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October 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Rocio del Mar, Sea of Cortés, Mexico

sturdy, functional boat in remote, fish-filled waters

from the October, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

We all know about the power of the San Andreas Fault. Several million years ago, its shearing forces created the Gulf of California, a.k.a. the Sea of Cortés. Like the Red Sea, a creation of the Africa's great Rift Valley, the Sea of Cortés is a geologic wonder, filled with endemic animals. Though around a million people live in Baja California, diving the waters of the northern Sea of Cortés feels remote from civilization. While diving around the Midriff Islands in August aboard the Rocio del Mar, I was awestruck by the beautiful desolation.

Rocio del MarRocio del Mar, Spanish for "sea mist," carries 20 divers and almost as many crewmembers. Her captain, the aptly named Rey ("king"), varies the itinerary as dictated by weather and diving conditions, and will change sites if divers express strong wishes. She plies the waters from the southern Socorro Islands in the Pacific to far north in the Sea of Cortés, depending on the season. The diving varies wildly, from pea-soup visibility, cold upwelllings and currents, to warm, clear water, caused by the massive tides and river sediment in the northern Gulf (where the Colorado River deposited silt for millions of years), and currents mixing with the Pacific Ocean farther south. The northern Sea of Cortés trips depart from Puerto Penasco, about an hour drive from the Arizona border town of Lukeville, in the Sonoran Desert, a four-hour drive from Phoenix's airport.

This is a dive trip for the prepared diver. The boat is sturdy and functional, not glamorous. The large galley and crew quarters are on the lower deck; on the next level, the smallish dive deck holds eight double cabins forward; the third deck includes a salon, covered relaxation area and two slightly larger cabins; and the top deck houses the compressors, sun deck and a table where the crew sets up barbeques. Two massive stabilizers swing out from the sides as she enters open water. Cabins are quite small and short on storage (netting or extra shelving and hooks would be helpful) but sport comfortable new memory-foam mattresses. Ensuite bathrooms are basic and also short on amenities (mine had no rack or storage in the shower). While the water is hot, there are never enough towels (each diver is provided one bath towel and one washcloth). I was glad I brought a stack of microfiber utility towels from Costco to augment the supply. Consider bringing a hair dryer and lots of shampoo,because neither is provided. The current is 110 volts, and an 800-watt dryer did not seem to tax the system....

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