Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Jon Tillinghast

Galapagos: Boats, Wolf/Darwin, Videos and Wet Suites

Recommended Posts

This from August, 2018.  Yep, a year ago, but I don't think much relevant has changed:

Choice of Dive Boats.  Having only been on the Galapagos Sky, I can't compare it to other luxury Galapagos yachts.  I can say that the dive staging/operations, guides, vessel quality and food on this 16-diver luxury boat are all that this fussy, experienced diver could ask for.  BUT, the big sales point is that it spends 3 days at remote Wolf and Darwin Islands, which in my book are the Galapagos' main diving calling cards (see below).  Other more central dive sites (say, Bartholome, Cousins Rock, etc.) are neither particularly scenic (remember that these islands have rock bottoms, not coral) and the creatures are by-and-large ones you can see with better visibility and more comfortable conditions elsewhere.  The one exception to this was Capo Douglas, off the cold and remote west coast of Fernandina Island (another island some boats miss).  Here's where you mix in up with the diving iguanas--something you'll not see elsewhere.

Wolf and Darwin.  These are a long over-night sail from the "main" Galapagos Islands.  Here is where large schools of hammerheads and Galapagos sharks gather--the hammerheads buzzing you against the rocks and gathering at the surface in backlit schools to frame the iconic hammerhead silhouette shots.  And in June to November, the whale sharks are regulars.  We had close-up whale sharks on every dive in two days of diving at Darwin Island.  Take a look at my video (https://vimeo.com/manage/285159385/general) .  The video quality is dicey (for reasons discussed below), but you'll get the idea.

Shooting Videos.  The websites warned me to lower my expectations on the quality of Galapagos photography.  Particularly during whale shark season, the visibility is poor, and so its dark down there.  Those conditions, in turn, caused by Sony RX 100 IV (w/ Nauticam housing) to have a terrible time autofocusing, as you'll see in the video.  Also, it made "stepping back" from the whale sharks to get a "full shark" picture difficult, since the creature was only a haze from 30 feet away.  The currents can also be confining.  Standard procedure at Wolf/Darwin is to a negative (i.e. uninflated BCD) entry, and get down into the big boulders, away from the current, as fast as you can.  That actually works well, as the boulders form a nice cubby, but you have to wait for the action to come to you.  If the shark is out in blue water, you can free swim, but make sure you've a good, attentive guide--as you, your guide, and the shark are likely to be a mile distant by the time you've gotten your pictures.

A Word About Wet Suits.  I am largely a tropical diver, and I bought into the cold water warnings about the Galapagos hook-and-sinker--buying a 2-piece 7 mm suit, hood and gloves. Trouble is, I needed 34 pounds for neutral buoyancy in that suit (I'm a big guy).  And, with all that weight, I could never balance the weights, even with a lot of private guide help.  So I ended up tossing the jacket portion of the suit, wearing only the "Farmer John."  I was cold, but not uncomfortably so.  Lesson: if you are not used to a full 7 mm wet suit and the attendant extra weight, the Galapagos (with its high current, etc.) is a poor place to learn. Also, I found that gloves on both hands made photography awkward, even with so-called "photographers' fingers gloves.  I found you only needed one glove to help secure yourself against the boulders, leaving the other hand free to manipulate the camera.

Happy Diving!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for the trip review/info. I am hoping to do Galapagos at some point this year and the cold water is the only thing that keeps holding me back.  From your perspective would a 5mm plus a layer like sharkskin be too cold? I am also considering a dry suit but Im not sure how the lack of streamline with a drysuit will do in the current. Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wear a 5 mm + sharkskin (hooded vest) in Galapagos (I'm a whale shark researcher working seasonally at Darwin). Serves me well most of the time! It does get cold in the southwest (Isabela, Fernandina), but otherwise it's normally >20C elsewhere, and often 24–26C at Wolf & Darwin. 

I've got more information on diving at Darwin here: https://naturetripper.com/whale-sharks-galapagos/. Jon has summed it up well!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...