Rocio Del Mar Nov 11, 2011 From Warren Sims @ Scuba Travel Ventures
The Rocio Del Mar is a beautiful boat in the Sea of Cortez that also has a trip to the Revillagigedos Archipelago, also known as the “Socorro Islands”. I have known of this boat for a couple of years and always wanted to do a live-a-board on it. Well that time has arrived and Barb and I were as ready as we were going to get. Neither of us has had a vacation in a while and we were really ready to get wet and now that time has come. Ready or not, Rocio Del Mar, we were on our way!
Finally we arrived to the docks where the Rocia Del Mar was docked. In front of it was a giant yacht with a helicopter on it. Of course I knew this was not our boat but it is ok to wish. But there in its entire splendor was the Rocio Del Mar. She was beautiful. It was soothing to see the dark hull with the name on its bow. The crew was there to assist us immediately and we were greeted by the ship’s Captain, Rey. We then met Claudio and he helped us get our gear ready. The ship has a great prep area for diving. The tanks are high so that you only have to back into them standing up. What a great way to put on and take off your BCD with the tank. We were given specific station numbers, mine was 13 and Barbs was 14. Right next to each other and there was plenty of space to put away your fins, mask, and other diving necessities.
I want to thank everyone from the Rocio Del Mar. I had a wonderful time and highly recommend this live-a-board. I cannot wait to be on it soon in the Sea of Cortez!
Our boatload of pros, and my dive buddies, underwater digital artiste Tom Radio and Vickie, the ice-bunny
So they mostly averaged thousands of dives. But they were all still as slackjawed as I was with the diving at the Revillagegedos Archipelego. If you can't pronounce it like the Mexican crew, you say "Socorros".
The liveaboards that go to the Socorros Islands start their season around November and end about April. The Socorros is way out - 24 hours motoring from Cabo San Lucas. The local diveshops operating out of Cabo can't bring you out. A liveaboard is the deal, and there are only a handful that do it.
Big critters traverse that part of the Pacific. Manta season was in full swing in November when I got there, and later in the season, whales go by. Most of the diving takes place off desolate rocks - The Boiler and Roca Perdita both pinnacled out of the fathoms with walls that gave underwater vertigo. Which is what makes the diving spectacular.
The Boiler and Roca Perdita
Actually, the one dud day of diving we had was at Socorros Island itself. Brooding grey rainclouds and surgy conditions made vis pretty awful in the morning dive. The navy then boarded our boat for "paperwork" and after an enforced surface interval of 5 hours, our afternoon dive was pretty murky.
But The Boiler! Roca Perdita! I uploaded the video on the website home page. All that was at The Boiler. Roca Perdita was a different kettle of fish, literally. It was fish soup.
And the dolphins were there too...
Ask a boatload of pros who have dived everywhere in the world whether they've ever played with dolphins underwater, and they all say no. Don't get me wrong, we see them chasing the prow of boats and they are all real puppy friendly UNTIL you hurry on those fins and jump in. They're gone. The only time I ever saw a pod while diving (Maldives), it was still on the surface. Our dive leader got so excited he forgot about "ascend no faster than 18 meters a minute". Still, from below, I could see he risked DCS for a merest, fleeting encounter with dolphin foam. The ones in Mexico actually sought you out and hung around you during the dive. Maybe they were casing us out for a date. Having watched my footage on dolphins mating, I Youtubed dolphin porn and....they do like group sex. Especially in aquariums, with granny and junior gaping on.
Back to the mantas. The remoras hanging out with the giants were, themselves, pretty gigantic.
They also cause gigantic scabs on the poor manta. My buddy Tom Radio's fantabuloustic camera captured the sores that even Tom himself didn't see when he was up close.
Relive these memories, watch the video clip on the home page. Be glad I didn't set the music to Hotel California.
The Rocio Del Mar (Mist of the Sea) is a beautiful and well equipped custom built boat designed by divers. Upon boarding, it was immediately apparent that the owners; Captain Lolo and Dora Sandoval, run a tight ship focusing on the safety, comfort, and well-being of their customers.Thank you all for your kind words.
Every diver was issued a submersible GPS device (Nautilus Lifeline) which could be used to hail the boat in an emergency situation. The device was also capable of summoning the Mexican navy, and in a dire emergency, the US Coast Guard. This was a very nice thing to have considering the swift currents and challenging dive conditions encountered in the Revillagigedos Archipelago (Socorro Islands). This was well above and beyond my expectations of any dive boat.
The Crew was amazing. I’m not good with names so I wont name anyone specifically because I don’t want to leave anyone out. These folks worked very hard to make everyone’s vacation easy and enjoyable. During the day, they worked the dive operations and/or cleaning the boat, and at meal times they worked the kitchen/dining room etc. They also assisted with luggage and anything else they could find to do to help you with.
The Food was very well prepared and plentiful. Each day started out with a continental breakfast before the first dive. Then after the first dive, we ate another breakfast usually consisting of eggs prepared to order or oatmeal, french toast or pancakes, along with the usual breakfast fixings. Then after a couple more dives with snacks in between, we had a late lunch, and then another dive before dinner. Lunches and dinners varied from American to Mexican cuisine. The food was very tasty and well presented. As you can see, we were very well fed.
The diving was absolutely incredible. There were some currents and upwelling to deal with but it was well worth the effort. I did 19 out of 21 dives.
The highlights for me were the Manta Rays. We had so many encounters that I couldn‘t keep track of them anymore. It was absolutely an amazing experience to swim so close to them. At one point I was ascending and a manta was descending and we met in the middle. I put my hand out to avoid a collision and rubbed my hand down most of the length of her underside as she swam by. It was an incredible experience. If felt like slimy burlap. She quivered a little and swam on. According to one of the behavioral experts on the boat, she enjoyed the experience as much as I did.
There were also dolphins, sharks, and many other species of fish, some indigenous to the area. As far as shark species, we saw White tips, Grey Tips, Galapagos, Silky, Hammerheads. Others on the boat also encountered Tigers and there was even a Whale shark encounter.
The dives at San Benedicto and Socorro were made from the boat. Those at Roca Partida were made from inflatables. On all dives, there were two inflatables on the water at all times to pick up divers so if the current changed, or you just didn’t want to swim back to the boat, an inflatable would come by and pick you up.
We were very fortunate regarding the company on the boat. Unbeknown to us, many of the other passengers where very experienced and well-known photo and video experts. It was truly a learning experience and an honor to be with people of that caliber. They were all down to earth. It was very enjoyable to hear them tell stories of their experiences.
Overall this was the best dive trip I’ve ever been on and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for large pelagic encounters. The photo opportunities are endless. Here are about 300 of my favorites:
The Rocio del Mar Crew.