MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Bahia Conception to Loreto - Day 02

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Leaving the shallow waters of Bahia Conception, we round Punta Conception, paddle into the Sea of Cortez and head south along the coast .

The prior day's strain made this morning a little later than the first one. During the night the strange front had moved just a little, hanging over the bay just to the south. Here it was bright with just a very few clouds and bright clear skies to the north. We broke camp and loaded the boats.

We headed up the last of the coast on the inside of Bahia Conception. We passed a large beach where we had originally planned to camp. There was another kayak group there so our decision to stop early looked even better. A light headwind of about 5 knots ruffled the water. I deployed my fishing line with an artificial lure. The small plastic bass like fish probably looked nothing like anything here, but the tail action on the lure looked convincing to me. Perhaps I would have better luck today.
At Punta Santo Domingo, the inside point on the peninsula, there was a small fish camp. A few fishermen were processing their early morning catch, attended by a flock of free loading pelicans. We rounded the point and began to be exposed to the swell of the 100+ mile fetch of the Sea of Cortez. The water color had changed from the light green of the shallow coastal bay to the deep blue of the sea. This was it. We were there - the Sea of Cortez.

"Take a look at my boat," Harding says to Julio. "Does it look like it is low in the stern? I have a lot of water in my cockpit."

"It sure does." replies Julio. "We had better take a look."

They raft up and Julio pulls the hatch cover on Harding 's boat. The compartment is full of water.

After investigating several places to pull in, we returned to a beach on the outside of Punta San Domingo, just across the beach from the fish camp. As we pulled in to the beach, a very friendly dog tries to jump into Julio's cockpit. We all come ashore. Harding pulls all his gear out of the rear compartment and the problem is obvious. There is a hole. Apparently the thin fiberglass worn by rough treatment by earlier renters was holed on the rocky beach where we launch out of camp this morning. We dry the inside of the kayak and turn it over, exposed to the strengthening sun. Julio pulls out our fiberglass repair kit and mixes up some epoxy and fills the hole and another questionable spot further down the keel.
Spreading some more resin on the inside we place the ever useful duct tape patch over it and wait for the resin to cure. Our new friend digs a hole into the wet sand and snuggles into the shade of the kayak. Trained by the 110 degree plus days of summer, this dog was well versed in the techniques of temperature management.

After an hour the resin has hardened and we are ready to start out again. The wind has strengthened some and swung to the east, so we have a 10 knot headwind as we paddle east along the top of the large peninsula forming Bahia Conception. The coast here has a 30 foot high wall and there are few landing places. Our decision to retrace a little and land on the beach to fix the hole was the correct one.

As we proceed east and beginning to turn south, the wind continues to veer and we are constantly paddling against a headwind. During this day we will change our course through 180 degrees, but still manage to have a headwind for every minute of the day. At least it was light.

At a nice beach just south of Punta Conception, we saw the second group of kayakers of the day. This one was about 8 boats, half doubles. This was the last group of kayakers we saw until we got back to Loreto.

The coast here consists of modest hills running down to the sea and then ending with a 30 to 40 foot high cliff. There are rocky beaches fairly frequently but little would be left of them at high tide or in a storm. With strong winds from the northeast quadrant, landing along this section of the coast would be problematic but possible in an emergency. There are a few larger beaches scattered along the coast. We stopped at one for a break.

Some modest swell developed as the winds continued to blow from the south. Usually when taking pictures of waves or swell, the camera perspective tends to make the waves look considerably smaller than they were. I experimented with a few camera angles that would at least preserve the size of the swells. The first shot did not come out well as I got mostly sky. But on the second attempt I captured a small swell against a mountain background that made it look big.

As the day wore on the headwinds lightened. Sun glinted off the water as it moved lower over our right shoulders. This picture of us paddling is plagued by the ever present hated water drop, but clearly shows the stove propane tank strapped to Rick's kayak.

The terrain became a little more rough. Just prior to Santa Rosa, a wash broke out from the mountains and provided us with a beach for camping. The small surf dumped onto the steep beach and there were many rocks at the waters edge. We ran in carefully onto the beach, did a water exit from the kayaks and pulled them high up on the steep bank at the high water mark.
I looked over onto Bob's boat and his rudder was laying off to one side. "Bob your rudder is f'ed up." I said.

"Yeah", he replied. "I thought my rudder pedal had broken when my left foot went to the bulkhead all of a sudden. But it looks like the rudder pin has sheared off."

I looked at his rudder dangling uselessly off the side of his boat. It was a good thing that all of us were use to paddling boats without rudders. But all of us were also used to paddling boats that didn't need a rudder. These boats did not fit that description. In light conditions they responded sluggishly to leaning and correcting strokes, but in conditions they became unmanageable. The loss of a rudder was a cause for concern.

I took a look at the rudder pin and I did not see any striations on the smooth top of the pin. It didn't look to me as if it had snapped, although opinions in the group were mixed. After getting into warm dry clothes, I took a more careful look. I was thinking that since there didn't appear to be any damage to the top of the pin that perhaps it had just dropped down into the receiver hole. I loosed the screws holding the plate with our Leatherman and was able to remove the rudder pin. It appeared undamaged.

I peered down the receiver hole on the rudder and found that the standard retaining bolt had been replaced by a common threaded bolt. The threads had worn down allowing the pin to pull out.

Try as we might we could not get the bolt to turn. It was corroded solid and would not yield to the flimsy purchase of our handheld vise and make-believe screwdriver on the Leatherman. Where is the WD40 when you need it?

Proper technique completely thwarted, I decided to use the usual technique - hit it with a hammer. I positioned the pin in the rudder and pounded away. The pin went in and could not be pulled back out by hand. Perhaps it would last. (In fact it did. We had no further problems with it on our trip.)

The small wash had brought down a lot of wood which lay about the beach. After changing clothes and cooking our dinners over the propane stove, we sacrificed some backpacking stove white gas to get a nice fire started. The radiated warmth felt really good as it was quite cool that night. We sat around the fire as the first the planets and then the stars became visible in the night sky. We passed around the tequila stored in a plastic soda bottle. The lapping of the waves on the beach soon called several of us to our waiting tents. I for one was not long in drifting off, snuggled down on my mat nestled in the soft sand.

On to Day 3.......

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Loreto - Day 08

The Sierra Giganta of the Baja peninsula form a spectacular backdrop to the azure Sea of Cortez from Danzante Island. We continue our trip with a day paddle for Julio and Bob and the start of the second part of our Mexican adventure for Rick and Hank.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Bahia Conception to Loreto - Day 04

Our kayak trip continues from San Nicolas, past El Pulpito to the beautiful bay at San Juanico.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Loreto - Day 10

Another calm day for our paddle back to Isla Danzante and then down to Candelero Chico where we spend the afternoon relaxing with snorkeling and playing in the shore rocks.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Bahia Conception to Loreto - Day 06

Leaving our wind refuge at Boca San Bruno, a strong west wind keeps us tight against the shore as we paddle back to Loreto.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Loreto - Day 09

From Isla Danzante, a short crossing brings us to Isla Carmen where we play tag with fin whales, 80 foot monsters of the Canal de Ballenas.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Bahia Conception to Loreto - Day 01 - 18 miles

Launching from Playa Freson, we paddle up Bahia Conception, stopping at Isla Blanca. We arrive just short of our intended destination, Punta Conception.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Loreto - Day 07

A rest day between trip legs allows a land trip to Mission San Xavier in the mountains west of Loreto.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Bahia Conception to Loreto - Day 02

Leaving the shallow waters of Bahia Conception, we round Punta Conception, paddle into the Sea of Cortez and head south along the coast .

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Bahia Conception to Loreto - Day 03

Fair winds provide and opportunity to try out my sail. We end the windy day high atop a sand dune.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Loreto - Day 11

From Candelero Chico we paddled 24 miles back to Loreto. The first half of the trip was flat calm. In the second half, a little tail wind makes the long mileage bearable.

MX - Sea of Cortez - 2006/03/15 to 2006/03/30 - Bahia Conception to Loreto - Day 05

Leaving San Juanico, the wind picks up to 20 to 25 knots ( Force 5) and we have a roller coaster ride down to San Bruno where problems with our chart leads to some interesting developments.




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