Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sea of Cortez August 23 - 30th

August 23 – 30th, 2014 Sea of Cortez.

This charter was full of photographers!  We had the privilege of having a very well published and incredible photographer on board to run the show.  Todd Winner has been diving and photographing marine life since 1990.  As a professional underwater photographer and cinematographer, his work has appeared in commercials, museums and private collections.   Todd is a regular contributor to Sport Diver and Scuba Diving magazines and has won over 60 international underwater photography competitions.  Most importantly he is a repeat and regular diver with Rocio Del Mar.

In addition to having our photo workshop we welcomed many repeat passengers back on board and a group of new friends as well. 

Once on board dive stations were set up and the camera table was overloaded. We were ready to set   sail.  Waking to a comprehensive dive briefing and then off to our first dive site La Muela.  Divers quickly worked out any kinks with the help of our dive masters and then we were destined for a spectacular trip.  

On day two we had great water and great viz and a great dive site.  We began the morning at Andrea’s Eagle.  One of my all time favorites!  We hit a little current and were zipped down with the beautiful wall on our right filled with gorgonians, jeweled eels, nudibranchs, Cortez and Queen Angels and fields of black corral and giant sea bass on our right.  Once we made the corner we were protected from the current and spent the remainder of the dive with free swimming octopus and sea horses a plenty!  We loved the site so much we spent most of the day there.  On the other side of the pinnacle is sand.  We had so much fun with the giant jawfish and their big bulging eyes and impeccably kept houses of sea shells.  We watched the blue spotted jawfish darting in and out of their holes and the orange throat blennies with their amazing mating dance. 

After 3 dives we went back to La Muela for a night dive.  I have dove this site so many times but never at night.  I was in for a treat.  The water was warm and the current, nonexistent.  I had a goal – to see the basket stars open at night.  I first found a nudibranch and then a zebra worm and a crazy crab covered in leaves eating all of the little bits of nutrients in the water.  Then I came upon the Basket Star!  It was open but as soon as I would shine my light on it, it would begin to close.  Fortunately, one of my wonderful photographer friends had a red light on his camera and was able to light it up without disturbing it.  It was very cool to watch the twisty arms moving in the darkness. 

We ran into some weather on this trip and spent another day at Angel de la Guarda.  We were diving Lolo’s Cove and there was a pod of dolphins, small, maybe 6 -10 just cruising around the boat.  They stayed there for hours.  We were off to our next dive and we could see darkness in the sky.  We fell into the water and I, with some new found camera skills, was having an excellent time.  All of a sudden the engines were revving.  It was our emergency recall.  Our dive master Bob DeFeo quickly rounded us up and began our accent.  The water was a little rough and we needed to move Rocio to a safer place to anchor quickly.  We boarded the panga and what did we see?  … The dolphins!  They followed us back to the boat and stayed until we boarded, then did the same with our other panga.  Once we were moved to a safe place to anchor they were gone.

We then headed to San Pedro Martir.  I couldn't believe it!  The dives were spectacular.  We saw so many turtles and Mobula Rays.  The Mobula were jumping out of the water and we saw schools of them swimming over us at least six times in one dive.  We had 90 foot of viz at Moro 1 and 2 and a wonderfully fun current dive at Ravijunco.  We had a fabulous dive at Moro1 beginning with turtles and mobula rays, then a little fun in some current with the sea lions.  We then headed around the back side and found a bait ball up above us.  We sat and watched the sea lions in the bait ball it was mesmerizing.  Then the sea lions came down to play with us.  We ended the dive with another sea turtle.  We all surfaced having experienced something very special together.  It was one of those “WOW’ moments that bonds divers together. 

The last day is always very special on Rocio.  It is Whale Shark Day.  It didn’t take long and we had found them.  Our panga diver dropped four of our snorkelers into the water at a time and we had the most stagnate whale shark I’ve ever seen.  Our snorkelers were swimming circles around it.  Bob and I found this unacceptable.  After a good 30 – 40 minutes we designated this whale shark a good candidate for the silver boat and took off to find us a big one – one that makes you work for it.  That we did.  We were dropping passengers off with their own whale sharks and they were swimming off all Poncho’s good cooking.  We had snorkelers strung all over the Bay of LA.  After everyone had their fill and were tired and bloated from swallowing sea water.  I took my turn.  I had a big one and he was moving fast.  After a few minutes though he slowed down and I saw that we had lost the rest of the snorkelers.  We swam comfortably together for some time.  It was so peaceful and we were getting more and more shallow.  I could see our shadows together on the white sand below us with only the sound of my breathing and a feeling of bliss surrounding us. 

On board we had fantastic meals, thank you Poncho for the extra four pounds.  Celebrated a silver birthday - as we liked to call it.  Happy Birthday again Nick.  Had gourmet coffee provided by Patty from a French press.  Had photo workshops every day after lunch – courtesy of Todd Winner.  Laid on the deck and watched shooting stars every night.  We all enjoyed our roof top Carne Asada dinner and had some laughs after dinner watching the week’s photo slideshow. 

It was finally time to come home – but not before seeing a pod of dolphins and pilot whales which swam with us for at least an hour.  Not a bad bon voyage!