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Rocio del Mar, Explore Baja Trip Report-October 5-17.

Discussion in 'Mexico' started by peeweediver, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. peeweediver

    peeweediver Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Chicago area
    Our LDS group of 18 just returned from a 13 day trip throughout the Sea of Cortez on the Rocio del Mar. Here is my humble review, in essence a great trip with great crew on a bit of a worn boat.

    The Boat: Starting with our cabin, we had a room with a queen bed that angles at the end. Fine for us short folks but if both people are over 5'7, the shorter side might be a problem. Quite comfortable room. The bathroom functions fine but is worn and in need of rehab. The sink was coming off the wall and vanity and the calking holding the seal had come apart. Some rust spots and a missing piece of the counter top need fixing. AC broke on day 7 and the engineer came five times trying to fix it, which he couldn't but he installed a fan to help. Unfortunately, the fan was so noisy we couldn't use it. We survived using the fan part of the AC and the crew did everything they could and more to help. Dining area was the hardest to deal with for those of us older folks with sensitive ears. Though they have installed some sound baffling, it is just way to noisy when full, so the goal is to eat and leave as soon as you are finished or suffer the pain of way too much noise. You could only talk to the person next to you if you wanted to hear anything. As a group, we love relaxing over a meal and talking diving, but it was just too hard. Dive deck was good and easy for us. Half of the stations are stand-up stations and that was unusual, but seemed to work fine, though the stations against the side of the boat are tight. Camera table was ok for our group, but I wonder if more than 7 people had big set-ups and another 10 had cameras whether it would work. Plenty of charger slots and it worked for us. Dive platform is great with suit rinsing tank and two showers. Very easy panga boarding. Lounge room is too dark to hang out in, but lounge area outside that area and sun deck were nice for hanging out. Compressor went out twice so we missed one dive and were very delayed on another one.
    Diving: 3-4 dives per day. Crew takes your fins and camera to the panga (three groups of 7 or 6 per group and two pangas, so third group goes when first panga comes back from dropping off first group). You just walk down 5 steps to the platform from the dive deck with your BCD/tank on and they help you board the panga. Crew is very helpful and always on top of things. They change order of group departures (10-15 minutes apart) everyday, so everyone goes first a few times a trip. DMs were great. Very open to discussion about preferences, current issues, etc. Panga pick up is easy: you hand up camera, then weight pockets then BCD and lastly fins before coming up a very secure ladder. Good, solid pangas. Dives were almost all 60 minutes except Cabo Pulmo where the park limits you to 50 minutes.
    What we saw: South we saw Bull sharks and hammerheads and a very interesting modular ray night dive. If you have lights on with you, they can smack into you. The La Paz and Loreto area were the best conditions in terms of water temp, visibility, and ease of diving. North ended up with cold upwells, 70-72 degrees, and some very bad viz dives (less than 10 feet). Better for muck diving and the amazing signal bennies, giant jawfish, orange-throated bennies were so much fun to see. A few of the northern dives were just very cold with no viz and no macro, so we ended those after 40 minutes. The three highlights of under water viewing: Sea Lions, we never had dove with them and the size and friendliness of the colonies was just incredible for us. What a fun experience. Sardine schools that blotted out the sun. We dove with sardines in the Philippines and this eclipsed that experience, especially when the sea lions were zipping through the sardines. Lastly, the underwater topography. Sometimes it seems like we were hiking in the mountains underwater. Very cool. All in all, a varied diving experience that delivered what we hoped it would in terms of experience. Oh yeah, whale sharks. Great expense with limits on the number of boats and snorkelers on a whaleshark.
    Food: A menu for each meal. Vegetarians were accommodated and you could ask for something not on the menu and they always tried to meet our needs. Amazing soups! Everyone in our group was satisfied and more with the chef.
    Crew: I've read on Scubaboard, everyone says the crew is great so it has no meaning. Yes, they were great, but the sum of the parts was even better than the individuals. They are a great team and all of us could feel that they loved working together and helping us. We give Dora the owner credit for building the team feeling. For me, I got a very rough stomach flu that forced me to basically hug the toilet for 24 hours while my wife dived. The crew asked my wife constantly how I was doing and what could they do to help. They did not shy away from cleaning the bathroom when I didn't quite make it. They also brought me an electrolyte drink when I could handle it and it really helped. Very, very good feelings from our whole group about this crew.
    In wrap up, I really recommend this trip for the variation of diving, sights, and even conditions. The ship is not due to hit dry dock until next June and I don't know what will be done. It's easy for me to say that a pretty substantial overhaul is needed because it's not my money. It does need it, though. However, the boat is clean and kept clean and the price of the trip for 11 days of diving is a bargain. I know this trip is sold for the next three years because it's only done 3 times a year. The groups that booked it then sell spots so the website directs you to contact them. It's worth it. A couple picks to peruse. I'm not a great photographer and have a simple point and shoot, so no judging.


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  2. beaverdivers

    beaverdivers ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Thanks for your detailed report. I am glad to hear the crew is as sound as ever.
  3. large_diver

    large_diver Loggerhead Turtle

    Great trip report - thanks for all the details. I will be on the Rocio in December (Socorro), so really appreciate all the details :)
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    Thanks for the good ‘warts and all’ review. I read trip reports of the Baja area but usually land-based. 3-4 Dives/day answers my main question. Wonder how many dives totaled offered for the trip? Especially on a live-aboard trip where topside attractions are limited, that’s a big part of accessing desirability.

  5. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    You got some pretty nice shots with that camera of yours!
  6. peeweediver

    peeweediver Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Chicago area
    Thanks, Chilly. Once in a while, I surpise myself.
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  7. peeweediver

    peeweediver Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Chicago area
    Richard, we did 31 dives, but lost two due to compressor issues. So, 33 would have been the itinerary. We did do one afternoon of hiking and one late afternoon/dinner in Loreto.
    drrich2 likes this.

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