What does selling real estate have in common with owning and operating a 110’ dive boat?

Dora Sandoval: In her previous life, Dora was the broker of her own very successful real estate company in Phoenix. She helped hundreds of families create their American dream.

Rocio Del Mar and Quino el Guardian
Rocio Del Mar and Quino el Guardian
Dora Sandoval
Dora Sandoval

Dora made her acquaintance with the ocean in Acapulco, Mexico when she was 15 years old.  This was the first time she had ever set eyes on the sea and was captivated by its vastness. She couldn’t tell where the sea ended, and the sky began. She drank in the waves and experienced the salty mist on her face.  At that moment she knew where she belonged. While Dora always lived inland, 30 years later her dream of being part of the sea came true.  But she never could have possibly imagined the adventures that awaited her.

In 2005, Dora married Lolo, a captain of a commercial fishing vessel.  Prior to getting married, they decided to explore the Sea of Cortez in a 32’ cruiser.  They left from Puerto Peñasco and went south to the Midriff Islands.  Lolo was very familiar with these waters and Dora was captivated by the magnificence and remoteness of the islands. She felt like she had gone to the end of the earth where beauty beyond description was hidden: where the desert meets the sea.  The things they encountered on their three-week journey were dolphins as far as the eye could see, playful sea lions, pilot whales, humpback whales, blue fin whales, orca and sperm whales.  They saw flying mobula rays, blue and brown footed boobie birds, cormorants, frigate birds and the endemic yellow footed gulls. “Wow”, she would say again and again to Lolo.  “Why is no one else out here?  I can’t believe we have this paradise all to ourselves!”

Rocio Del Mar
Rocio Del Mar
Quino el Guardian
Quino el Guardian

When they returned, Dora could not get the image and experience out of her mind.  This is where her obsession began with figuring a way to bring the world to these majestic and secluded islands.  She felt like she had just come back from the last frontier.

Because of the distance, they knew that the only way to get out there was with a liveaboard dive boat.  Neither one of them had ever been on a liveaboard before however they were familiar with the concept.  They got to work and, after many obstacles, challenges, and road blocks, they built “Rocio del Mar”; naming the boat after their daughter, Rocio.

Rocio del Mar Crew in front of Roca Partida
Chef Joshua cooking on Rocio del Mar
México, Revillagigedo Islands, Quino El Guardian. Dr. James Ketchum explaining how to operate the  tags used for sharks, as well as graphic material for the citizen scientists program aboard Quino El Guardian. Photo by Christian Vizl

When they were finally ready to launch the boat in 2008, they found themselves  amidst one of the world’s largest financial crises.  However Dora, with her optimistic outlook, would constantly say, “Build it and they will come”.  And come they did.  It didn’t happen over-night, but now the Sea of Cortez is a destination that guests come back to time and time again.

In 2011 they added the Socorro Islands to their destinations.  People from all over the world travel with them to these incredible destinations in Mexico.  Dora says, “When I was a kid, I had dreams of traveling the world.  Now the world travels to me”!

Sailfin Signal Blenny (Emblemaria piratica) Photo By Pipat Kosumlaksamee
México, Revillagigedo Islands, San Benedicto. Half and half image of a silkie shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) and fishes, and San Benedicto Island with Liveaboard Quino el Guardian on top. Photo by Christian Vizl
México, Revillagigedo Islands, Socorro. A Manta birostris swimming on top of Cabo Pierce with a group of divers enjoying it´s presence.

Fast forward to 2014 and Rocio del Mar is a very successful diving liveaboard company.  An opportunity arose to get a second boat and with it the chance to focus on Dora’s passion – the sea and its inhabitants.  Her favorite trips on board Rocio were the ones in which scientists were doing research to help create protected areas.  With this new boat she could focus on scientific research and offer divers the chance to be a part of it through citizen science.   Divers love to learn and the more they know about the ocean, the more they will love it.  And people protect what they love.  In 2015, she launched Quino el Guardian.  Quino (Joaquin) is the name of her grandson so it was most appropriate to name the boat after him; Quino the Guardian.

Rocio del Mar and Quino el Guardian are liveaboard dive boats. But they are more than just that.  Ask any of the thousands of divers who have traveled with them as many come back again and again.  It’s the magic that is created when the destination, crew and service are combined.

When you travel with Rocio del Mar and Quino el Guardian you can expect to drift back often to the incredible and unrelenting memories that are created.  And it is these memories that can bring a person serenity even when sitting in a dentist chair or stuck in traffic.



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May 18, 2018 |

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