Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mulege to Loreto via Carmen

We're back! Our 12-day paddling trip from Mulege to Loreto via Coronados to Carmen, along the east-coast of Carmen and via Danzante (group photo) ending our trip at Rattlesnake Beach near Puerto Escondido.

We had a record-breaking time packing our kayaks on the first day. Meticulous preparations by Ramon (assigned crates of food and kitchen equipment to kayaks) helped us pack our kayaks within an hour-and-a-half! And previous Baja and sea kayak camping experience did not count for Dirk, nevertheless he was finished packing first! I took the three kitchen sinks.

Lots of challenges along the way, mostly because of a rather unfamiliar weather pattern. The forecasted afternoon winds (not normal) tended to arrive earlier and earlier every day. For instance, with only an half hour to go before the major headland Punta San Antonio the wind quickly built to a force 3 (from a flat calm start in the morning). With the headland 15 minutes away it was blowing a full force 4 and a sea state rapidly changing to white-caps. Heading around the headland in choppy conditions we paddled right next to a group of sleeping sea lions that were only slowly taking notice of Ramon's sea kayak. It was quickly decided to stay put after lunch and paddle around Punta el Pulpito only the next morning; again starting with a flat calm. We quickly had a routine of 08:30 departures.

Weather planning required good milage the first days into the trip. Despite the weather we did not lose a paddling day yet and I still had 'my' spare 'weather day'. We had even some 'half-day' paddles, meaning having done the planned distance already in the morning and a late lunch about 14:00.

At San Bruno we were in a perfect position to attempt the 6 nautical mile crossing to Coronados. We had an 08:00 o-clock start, allowing for time lost negotiating the narrow/shallow channel out of the estuary behind the beach at mid-tide. Blessing the early morning headwind; at least it was not blowing from the north; yet...

Halfway in the crossing the wind was rapidly building from the north. We spotted whales during the crossing. When we landed on Coronados at Los Metates at 11:15 it was already blowing a full force 4. We had our planned Panga (motorboat) resupply at Coronados so that we did not have to waste a full day of paddling in/out of Loreto. Only the Panga won't to out above force 5... The whole afternoon it was blowing six when at 17:30 the message came through that the Panga was on it's way for the wind had dropped just enough. That meant for Ramon to quickly re-think dinner plans and he spent until late that evening re-assigning the resupplies to the various kayaks.

So good had Ramon been at this that the next morning there was only a 15-minute packing 'delay' for everyone to re-pack their now full-again kayaks. We had a flat-calm 7 nautical miles crossing to Isla Carmen with increasing swell height... Arriving at Playa Oto in 2 foot surf; only it being over a rock-bed because at low water the surf had not yet reached the sandy beach... Getting me to think of all possible contingencies of getting off this beach the next morning... The next morning: flat calm; no surf whatsoever...

The rest of our trip, the afernoon winds never arrived. Perfect flat calm days, blue skies, sunshine. Consistent 08:30 departures meant easy going paddling and normal lunch times. Spotting whales, sea lions and dolphins. And even a surprise visit from Ginni that was checking-out all the camp beaches with/for the National Park Service. Ramon digging-up our park permits to show to the park warden, when surprise, surprise, Ginni stood-up in the Panga. Lots of the beaches have changed considerably over the last few years. Some lost sand, some gained sand. All-in-all some beaches are better suited to bigger/smaller groups then others and that is constantly changing.

By now we were reaching the end of our trip. We have seen whales (Blue, Finn, Humpback) almost daily, but not so very lucky close as last time around. Daily visits by bottlenose dolphins and sea lions at their known hangouts at various headlands. On our crossing to Danzante we could spot Humpbacks whales breaching off Montserrat. Quite a distance away, but seeing the big splashes and the sound of canon fire some moments later... This went on for more than half an hour.

Next morning at breakfast we got an aerial display of a school of jumping Mobila, the splashing sounds we heard all night. As well as a 04:45 pass-by of a whale, blowing. At the north end of Danzante we had the 'grand-finale' of a Finn whale cruising between Danzante and Carmen.

1 comment:

Anna Mallin said...

What a wonderful description! Makes my heart leap with wanting to be back there!