BN: Like many here = been there & done that ....so some lessons learned may help You.
I now start with Airfare & flight schedules.........I used to start with the boat.
My most recent trip to Antigua worked out great from a planning standpoint & airfare cost. I narrowed down my airfare/flights way before 21 days (usually drop dead for better fares), then I put the boat on hold with the charter co (friday hold gave me the whole weekend) .....then booked the airfare/flights I wanted with crew.......once confirmed on line, I reserved the boat Monday am.
Since You are looking for next Feb, you will have plenty of time to narrow down the airline(s) & flight times you want to fly........then sign up for that airline's e-mail updates/FF plan so You get notified of special fares which are often discounted before the next season to get the ball rolling.
Flight routes are key too.....ie; can you avoid Mexico city?, or other places that seem to irritate people or are known for delays ie; SJU, MIA.
Location - I've never been to Sea of Cortez but have been to BVI 2x & agree it is a very good cruising ground
Sailing Magazine did a 4-6 page article on Cortez Sailing - 4/07
Cruising World article - Cruising World - A Landscape Between Mars and Midnight
Boat Cost - I just looked at a Moorings price list - very close between the two.....Compared 36'/40' monohulls ..Exclusive(newest) / Club (3-5yrs old)
for Feb..........these prices are per day were published in 1/07.
Cortez - $635/$705................$575/$650
BVI - $565/$745..................$540/$675
You can also stick close to charter co web site or sign up for e-mails, etc just in case they offer any deals or discounts.
Speaking of discounts, a 2 week charter should help you negotiate one since the company does not have to "turn the boat around" after the normal week long charter.
BVI does has a wide array of charter companies to choose from.
Sailonline is a great resource & chance to buy owner's time.
- I disagree with JB when it comes to small crews.....it does not take me 1-2 days to provision my boat....more like 1-2 hrs. Larger crews make it tougher & often buying
provision plan from charter co makes sense...........just depends on your cruising style ie; dinners ashore vs cooking
on board everynight..........or cost of meals
in a location.....local (not tourist) restaurants are supposed to be inexpensive
In Mast Furling
- could not agree more with JB on this one - run don't walk away from them
Good Luck on your 1st voyage