Leaving the camp on the middle of the east side of Danzante, we glided through the absolutely flat water. Not even the smallest wind ripple marked the surface. Our usually invisible kayak wakes stretched as far as the eye could see until the water seemed to merge with the air in a horizon line that seem to disappear in places.
We awoke to the purple glow on the tips of the Sierra Giganta across the channel from Isla Danzante. As the sun's orographic terminator slowly crawled down the craggy curtain, we arose from our warm sleeping bags into the cool still morning of a new Baja day. The deep blue of a cloudless sky gradually lightened as the sun rose higher, blocked by the steep ridge of Isla Danzante immediately in back of our camp. We made our breakfast and prepared our boats for the short traverse across the channel between the two islands.
We passed yesterday's pocket cove where we had scrambled to the top of the ridge for a fantastic view of this day's destination, Isla Carmen. But now we were paddling along the escarpment we had looked over. The shear dark wall loomed black over the azure water and sky. What a fantastic experience to be here under such amazing weather conditions.
On the north end of the island we passed a waiting line of pelicans. It seemed the whole population was on shore, apparently hoping that the fishing would pick up later in the day. We pulled into a small cove for a brief stop. In the shallow water, a jellyfish beat its autonomic pulse, its bell just at the surface. These jellyfish were common in these waters. I had seen many more down here than in the more northern section we had paddled the previous week.
We landed on a small sandy pocket beach about a mile up from the tip of the island. This portion of the island was low but had a 2 meter hard edge with few places to pull out. This little refuge of sand was just big enough to get our two kayaks into. The shoreline was covered in sea lettuce and the near shore waters were green with the lacy vegetation. The drying seaweed on the high tide line stunk. It was not the most scenic area we had experienced, but we ate our lunch and pulled out from shore after about an hour.
Leaving the cove, we turned our bows to the east, across the channel to Isla Carmen. The short four mile crossing would be easy. A soft breeze had appeared, compensating for the increasingly warm day. Half way across the channel we saw something strange sticking up out of the water. I could not tell what it was. I changed course and got closer to it. Finally I realized that it was a sleeping sea lion with one flipper sticking up in the air. It was floating quietly and every 30 seconds or so, its head would come out of the water, it would take a big breath and then back to sleep. I kept my distance so as not to disturb its rest. In about an hour we reached the southern end of the 25 mile long island.
We had gone about a mile along the southeast side of Isla Carmen when we began to hear whales. The sound of their 200 mile and hour exhalation can be heard from very far away. It took several minutes of scanning the horizon before we saw the white plumes of their misty exhaust shooting 8 meters into the air. They were many miles away out in the deep slot between Isla Carmen and Isla Montserrat, the aptly names Canal de Ballenas, "Whale Canal". Since they were so far away, we just kept paddling to the northeast along the coast of Carmen.
But the sounds kept getting closer and the spouts were getting bigger. Soon we could see that these were fin whales, with their dorsal fins positioned so far back on their backs. These 80 foot leviathans are the second largest only to the blue whale, another visitor to the Sea of Cortez. But blues come earlier in the winter and we were not likely to see them this trip. Both types of whales are endangered by continuing harvesting by Japan in the Antarctic waters. A fin whale is worth 1.5 million dollars so the temptation for some is too strong. But these magnificent creatures are so very impressive. How small we are in relation to them. How easily they could crush us in our puny little pieces of plastic, floating at the very surface of the world in which they so easily master. To them we are no more than sea roaches, albeit ones that kill them regularly. But they harbor no malice, ignoring us they dove to feed in the 300 meter depths on the edge of the island.
As we continued north they gradually got closer. Rick went in closer to shore, concerned that we were perhaps too close for safety. The whales would dive, be underwater for 10 or more minutes and then resurface as much as a kilometer from where they started. Under extreme zoom I was able to get a movie of a fin whale diving to feed. The whale was so big it looked like a small island on the horizon.
We paddled up along the limestone cliffs to a large beach in a break in the cliffs, hoping to use the site for a camp. but another group was already set up there, and our permit was for a camp site we had already paddled past. We could either go on and hope for an empty site in 3 or 4 miles, or turn around and go back to our assigned beach. I was suffering from the heat of the day in my wet suit and was having trouble keeping cool even with numerous dunkings of cold sea water. I opted for the sure thing of a return south. We headed back and soon pulled out on a cobble stone beach with small surf rolling in. The stones were very slippery being covered with the slimy sea lettuce. A few choice words for the nastiness of this camp was heard that afternoon.
The low rocks of the southern point of Carmen turned into a section of limestone cliffs. I think the limestone was part of a reef, for that is what it looked like, a reef stranded high and dry on the shore. In the reef we found a large cave, no doubt formed by the battering of waves. On this calm day, we could safely enter the 7 meter high cave and bobble about in the very mild surge. I am sure that on other days it would have been a wild ride.
My nap had refreshed me and I was feeling better physically. It's hard to stay in a bad mood for long in Baja, as soon there is a new beauty to marvel. As the sun went down behind the mountains of Carmen, it underlit the bumpy clouds and turned the evening sky a rosy red. Another fine day in Baja was concluded. What new adventure awaited us on the morrow?
We set up camp and I laid down exhausted. The heat had really taken it out of me. After a half hour nap, I awoke to a cavalry of hermit crabs crawling over the sand toward my ground cloth. I felt like a human Custer to their hard-shell Sitting Bull. There were 20 or so that were fetched up against my dry bags and investigating my sandals. I must have located my camp in the middle of their path from sea to land as there was a constant stream of them coming up from the water line.
On to Day 10..............
|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. |