all this helps!

 

Kevster, great trip report and pictures! Overall is looks like you had a incredible trip.

 

Do you think a reef hook would help, or would it just get in the way? Can you swim to the bigger creatures or do you just have to hang on to the reef for dear life? Also, with the current that you mentioned, did you have any trouble keeping your mask on?

 

Cheers

Derek...

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Yea I had a great trip.

I don’t think a reef hook would help, much better idea trying to hide behind a rock or in a sheltered location. I think a RH would actually be more difficult to use.

The conditions were only tough in the 1st two dives at wolf. On these dives at the landslide site, basically it was straight down to 15-20 m then grab onto the rocks.

The current was strong but generally manageable. It was the surge that was difficult to cope with a camera in hand. One moment you were being pulled one way then a few seconds later you were heading in the other direction. I have 250 dives and after the 1st two dives at wolf I thought that I was in over my exp level. These dives were also pretty short and a few divers myself included were surfacing with less air than we should have had. Luckily these were the most difficult dives.

 

At Wolf you stay on the rocks. If you swim out into the blue you will prob scare away the hammerheads and it is likely you will not be able to make it back to the wall and hence it will be the end of the dive. The dives at Wolf were not drift dives. It was a grab onto a rock type dive. I guess if you have a DSLR you would need to use your thighs to grip the rocks!. I have a Inon dome for my P&S wet lens. I did not take it on these dives as I was scared I would damage the dome. At one point it was difficult to even aim a camera ever mind adjust the settings.

 

Twice at wolf I looked in the direction of the guide who was banging his tank to point out the hammers and my Mares Abyss reg went into free-flow. Had no worries about my mask. We did move after 20 mins into the dive, but it was not swimming, it was moving using the rocks. I had a few bruises at the end of the day as I was carrying to much weight.

 

At Darwin it was similar type of dive but there was no surge and the current was no where near as strong.

At Darwin again you go down to 20-25 m and sit on the ledge watching the action. If a Whale shark shows up everyone leaves the wall & swims out into the blue.

Generally there is enough action to ensure you stay on the wall for 20-30 mins. Then the guides would lead everyone out into blue water to look for more stuff. This happened early if there was not much action or the WS did not appear in the 1st 30 mins. Generally everyone should stay near the wall to ensure close shark action.

If you swim out into the blue the shark tend to keep there distance.

 

Saying that there is so much action at Darwin, not just out in the Blue but all around, above & below. I could not believe that large Moray eels were free swimming through diver’s legs while they were on the ledge and they did not notice due to looking out at all the sharks. It was so funny.

 

Generally you can get close to the WSs for 1-2 mins if you are lucky & have good fins and are fit!!.

Getting close to the dolphins & seals was down to luck.

 

AT the other sites you swim about looking for stuff. There is current, but again it is manageable.

 

This was the 1st time where i have really felt the disadvantages of shutter lag with a P&S, especially with the seals. I also suggest long strobe arms as there is a lot of potential for back scatter. Viss was best at Darwin (20+m). Closest Hammerhead action also at Darwin.

Edited by Kevster

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Hey Gang,

I'm going on a trip to the Galapagos Islands this November, actually in 3 weeks! I've never been to the Islands and was looking for some advice on the gear I should come with (Camera setups, Scuba gear, clothes, etc...). I'm trying to pack light as I don't want to overdue what I bring. And of course I'm trying to stay under the 50 lbs bag limits for the AA plane travel. Also, this is my first liveaboard (Deep Blue) and needed some feedback on liveaboard stays... There has been some suggestions from Deep Blue, but I'd like to hear from folks that have actually done these types of trips.

 

My trip does not end at the Galapagos as it will continue onto Peru and Cuzco/Machu Picchu. If you have any advice for this region I would also appreciate that!

 

Thank you for any feedback that you may have for this trip..

 

Cheers

Derek...

I know you want to pack light; but to me Galapagos is a magic trip and you do not want to be there and wish you had packed something. So especially for photographic stuff I would take anything you think you might need. If you read the various trip reports you will see that conditions in Galapagos are variable to say the least. On some of my dives at Wolf with current ripping and poor viz, I got to exploring the critters in the rocks, and then I wished I had my macro setup.

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Yea I had a great trip.

I don’t think a reef hook would help, much better idea trying to hide behind a rock or in a sheltered location. I think a RH would actually be more difficult to use.

The conditions were only tough in the 1st two dives at wolf. On these dives at the landslide site, basically it was straight down to 15-20 m then grab onto the rocks.

The current was strong but generally manageable. It was the surge that was difficult to cope with a camera in hand. One moment you were being pulled one way then a few seconds later you were heading in the other direction. I have 250 dives and after the 1st two dives at wolf I thought that I was in over my exp level. These dives were also pretty short and a few divers myself included were surfacing with less air than we should have had. Luckily these were the most difficult dives.

 

At Wolf you stay on the rocks. If you swim out into the blue you will prob scare away the hammerheads and it is likely you will not be able to make it back to the wall and hence it will be the end of the dive. The dives at Wolf were not drift dives. It was a grab onto a rock type dive. I guess if you have a DSLR you would need to use your thighs to grip the rocks!. I have a Inon dome for my P&S wet lens. I did not take it on these dives as I was scared I would damage the dome. At one point it was difficult to even aim a camera ever mind adjust the settings.

 

Twice at wolf I looked in the direction of the guide who was banging his tank to point out the hammers and my Mares Abyss reg went into free-flow. Had no worries about my mask. We did move after 20 mins into the dive, but it was not swimming, it was moving using the rocks. I had a few bruises at the end of the day as I was carrying to much weight.

 

At Darwin it was similar type of dive but there was no surge and the current was no where near as strong.

At Darwin again you go down to 20-25 m and sit on the ledge watching the action. If a Whale shark shows up everyone leaves the wall & swims out into the blue.

Generally there is enough action to ensure you stay on the wall for 20-30 mins. Then the guides would lead everyone out into blue water to look for more stuff. This happened early if there was not much action or the WS did not appear in the 1st 30 mins. Generally everyone should stay near the wall to ensure close shark action.

If you swim out into the blue the shark tend to keep there distance.

 

Saying that there is so much action at Darwin, not just out in the Blue but all around, above & below. I could not believe that large Moray eels were free swimming through diver’s legs while they were on the ledge and they did not notice due to looking out at all the sharks. It was so funny.

 

Generally you can get close to the WSs for 1-2 mins if you are lucky & have good fins and are fit!!.

Getting close to the dolphins & seals was down to luck.

 

AT the other sites you swim about looking for stuff. There is current, but again it is manageable.

 

This was the 1st time where i have really felt the disadvantages of shutter lag with a P&S, especially with the seals. I also suggest long strobe arms as there is a lot of potential for back scatter. Viss was best at Darwin (20+m). Closest Hammerhead action also at Darwin.

 

Kevster, excellent comments from your trip! I'm fit, but carrying the DSLR and hanging onto rocks sounds pretty crazy and interesting! I'm hoping for photo opportunities, but it sounds very difficult to pull this off at times it seems... I'll have to think of someway to secure the DSLR to my body that allows hands free, but at the same time I can pull the unit up to my face when I need to.. Protecting the dome in crazy conditions will be an issue I'm sure...

 

The water seems pretty warm up at Wolf and Darwin (24/25C)... Do you think a 3mm wetsuit would be better for those dives, this way you could keep your weight down and be able to move and swim faster... Maybe a 5mm at the most? I'm used to water that is ~13C using an 8mm suit. You mentioned that the south was ~22C and the north was 24C, which is warm water for me... I was planning on bringing a 7mm, but it would seem to be overkill for these warm waters?

 

Cheers

Derek...

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I know you want to pack light; but to me Galapagos is a magic trip and you do not want to be there and wish you had packed something. So especially for photographic stuff I would take anything you think you might need. If you read the various trip reports you will see that conditions in Galapagos are variable to say the least. On some of my dives at Wolf with current ripping and poor viz, I got to exploring the critters in the rocks, and then I wished I had my macro setup.

 

You are right! It seems you really need to hope for the best conditions and make the best of things if the current is tough... Hell, I'll bring everything! :)

 

Thanks

Derek...

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Hi Derek,

 

I just got back from a trip on the Deep Blue and all the previous recommendations and comments are dead on. I shot the 10-17 almost exclusively, but the sharks are a little shy, so the 10-22's probably a better choice. Vis was generally fair, usually 30-40 ft. with lots of stuff in the water, so watch your strobe positioning. Current was sometimes ripping which made things real challenging with a full SLR set-up. There was a dive or two where I actually had my strobes blown around or had one hand on the rock with the whole rig kinda flapping in the wind. Nothing to do but find a safe, out of the way spot to tuck in and watch the sharks go by. Definitely exciting and challenging!

 

Water temp varied from 76 at Darwin to 70 in the south, so I wore a 7mm and was fine. Even got away with no hood or gloves after a couple days.

 

At Wolf we saw dozens of hammerheads, galapagos sharks, turtles, just tons of stuff. In fact, the turtles got kinda boring after awhile! At Darwin, lots of hammerheads and we got treated to 3 whale sharks on 1 dive right after each other, the first as big as a school bus! They say Cape Marshall is "good for mantas" - we saw 9 on one dive. They "guaranteed" eagle rays at Cousins Rock - we saw a school of 8-10. Sealions buzzed or played around with us on several dives as did dolphins. We were treated to lots of jumping dolphins top-side as well. So I guess the diving was OK. :)

 

The dive deck is big and each person gets their own station for their gear. They re-fill your same tank, so just set it up once and forget it. Nitrox is $150 for the week IN CASH. Diving is done from two inflatable skiffs with everyone doing a coordinated back-roll into the water. Not alot of room for camera's on the skiffs, so take a little extra care there. They'll hand you the rig after you're in the water. Decent amount of camera space on the main boat.

 

Do bring a long lens for the top-side tours. Great photo ops there.

 

Weather was OK, mostly overcast with some sun. Generally shorts and t-shirts were enough on board, maybe a light jacket, but bring warmer stuff for Quito.

 

The boat is spacious. The cabins each have their own bath and the two beds are side-by-side, so lots of room. Food is good, varied and plentiful served buffet style for every meal. Soft drinks are free, beer and wine extra on the honor system and you can bring your own bottle of booze or two on board if you like.

 

Let me know if you want more info and I'll try and get some pictures up in the next day or two.

 

You will have a fantastic trip!!!

 

Phil

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Hi Derek,

 

I just got back from a trip on the Deep Blue and all the previous recommendations and comments are dead on. I shot the 10-17 almost exclusively, but the sharks are a little shy, so the 10-22's probably a better choice. Vis was generally fair, usually 30-40 ft. with lots of stuff in the water, so watch your strobe positioning. Current was sometimes ripping which made things real challenging with a full SLR set-up. There was a dive or two where I actually had my strobes blown around or had one hand on the rock with the whole rig kinda flapping in the wind. Nothing to do but find a safe, out of the way spot to tuck in and watch the sharks go by. Definitely exciting and challenging!

 

Water temp varied from 76 at Darwin to 70 in the south, so I wore a 7mm and was fine. Even got away with no hood or gloves after a couple days.

 

At Wolf we saw dozens of hammerheads, galapagos sharks, turtles, just tons of stuff. In fact, the turtles got kinda boring after awhile! At Darwin, lots of hammerheads and we got treated to 3 whale sharks on 1 dive right after each other, the first as big as a school bus! They say Cape Marshall is "good for mantas" - we saw 9 on one dive. They "guaranteed" eagle rays at Cousins Rock - we saw a school of 8-10. Sealions buzzed or played around with us on several dives as did dolphins. We were treated to lots of jumping dolphins top-side as well. So I guess the diving was OK. :)

 

The dive deck is big and each person gets their own station for their gear. They re-fill your same tank, so just set it up once and forget it. Nitrox is $150 for the week IN CASH. Diving is done from two inflatable skiffs with everyone doing a coordinated back-roll into the water. Not alot of room for camera's on the skiffs, so take a little extra care there. They'll hand you the rig after you're in the water. Decent amount of camera space on the main boat.

 

Do bring a long lens for the top-side tours. Great photo ops there.

 

Weather was OK, mostly overcast with some sun. Generally shorts and t-shirts were enough on board, maybe a light jacket, but bring warmer stuff for Quito.

 

The boat is spacious. The cabins each have their own bath and the two beds are side-by-side, so lots of room. Food is good, varied and plentiful served buffet style for every meal. Soft drinks are free, beer and wine extra on the honor system and you can bring your own bottle of booze or two on board if you like.

 

Let me know if you want more info and I'll try and get some pictures up in the next day or two.

 

You will have a fantastic trip!!!

 

Phil

Hey Phil,

thank you so much! I have not heard much about the Deep Blue and it was hard to find any comments from folks using that ship. It sounds like you had an incredible trip... Good God! The description of you hanging in the current with you're camera flapping in the wind sounds like fun... Right! heh...

 

Do you think a 75-200mm is enough for the top side shots, or should I head toward a 300/400mm? I don't own this type of lens, so I'll rent a telephoto before I go...

 

I was thinking of using the Tokina 10-17mm primarily UW, unless we have macro ops. Did this lens serve you well at all, or were most things beyond the range for this lens? My Canon 10-22mm is a good lens top side, but it is not good for close reef work, as I get a lot of edge focus issues in the water with that lens. However, if I'm shooting out toward the blue then this is not as much an issue? It sounds like we never really get very close to the bigger critters? What do you think you're shooting distances were like? I'm assuming if we are primarily hanging on the rocks the objects are probably outside beyond 12ft?

 

It sounds like a 5-7mm suit is more than enough... I'm used to Monterey, CA where the water temp varies between 48-55 degrees... I'm comfortable in a 8mm and 53-60 degrees, and go dry suit for the below 53 degrees fun. I have not dove in the 70-76 degrees range and my only concerns are going for minimum drag and adequate warmth. I'm hearing the extra weight on this trip just adds to the difficulty.

 

If you have some shots with the various lens you used please show us all! So far I'm missing the telephoto lens in my kit...

 

Cheers

Derek...

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Hi Derek,

 

Yeah, the current was definitely "interesting", esp. with the big camera. Like I said, challenging and exciting at the same time.

 

Here are some pics. These were all shot with the Tokina 10-17 which is a great UW lens. I've never used the Canon 10-22, but I think you may want a little more zoom than the Tokina. Try them both!

 

The Hammerheads were shy (they don't like noisy bubbles) and came maybe within 6-8 feet on the closer passes

post-14526-1224719027.jpg

But with a little cropping and processing you can get some good stuff (I'm really pleased with this one :) )

post-14526-1224719043.jpg

Alot of times they and their pals would just stay in the blue

post-14526-1224720631.jpg

The Whale sharks on our trip were off the reef in the blue as well. I don't know how the divemasters saw them with the limited vis, but they'd bang their tank and we'd race out through the current and they'd emerge from the fog. Then we'd try and keep up

post-14526-1224719052.jpg

The eagle rays at Cousin's Rock were more cooperative

post-14526-1224719062.jpg

And the sealions were even friendlier

post-14526-1224719087.jpg

 

You can check out some of the other pics, including land stuff, at http://gallery.me.com/philsokol#100095. The land pics were shot with the Canon 100-400.

 

Like I said, you'll have a great time!

 

Phil

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http://gallery.me.com/HooverMarkD#100087

 

 

I don't know what the rules ended up as but if you get chance the land stuff was spectacular!

The biggest issue there was not stepping on the criters!

 

I took an 85mm as well as a 135mm (w/ 1.4x extender) and the wife unit took a 24-105 for the land.

Forget the macro lens for UW it just isn't worth it. My UW choice was a Canon 16-35 WA zoom and I was happy.

 

We dove wet in our SoCal gear. It was cold and currenty but a whole bunch o' fun.

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Hi Derek,

 

Yeah, the current was definitely "interesting", esp. with the big camera. Like I said, challenging and exciting at the same time.

 

Here are some pics. These were all shot with the Tokina 10-17 which is a great UW lens. I've never used the Canon 10-22, but I think you may want a little more zoom than the Tokina. Try them both!

 

The Hammerheads were shy (they don't like noisy bubbles) and came maybe within 6-8 feet on the closer passes

post-14526-1224719027.jpg

But with a little cropping and processing you can get some good stuff (I'm really pleased with this one :) )

post-14526-1224719043.jpg

Alot of times they and their pals would just stay in the blue

post-14526-1224720631.jpg

The Whale sharks on our trip were off the reef in the blue as well. I don't know how the divemasters saw them with the limited vis, but they'd bang their tank and we'd race out through the current and they'd emerge from the fog. Then we'd try and keep up

post-14526-1224719052.jpg

The eagle rays at Cousin's Rock were more cooperative

post-14526-1224719062.jpg

And the sealions were even friendlier

post-14526-1224719087.jpg

 

You can check out some of the other pics, including land stuff, at http://gallery.me.com/philsokol#100095. The land pics were shot with the Canon 100-400.

 

Like I said, you'll have a great time!

 

Phil

 

Phil, those shots were awesome! Looking at these pic's is driving me crazy!

 

Cheers

Derek...

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http://gallery.me.com/HooverMarkD#100087

 

 

I don't know what the rules ended up as but if you get chance the land stuff was spectacular!

The biggest issue there was not stepping on the criters!

 

I took an 85mm as well as a 135mm (w/ 1.4x extender) and the wife unit took a 24-105 for the land.

Forget the macro lens for UW it just isn't worth it. My UW choice was a Canon 16-35 WA zoom and I was happy.

 

We dove wet in our SoCal gear. It was cold and currenty but a whole bunch o' fun.

 

Hoovermd, thanks for the link! You have some great shots and I also liked your other trips also!

 

Thanks!

Derek...

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Way to go Phil! Looks like you had a blast. Congrats on the images. :)

Steve

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Is anyone diving with a drysuit? I am leaving for the Galapagos on the Aggressor in two weeks. Everyone in our club is bringing their drysuit. Maybe I will get too hot swimming against the currents. I am also starting to get worried about taking my DSLR with dual strobes for the first time with such currents.

Shane

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Is anyone diving with a drysuit? I am leaving for the Galapagos on the Aggressor in two weeks. Everyone in our club is bringing their drysuit. Maybe I will get too hot swimming against the currents. I am also starting to get worried about taking my DSLR with dual strobes for the first time with such currents.

Shane

 

Half the boat I was on dove dry.

They were form New Jersey and most brought their "warmer water" dry suits.

 

all left with tears in them so if you go dry, bring repair stuff and be prepared to deal with a flooded suit while diving.

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Is anyone diving with a drysuit? I am leaving for the Galapagos on the Aggressor in two weeks. Everyone in our club is bringing their drysuit. Maybe I will get too hot swimming against the currents. I am also starting to get worried about taking my DSLR with dual strobes for the first time with such currents.

Shane

 

Hey Shane,

I'm also going out on November 10th, via Deep Blue. Everything I'm hearing in wetsuits is 5mm to 7mm, as the conditions are relatively warm. Also, a wetsuit is more streamlined and this will help with your swimming in the currents. I would cry if I got a tear in my dry suit, not to mention the repair cost :uwphotog: I'm concerned about hanging onto the rocks and trying to shoot with a large DLSR rig! Should prove to be interesting. I'm thinking of bringing my point and shoot Olympus 5050 as a contingency plan, which is a lot smaller setup as you may know. I have buoyancy control floats on my STIX arms for the larger DLSR, which could add to the drag problem, but they can be removed. Something for you to think about when trying to lower your overall drag. Also, bring good fins!

 

Cheers

Derek...

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Derek

Maybe I should get my Nikonos V and 104 strobe out of storage. Maybe not. I have been waiting since July to try out my new setup.

That would suck putting a hole in your dry suit. Maybe I should go rent a wet suit from my dive store before the trip. My wet suit appears to have shrunk (funny how that happens). We should compare trips, dive boats and pictures after our trip.

Shane

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Maybe I should get my Nikonos V and 104 strobe out of storage.

 

 

Actually that combo with the 15mm would make a sweeeet P&S

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Derek

Maybe I should get my Nikonos V and 104 strobe out of storage. Maybe not. I have been waiting since July to try out my new setup.

That would suck putting a hole in your dry suit. Maybe I should go rent a wet suit from my dive store before the trip. My wet suit appears to have shrunk (funny how that happens). We should compare trips, dive boats and pictures after our trip.

Shane

 

Hey Shane,

lets hope for the best on the conditions we get. There has been some great feedback on this topic and what seems to be constant is, "Conditions can change" (killer current, to manageable current). Some of the feedback was to hide behind rocks to get out of the current... Maybe putting our back to the rocks could work too? Instead of hanging on maybe we can back up to the rock and have our hands free to shoot our minds out.. :uwphotog: One thing for sure I'll try just about anything to get into a good shooting position. One suggestion was to squeeze the rocks with our legs to get hands free. Depending on your drysuit material this would not be a good idea. I thought about bring my drysuit also, but I'm going to go for the streamlined and ruggedness of neoprene. There is a place to rent gear in San Cristobal (boats depart from this Island), but I would be too afraid to wait until then to get a suit that fits me.. If you have a local rental option you may check that out.. I would think it's only $40 for a week? Otherwise buy one, they are pretty cheap.. Check out http://www.leisurepro.com/Catalog.aspx?op=...amp;Context=980

 

For sure, lets compare our trips when we get back!

 

Cheers

Derek...

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Very informative discussion.

My wife Susan and I will also be on the Deep Blue the week of Nov 10th as well as the following week.

 

I've just purchased a Tokina 12-24 setup to use when I predict my 10-17 wont have the reach I want.

My biggest fear at this point is a massive overweight baggage charge for the Guayaquil to Galapagos leg. Let's hope luck is on our side at the airport.

 

I'm also not looking forward to a 4 hour layover in Miami Saturday.

 

See you in a few days.

 

-Brad

Edited by BradDB

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