The 95 foot long Searcher has been operating natural history tours to Baja for over 30 years. It is a US Coast Guard SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and FCC (Federal Communications Commission) inspected and certified vessel. It carries two 475-horsepower Caterpillar diesel engines, two 60-kilowatt generators, and state-of-the-art electronics including GPS navigation and a satellite telephone. Searcher carries 1,500 gallons of fresh water and the ability to make fresh water during travel.
Searcher has 14 air-conditioned cabins--12 are double-occupancy and three are triple-occupancy--each with fresh-water sink, AC electrical outlets, reading lights and a mirror. Each cabin has sleeping bunks, storage shelves, and hammocks for gear storage. There are four bathrooms on the main deck, two with showers and two located near the observation deck in the stern. There are wildlife observation decks on the stern, upper deck, and in the bow area.
Searcher's library in the salon is available for all to use. We have books about Baja's whales and other marine mammals, plants, birds, travel narratives, fishes, checklists, and maps. There is seating for all at meals and the salon is also an indoor relaxation area.
Beverages and snacks are all included and are available 24 hours per day, in addition to the three meals each day. We can offer a wide variety of special request meals and diets with prior notice. Meals are typically made from fresh meats, fish, and produce purchased in the US. We sometimes buy fresh fish from fishermen friends in Baja to serve. Meals are generally low in fat and high in taste and measure.
RESERVATIONS & CANCELLATIONS: Reservations, cancellations, refunds and substitutions are all handled by Celia Condit at Searcher Natural History Tours (619) 226-2403. Policies are detailed below - please review them carefully prior to making your reservation. QUESTIONS: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Celia Condit at (619) 226-2403. SEARCHER is a spacious, luxurious 95-foot live-aboard with multiple birding observation decks. Trips are limited to 28 passengers and 4 leaders to ensure plenty of room. Guests enjoy 4 clean bathrooms, 2 hot showers and 14 air-conditioned cabins. Delicious meals, snacks and beverages are included. More information on Searcher.
PARKING: There is a large parking at Fisherman's Landing for $5 a day. If the onsite lot is full, you'll be directed to a lighted off-site parking lot about a block away. Allow plenty of time to find the landing, park, unload, transport gear, and board Searcher 60-90 minutes before scheduled departure. All trips depart on-time.
LODGING: Inexpensive San Diego lodging options FOOD, DRINKS, SNACKS, MEALS: Breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, snacks, dinners and beverages (including beer!) are included with your trip. There is no need to bring additional food or beverages, because the meals and snacks are delicious and plentiful. DAY OF DEPARTURE: Arrive at the landing an hour prior to scheduled departure to allow time to locate the landing, park, unload, transport gear, obtain a boarding pass, sign the manifest, use the landing's restroom and board. Boarding begins 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure. More tips and hints on our trip preparation page. OVERNIGHT TRIPS: Searcher's sleeping accomodations consist of shared cabins (2 or 3 guests to a cabin), each with a sink, private reading lights, storage area and air conditioning. Your bunk has a mattress, pillow with fresh pillowcase, sheets and blankets. blanket. LOGISTICS & BOAT QUESTIONS: Questions about the boat, the facilities, parking, reservations, cancellations, substitutions or weather should be directed to Celia at Searcher Natural History Tours.
BIRD QUESTIONS: If you have questions about expected species, consult our extensive SoCal Seabird Reference to get a good idea of what you may see and might see on this trip. If questions remain, email us at SoCalBirding or email one of the trip's leaders.
REFUND POLICY: All requests for refunds must be directed to Celia at Searcher Natural History Tours. CANCELLATIONS: When you reserve a space on a pelagic boat trip, a space is reserved and held specifically for you. Most birders reserve their spots well in advance, it is difficult to re-book spots without adequate notice. In the unlikely event that you do not attend the trip for any reason, please understand that there are no refunds. Travel insurance is strongly recommend if you have any cancellation concerns. If you have questions, contact Celia Condit. BACKUP WAITING LIST: When a trip is sold out, Celia will maintain a back up list. The fact that a trip is sold out and has a back up list is no guarantee that if you cancel 14, 10 or 3 (!!) days before the trip that you will receive a refund because many people on the waiting list have already made other plans when it's less than a week before a trip. Celia will use her best efforts to find you a replacement from the list.
SUBSTITUTIONS: If you find someone else to take your place, telephone Celia so she can make the name change for you free-of-charge anytime up to the day of the trip.
UNDER SUBSCRIPTION CANCELLATION: In the event that it appears unlikely that the trip will meet "break even" numbers, it may be cancelled. We do not take under-subscription cancellation lightly, as we are aware that many participants make travel plans well in advance. Both the Buena Vista and Los Angeles Audubon sometimes risk losing a nominal sum on a trip to take the chance that it will meet break even. If any trip regretfully cancels due to under-subscription, your entire trip fee will be refunded.
WEATHER CANCELLATION: All trips depart on time, even in rain, wind or small craft advisories. Weather rarely interferes with boats the size of Searcher, Grande and the Condor Express, and can even be quite productive for finding pterodroma petrels. A storm may blow through at any time of year. Trips always go out in rain, wind and choppy seas. We alter our course in winds and seas to make the trip as comfortable as possible for all passengers, which is why our itinerary is a flexible one. Participants fly in from all over North American to be on these trips, so cancelling and rescheduling for "next weekend" is not an option.
The very rare decision to cancel a trip due to extreme weather will made by the captain. This decision is normally made the morning of the trip, very rarely the evening before the trip, never sooner. In the highly unlikely event that a trip cancels due to weather, your entire trip fee will be refunded. If you have weather questions or concerns for this trip, telephone the landing the afternoon or evening before the trip at (619) 223-1627.
FUEL: Prices for this trip were calculated on fuel charges in December of 2008. In the event that fuel increases substantially there may be a small surcharge when boarding the boat, not to exceed $10 per person.
CANCELLATION AUTO-NOTIFICATION: You are encouraged to sign up for the Yahoo Group listserv SoCalPelagicBirding so that we can quickly notify you of any trip changes or updates.
Cook's Petrel (c) Todd McGrath
This site is owned and operated by the Buena Vista Audubon Society 2202 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA 92054 (c) 2007-2015 Buena Vista Audubon Society, Oceanside, California. All rights reserved. All photos copyrighted.