Sea of Cortez Kayaking Trip with Mar y Aventuras – Part 3

This post is a continuation of the Mar y Aventuras’ Baja Coast and Islands Loreto to La Paz 9-day kayaking trip. For an introduction to this trip see Part 1 of this series. For more general information and logistics, see Part 5.

Catching Fish, Kayaking through a Mangrove Estuary

Day 5 – April 21

Second Night at Puerto Los Gatos

Morning coffee and sunrise followed by fishing.

Nights at Puerto Los Gatos are 10° cooler than at other camps. 5 minutes out on the water the temperature noticeably rises.

Beautiful light on the pink cliffs. Only Don caught a fish, a reina cabrilla, a queen sea bass or grouper. Angel, the boat captain, spots whale spouts in the distance.

Breakfast is chilaquiles, tortilla chips soaked in salsa, with refried beans. A fruit platter with yogurt is also available.

Instead of continuing down the coast, today is a partial rest day with a short kayak in the morning, 2 and a quarter hours including beach time. We first head out to sea towards where Angel spotted the whale spouts. Unfortunately the detour didn’t produce any more action.

Soon after we are on the water the wind picks up and the seas become choppy. We head for a point in the distance crossing rough water. As we near shore the waters calm. The point was full of pelicans but the waters too choppy to continue on so we turn around and head into the wind along the coast. Not far from camp we stop at a beach out of the wind and enjoy the clear blue water and sun. A short paddle brings us back to camp for lunch.

Lunch – lentil vegetable soup; pasta salad with olives, cheese and red pepper; oranges with hot sauce and tortillas.

After lunch we have a choice of snorkeling, kayak training, fishing or hiking.

Don and I asked Carlos to help us practice exiting and entering the kayaking on our own. The process involves going out to water deep enough that you can’t stand up, flipping the kayak while you are in it, exiting the kayak underwater, flipping the kayak back right side up and climbing back in. This is an essential skill to know if you plan to kayak by yourselves. Despite practicing this process a year and half earlier I was nervous and quickly out of breath. We both made it back in the kayak without too much difficulty but decided we needed to practice again on another day.

Since we were already wet and cold we decided to snorkel around the bay. The wind had come up and the surf was rough making swimming more difficult and churning up the sand creating murky waters.

Despite the poor visibility we saw a ray, trumpet fish, schools of snapper and other little fish, and a group of 5 puffer fish. With the worsening conditions we headed back in, just missing the fishing boat going out which brought back a mess of trigger fish. We skipped the evening hike.

Happy Hour – Margaritas and ceviche.

Dinner – Carne asada tacos with salsa and vegetables. Corn cake for dessert. All excellent.

Day 6 – April 22

Camped on San Francisco Island

Coffee – The most spectacular sunrise of the trip with 360 color deepening and coloring all the surrounding clouds until sunrise.

Fishing produced a sea bass and just before we were supposed to head in for breakfast they spot a fish boil. Cruising over it Spence catches a Skipjack, a type of tuna.

Breakfast – Quesadillas with refried beans and pico de gallo.

Our morning starts with a long panga ride to the starting point for the day. For once the day is overcast and a little chilly but it’s nice to have the sun not so intense.

The panga slows down and circles a tiny island, a sort of bird sanctuary where we watch the nesting birds. Most interesting are the blue footed boobies.

We reach Salinas on San Jose Island for lunch where they lay out a build your own sandwich spread on the beach – ham, cheese, salad and avocado.

The kayak portion of the day starts with a long paddle across open rough water with 1-2 foot swells to the start of an estuary in the mangroves. Along the way, sea turtles poke their head up, mullets jump and flocks of grebes dive, the entire flock diving at once.

At the entrance to the estuary the water is shallow, 6 inches at most. We drag the kayaks through the mouth of the waterway where egrets, blue heron, pelicans and sea gulls greet us. We follow the waterway to a smaller channel and explore the thick grove. Anemones cling to the sunken mangrove branches.

Back on the main channel I chase an egret down the waterway.

To exit the waterway and reenter the sea we have to portage the kayaks across a natural dike. The wind has died down and we have one last paddle across open waters where we head into a secluded bay on San Francisco Island. Paddled 9 miles, 4.5 hours including breaks.

The bay has rocky shores and deep waters in the middle, perfect for practicing exiting and reentering the kayak. Don and I do a kayak drill before dinner. Even without a wetsuit I feel much calmer and warmer. It’s getting easier.

We get to camp late, wet and have to clean up before dinner. Our tent has already been set-up we just had to get our bed in order and change out of our wet clothes. Just as we finish we hear the bell ring for happy hour.

Happy Hour – Margaritas and a beautiful platter of skip jack sashimi with lime, onion, serrano peppers and olives.

Dinner – Seafood stew with rice, salad and tortillas served buffet style. More yummy flan for dessert.

With drinks stories ensue and last until guests slip off to bed.

For links to all the posts in this series see the Sea of Cortez page.

April 2021