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February 24, 1997

KAYAKING BAJA - preparations

When we were planning our journey to Peru back in San Francisco several weeks ago, we looked at the rather isolated desert region south from Mexicali and decided instead to bike down Baja and try kayaking across the Sea of Cortez to join up with mainland Mexico. We arrived in Bahia de Los Angeles four days ago with no kayaks lined up, not more than 3 hours of kayaking experience between the five of us and no idea of how to get the bikes across and the kayaks back to the rental place.

Today ( Monday 24th) we are ready to go. In just four days we have put together a 10-12 day kayaking expedition that will take us 140 miles down the coast to San Francisquito and then across to Kino on the mainland side using a chain of islands as stepping stones (see 'Kayak route' picture). It became rapidly apparent on our arrival and talking to the local fishermen (always good for 'local knowledge') that the Sea of Cortez is a stretch of water not to be taken lightly; the currents between the islands can reach up to 5 knots between high and low tides due to the constricted channel, and the 'El Norte' - high speed winds from the north - can funnel down the gulf and whip the water into a frenzy of white caps in less than half and hour - a nightmare for inexperienced kayakers like us.

Adding the problem of taking enough food and water for 14 days (usual 30 % contingency) and we were beginning to wonder as to the reality of us actually making such a crossing. Then an amazing chain of events happened; we met a string of key people (as always people !!) who have made it possible for us to now have five fully equipped and supplied kayaks on the beach ready to roll (see 'kakaks on beach' picture); there is John Weed - an experienced kayaker who has kindly lent one of his two kayaks and will accompany us as leader for the crossing (see John's update and picture). We coincidentally met kayak-guru Ed Gillette (who Kayaked to Hawaii from the California coast) on our arrival in town who kindly gave us the bible for this region in terms of charts and local knowledge. That same day we secured a mega cheap deal with the local kayak rental place for hire of three extra boats for the 10 day crossing. And in the last couple of days we met Gil and Mario (see 'roofing_Bahia de Los Angeles' picture) who solved perhaps the biggest hurdle of all - to get the bikes across and bring the kayaks back to the rental place - by offering to take their 'Ponga' (motorboat) across as a support craft for the hazardous middle section and returning from Kino with the kayaks. As return trade we have spent the last two days helping roof their house with tar (see picture).

So I guess its just proof again that even though you have no idea how to do something and nothing planned in advance, just keep the faith, add the ingredients of people and mild stupidity and begin the process; before you know it you're not just dreaming about it, you're actually doing it!

...as Hagar the Horrible said 'ignorance is the mother of adventure!'

Remember 'click click' in 10 days to find out how we get on...!


Posted on February 24, 1997 5:54 AM