Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grass roots tournaments revisited



Pedro and Julio Meza, on the left organize a series of tournaments throughout the Baja Peninsula, Baja Norte and Baja Sur. 

Pedro Sors, a dedicated sportfisherman, is the host and producer of one of the most popular Mexican television sportfishing shows called Con Caña y Carrete.  He and Julio Meza, a San Quintin produce grower and owner of FISHCO.com organize a series of tournaments throughout the Baja Peninsula, Baja Norte and Baja Sur.  These tournaments include the Governor's Cup series which feature a three-venue contest that was held this year in San Felipe, San Quintin and Ensenada.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Pedro and Meza at a Governor's Cup in San Quintin.  Aboard Julio's center console Contender name "Blessed" speeding out the inner bay with Julio at the helm, they explained the details of the Governor's Cup series.

The one day tournaments, which are open to anyone, offer prizes of cash and equipment for the largest fish in both surface and bottom categories for men, women and children divisions. In addition, anglers accumulate points at each of the three events that are totaled to determine the combined overall champions for the series. Each event is featured on the Con Caña y Carrete television program.

The series was first conceived during the term of Baja Sur’s  El Gobernador Narciso Agúndez Montaño in 2006. It was designed to introduce sportfishing to the locals, involving not only the adults in the many small communities that dot the coastline of the state, but the children as well.  When El Gobernador Agúndez left office the incoming Gobernador decided to abandon the series for economic reasons. 

At that point, recognizing that every tournament is an opportunity for sportfishing education in small communities, Meza and Sors decided to work together to resume the important series. Punta Eugenia, Abreojos and La Bocana were added to the list along with the tournaments planned for the future.

Pedro Sors' interest in sportfishing is deep and goes way beyond just catching fish, which he seems to be doing somewhere in Mexico every week. In 2003 he discovered that sportfishing was not officially recognized by the Mexican government. It didn't exist legally at that time. The National Council of Fisheries only recognized groups officially designated by the government.

He began speaking to fishing friends encouraging them to unify and form a Federation of Sportfishing. Taking advantage of the people he had met though his television program, several years later in 2005 through his efforts and those of other friends and acquaintances, the Federación Nacional de Pesca Deportiva A.C  was formed representing sportfishing clubs in seven Mexican states initially. 
Since then, the group has grown to represent sportfishing clubs in twenty-seven states with a combined membership of 32,000.

According to Sors, founder and past president, some of their accomplishments include:   

            Acquiring two seats on the National Board of Tourism that meets twice a year.
            They encouraged states to facilitate the sale of fishing licenses, allowing the license fees to be used in        individual states. 
            Convinced the Secretary of the need for more boat launching ramps resulting in an ongoing program that resulted in 80 new or improved ramps between 2009 and 2011.
            Persuaded the Federal Secretary of the Treasury, a golfer, to eliminate Boat Permits by arguing that golfers were not required to pay green fees for their golf carts so why should the government charge a sportfisherman a fee for the boat he fishes from.
            The Federation has fielded and won in several International World Sportfishing Championships,  as well as hosting Big Game and Bass championships in Mexico.
            The Federation addressed a law forbidding  filleting fish aboard a boat and convinced the Secretary to amend the wording to read that it is unlawful to unload filleted fish.
            It was against the law to fish with live bait. The Secretary was uninformed about sportfishing. When the Federation explained how many families supported themselves by selling live bait he realized the law needed to be changed.

These are the kinds of issues the Federation seeks to change. Though it has had some setbacks and failures along the way, it has had many successes.

Julio Meza and Pedro Sors, both avid and passionate Mexican sportfishermen, seem to be taking up where the group I wrote about in May 2009 http://roadtrekker.blogspot.com/2009/05/grass-roots-tournaments.html left off, continuing to introduce and promote sportfishing throughout Baja.  Their efforts on behalf of sportfishing should be applauded by anglers everywhere!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Home grown abalone…



I originally met Enrique Espinoza, Cooperativa Progresso Administrator, in 2008 when Juanchy a colorful local fisherman had arranged a trip for me with the local abalone divers.

Subsequently I wrote a Roadtrek column titled "A New Breed…Time Will Tell" praising Enrique and his group's efforts attempting to restore their local abalone and lobster fisheries to sustainable levels.
I wrote "After watching the commercial fishermen and their Cooperativa's decimate marine resource after resource in Baja over the years, listening to Enrique as he enthusiastically outlined goals and techniques being implemented by his group to maintain the resources, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of hope that maybe some of the new breed of commercial fishermen are beginning to get it right!"

Recently I returned to La Bocana and was invited by my friend Enrique to tour their Aquaculture facility where they were growing abalone. Seriously, home grown abalone?  What a concept!  I can see a run on Aquarium equipment stores when this gets out.

Of course, I accepted and recruited another friend, Pedro Sors, producer and host of Cana y Carrete, a popular Mexican sportfishing television program, as my interpreter.

We began the tour of the nearly 9,000 sq ft. facility in a narrow room with tiled walls and white plastic buckets arranged around the parameter where a brood stock of twenty abalone mate and reproduce enough larva to ultimately replenish the abalone harvested, and more.

Using ultraviolet lights to stimulate growth the larvae begin to grow. When they have reached a predetermined size, they are transferred into temperature-controlled vats and fed  a carefully monitored plankton diet. They remain in these vats until they have grown to be visible to the naked eye. The next step is to move the now visible mollusks to the more than twenty recirculation tanks located in a large outside area.  

Each tank is equipped with special  boxes made of plastic sheeting for the larvae to cling to as they continue to grow.

As the crop of eight to nine thousand grow, they are carefully monitored and each individual abalone is assigned a number which in placed on the top of their now formed shell, allowing the staff to fine-tune the diet of each generation for optimum results. Most of the abalone are transplanted to the wild in ten to eleven months and are about 1 inch in diameter at that time.

Oceanologist Aguilar Daniel and Jose Manuel Aguilar technical assistant maintain the facility normally. Only when the workload increases are additional personnel brought in to assist them.

The entire system was developed initially by visits to similar facilities in other countries around the world along with the help of visiting technicians from the United States, Japan and Chile, to name just a few of the countries that assisted in the early stages of this remarkable program.

With the knowledge provided and many trial and error adjustments which allowed for local temperature fluctuations along the Pacific, as well as adjustments to the algae and seaweed diet, the  success rate has grown and the mortality rate remains at only 5%. The twenty-three year-old program has become extremely efficient, allowing for the harvest of abalone while returning enough to juveniles to the beds to maintain the sustainability of this valuable shellfish resource for the community.

While the Cooperativa's success with the abalone is impressive, there is much more. The lobster population which was once nearly decimated by overharvesting along the coast line in the 40-kilometer concession assigned to the group was recently named as one of five lobster habitats in the world that have returned to sustainable levels. . .a remarkable achievement for this remote community of approximately 1,500.

Beginning his second term as Administrator at the beginning of the year, Enrique Espinoza, Cooperativa Progresso Administrator's excitement is infectious as he explains the successes of his group. His eyes sparkle as he proudly gives the details of how the nearly 200 members voted to forbid gillnets in the nine-mile-long La Bocana estero effective at the beginning of 2011, and the protection of Merro (black seabass and grouper) making it illegal to catch them commercially as well as limiting them recreationally.

To replace the loss of income for the local fishermen, he is now encouraging members to look to sportfishing for a more reliable income stream. His organization now offers several programs for members to purchase on credit quality sportfishing equipment at a deep discount for those who choose that path, as well as promoting the nine-mile estuary for sportfishing, building small cabins, and training members to conduct sportfishing trips. 

Cooperativa Progresso and their leader, Enrique Espinoza, are a shining light in the dimly lit world of Baja commercial fishing.


Friday, October 7, 2011

La Bocana hosts Grande Torneo





Several of my friends have accused me of flying low when I drive back and forth on Mex 1. Over Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to do just that. I was invited to fly to La Bocana, Baja Sur, in a Cessna 402 with the organizers of the Torneo Internacional de Pesca.

We departed from Ensenada Military airport at midday and flying at low altitude down the west coast of Baja, gazing down on the sprawling Baja countryside punctuated by small fish camps, villages and towns on miles of deserted beaches and wide open spaces, it was a fascinating revelation of how much of Baja is still undeveloped.

The entire trip to Abreojos, including the brief landing at San Quintin to pick up the remainder of the tournament staff, was slightly less than three hours. (Note to self: Find sponsor to cover flying cost!).  As the plane taxied to a stop on the dirt airstrip and the door flew open, a group of Cooperativa Progresso members led by President Enrique Espinoza greeted us. After introductions, handshakes and abrazos, everyone entered the waiting pickups and headed north for ten miles to La Bocana leaving a cloud of dust; then straight to the beach where bright orange canopies provided shade from the blazing afternoon sun for the growing crowd of eager fishermen.    

Business was brisk at the tables of local and visiting entrepreneurs that were covered with both new and used tackle as would-be anglers tested the bend of the rods and the smoothness of the reel drags. Of course there was a coffin-sized cooler filled with soft drinks and cerveza covered with ice that attracted its own crowd.

Throughout the afternoon, sponsors and organizers Pedro Sors, owner of Caña &  Carrete, and Julio Meza,  owner of Fishco, the largest Shimano dealer in Baja, renewed old friendships while making new ones. The big swell and large surf that had pounded the beaches all week was a major topic of conversation that at times was nearly drowned out by blaring Mexican music. By six o’clock, 121 anglers fishing on 35 boats had registered and paid their $25 entry fee which included their boat fee.

The music was silenced and the Captains’ meeting was called to order. Tournament officials covered the tournament rules, based on I.G.F.A. rules, in detail, as well as the Mexican Sportfishing regulations and the qualifying species which included yellowfin tuna, dorado, marlin, yellowtail and halibut.   Noticeably missing from the list were grouper and black seabass.

Late last year the members of Cooperativa Progresso voted to implement several changes in the regulations in their area. Grouper and black seabass would no longer be fished commercially; furthermore only one of either species may be caught per day with sportfishing tackle and it MUST be released.  Another significant change was that the entire esteros is now off limits for gillnets of any kind. Both rule changes were effective January 1, 2011. Hopefully other Cooperativa's will follow Progresso's lead in the future. Imagine Magdalena Bay without nets?

When the meeting was finished, the music resumed and the party continued into the night. Early Saturday morning the beach was a beehive of activity as anglers found their assigned boats and loaded their gear. At exactly 7:00 a.m., Julio Meza fired the flare signaling the beginning of the tournament. As the boats sped out of the boca, it was clear that the favored direction was to the north toward San Hipolito.

By the time the weigh-in began a 3:00 p.m., the beach was packed with family and friends. While some children played in the water, others were fishing for the prizes reserved just for them. Meanwhile a Mexican band played as fish were brought to the scale. An animated volleyball game entertained others. Closer to the beach a small traditional Mexican combo drew its own crowd. Carne de Puerco tacos with all the trimmings was served for anyone who was hungry. Of course the huge cooler had been refilled and people crowded around for just one more drink.

As the fish were weighed, the seven largest were hung up for display only to be replaced as a larger one came in. By the end of the day it was clear that though the fishing was good, the yellowtail had dominated the catch and the event had become a "yellowtail shootout" though there were a few small dorado and halibut. The largest fish was a 31+ pound yellow and prizes were awarded through the 7th largest plus special awards for fish caught from the shore by young anglers.

The event was sponsored by Cooperativa Progresso, Julio Meza, Fishco, Shimano and Pedro Sors of Caña y Carrete.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Home grown abalone…



I originally met Enrique Espinoza, Cooperativa Progresso Administrator, in 2008 when Juanchy a colorful local fisherman had arranged a trip for me with the local abalone divers.
Subsequently I wrote a Roadtrek column titled "A New Breed…Time Will Tell" praising Enrique and his group's efforts attempting to restore their local abalone and lobster fisheries to sustainable levels.

I wrote "After watching the commercial fishermen and their Cooperativa's decimate marine resource after resource in Baja over the years, listening to Enrique as he enthusiastically outlined goals and techniques being implemented by his group to maintain the resources, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of hope that maybe some of the new breed of commercial fishermen are beginning to get it right!"

Recently I returned to La Bocana and was invited by my friend Enrique to tour their Aquaculture facility where they were growing abalone. Seriously, home grown abalone?  What a concept!  I can see a run on Aquarium equipment stores when this gets out.

Of course, I accepted and recruited another friend, Pedro Sors, producer and host of Cana y Carrete, a popular Mexican sportfishing television program, as my interpreter.

We began the tour of the nearly 9,000 sq ft. facility in a narrow room with tiled walls and white plastic buckets arranged around the parameter where a brood stock of twenty abalone mate and reproduce enough larva to ultimately replenish the abalone harvested, and more.

Using ultraviolet lights to stimulate growth the larvae begin to grow. When they have reached a predetermined size, they are transferred into temperature-controlled vats and fed  a carefully monitored plankton diet. They remain in these vats until they have grown to be visible to the naked eye. The next step is to move the now visible mollusks to the more than twenty recirculation tanks located in a large outside area.  Each tank is equipped with special  boxes made of plastic sheeting for the larvae to cling to as they continue to grow.

As the crop of eight to nine thousand grow, they are carefully monitored and each individual abalone is assigned a number which in placed on the top of their now formed shell, allowing the staff to fine-tune the diet of each generation for optimum results. Most of the abalone are transplanted to the wild in ten to eleven months and are about 1 inch in diameter at that time.

Oceanologist Aguilar Daniel and Jose Manuel Aguilar technical assistant maintain the facility normally. Only when the workload increases are additional personnel brought in to assist them.

The entire system was developed initially by visits to similar facilities in other countries around the world along with the help of visiting technicians from the United States, Japan and Chile, to name just a few of the countries that assisted in the early stages of this remarkable program.

With the knowledge provided and many trial and error adjustments which allowed for local temperature fluctuations along the Pacific, as well as adjustments to the algae and seaweed diet, the  success rate has grown and the mortality rate remains at only 5%. The twenty-three year-old program has become extremely efficient, allowing for the harvest of abalone while returning enough to juveniles to the beds to maintain the sustainability of this valuable shellfish resource for the community.

While the Cooperativa's success with the abalone is impressive, there is much more. The lobster population which was once nearly decimated by overharvesting along the coast line in the 40-kilometer concession assigned to the group was recently named as one of five lobster habitats in the world that have returned to sustainable levels. . .a remarkable achievement for this remote community of approximately 1,500.

Beginning his second term as Administrator at the beginning of the year, Enrique Espinoza, Cooperativa Progresso Administrator's excitement is infectious as he explains the successes of his group. His eyes sparkle as he proudly gives the details of how the nearly 200 members voted to forbid gillnets in the nine-mile-long La Bocana estero effective at the beginning of 2011, and the protection of Merro (black seabass and grouper) making it illegal to catch them commercially as well as limiting them recreationally.

To replace the loss of income for the local fishermen, he is now encouraging members to look to sportfishing for a more reliable income stream. His organization now offers several programs for members to purchase on credit quality sportfishing equipment at a deep discount for those who choose that path, as well as promoting the nine-mile estuary for sportfishing, building small cabins, and training members to conduct sportfishing trips. 

Cooperativa Progresso and their leader, Enrique Espinoza, are a shining light in the dimly lit world of Baja commercial fishing.



Angling and diving area wins development smack down



Not an everyday occurrence, but it barely raises eyebrows when a yellowfin tuna or dorado is taken from the beach in this area.
Ray Cannon wrote about the area and its steeply sloped contoured bottom plunging to 100 fathoms a mere quarter of a mile from shore.

Punta Arena, often referred to as the Lighthouse, has been a long-time angling favorite for locals and visitors alike. Ray Cannon wrote about the area and its steeply sloped contoured bottom plunging to 100 fathoms a mere quarter of a mile from shore. Nowhere else in the Sea of Cortez will you find depths that close to the shore. Not an everyday occurrence, but it barely raises eyebrows when a yellowfin tuna or dorado is taken from the beach in this area. Trophy-sized roosterfish are often landed here practically is the shadow of the towering lighthouse.

A little farther down the beach toward Baja's tip, Cabo Pulmo was another of the jewels of the Baja mentioned by Cannon.  The pristine beaches of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park border a shallow bay that is home to one of only three hard-coral reefs that exist in North America. Surrounded by an undeveloped desert and a remarkable mountain range, the Park was established in 1995 after the over-fishing by commercial and recreational fishermen caused an alarming decline in marine life. At one time it was slated for development, but thanks to the efforts of local and international conservation groups, it is now a protected national park, a regenerative area for hundreds of species which includes four of the seven species of sea turtles that arrive here to nest on its beaches, or breed and forage in surrounding waters.
In the 16 years since Cabo Pulmo was protected, the fish community has recovered and is now considered among the most healthy in the Sea of Cortez making a case for the importance of protected marine areas.

For the past several years much of the property, including the beachfront from the Lighthouse at Punta Arena in East Cape to the northern edge of Cabo Pulmo, has been purchased by a group from Spain.

The Alicante (Spanish) group, Hansa Urbana, with approval already granted by environmental authorities planned a mega-development covering 3,800 hectares, an area the size of the city of San Jose del Cabo, the largest of all of the proposed developments in the Cape region. The project will include a marina dug into the coast, golf courses, homes, hotels and condos, a new airport for private jets plus a commercial center and a small city to house workers. Future projections include upward of 20,000 people adjacent to Cabo Pulmo and Punta Arena with up to 30,600 hotel rooms, or 10,200 more homes.

In an area that is sparsely populated that contains fragile ecosystems and a limited water supply, a larger population is not sustainable.  Along with many other locals, the director of the Cabo Pulmo National Park, Javier Alejandro Gonzalez, voiced his concerns that a development of this magnitude would overwhelm the fragile eco-system of the area. Their views were shared by a group of environmental NGOs that have formed a coalition to fight for the reef and to stop the development.

That group is led by the U.S. [NGO] Wildcoast; the Mexican [NGOs] Niparajá, Pro Natura Northwest, Community and Diversity, [and] Friends of Cabo Pulmo; [and] academics from Scripps Center in the U.S. and the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur.

Fay Crevoshay, the Communications Director of the Wildcoast, argued that the several golf courses for the tourist citadel will have "used chemicals that will flow into the sea when it rains and will kill the coral."
She also said it is "schizophrenic" for Mexican authorities [to have created] a national park, which they preserved for years, and then "they grant a permit to a developer in order to destroy it."

According to the Gringo Gazette, a local newspaper in Los Cabos, Representative Elvira Quesada of Semarnat, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources at the federal level, said that the Cabo Cortés development is currently being reviewed by more than 100 scientists from many different organizations who are working on the environmental impact statement which is needed for the project to continue. This is the first time that various oversight agencies have worked together on an impact statement. More studies are needed besides the impact statement and they will take years to complete. For the project to continue, these studies must prove beyond any doubt that no harm will come to the protected Cabo Pulmo Marine Park.

It appears that with the Government’s renewed interest, along with the economic woes of Cabo Cortes, Cabo Pulmo Marine Park, along with one of the richest fishing and diving sites in Baja California Sur, will remain safe for a while longer.

July Journey Reflections


The San Ysidro border crossing is also currently being remodeled.

While most Baja travelers who drive Mex 1 don't do back-to-back trips in the same month, I've been doing just that this past month. I drove down in the Roadtrek in early July, flew back home and drove our Ford SUV to Ensenada and back across the border for the WON Coral Tournament, flew back to East Cape for the Bisbee Offshore and then drove the Roadtrek north to California.

Driving down in early July, the grade south of Loreto before Insurgentes was crawling from bottom to top with road crews and heavy equipment removing all the blacktop from the road leaving bare dirt. No news there. In recent years, road repairs have been commonplace up and down the peninsula. What impressed me this time was that on my return trip a month later the grade had been totally repaved and with the exception of painting the centerline, it was complete.   

More recently, road crews are busy on the highways between El Cien and Constitución, south of Loreto, north of Loreto, Bay of Conception, north of Jesús Maria, between Punta Prieta and Cataviña, between San Quintín and Santo Tomás, from the top of the ridge north of Santo Tomás Valley toward Maneadero before Ensenada. And one more repair item, the San Ysidro border crossing is also currently being remodeled. All of this construction prompted several Baja veterans to declare that their recent drives were the worst in twenty-five years. This was bad timing on their part, but twenty-five years ago there were pot holes large enough to lose a rig in  and we would have welcomed construction crews.

If you are driving down soon, allow some extra time for the delays caused by the many delays where the roads are being repaired your next drive on Mex 1.  

As for the cost of fuel, on this trip fuel was $2.80 per gallon for magna and diesel was about $2.84.

In 2005 at East Cape authorities began enforcing a 'no ATV's on the beach' policy with inspectors patrolling the beaches issuing fines and in some cases, confiscating equipment. While I completely agree with the decision to enforce the law, fishing the beach on ATV's was my personal favorite method of fishing. This trip there seemed to be a continuous stream of bikes of every description cruising up and down the East Cape beaches, and I didn't hear of any inspectors patrolling the beaches.  

We did fish the beach with fly rods for several days in July and the four anglers I was with all caught their first rooster from the shore. Nothing huge, but fishing was good and they all had shots at quality fish.

In response to a recent Roadtrekker column where I spoke of the kindness of the Mexican workers when I had a flat, one reader sent me another good Mex 1 story:

"I was driving alone northbound on a weekend that was also a Mexican holiday.  As I approached the large military checkpoint to the north of Jesus Maria there were hundreds of vehicles backed up.  After an hour of creeping along, I was finally at the start of the inspection lanes.  I got out to stretch my legs and struck up a conversation with an officer surveying the chaos.  He asked where I was going.  I explained I was driving to my casa in California and that I had not seen my wife in eight weeks.  I added that I loved her very much and was looking forward to seeing her.  He said "No hay problema" and motioned my truck out of line and to the front.  He then instructed the soldiers to pass me through. I guess that the sympathetic officer had a wife or novia that he missed, too.

I should mention that the exchange with the officer was totally in Spanish.  I must of sounded pretty 'soapy' to him...mucho amor...solitaro... separatos"...Roger F.

A long time reader and WON Tuna Tournament participant , Joe McGinnis,  is planning his 6th Trailer Buddy Boat Cruise from 10/25/2011 'til 11/25/2011.  Since this will be his sixth fishing cruise, he has it pretty well dialed in.

His trip includes a couple of weeks at Mag Bay, Lopez Mateos/San Carlos fishing for wahoo, marlin, tuna in the Pacific ( Thetis Bank) and some inshore estuary snook, etc…then returning to the Sea of Cortez at Santa Rosalia/San Bruno. From there he plans to cross over to San Carlos (mainland Mexico) and Guaymas for a week and then back across to PTO Escondido stopping at many islands.
Anyone interested can contact him at 805 581 2504, at itzlinda@sbcglobal.net  or at Vagabundoswww.vagabundos.com


Friday, August 19, 2011

Color Mex 1 green



When I was asked by Pat McDonell to escort the trailer boaters, along with the assistance of the Green Angels, to the hotel Coral and Marina in Ensenada to participate in the WON’s Ensenada Coral Saltwater Championship, I didn't have to be asked twice. The Green Angels have been omnipresent, a welcomed sight along the highway since my first venture down the recently completed narrow Mex 1 in 1973.

Every trip I have made over the years from border to tip I have encountered their distinctive soothing green road truck cruising up and down the highway, offering services similar to AAA, acting as a reassuring safety net for Baja travelers.

In the early years, we all carried spare everything…tires, fan belts, fuses, etc. to keep us rolling. For the neophytes breaking down in a foreign country on a deserted desert road could be intimidating. If you were broken down on the side of the road, seeing a Green Angels truck on the horizon could quickly turn an extremely bad day into a good one.
 According to the Green Angel web-site they want everyone who travels overland to a destination in Mexico to act as a spokesman, not only for Baja's history, culture, values, beautiful nature, and tourist attractions, but also for their hospitality and the quality of guidance, roadside and tourist assistance services that they offer.

Today the Ministry of Tourism’s Green Angels patrol an average of 60,000 kilometers per day and over 22 million kilometers every year, providing assistance to road users using a quick dial number, 078, and offering the following services:
·         Guidance and information about destinations, state and regional tourist attractions and services.
·         Mechanical assistance and emergency radio support.
·         Assistance in the case of accidents.  
·         Assistance to the general public in the case of disasters.

The Green Angels use a modern radio communication system to provide roadside guidance and tourist assistance services. This means that they can respond more effectively to all service users. The Green Angels Dispatch and Service Control Center now uses state-of-the-art technology that not only gives them radio contact with the Green Angels patrol vehicles but also integrates the service with automatic geographic location of vehicles with the option of interconnection with other communication equipment (UHF/VHF) to provide assistance in the case of emergencies. This replaces the amateur radio system that the Green Angels 
had been using for over 40 years.

Recently in response to the concerns of visitors traveling by car in Baja, the Green Angels have been offering escort services to groups wishing to caravan to tournaments being held in Baja Norte.

When Yvonne and I arrived at Shelter Island on Friday before WON’s Ensenada Coral Saltwater Championship,  Gail Davis, her husband Bob and five other family members were already waiting in the parking lot. They had driven down from Chino with their Seaswirl Striper in tow in their tightly packed 4-door service truck. Introductions were made and we became acquainted while we awaited WON staffer, Bob Semerau and his wife Chris.

Our caravan headed for San Ysidro border crossing. After clearing inspection, Antonio, our Green Angel escort was waiting. With overhead lights flashing, he led our group through Tijuana with a second Green Angel vehicle bringing up the rear.

We cruised down the Toll Road as the sun burned off the early morning haze. Zipping through the three toll gates, we soon arrived at the Hotel Coral and Marina launch ramp.

On Sunday, the trip was reversed with WON staffers joining the caravan back to the border. Arrangements had been made by the Department of Tourism for everyone to return via the Sentri gate. However, the rigs with boats were redirected to another gate. Seems that RV's and boats are not allowed through the Sentri gate.

“It was wonderful!  The whole tournament, and having the escort for first-timers bringing a boat  eliminated a lot of worry since we’d never trailered down in Mexico,” said Gail. “They just pulled out in front of us with their lights flashing and stayed with us all the way down to the hotel.”  Said her husband Bob, “A lot of our friends said they wouldn’t come down with their boats but we’ll be telling them about the great experience we had. We’re coming next year and we’ll have other people come after they hear about how fun this was.”
Green Angels website http://bit.ly/n5leab

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fish croak…no joke


June 16th and 17th, masses of mostly smaller-sized snapper species, one pound or less, deeper water specimens, and a few larger fish, were found floundering on the surface, barely alive and eventually dying and drifting onto the beaches from north of Punta Gorda to Palmilla.  

In early March while doing some research about the sudden disappearance of Humboldt squid, I was introduced to William Gilly, a professor of Biology at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station.   Gilly was a member of the team of writers and scientists who re-created Steinbeck's voyage in 2004 to once-remote waters chronicled in author John Steinbeck's classic book, 'Log From the Sea of Cortez' and recently he has been part of a group that has been studying the effects of El Nino Sea of Cortez Humboldt squid population.

In June, 2010, they only found small 8-inch mature squid spawning in the Guaymas Basin…totally abnormal. The preceding summer, big squid were in the midriff islands and off northern Sonora this winter.
"Now they are nowhere to be found," Gilly said,  "we traveled throughout the Guaymas Basin, up midriff islands area, and found very few squid. Commercial boats have also been searching without success."

Gilly observed that, "From February through March this year the mixed surface layer has gotten steadily shallower -- along with an extreme fall-off in oxygen. Yellowfin tuna and  billfish probably would have a really hard time at oxygen concentrations below half of the peak values plotted here -- so right now they would be compressed into the top 60 feet or so. If the bait is missing it would be stressful, but if it is bountiful, it would be good for the species." 

In 2009 and 2010 a similar trend developed during the spring,  but it was much less severe. This is definitely unusual -- these are features normally associated with tropical eastern Pacific waters farther to the south.

Recently, unusual cold winds along with cooler currents from the south caused water temps to plummet into the 60s along the Sea of Cortez coast from Baja's tip to Las Frailes which resulted in off-color murky green water extending twenty miles from shore.

June 16th and 17th, masses of mostly smaller-sized snapper species, one pound or less, deeper water specimens, and a few larger fish, were found floundering on the surface, barely alive and eventually dying and drifting onto the beaches from north of Punta Gorda to Palmilla.  

Locals, who could not remember anything similar happening in the past, were quick to volunteer a variety of possible causes: By-catch from commercial netting, red tide, natural occurrence, nuclear fallout from Japan, drastic current/temperature change, air bladder rupture, limited oxygen levels or maybe a terrorist poison attack.

Gilly who had sounded the alarm back in March commented that with the combination of winds, cold water and lots of chlorophyll, it sounds like upwelling, either from the wind or possibly it has something to do with the several early hurricanes far to the south.

Gilly went on to say:  "Hurricanes often churn up a lot of nutrient-rich cold water to the surface quickly, much like normal wind-driven upwelling and the effects are often left in its wake. I suspect that severe south winds resulted in the strong local event and a red-tide bloom. Some harmful algal  toxins may have bloomed. Knowing the actual oxygen levels at the time of  die-off would shed some light on the event."

"Coincidentally, we witnessed something similar, June 12th to the 14th, in the Bahia Las Animas and San Rafael areas south of Bay of LA on a research cruise."
"The entire Salsipuedes Canal was a deep red-brown color, surface temperature was 18C rather than 27C nearby, and oxygen was very high. The air on deck was colder than inside the air-conditioned ship. Chlorophyll readings reached 70 mg/cm -- a garden-variety productive bloom would be more like 10-20 mg/cm and everyday blue water is typically <1."

"We did not see any die-offs in this area, but we had great difficulty trying to keep squid alive in our temperature-controlled, holding tanks on deck. Here the squid all died in less than 8 hours because they were held in recirculated surface water, so they could not escape the bloom by going to depth. In all other areas we worked, from Guaymas to Santa Rosalia to San Pedro Martir, the squid routinely lived 2 to 3 days in the same conditions."  

The explanations for the event are all across the board. From the old standby 'El Nino' to my personal favorite 'Terrorist attack'. It seems the consensus by the experts is that lower oxygen levels along with some algal toxin associated with a huge bloom were at the root of the event.



It's about the kids



The purpose of the day was not to make the kids compete, but to let them enjoy fishing as a sport. We don't give prizes; we give kids a good time. 
Playas de Tijuana…a beach more famous for contraband under the cover of darkness than family outings, a beach where the roar of the surf was seldom penetrated by the exuberant, unbridled laughter of parents and and hotdogs offspring as they fished and frolicked while soaking up the sun or gorging on burgers . 

The outing resulted from an inspiration of a band of three young Mexican fathers - Juan Flores, Martin Banos and Eddie Rodriguez- and now in its third year, it has grown to include many members of the popular buenapesca.com Spanish fishing forum.

Taking their cue from the popular annual national holiday,  El Día Del Niño (Day of the Child), which began in 1925 and grew into an annual celebration of the children…a tribute to their importance in society and endorsing their well being throughout Mexico.

That holiday and date seemed like a perfect match for Llevame a Pescar where dads and families could introduce their children to a family fishing adventure on the beach. This turned out to be a wildly popular idea that has now become an annual affair.

Like years before everyone pitched in to make sure that there were plenty of  fishing rods, tackle and bait for every child. Plus, T-shirts were provided for each participant commemorating the event.

As the stubborn marine layer melted away on the morning of May 1st, keyed up kids huddled around their parents eagerly watching as the tackle was rigged and hooks baited. Then clutching their rods, they sprinted across the wet sand toward the hissing surf with their Moms and Dads hustling to keep up.

The bright sun framed by blue skies warmed the parents who became teachers and guides for their kids as they fished, mostly catching small barred surf perch.  Patient instruction, smiles and laughter were the morning's currency. When a few tears of frustration appeared they were quickly brushed away

Buenapesca volunteers pitched in helping the kids cast, untangling lines, and cheering the kids on as they balanced desire and caution in the gentle rolling surf while encouraging catch and release; still they found a few minutes here and there to fish themselves.

When the - sun, sea, sportfishing - became overwhelming there were canopy-covered tables loaded with art supplies where the exhausted kids could retreat. 

Of course no trip to the beach would be complete without plenty of food and in a Mexican version of pot luck the tables beneath the canopies were overloaded with more than enough food for everyone with Buenapesca volunteers cooking and serving.

The most anticipated Cerviche contest was not only popular but tasty as well and everyone enjoyed sampling the various concoctions entered. After the last tortilla chip laden with cerviche had been devoured, the judges convened and Juan Zuno was declared the winner of this year's contest.

The volunteers of this event, mostly Tijuana residents, have demonstrated their passion for sportfishing and the willingness to share with their neighbors and friends. From conception to execution the group has worked tirelessly to offer a hands-on experience demonstration that catching fish is not just a commercial enterprise without any social merit, instead that sportfishing is a family affair that blends well with Mexican family traditions.

Speaking we give kids a good time.for the Mexican sport fishermen who sponsored the event, Juan Flores commented, "The purpose of the day was not to make the kids compete, but to let them enjoy fishing as a sport. We don't give prizes; " 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baja's Intoxicating Target "Dorado"


No other fish motivates the masses like the dorado and nowhere is that more evident than in Loreto.
The impatient anglers begin arriving in June hoping to find an early bite along with discounted room rates. The savvy make their reservations early for July, the heart of the season when the sun is the hottest and the humidity is almost unbearable. The hesitant wait until the reports confirm that the season is in full swing before deciding to go; and often, they are disappointed that their belated arrival coincides with a season that is fizzling out. 

Dorado are like warm, freshly salted tortilla chips. What is there not to like and chances are one is not enough, which is fine because most of the time they come by the basketful.
They are wrapped in many different colors constantly changing hues like a soap bubble. Ask a cockpit full of anglers what color their fish was and each will have a different answer. 
Few fish have as many desirable traits in one package. Fast growing in ideal conditions, a one pound male dorado distinguished placed in a large tank at the San Diego Sea World grew to 35 pounds in eight months.
Almost anything floating on the surface, from a piece of rope to sargasso, (a form of seaweed) can provide enough cover in the hot Baja sun to attract huge schools of dorado as dense as a swirling bait ball.

When located the fish will usually eat almost any bait or artificial offered, is seldom line-shy and  provides a memorable fight punctuated with repeated dazzlingly-colorful acrobatic leaps. They can be caught on any tackle and are the absolute favorite saltwater catch for many flyrodders in Baja.
The past several years have been disappointing.  Dorado goes with Baja sportfishing like the salt on the rim of an icy margarita.  It's just not the same without them.

Some say this has been caused by the illegal commercial fishing recently addressed by the Mexican Government. Others point to the extreme El Nino/La Nina events as the culprit.  However, we all agree that a missing ingredient has been the lack of the sargasso seaweed patches that usually provide  cover for the dorado and other species.

This year early reports of plenty of sargasso seaweed is being reported throughout the Sea of Cortez all the way down to East Cape along with the early arrival of some large fish up and down the coast from Mulege to Cabo San Lucas.

The results of the Bomberos de Mulegé Fishing Tournament is encouraging for the upcoming season right around the corner....lots and lots of fish were caught on both days all the way from just a few miles off the river mouth to 30 miles out. The water temperature throughout the event was right around 76 degrees.

Congratulations to the following winners of a turnout of 74 anglers in 29 boats!
Dorado First: Charles Jetton 33.7 pounds on "Reel Music"
Dorado Second: John Macy (very exciting!) 27.2 pounds on "Poco Mas"
Dorado Third: John Dinning 25.0 pounds on "Mi Mujer"
Largest Other, Cabrilla:  Marlin Larsen 16.0 pounds on "Marlin Azul"

The tournament committee announced that a total of 59,000 pesos had been raised for the charities in Mulegé supported by the annual event.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Old East Cape fading

An aerial view of the 900-acre Cabo Riviera…a 285-slip full-service Marina for vessels from pangas to super yachts under construction with the contractual promise of opening by early 2012.

While the media has been filled with the constant barrage of misinformation regarding the hazards of traveling in Baja over the past couple of years, the steady roar of bulldozers and the low grumble of dredges have been deafening along the East Cape beaches as the landscape is carved and molded to accommodate new developments anchored by marinas and golf courses. Apparently,  there are still plenty of investors and developers, both foreign and local, who are not frightened off by the media stories as they are committing huge sums of money into these ambitious East Cape area developments.

Several weeks ago I flew down to Buena Vista Beach Hotel to attend the memorial for my friend, San Diego Contractor R.E. 'Togo' Hazard. Since most of my trips are in my Roadtrek, I welcomed the opportunity to sit back and take in the scenery as the shuttle sped up the road to the hotel. As I stared out the tinted window I commented to my fellow passengers that after all of these years of driving Mex 1 there are many stretches along the 1,000 mile road that still remained unchanged.

My arrival coincided with Cinco de Mayo and the hotel was decorated in festive Mexican colors commemorating the defeat of the French and traitor Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862 by the loyal, patriotic Mexican soldiers.

The hotel was crowded with guests including more than thirty friends and family who had arrived for Togo's Memorial. That evening's party at dinner with traditional Mexican music and dancers was just the beginning of celebrations that extended until late Saturday night.
As others departed on Sunday,  I had  time to explore the beaches that had once been my backyard from the early '80s to 2005 when we lived in our home, Rancho Deluxe, on the East Cape beach at La Capilla.

The beach in front of La Capilla where Rancho Deluxe and the trailer park once stood and the surrounding homes were leveled back in 2006 in preparation for a new development by American investment group. Today the property remains bare.

But another mile down the beach is the site of El Anhelo Marina and Resort Project which when built will include a hotel, villas, 500 boat slips, Marina village, residential lots,  and an 18-hole golf course. This project is being developed by the local Van Warmer family and El Cid group from Mazatlan with construction to begin later this year.

Five miles farther down the beach is the current granddaddy of projects…the 900-acre Cabo Riviera…a 285-slip full-service Marina for vessels from pangas to super yachts under construction with the contractual promise of opening by early 2012.

Their web site states: "The Marina Harbor is anchored by an European-style Artists Village with casually elegant condominiums, apartments, boutiques, shops, and a replica of a Colonial-era church. The Artists Village offers opportunities for casual dining that are unparalleled in Baja, plus a fabulous spa, all served by water taxis that transport guests between various elements of the harbor-oriented community. Handsome brick and stone-clad buildings overlooking the harbor house an exclusive yacht club and a small boutique hotel. Facing the harbor on the west is Cabo Riviera's five-star 150-key hotel managed by an international concern, and complete with branded residences, a luxurious spa, and private docks for hotel guests. Cabo Riviera residents and guests will have privileges at the championship golf course."

I suppose all of this sounds really cool to some…those faint of heart who want to find exactly what they left behind in another upscale country.   But for me, I want to find the 25 or 30 miles of beach that I could explore and fish…rarely seeing another angler, and when I did, it was often a local with a Mexican spinning reel (tin can wrapped with fishing line), hand-lining his fish from the beach. 

It doesn't seem like that long ago that we had to stand in line in a cinder block building  with a grumpy operator who spoke no English (or didn't use it if she did) out beside a dirt road to telephone home. I can remember the welcomed change when real telephones became available and how we praised the progress that they represented. We were pretty naïve then and never imagined that over the years one small change at a time would eventually  swallow the old Baja that lured most of us here in the first place.

One longtime retired resident who always took his morning walks on the nearly deserted La Ribera beaches decades ago had this to say. "I’m sure I’m not the only local who has major misgivings about the project and all the changes it will bring."

Even the powerful, negative media hasn't been able to keep out the investors and changes have arrived.  My advice to those of you who want to see any part of old Baja before it fades into the new Baja is to visit soon…times are a'changing. 







Thursday, May 26, 2011

WON Veteran Tuna Team…Hillbilly Yacht Club, Goin' Coastal with Kenny Chesney


Tawnya and Clara show off their Costa's at the Concert.

I nearly deleted the Easter Invitation that  tumbled into my inbox before the return email address caught my eye…Fred and Tawnya Stevens.

I had met them several years ago at the Western Outdoor News Tuna Tournament in Cabo San Lucas along with their friends Barbara Morris and Randy Matz.  The four of them showed up the first night in their team shirts which declared that they were all members of the Hillbilly Yacht Club. I assumed that they were simply trying to live up to the tournament's motto fish hard and party harder!  I later learned they had adopted their team name, Hillbilly Yacht Club long before the event.

The invitation was for Yvonne and me to join their Easter party in Coalinga, CA, which they admitted was just three miles beyond the ‘cow smell’… 100 miles north of Bakersfield.  We RSVP'd promptly that we would join them. Unfortunately, a change in a family member's flight reversed our plans, and when I called Tawyna to explain, I could feel her eyes roll back in her head. Our son's mother-in-law, a Buddhist nun, had popped into town unexpectedly, after a six-month retreat in a Convent in Malaysia.  Not your usual run-of-the-mill excuse and hardly believable.  Tawnya's response was cool but polite.

The following week as we packed to depart on a weeklong trip of meetings in Pismo Beach for a Vagabundos del Mar Board Meeting and Lake County for an Outdoor Writers Association of California Conference, Costa Sunglasses called. They were sponsoring Kenny Chesney's 2011 Goin' Coastal Summer Concert Tour and offered us tickets for their Mountain View Concert on Friday night.  Luck was on our side; not only we were free that night, but it was midway between Pismo Beach and Lake County.

I posted on my Facebook the day before the event that Yvonne and I would be attending the Goin' Coastal Concert Mountain View and within a few minutes this post appeared.
Tawnya Adams Stevens: "Gary are you kidding me right now??? Fred and I are in Mountain View right now and we are going coastal with Kenny Chesney and Costa sun glasses! VIP seats! Stayin' at the Hampton inn ....we gotta have a beer."

Tawnya has won a pair of Costa's each year for the past two years at the WON Tuna Tournament and thinks they are the best! She had decided to buy her friend Clara a pair for her birthday. When she went to the website she discovered that Kenny Chesney had designed his first line of signature sunglasses with Costa. 

Even better all the proceeds generated from the sale of the Costa Kenny Chesney Limited Edition Sunglasses would benefit the Coastal Conservation Association, a cause shared by both Chesney and Costa. The five designs feature Kenny’s signature with unique hand-drawn artwork etched onto each frame style, illustrating some of his favorite song lyrics and past tours.

Tawnya, Clara and husbands were meeting in Mountain View for the Goin' Costal Concert where Clara could pick out  her surprise birthday present…a pair of Costa's.

The six of us met for a drink before the concert, where with the help of the photo I had posted on Facebook of JenRu, (as proof) our son's mother-in-law, standing between Yvonne and me in her traditional Buddhist nun's robe, we convinced Tawnya and Fred that our excuse was valid.     

That night Kenny Chesney and friends rocked the house and this impromptu bunch of Western Outdoor News Los Cabos Tuna Tournament alumni carried on the last part of the tournament's tradition…and party harder!

And one final thing, Hillbilly Yacht Club has already signed up again for this year's Cabo Tournament in November.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Cabo's Third Annual Sierra Beach Tournament draws 300

Long before the sun began its climb and journey across the cloudless southern Baja sky on March 27th, a crowd had begun to gather on the beach.  Pick-ups, SUV's, ATV's and dune buggies, with headlights glowing, rolled to a stop on the sandy berm overlooking the pounding surf at Playa Migriño to compete in the Sierra Beach Tournament, the largest event of its kind ever held in Baja.
T
his morning the crowd that swells to more than 300 as dawn turns to morning, has surf fishing tackle of every description, from professional-looking outfits to tackle that appear to have been assembled hastily the night before.

Stephen Jansen, owner of Jansen Inshore Tackle in Cabo San Lucas, the main sponsor of the event,  along with coordinator Roberto Real, marvel at the size of the crowd surrounding them and their crew. Folding tables are set in place, the PA system is hooked up, and prizes are piled high on the tables along with copies of the rules in both Spanish and English.

The speakers crackle when Real flips the mike switch on as more than three hundred fishermen press close. After greeting the anglers, he carefully reviews the rules, answers all the questions and then with a shotgun start, fishing begins at 6:00 a.m. sharp.

Serving as mobile tackle boxes for the competing anglers, vehicles jockey for preferred spots along beach as far as the eye can see. The surf is high, driven by a brisk wind from the west. Using only  artificial lures, the goal of each angler is to fling the offering beyond the crashing waves where the sierra lurk waiting for an easy meal. Sea birds glide above the waves, swooping ever so often for a tasty morsel as the sierra drive the baitfish to the surface.


The excited bellow of 'hook up' can be heard over the noisy surf as rods bend and anglers follow their fish into the surf, often right into chest high waves that push them back up onto the wet sand to safety.

The three-hour event passes quickly and the 9:00 a.m. lines out announcement is welcomed by some and cursed by others. Clutching what they hope will be a winning fish, anglers sprint to the scale, not wanting to lose even one ounce by delaying the weighing in of their catch.

Judges extend the weigh-in time by ten minutes to allow the anglers farther down the beach extra time to reach the scale. Thirty seconds after the Judges declare the scale closed, Jose Coatzil arrived breathless with the largest sierra of the tournament, 4.5 pounds. If only Jose had run just a few strides faster.

Tallying up the catches, the top 20 winners were announced and prizes were awarded. First place belonged to Nestor Castro, who received a Shimano Stella 10000SW spinning reel valued at $900 for his winning sierra 3.9 pounds.

The food tables piled high with hamburgers, salsa, chips and condiments were a welcome sight for everyone after the event ended. Of course fish stories of the morning are told and retold as everyone enjoyed the mid-morning camaraderie.

After receiving his Shimano Stella 10000SW spinning reel valued at $900, Castro, who probably had never owned such a fine reel, presented it to Jose Coatzil who had caught the largest sierra but failed to make it to the scale in time. Smiling broadly, Castro handed his prized Stella to Coatzil, "You caught the largest fish and you deserve to have the prize for your catch."  

2nd Rau Flores Medina Shimano Biomaster 8000
3rd Jesus Ramon Garciglia Jansen combo( spinning reel model sierra 100 and a  spinning rod  short caster 11´ Jansen Inshore Tackle)
4th Roberto Cota Jansen Inshore Tackle rod x-power plus Baja 100 spinning reel.

Each participant was a winner receiving a commemorative T-shirt and snack. The entire catch of the event and two hundred dollars cash donation from several anglers from Alaska was donated to a local orphanage.
Roberto Real, El Coral Restaurant owner, organized the first sierra tournament three year ago to encourage others to enjoy his passion…surf fishing from the beach.  That event was attended by 19 participants and El Coral Restaurant, the only sponsor.  The word quickly spread in the local Mexican fishing community and the following year the participation grew to 124 anglers and doubled in 2011. According to Roberto Real, Coordinator of this popular and growing event, the list of organizers and sponsors continues to grow each year.

So while the International press and the locals play " we say/they said " about all the wrong things, over three hundred anglers,  mostly local,  Mexicans and a few gringos sprinkled in, came together sharing a common passion for the challenge of fishing from the beach, and an act of kindness overrode any egos that usually accompany tournaments.

How much do you want to bet this story doesn't make it to the main stream press in the U.S.?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sea of Cortez…rewind



More than a half a century ago, I made my first cruise on the Sea of Cortez.  My uncle Charles, who had already established himself as my fishing mentor, invited me on his annual Sea of Cortez fishing trip. That he would even be willing to include a still wet-behind-the-ears sixteen year old nephew along on his only vacation of the year spoke volumes.

The trip began with us speeding down the Mexican coast in a 1951 Olds Fiesta hardtop, windows down and a 16' Wizard outboard on a trailer behind, all the way to Guaymas which seemed like it was on the other side of the planet…the adventure was priceless.

That rush was one of many firsts--my first sailfish, my first dorado, my first Cerveza which ultimately led to my first hangover. What I didn't understand at that time was that exciting trip with Uncle Charles would be the foundation for a lifetime of Sea of Cortez and Baja adventures.

For more than five decades following that trip I traveled to Baja towing a variety of different boats ranging from a 14' skiff to a 26' Blackman, spending any free time I had cruising, camping and exploring the impressive gulf that was described many years ago as a giant fish trap.

Over the years, in some areas marinas sprung up surrounded by luxury hotels and obscured the attraction of cruising that impressive gulf.  Small, remote, uncrowded bays providing idyllic settings with remarkable fishing not far outside the anchorages were forgotten as older generations with that had been there and done that attitude sought more and more creature comforts and the younger generations had never known the uninhabited gulf.  

I recently received an email, complete with chart, from Joe McGinnis, a member of Vagabundos del Mar, describing an upcoming Baja cruise organized by Vagabundos that joggled my recollection of my many similar trips and all of the memorable hours my family and friends had logged over the years exploring the waters surrounding the Baja peninsula.    

It was exciting to read that the adventure of cruising was not gone or forgotten. Joe's email reeked with excitement and enthusiasm as he described the upcoming trip.

The chart, with hand written notations and markings where the boats would launch, fuel stops along the planned route, all with carefully added lat/long numbers, stirred my imagination once again.   

Tentative plans at this time are that the California contingent led by McGinnis that has already grown to six boats ranging in sizes from 24' to 28' will depart the third week of April trailering their boats to San Felipe. Then they will continue sixty-five miles south to where the pavement ends on the road to launch their boats.

From there the group will cruise down the Baja coast to Bay of Los Angeles, heading east to the west coast of Mexico and continuing down the coast to San Carlos near  Guaymas. There they will hook up with another Vagabundos group led by Captain Dan and Shirley Atkinson.

The two groups will merge and travel together down the Mexico coast and across to Agua Verde and on to Puerto Escondido before turning  up the east coast of Baja past Loreto and stopping for a local Festival. Then  on to Mulege and Conception Bay before they continue to Santa Rosalia for yet another Festival arriving at Punta Chivato where the two groups will split up and head for home.

Cruising along the Baja coast in small boats is a time-honored tradition dating all the way back to Ray Cannon's early years of visiting Baja. This trip will provide an opportunity to those who have longed to take a closer look at Baja's Sea of Cortez from the deck of their own trailer boat while tagging along with a group of similar boats crewed by seasoned Vagabundos del Mar members familiar with the areas that will be visited on the cruise.  This is a great introduction of some of the best that Baja has to offer!

For information contact the Vagabundos del  Mar office at (800) 474-2252 or visit their web site at http://www.vagabundos.com/.  They can provide you contact information for the Cruise leaders who can supply you with details and a complete itinerary of the cruise.