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  They can provide you contact information for the Cruise leaders who can supply you with details and a complete itinerary of the cruise.