A log of the adventures of the Rocio Del Mar Liveaboard and her guests
Monday, December 31, 2012
Trip Report, Rocio del Mar, Socorro, 10-19 Dec, 2012
Just returned from an amazing trip to the Socorro islands, knowing that I will go back as soon as possible. I LOVED it!
We didn't have great weather conditions (very windy, squall at Roca Partida etc), which meant we were somewhat limited in the dive sites. Also the lack of sun was a shame, particularly for the photographers. However, we still had a fantastic experience.
Lolo and Dora, the owners, built the boat from scratch to be a Liveaboard dive boat, it is not a converted fishing boat. The Rocio Del Mar is built like a fishing boat, with stabilizers on each side, which make for a much smoother crossing out to the islands, plus less rocking at night. This was a real bonus with the weather and seas we had during our trip.
I would, however, recommend you to definitely bring sea sickness tablets, even if you don't usually get sea sick. Sometimes the crossings can be really rough. I have never been seasick before, but really got knocked out for a few days, on the back of some bad tacos I ate before going on board! Some of the other seasoned Liveaboard divers also got seasick... you are out in the middle of the Pacific and there can be some big swell out there.
The bedrooms are on deck and upper deck levels. The ones towards the front of the boat are furthest from the engine room, so quieter. The rooms are quite nice and practical, they are not luxurious. Some people felt the mattresses were too thin, and the taller guys thought the beds were too small and too short, but I was fine with my bed. The doors could do with some stoppers, to stop nightly banging against walls! The showers are well tiled and have really hot water, which is great after the last dive! Shower gel and shampoo is provided. The kitchen and dining area are below deck and extremely spacious.
The dive deck is relatively spacious, with plenty of room to stow all your gear. Unless perhaps you are a professional photographer, when you can never have enough room! Rocio has two compressors which are located on the sun deck, so do not take up room on the dive deck. You have plenty of room to hang wetsuits to dry between dives, as the engine room is below the dive deck the deck is warm and the suits dry pretty fast.
The crew are all incredibly kind, helpful and fun. Most of them were involved in building the boat together with the owners, so they know it inside out and clearly feel a sense of ownership. They do their utmost to make you enjoy your trip.
Rey, who we named King Rey of the Socorros, was our dive guide and an amazing cruise director. He knows the islands like the back of his hands, as he has worked here for over 15 years. He is an eloquent, knowledgeable and fun dive leader and always kept a great atmosphere on board. Mayo and Pablo, the other dive guides, could always be seen smiling, happy, conversing with guests.
One thing is for sure, you will never go hungry on this boat. Pancho, the chef, was an amazing cook and created delicious and plentiful food, which always arrived beautifully presented. The food was generally international, however we did have some great Mexican food too. I loved the fact they provided mini chocolate bars after lunch like snickers, Reese's peanut butter cups etc. All soft drinks, beer and wine are included in the trip cost. If you wish to bring a bottle of alcohol with you, you may, you will not be charged corkage. They even provided a bottle of very nice tequila after the last day diving, though as only 3 of us were drinking it, perhaps we should have spread it over a few more days!!
All the guys worked so hard every day, carrying our stuff around and then finally working in the dining room. Julio and Everado, the panga team, were always right there when we came up from a dive. They also regularly rounded up the dolphins for us, so we got to see them under water.
The owners, Dora and Lolo, were also on board on our trip. Dora is an amazing hostess, who makes everyone welcome and infects them with her love of the boat, the islands and the diving. Together they have created such a happy, friendly environment and you can feel the joy they get from that. They clearly treat their staff with respect, or it would not be possible to create such an on board atmosphere.
The guests on my trip were made up of 5 professional photographers, a professional videographer, a whale shark researcher, several people from the World Wildlife Fund and otherwise experienced recreational divers. We were treated to several presentations of amazing images and breathtaking footage during the trip, which was wonderful. You can imagine, there was a lot of fighting for space on the camera table! The diving in Socorro is definitely more strenuous and advanced than a Caribbean Liveaboard, which is why most of the people on board were pretty experienced divers.
We started the diving at San Benedicto with Galapagos, Tiger, Silver Tip, Hammerhead and white tip sharks and dolphins. Diving doesn't get much better than that! There are many rocky formations and mounds housing a great deal of fish and marine life. The water was 28 degrees centigrade (around 80-82 Fahrenheit), so we were diving in 3mm, some crazy people were even in shorties! Obviously the temperature drops significantly aftr December, so you would probably need a 5mm in Feb- May. The viz was around 10m - 15m (30 -40 feet) on average, some times better, only one time worse. We had a few days with strong currents on some dives, but nothing too bad and all of which can be easily handled by a reasonable diver with a basic level of fitness. I have experienced far stronger currents in other places, however this obviously can change with the tides, etc.
We moved out overnight to Roca Partida hoping for whale sharks, however they were sadly not obliging. We did have schooling hammers though, to make up for it. We dived the same spot all day because of the weather conditions. When a squall came onto the horizon, we had to beat a hasty retreat back to Socorro to avoid getting caught in a Dorito.
At Socorro we had a few days diving non-stop with mantas, which were up to 7m wingspan. On one dive we had 7 mantas and a school of dolphins, which seemed to love our company. These dives were quite spectacular. We had obviously had our fill though by the end of the second day, when our group started taking off their fins and moonwalking on the sandy bottom, or dancing Gangnam Style!
The last day diving was back at San Benedicto. This rocky, volcanic island is such an unusual and iconic image, it is beautiful. We were hoping to do the Boiler site, but again the weather didn't permit, so we did all 4 dives at the Canyon. A few hammers appeared and a manta, but other than that we had to make do with the fish life.
I know most people experience far more sharks, whales etc at Socorro. We saw a huge amount of big animals, but probably due to the weather, not quite as many as there would be a potential for. But that isn't a bad thing... it just makes you want to come back again!
I have been on several liveaboards, but I think I enjoyed this one the most. I liked my dive companions, the crew and I loved the huge variety of big animals. I have been on far prettier and roomier boats, but the Rocio has an amazing atmosphere, which is special to Rocio Del Mar and anyway, the islands and the dives are pretty! I cannot say enough good things about the team on board. I will do this trip again and would also like to do the Sea of Cortez on the Rocio Del Mar. If you are planning to go to Socorro, I can highly recommend picking the Rocio del Mar as your Liveaboard, you will have a fantastic time!