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

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

The next morning the breeze had returned to its usual northeasterly direction. The sun came up behind some clouds low on the eastern horizon. It was another cool morning as we started breakfast and began prepping the boats. On the way into the steep beach I had pulled up hard on my rented spray skirt strap and it had given way. So my first order of business this morning was to sew that back together. I pulled out the sail needles and threaded one with some 80 lb test braided fishing line and started patching the rotted nylon back together. Things would have gone quicker with a palm but I did the best I could passing the needle through the heavy webbing and nylon cloth. It was cold and my stiff fingers had problems manipulation the thread and needle. I was glad that the sun had finally cleared the clouds on the horizon and was starting to warm things up some.
We moved the boats onto the lower level of the beach. It was low tide once more and the rocks we had landed on the night before were exposed at the wave line once again. We stirred the ashes of our fire and drenched it again with sea water to make sure it was completely dead. We then covered it with sand and dispersed the rocks we had used for wind breaks. Very little trace of our fire from the previous night was visible. Only the split rock that cracked apart from the heat gave any indication that we had enjoyed the great fire the previous evening. Finished packing the boats, we cleared a small chute of sand between the heaviest of the rocks and launched into the Sea of Cortez.

Julio and I paddled out to deep water, at least 100 feet to the bottom here, to dispose of our bagged sewage. In the deep water, these brown paper bags weighted with sand would submerge the toilet paper and other contents to the bottom where the salt water would kill most of the bacteria. Human feces should never be introduced to fresh water. The toilet paper would dissolve and disperse and quickly be consumed by organisms in the sea water. Most of the solid waste would be disposed that way also. Not everything is killed by salt water but a majority of the pathogens are.

Although not a pleasant subject, disposal of human waste is an important issue in the responsible usage of the outdoors. We carried a portable toilet which is really the most environmentally correct procedure. A pack it in pack it out sort of thing, but the fact is that the five of us would fill that up very quickly. The odors from that brew cooking on the back deck in the hot Baja sun would quickly become life threatening! (Groover Tamer will help with this problem, but we didn't bring any.)

The accepted procedure for back-country sanitation in the U.S. is posted on the BLM web site. The relevant portions are repeated here....

Human Waste: Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, avoid the negative implications of someone else finding it, minimize the possibility of spreading disease, and maximize the rate of decomposition.

Catholes: Catholes are the most widely accepted method of waste disposal. Locate catholes at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from water, trails and camp. Select an inconspicuous site where other people will be unlikely to walk or camp. With a small garden trowel, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. The cathole should be covered and disguised with natural materials when finished. If camping in the area for more than one night, or if camping with a large group, cathole sites should be widely dispersed.

Catholes in Arid Lands: A cathole is the most widely accepted means of waste disposal in arid lands. Locate catholes at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) from water, trails, and camp. Avoid areas where water visibly flows, such as sandy washes, even if they are dry at the moment. Select a site that will maximize exposure to the sun in order to aid decomposition. Because the sun's heat will penetrate desert soils several inches, it can eventually kill pathogens if the feces are buried properly. South-facing slopes and ridge tops will have more exposure to sun and heat than other areas.

Toilet Paper: Use toilet paper sparingly and use only plain, white, non-perfumed brands. Toilet paper must be disposed of properly! It should either be thoroughly buried in a cathole or placed in plastic bags and packed out. Natural toilet paper has been used by many campers for years. When done correctly, this method is as sanitary as regular toilet paper, but without the impact problems. Popular types of natural toilet paper include stones, vegetation and snow. Obviously, some experimentation is necessary to make this practice work for you, but it is worth a try! Burning toilet paper in a cathole is not generally recommended.

Toilet Paper in Arid Lands: Placing toilet paper in plastic bags and packing it out as trash is the best way to Leave No Trace in a desert environment. Toilet paper should not be burned. This practice can result in wild fires.

Tampons: Proper disposal of tampons requires that they be placed in plastic bags and packed out. Do not bury them because they don t decompose readily and animals may dig them up. It will take a very hot, intense fire to burn them completely.

Urine: Urine has little direct effect on vegetation or soil. In some instances urine may draw wildlife which are attracted to the salts. They can defoliate plants and dig up soil. Urinating on rocks, pine needles, and gravel is less likely to attract wildlife. Diluting urine with water from a water bottle can help minimize negative effects.

Human excrement won't decompose in sandy, predominantly inorganic desert soil. Instead, it filters down through the ground. For this reason, deposits should be made far from water sources, out of gullies and other obvious drainages, and off of slickrock. Insect contamination in dry regions is low, and smearing your personal manure rates as a healthier alternative than deeply burying it. Because it will remain visible for a long long time, discretion is the better part of desert evacuations, and the best all-round choice in most areas is shallow burial. High near-surface temperatures will cook pathogens to death in short order.

The primary concern for waste disposal is the contamination of fresh water that would later be consumed or bathed in by other humans. There is very little fresh water anywhere along the Baja coast, so that is not a primary concern. Shallow burial and decontamination by heat will be effective here, so shallow burial is preferable to deep burial. But wind and animals can uncover shallow burials leading to unpleasant encounters by other visitors. Heavy usage can also cause overlap problems. Disposal in deep salt water at low concentrations seems to offer the fewest objectionable consequences next to packing everything out.

Here is a paper by NOLS on the subject. humanwastepaper.pdf Make your own decision. But our method of placing sand covered feces into brown paper bags and dropping them into very deep water seems to offer the fewest objections for Baja. Bring a plastic tub to carry the paper sack through the surf. A premature wetting of the paper bag can be disastrous.

The day started off with light winds from the northeast that strengthen to 10-12 knots as the day progressed. The shoreline was much like the previous day with low hills running to the shore frequently ending in rocky beaches. The wind developed a small swell as we paddled southwest along the coast.

It was the perfect conditions for trying out my sail. I pulled it out from under the deck cords on the front of the Tesla. I struggled a little to connect the two portions of the PVC mast. I had re-enforced the joint with a wooded dowel as I was concerned about the strength of the connection and I had glued a dowel into the female end of the plastic connection. This was inserted into the tube of the male end of the connection to extend and strengthen the joint. At least that was the theory. However, the dowel had gotten wet and swollen and it was very difficult to get it to slide into the PVC pipe. I managed to get it all the way in this time but only with a lot of effort.

I pulled back on the two PVC pipes that spread the sail, simultaneously and automatically raising the mast piece. The sail filled and the kayak started to move. The sail shape was steady with no bobbing or weaving. ( Click here for details on how to make your own sail. ) As I picked up speed in the 10 knot tail wind, I was able to stay up with my companions who were paddling steadily. I kept my paddle in my hands in case a brace was needed, but never had to use it. The bottom of the sail was snapped into the deck lines with a mini carabinier. If I had to, I could chuck the whole sail overboard and retrieve it when things got straightened out. The only concern would be possible rolling difficulties or entanglement. The ability to roll to either side would be very helpful if I ever went under with this sail. My off side roll is questionable.

Midday we pulled into a beach for some lunch running up on the steep shore. We pulled the kayaks in between the rocks. It was a tight fit. A sea lion came swimming along the beach and gave us a look over as if we were on his favorite beach, which we might have been. After a short stop we climbed back in and out through the little surf. Somewhere in the process I lost my water bottle.

We paddled on through the afternoon. The winds picked up some late in the day. I lost my chart overboard. We were using laminated sections of a fishing map of the region. The chart blew off my foredeck where I had placed it for frequent reference as we were looking for the camp site at San Nicholas. It went into the water edge first and was three feet down and drifting slowly lower by the time I got back to it. I was a little surprised that it sank considering it was paper and plastic lamination. Fortunately there were other copies in the group and we would soon be off the end of that one anyway. I was having a tough day equipment wise.
I also got pissed at my comrades for not setting a ferry angle and ranging to their objective, but allowing themselves to be blown off course, adding extra mileage to the crossing. It chaps my butt when I have to adjust my course to stay with the group when it is they who are screwing up on the course. But we soon changed our objective, coming in to shore closer to the little community of San Nicholas, so it wound up making little difference in the end.

We landed on a large beach at the foot of a substantial dune to the south of San Nicholas, a small fishing village. This was the longest carry from the boats up to the campsite, but we were determined to shuttle all the gear up to the top where there was some shelter from the wind. The sand was being picked up and carried up the face of the dune, no doubt the cause of the dune in the first place.
We set up out tents on the top overlooking another river cut off from the sea by a bar of sand. We were at least 75 feet up over the small lagoon and the dry desert beyond. The silver vanes of a windmill turned among the fronds of date palms at a rancho in the valley. We could hear cattle mooing in the distance. Their presence was foreshadowed by clods of manure up here on the dune. But it looked as it had been a while since they were up here.

As the sun lowered to the mountains in the west, it became rather cold and we put on most of our warm clothing and hid behind the shrubs on the back side of the dune. No one suggested going out for a swim or looking for clams. Can't imagine why not.

On to Day 4.................

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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