Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baja Niña Reflections

Whenever we landed at a spot where other people were I got the question: "How did I get so lucky guiding a group of only women?" I never found any prompt answer at the time, but looking back at the pictures that 'the girls' made of me, now I think I should have answered: "Because of my yellow clogs !"
My second time guiding in Parque Nacional de Bahia Loreto was planned as a thirteen-day trip linking the islands of Coronados, Carmen, Danzante and Montserrat out of Loreto in Mexico's Baja California Sur. Planned, because any kayaking trip itinerary is weather dependant. For us it started on the second day with a force 5/6 from the north with a 'Yachters Net' small craft advisory for breezy whitecap conditions. So our crossing was postponed a day where we still found interesting rough sea conditions on the Northwest coast of Carmen.
The general weather was blue skies and off-and-on windy. Our three 8-10 nautical mile crossings proved to be 'interesting'. With one two-and-a-half hours slog from Montserrat back to the mainland against a 20 knot headwind; not quite from the direction it was 'forecasted'... And being half-way into the, until then flat-calm, crossing, what to do else...
We made it, but the night on the mainland was even worse with the strongest arroyo downdrafts I have ever experienced. Winds ricocheting from the arroyo walls building-up to 'wind explosions'. Next morning I found the kayaks and the tents 're-arranged'. One was sleeping ON her tent. Another had taken down her tent as a precaution. Fortunately no damage or lost equipment. A welcome rest day at the hot springs were my yellow clogs served as bath ducks.
Too much experiences to share for now. We saw a lot of whales. The comment was that long crossings are less boring when there are whales around. We saw Finback whales frequently and every now and then a Blue whale from 100 yards distance or more. They where all over the place. After dark and into the night we could still hear the Finbacks breath with their distinctive sound.
This year was a La Niña year. Somewhat different than other years. I should have known. So maybe it was not only my yellow clogs that made the difference.
Sea kayaks, equipment and local logistics were provided by
Sea Kayak Baja Mexico. SKBM uses Nigel Dennis sea kayaks, Werner paddles and Kokatat PFD's.

For a full length slide-show, click here.
For a Google Earth GPS track of the trip, click here.
Baja Whale Encounters

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