Chef Liam onboard the Nautilus Explorer transports us to Guadalupe Island with the Great White Sharks though his words…September 4, 2015
The sun breaks through on another balmy Mexican morning above our current home aboard the Nautilus Explorer as our jovial chef Enrique’s footsteps fall in time to his humming as he busily patters through the salon.
It’s morning two of our diving adventure here in the shadow of the Guadalupe Islands – a spectacular back-drop to some of the most prolific great white shark diving anywhere on the globe. The clouds continually cascade off the volcanic peaks that surround our safe habour and the eerie call of the elephant seals echoes in the cove. The cages are in the drink and we all mill around the back deck eager to catch the first glimpse of the goliaths that patrol below. The air is electric as the dive schedule is looked over and I find myself assigned to the larger of the submersible cages (“larger” meaning only that there are four of us sharing this experience, I’ll have time in the two person cage in three hours and as much time in the surface cages as I could possibly desire throughout – one of my compatriots racked up a sneaky eight hours in the water on day one….!)
With gear checked over, cameras charged and weight harnesses donned we’re away – “OK’s” signaled all round and our ever vigilant dive master perched up top makes for a smooth decent into the big blue. It takes the whole of 25 seconds before the first behemoth comes to inspect the intrusion into his world and within 2 minutes has been joined by four of his friends – at this stage Juan (our Chief Engineer and guide for this dive) hasn’t even had the opportunity to coax any of the tuna scent from the burlap sack to invoke interest. The still frozen section was ceremoniously prepared by First Mate Jordon at first light with his trusty chainsaw and wearing the age-old “coveralls” (which are generally reserved for lining the vessels garbage bins) is now beginning to bounce on the cage floor. The twitches from our grinning friends as they circle closer and closer indicates that it is doing its job. I am continually impressed by just how clear we can see and how close we are to these beautiful, ancient creatures of the deep – they glide past within inches of my face with an omnipresent smile: so close that you can see the remnants of his previous meal hooked on one of those jagged teeth. I briefly consider offering some floss to ease the annoyance but quickly realise he has other plans: just rasp your teeth along the perimeter of our safe-haven’s bars and small debris is quickly dealt with….
As so the day goes; a continuous cycle of blowing bubbles in the Great White’s domain, relaxing in the on-board deck jacuzzi and getting more than our fill of delectable treats prepared by the crew. Every whim is catered for and Katie and Liana (our live-aboard hosts) seem to be always on hand with a warm welcoming smile and a tray of…..what was it I felt like? Home-made cookies? Daily baked breads, cakes, muffins or scones?? Dips or maybe a cheese-plate to accompany which ever of the wines I’ve selected from the range…. my stress levels are at an all time high right now as I’m sure you can tell.
Every aspect of this trip thus far has flowed with seemingly effortless efficiency under the ever-watchful eye of our skipper Shaun who runs a tight ship (not in a literal sense – there are three decks to relax on, a large salon and separate dining room with space akimbo to find quiet moments of contemplation and allow the weight of this experience to sink in) with his attentive, professional crew. I guess this aspect comes as no surprise – after twenty five years running high-end dive trips, and such a multi-dexterous team who work as if sharing a singular cerebellum- the Nautilus crew has the operation down to a fine art.
Once five o’clock comes around spirits are high as guests share close encounter stories and try to determine who has captured the most surreal of moments from the catalogue of photos and film from the combined hours below. Tonight there is also the added tension as we try to decide who is the winner of the “best shark tee-shirt” competition after a myriad style catwalk presentation has seen everybody strutting their stuff and flaunting their unadulterated love of the big fish. Indeed, these first two days have seen over half-a-dozen big ticks off personal bucket lists and the joy of being a part of such a positively charged group of individuals is contagious.
We laugh about our day over another delicious spread and glass of the 2012 Private Reserva Cab. Sav. Then prepare to wind things up after the sun dips behind mountainous surround on the top deck where the team manage to squeeze in one last surprise: an open air cinema of sun-lounges, rugs and cushions under a blanket of stars. And who would be surprised to find out the Mr Spielburg’s classic is on the cards this evening? Jaws and a cold cervesa…?
Sounds like the perfect end to another wonderful day in paradise.
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This post was written by Chef Liam