As we paddled out past the sea stacks on the south end of the bay the wind began to pick up. It would continue to build all day. For the moment it was just a welcomed assist for our paddling south. The shoreline looked much like that of the previous afternoon. The swell was building. It was getting big enough to hide a paddler in the trough. Our paddling was active. A brace was required now and again as the white caps broke down the face of a wave. Taking pictures and movies was tricky.
We pulled into a small beach next to three abandoned building. Their roofs had all been "deconstructed" as the materials were "reassigned" to other dwellings. Apparently these buildings, one of which was huge, were started when the seafood boom first came to the Sea of Cortez. The seafood was quickly stripped out and the buildings were vacated. We had lunch on the south end of the beach as we contemplated the houses and their eventual fate. We were all feeling pretty good, even Jeffe Intrepido. Some weren't exactly looking good. We set up for a group photo which came out well.
In the lee of a small point we came to shore for a rest and to discuss plans for the rest of the day. The wind was continuing to build as was the sea. We decided to cut our day short. We were planning on paddling 18 miles to Isla Coronado, but we decided we would try to land at Boca San Bruno about mid afternoon. There did not look like there was any place to land in the next 9 miles south of there and we did not want to get caught in a tight spot if the wind continued to build.
After leaving the beach, the wind continued to build and the seas got larger. Even in these waves, it was hard to get the heavy boats to surf. I was able to catch only a couple as I could not get the boat to accelerate quickly enough to catch the fast waves rolling by. It was only possible to catch one by working a couple of prior waves to get up enough speed to catch the third or fourth wave. It was a lot of work and I caught only three or four the whole afternoon.
Our map indicated a broad south facing opening in the beach into a river. It looked like it would provide the perfect place to round up into the wind and land on a protected beach. We would stop there.
We paddled down to where we thought the river should be, but there was nothing but a low beach with surf rolling in on it. We paddled around the point and saw a fish camp on a much larger beach. The surf was diffracting around the point and rolling up on this beach also. There was another point about a mile further south and it was possible that the river emptied out there, although I was doubtful because I saw no way for the river to make it past what looked to be a solid ridge. Julio decided to paddle down there while the rest of us held opposite the beach. Bob, Rick, Harding and I tried to keep abreast of the beach while we watched Julio paddle on. He was soon lost in the waves. We waited 20 minutes and still could not see him. We realized that we had not arranged what the signal would be if he wanted us to join him. So we figured since we did not see him that he must have landed and was waiting for us to join him. We started to paddle downwind in the now 25 knot wind.
We had just gone about a 1/4 mile when we saw Julio paddling back toward us. We stopped and waited for him to join us. There was no safe landing down there. In fact there was no beach at all. We must have passed Boca San Bruno. Now we had to struggle back up wind to make a down surf run into the beach near the fish camp.
And struggle we did. Progress was impossibly slow against the strong winds. With my still weak shoulders I did not want to paddle too strongly and damage them. So I kept up a steady but quick rhythm on my Greenland paddle that inched me up the beach. Harding dug in and soon was well upwind of all of us headed for we knew not what. He was going much farther than necessary up the beach. We couldn't understand where he was going and feared he was headed back around the point, which is not what the rest of us had in mind. We blew our whistles and shouted, all to no avail against the strong wind. Finally he turned and made a downwind run into the fish camp. We all breathed a sigh of relief and headed for the beach ourselves. It had taken us close to 30 minutes of hard paddling to recover the 1/4 mile back to the beach.
The steep beach showed signs of the pounding it took from the waves in storms. It was very steep with a big berm right at the surf. The main beach plateau was flat and wide some four feet above high tide mark. Carcasses of skates littered the sand and fish skeletons were everywhere. Some camp dogs poked about the beach chewing on bits of dried skin from the skates.
There was little protection from the wind except right at the fish camp. We didn't want to invade their section of the beach so we set up behind some low shrubs to cut the wind. Fortunately the heavy sand was not blowing across the beach, a miserable condition in which to camp. We all laid out for a little rest after our strenuous early afternoon.
After an hour of rest, we began to investigate our camp. Three pangas were pulled up on the beach. No one but the bird population was out fishing on this windy day. The little house at the fish camp was marvelously laid out. What a perfect little spot. Nestled under a cliff, protected from the strong north winds like today, the simple but immaculate little place was somebody's pride. Consisting of a porch, living room and bed room, it was the perfect little structure for this place and climate. Too bad the owners were not around. We would have enjoyed meeting them.
We climbed up over the hill behind the fish camp and got a view of the surrounding area. The seas looked nasty, perhaps even bigger than before, and we were glad to be on shore. If we had been on shore we would probably not have gone out into it so it was a good decision to cut the day short, especially with so little opportunity to land on the coast between here and Isla Coronado.
We prepared our dinner in a haphazard structure of drift plywood and old bed mattresses that had been assembled on the beach by other campers. It was rude and crude but it blocked the wind and eased the task of warming our dinner. Our gas supply for the rented stove ran out. We broke out Rick's white gas stove and finished heating the water for our packaged meals. It was our last dinner so there was plenty of cooking power left. It was far from the idyllic turquoise water and white sand beach of Isla Coronado, but we were happy to be here none the less.
From up here it now was clear why we did not find the safe landing spot shown on our map. The beach had filled in the mouth of the river and the fresh water was building up behind a thin strip of sand. We walked down on the beach as the wind wiped at our jackets. We walked down to where the 50 foot wide strip of sand had blocked our view of the lagoon. It would have been much easier had we known that this was the opening we were looking for. On the way back up the beach we startled a dusty looking large cat with rounded ears. It scooted into the shrubs before a picture could be taken. Julio decided that it was an ocelot. I didn't get enough of a look to tell what it was, but it was certainly not a domestic cat.
On to Day 6............
|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. |