My second trip to Cocos Island with Eve was in February 2003, this time aboard MV Sea Hunter, which had been block-booked by Maldives Scuba Tours of the UK. With one exception all the divers aboard were English including two who lived near us in the UK, Hilary "Sulky Maud" Hickmott and Jon "Don't Call Me Jonathan" Clark. Also aboard were Graeme Hastings,
my regular UK dive buddy and Steve Westall who Eve and I had first met on our 2001 Cocos trip.
Cocos has only two seasons: The Wet Season and the so-called Dry Season. The driest months tend to be February and March when usually the sea is calmer, the currents milder and there is a better chance of a comfortable crossing from Puntarenas. Hammerheads are still be present but in all probability in lesser numbers than during the Wet Season. The weather in February 2003 was indeed very different from May 2001. The sea was calm and the days sunny and warm. And yes, unfortunately there were less hammerheads to see. There were no schools of hammerheads, just solitary hammerheads. Nor did I see any manta rays this time. However there was still plenty of other sealife including numerous whitetip reef sharks, silvertips, blacktips, eagle rays, marbled rays, turtles and wahoo.
Poor Graeme was badly bitten by mosquitoes. Legend has it that the huge mass of revolting spots that then appeared on his face were as a consequence of his visit to the Hotel Del Ray, Costa Rica's infamous brothel in San Jose but I believe Graeme when he says that he thinks that they were in fact caused by mosquitos. And that he only quickly drove by the Hotel Del Ray.
Predictably Graeme immediately became known as “Spotty” - a nickname that was to endure long after his spots had disappeared. Fortunately for Spotty, Brenda Berlin was aboard to comfort him.- although this did not relieve his spots.
Divemasters Mario Arrayo and Miguel Sanchez were unfailingly helpful throughout the trip, as was Captain Roger Eliasson and all of his Sea Hunter crew. The food and its presentation were also excellent and the Sea Hunter proved to be both spacious and comfortable. As we sailed back to Puntarenas thinking that all the excitement was over, the Sea Hunter was surrounded by numerous pilot whales as well as dolphins. We had had such a good time that as soon as we arrived back in the UK Eve and I booked a return trip in February 2004.