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Dive Review of The New Beginning in
Mexico (Western)/La Paz - Sea of Cortez

The New Beginning, Oct, 2002,

by Rich Goldman, NY, USA . Report 357.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Sea of Cortez, Maldives, Cocos Island, Socorro Island, E. Africa, Toboago, Cayman, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Cozumel, Bahamas
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 78 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Stay above 130 feet; no deco; all depths, times, and remianing air were checked after each dive -- limits not strictly enforced, but highly encouraged

Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments I used videography. There is no E-6 prcoessing aboard. There is a garbage can of fresh water for cameras, but other than that, there is no other special accomodations for cameras. The back deck dive table or salon coffee table serves as the camera check/maintenance area; there are plenty of american-style outlets for battery recharging

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This wonderful, small live-aboard must be included in the Undercurrent Chapbook. "The New Beginning" is a 60-foot Lien Hwa Motor Yacht with an 18-foot beam. The two best things about it are the size of its charters -- it takes only 6 passengers, and the spectacular dive sites it visits in the lower Sea of Cortez (it departs out of La Paz). With a full charter of six people, the 60-foot yacht is not overly spacious -- the rooms are small and the back deck (for both relaxing and gearing up) is not excessively roomy, but the boat is by no means cramped, and certainly not uncomfortable. Showers are shared -- perhaps 3 or 4 people to a shower, but the water is hot, and with so few people aboard there is hardly any overlap. There is a sun deck upstairs, and there is plenty of room at the bow (where I spent most days scanning the sea surface for marine life). While the boat is advertised as being fully air-conditioned, the A.C. was only run in the rooms at night, and is hardly cold. Small, individual room fans help a bit, but I'm a big A.C. fan and would have preferred a consistently cool salon and rooms. However, it was never sweltering and did not approach being unbearable.

The boat is run and operated by Nancy Tomlinson (Captain & dive guide) and her husband Darrell (Dive Guide and everything else). They had another man aboard (a very friendly and helpful local) to help with the cleaning, cooking, etc. They are a very engaging, professional couple who know the fabulous dive sites well, and are wonderfully eager to tailor the itinerary to the guests desires. There is a compressor aboard, and tanks were always filled and ready to go. We did 3 or 4 dives a day, which included a few excellent night dives.

Nancy also served as the cook -- while her food was not served in copious amounts, it was tasty and sufficient. Those of us spoiled by the plentiful food and snacks on the high-end liveaboards might be a bit disappointed. This is one of the few areas that could be improved upon in order to make the New Beginning a truly exceptional dive boat, which it is in other ways. Most importantly, there was plenty of coffee abaord!

Despite some of the above-mentioned drawbacks, the vessel is a fantastic way to experience a dive trip. It's small group size allows for easliy-arranged private charters, an intimate top-side experience, and a guaranteed no-crowd underwater situation. The New Beginning ventures to all the world-class dive spots out of La Paz: La Reina - where close-up encounters with giant Pacific Manta Rays are almost a guarantee this time of year; El Bajo - where we saw medium-size hammerhead schools on 2 out of 3 dives; Las Islotes and Sea Lion Rock -- home to frolicking sea lion adults and pups; and Las Animas -- a glorious spot teeming with fish life, and where a host of pelagics can be seen. Immense schools of Dolphin (both bottlenose and common) were frequently spotted, and rode the bow of the boat on numerous occasions. We also reportedly just missed seeing a school of Orca and a whale shark at El Bajo. There is no end to the abundance and diversity of the marine life here. While this area of the Sea of Cortez seems to have been recently discovered by the Japanese, it is still relatively undived. It is absolutely one of the best dive areas I've ever experienced and is world-class diving in every way.

Nancy and Darrell are so eager to please, they once dropped us off in the middle of the sea, picked up a school of dolphin at their bow, and ran the boat right by us so we could see (and photograph) the dolphin from underwater. They would drop us off and pick us up in their zodiac when the New Beginning couldn't anchor close enough to a given site; and as mentioned, they encouraged itinerary feedback so as to cater the dive trip to their guests desires.

I have dived this part of the Sea of Cortez numerous times, from liveaboard and from shore, and the New Beginning is by far the best way to dive this area -- i can't wait to come back aboard and have another incredible Sea of Cortez experience!


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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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