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



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







Whether it was the incredibly loud trucks engine breaking down the steep hill just behind the camp site, the two cough respiratory problem of our fellow Canadian camper, or just our extreme excitement to get started on our trip, all of us were up well before the sun. We fired up the stove and soon had coffee and breakfast underway. We packed up our tents and put our gear into the kayaks as the sun underlit the cloud cover. It was cool with a 10 knot wind out of the north, a headwind that would last until midday.



We assembled for a picture just before leaving. The taxi van arrived for the previous renters of our boats, the Canadians from the Gulf Islands familiar with Gabriola Cycle and Kayak. They were surprised by the very poor conditions of the equipment as were we. They said they were going to talk to Peter about it when they returned. Such poor equipment would not be tolerated in Canada. I wondered if perhaps all the old beat up equipment from their Canadian operation was sent down here.



We got in the kayaks and began paddling north up the bay against the light headwind. The low shoreline hinted at the shallow waters in the bay. The maximum depth of the bay was just a little over 60 feet. Unlike the outside of the peninsula where the bottom plunges to thousands of feet less than a mile off shore, this bay was more like the giant Chesapeake of home. Of course you can drown in water 8 feet deep as easily as 800 feet deep. The last 792 feet doesn't make much difference, except for the size of waves that can build up in the deeper water. It is impossible to build a 10 foot wave in 7 feet of water.

We paddled up the west side of the bay, passing Playa Requeson, the beach where only good observation kept us from missing our rendezvous with our boats. After an hour of paddling, Rick stopped for the first of many smoke breaks.




Continuing up along the western shore, we headed for a small grey island with a covering of white guano., named Isla Blanco. This is a popular name, like Punta Coyote, here in Baja as many of the isolated islands near good fishing area are painted with the white excrement of thousands of cormorants, frigate birds, gulls, terns and pelicans. We landed on a smooth pebble beach on Isla Blanca for lunch. The smell here was not too bad, unlike some islands where the stench will keep you from landing.

We poked about in the stones above the high water mark where there were thousands of bones, mostly of rays and birds. We found the jaw of a moray eel with its very impressive conical teeth set in powerful jaw bones.

A bright line of clear skies developed several miles north of the mouth of Bahia Conception. Strangely, it just stayed there, unmoving, for hours as we paddled toward it. We would spend the entire day underneath the gray stratus clouds that covered all but the small portion of sky to the north. The wind dropped shortly after we left Isla Blanca. The water became glassy as the small wind driven chop quickly dissipated.

As we paddled up the bay from Isla Blanca, we angled to the east over toward shore. The low shoreline was the dry termination of the alluvial fans extending from the mountains set several miles back from the waters edge. The gentle slope of the land could be seen when looking far ahead at the side of the sloping ground. But when viewed straight on the perspective made the land form look much steeper.

We paddled through the now flat water. It seemed we were getting some current as the tide was now flooding the bay. There was a slight restriction in the passage just north of the islands which probably increased the speed of the current there. In this narrower spot, we saw two pilot whales. They looked like big black versions of our Atlantic porpoise. Whether from the current or the apparent lack of progress, we were getting tired paddling and we pulled over to shore for a shore break.

After a half hour of rest on the rocky beach, we realized we were still quite tired. It looked as if we would be paddling about 18 miles that first day. Getting back in our boats, we paddled the last few miles toward where we intended to camp. The nearly featureless shore was difficult to interpret. The small points and indentations in the coastline on the map were difficult to see. Although we were still a mile short of our plotted camp, we called it a day when we saw a suitable beach. With my shoulders beginning to complain of the long day, I was more than happy to stop short of the original goal.




We began setting up Camp 1 on the soft sand. Because of our predawn start to our day, it was still early. The sun was high in the sky and it was hot. We had finally paddled under the strange stationary front and the lowering sun now shone under the cloud edge. Julio and Rick battled to set up the tarp in the recently risen wind. Rick had just bought it one day prior to leaving and unfamiliarity and the difficult conditions made the process comical. Soon all hands were helping with the bobbing nylon and shortly it was flying properly providing some shade which we were soon most grateful for.
We set up the tents on the edge of the high tide line looking out over the water. The beach was strewn with interesting marine skeletons of sea urchins, rays, skates and starfish. Baked hard by the unrelenting sun and desiccated by the dry winds, they were without odor.

After dinner under the tarp, we walked back into the desert as the sun lowered across the bay. The cactus glowed golden in the warm sunlight of the end of the day. The harsh desert was more sparse than the Sonoran of southern Arizona. Few of the plants here were the same species, but all were very well defended if you get the point.




The sun set behind the mountains on the mainland. It underlit the clouds on the edge of the strange stationary front. The purple and red colors of the clouds topped the subtle shades of grey of the many mountain ridges to the west. Soon a few stars appeared in the northern sky, although clouds still obscured most of the sky. We settled into the soft warm sand under our sleeping pads. Sleep came quickly.
On to Day 2......

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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