The Undersea Hunter Group’s newest boat is the Argo. She is the physical expression of all the knowledge they have gained from operating their vessels over the years, assembled into a singular, dive expedition cruiser.
Argo is a very intentional blend of work ship and luxury yacht. She was totally redesigned and refitted in 2008, to pamper up to 16 discriminating passengers in 8 spacious, well-appointed staterooms. A 130-foot vessel (40 meters) with full global reach, the Argo was also conceived to serve as the ultimate platform for a deep-diving submersible as well as for remote operating vehicle deployment (R.O.V.). She offers heavy lift capabilities, stability and ample deck space for any chore imaginable. Extended, multi-task cruises are her specialty and of course she is mothership to the remarkable DeepSee submersible.
Fourteen well-seasoned crew look after the ship, the projects and the guest’s every need. A comfortable and stylish lounge, dining area and sun deck comprise the social areas. The ambience is completed with original, undersea themed artwork throughout. The well-equipped galley enables the ship’s chefs to prepare fresh, international level, four-star cuisine for meal times or at the “drop of a hat”.
On board accessories consist of all standard diving gear including scuba, Nitrox, rebreather facilities and zero-speed stabilizers. Three, powerful, 24-foot skiffs serve as tender-boats, which perform submersible tracking duties, shepherding of divers to remote sites, ship-to-shore transfers and any other conceivable recreational or support related activities. All of our skiffs are powered by fumeless 4-cycle, 115 HP twin-outboard motors that can bring you rapidly to any dive site within an extended, safe radius of the mothership. They are further equipped with VHF radios, depth sounders and portable GPS. A T-Roof and rigid bow cover is also mounted on these vessels for your comfort.
Have you ever wondered what lies within the dark Abyss? Since the first deep ocean explorations, venturing to these depths was reserved for a very few privileged scientists and military personnel. Undersea Hunter are actively involved in extending that list of the fortunate few.
The DeepSee is a custom-build one-atmosphere submarine, capable of carrying a pilot and two passengers to a depth of 1,500 feet (450 meters). She is a flexible, capable and masterfully designed vehicle that can agilely operate throughout her range in comfort and safety.
The view from DeepSee’s acrylic sphere is unparalleled, with a 360-degree field of vision. The 4-inch thick acrylic sphere actually disappears when immersed, giving the astonishing sensation of total freedom.
We offer this singular experience to the world of the adventure traveler; a journey deep into the submerged realm where few have gone before.
What to Expect
Aquanauts begin with a short “training” session on the mothership. This consists of a general introduction to the DeepSee submersible, an all-important safety briefing and finally the parameters of the scheduled dive including position, depth, geology and expected species to be encountered. Of course, there can always be surprises where deep encounters are concerned. Each adventurer is then outfitted with a fresh, cotton one-piece jumpsuit and special footwear for the trip below.
The sub pilot and one or two passengers then board the submarine as it floats within the protective hull of the Argo. Boarding is as easy as simply stepping into the cockpit and requires no special coordination or skill.
The extreme depths they explore are a serious undertaking. The safe operation actually requires two pilots at all times: one for the sub and another aboard the dedicated support boat, TopSee. TopSee also carries an in-water specialist to assist with the sub’s final stage checklist just before decent. Surface to sub communication between the two vessels is maintained throughout the dive.
Regardless of the dive site, the DeepSee is always towed to the target area by the control skiff TopSee. The sub is given a final check of all systems both externally, by the dive technician in the water and aboard as the pilot completes his pre-dive procedures. Now situated above the dive target with all systems go, the sub is disconnected and she is free, using her own power to complete the dive.
During the dive, the control skiff is constantly monitoring, guiding, assisting and following the submersible, employing its high tech tracking and communication equipment throughout the duration of expedition.
You are welcome to bring your own still and video cameras onboard with you during your adventure. After the completion of the dive, passengers will also receive our souvenir DVD, a compilation of videos and images of prior encounters from some of DeepSee’s early dives.
Normally, the sub can perform two dives each day, one in the morning and another scheduled for the afternoon. A total of four passengers per day will have the opportunity for this once in a lifetime experience.
Located in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, 300 miles southwest of Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica, lies the renowned Cocos Island Marine Park. A rugged yet incredibly verdant island, this World Heritage Site is the spectacularly beautiful crown jewel of Costa Rica’s many National Parks. In 1994, after several return visits to the island, Jacques Cousteau pronounced Cocos, “The most beautiful island in the world.”
The island has an irregular coastline, which makes precise estimation of its land area more a matter of opinion than a surveyor’s science, but it is roughly five miles by two miles (8 x 3 kilometers).
Cocos Island was formed during a volcanic upheaval about two-and-a-half million years ago and is composed of basaltic rock, labradorite and andesite lava flows. Its landmass is punctuated by four mountain peaks, the highest of which is Cerro Iglesias, at 2,080 feet or 634 meters above the sea.
There are only two bays with safe anchorages and sandy beaches: Chatham is located on the northeast side and Wafer Bay is on the northwest. Just off Cocos are a series of smaller basaltic rocks and islets. The largest satellite is Isla Manuelita (formerly Nuez).
Among Cocos Island’s many attributes is a startling degree of biodiversity. This Island’s world-renowned waters explode with life, including innumerable white tip reef sharks, schooling hammerhead sharks, dolphins, mantas and marbled rays, giant moray eels, sailfish, and of course the occasional whale shark. Other common encounters are large schools of jacks and tuna, silky sharks, silver tip sharks, marlin, Creole fish, green turtles and octopus.
Cocos Island is also home to at least 27 endemic fish species including the exotic rosy-lipped batfish. The terrestrial life at Cocos also exhibits a high number of endemic species. Here are found some 70 of the 235 identified vascular plant species in the world, some 25 species of moss, 27 species of liverwort and 85 species of fungus. There are upwards of 87 bird species, including the famous Cocos Island cuckoo, finch and flycatcher. There are 362 species of insects, of which 64 are endemic. Two native reptiles are found only on the Island.
Beneath the waterfalls and in the rivers, are freshwater fish that mystify scientists by their very existence. Because of its remote location and abundance of fresh water, Cocos has, throughout history, been a favorite re-supply station for pirates, whalers and sailors.
Early visitors left pigs on the island as a self-perpetuating source of fresh meat. To this day feral pigs and deer abound, much to the detriment of the island’s indigenous ground-nesting birds. These animals, introduced by man, are also responsible for hastening soil erosion by their digging, which undermines and degrades the native vegetation.
Dive Experience for Cocos
Cocos Island presents the same diving challenges as any other Pacific, Indian or Red Sea diving location. Cocos, however, is not recommended for inexperienced divers because it is an open ocean destination that requires advanced open water diving skills.
Please note, the minimum required level of certification to dive at Cocos is Open Water with the additional Specialties of Deep & Night Diver. We also recommend having a minimum of 25 hours of diving experience.
Most dives are at depths deeper than 60 feet / 18 meters. At Cocos currents and visibility can be entirely different in just a few hours. Please note, the dive guide will always be the final authority as to whether a passenger can do any specific dive.
Most of the action is at 60-90 feet /18-27 meters, and most dives are between 60-130 feet / 18-40 meters. The safety limit is set at 130 feet / 40 meters and a dive computer is necessary. Visibility averages 60-100ft/18-30m.
Average temperature is 79 F to 84 F (26 C to 29 C), although it can be a few degrees lower under the occasional thermocline.
All divers must bring proof of certification by a national certifying agency. The certification must allow the diver to dive to the recreational dive limit of 130 feet (40 meters). The Dive Master will request to see your certification before you are allowed to dive. If you are certified for Nitrox and rebreathers as well, then remember to also bring those certifications.
To increase safety and bottom time while maintaining safe non-decompression dives the use of Nitrox is recommended. The vessel offers full onboard TDI training in Nitrox, with rental of Nitrox computers. Nitrox fills are free for Nitrox certified divers.
Please check directly with our office if you are bringing a rebreather with you. We can supply you with tanks, scrubber material and any further assistance you need, and can provide you with the costs of these items.
Please note, at this time we are no longer teaching the rebreather course and we do not have any units available to rent. Check for further rebreather information on this website at PRICES & SCHEDULES – Rental Gear
When all passengers are boarded, the vessel will take 32-36 hours to reach Cocos Island (check specific itinerary of Malpelo/Cocos trips for further details on those trips). Crossings are normally calm, but to prevent motion sickness we advise you to take the necessary precautions. At the conclusion of your trip, we will return to Puntarenas where a bus will be waiting to return you to your San Jose hotel.
Gear to Bring With You
You will need the following gear: 3-5 mm (1/8″ to 3/16″) wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel, regulator with visible pressure gauge, a mandatory dive computer, buoyancy compensator, depth gauge, dive gloves, weight belt (without weights), dive light, and dive watch. It is recommended that you mark each piece of gear with waterproof paint or tape. We suggest you put all or most of the above items in a carry-on bag. There is ample storage space for your diving equipment, including your own personal locker.
Equipment Provided Onboard
We provide you with weights for your weight belt: 2, 3, 4, and 6 lbs. (1, 1.5, 2 and 3 kilos). We also provide you with air or Nitrox tanks — 80 cubic ft. aluminum (12 liters).
Please note, our tanks are standard yoke (INT), not DIN. Please notify our offices in advance if you need an adaptor.
Rental Equipment Onboard
You can rent a complete line of ScubaPro dive gear: BCD, regulator, wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel, and Aladin Nitrox dive computers.
We have a limited supply of 15 Liter steel tanks. If you would like to rent one, make sure to reserve it well ahead of time.
Meals & Beverages
The menu aboard offers a delicious combination of American and local cuisine. Meals are varied and well balanced, and we also offer delicious snacks between dives. Food is abundant with plenty of fresh tropical fruit and salads and is served buffet style. Please let us know of any special dietary needs or requests, but try to be lenient, as storage and preparation space is limited.
Soft drinks: Free, Bottle of wine: $15 – $35. Hard liquor is not available on board but our guests are welcome to bring their own, which should be purchased prior to boarding.
We recommend casual and cool cotton attire while on board. Nights can be chilly and/or drizzly so bringing a sweater, light jacket or windbreaker is recommended. In San Jose dress is slightly more conservative, like long jeans and collared shirts. For women, we recommend holding off wearing shorts and beach type clothing till you are aboard the vessel. We suggest packing in a soft duffel bag for easy luggage storage. Booties or hiking shoes are recommended if you want to visit the island.
Visiting the Island
We will usually make one or two visits to the island itself during a trip.