Whaling, Whaling

It doesn’t take much to lure me out of the Northeast in February—just a little warm salt water and a sailboat will always do it. But it was pure East Coast envy that brought me to Magdalena Bay, on the Pacific Coast of the Baja peninsula, for a whale-watching/sea-kayaking/camping adventure run by Sea Kayak Adventures. Mag Bay is the northernmost of the three bays on that coast to which
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
HR1-080800-SAway-whale

It doesn’t take much to lure me out of the Northeast in February—just a little warm salt water and a sailboat will always do it. But it was pure East Coast envy that brought me to Magdalena Bay, on the Pacific Coast of the Baja peninsula, for a whale-watching/sea-kayaking/camping adventure run by Sea Kayak Adventures. Mag Bay is the northernmost of the three bays on that coast to which Pacific gray whales migrate annually from the Bering Sea in December and January to spend two to three months giving birth, breeding, and fattening up their calves for the long trip back. It’s also the bay that, from my position at SAIL as recipient of manuscripts, inspires cruising sailors to write.

There are many things you can do in a sailing vessel between San Diego and Cabo San Lucas, but they don’t include watching—and, hopefully, interacting with—whales or exploring mangrove lagoons and the shallow channels between them. For the former you need a panga with a licensed driver; whale watching is highly regulated by Mexican law, and no private boats or kayaks are permitted in the main channels when the whales are in residence. For the latter, unregulated waters, you need a canoe or kayak to negotiate the shallows and silently approach the incredible bird (think great blue herons) population. And of course, for exploring the beaches and dunes and the wealth of plants that grow there, you need your feet.

The oddity of being in a desert environment—the Sonoran Desert stretches down most of Baja California, on both sides—surrounded by an ocean struck me when I woke in the middle of the night and decided to take a look outside. I stood on the top of a dune—barefoot, unfortunately, since the sand, moistened by condensation, was freezing cold, and the air wasn’t far behind—confronting a sky packed so full of stars that it was almost impossible to pick out familiar Orion, right there in front of me and about to get his feet wet. I heard the whoosh of whales spouting before I saw them, but there they were, clearly visible in the starlight and surrounding by leaping dolphins. Magic.

Magic #2 arrived better late than never. We had packed up and were whale-watching our way back to the mainland when a much-desired “friendly” whale and her baby came alongside our panga. At that close range it was hard to tell nose from tail or mom from baby, but she was clearly inviting a touch, and touch her I did. Amazing! www.seakayakadventures.com

Related

GG17-SAONA47-DX0796

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Saona 47

Here’s a riddle: What is less than 50ft long, has two hulls, three big cabins and four decks? Answer: The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47. In fact, it may even be five levels if you count the large engine rooms. This boat is a “space craft” in every sense of the word.DESIGN & ...read more

RichardBennettMIDNIGHT-RAMBLER3249x202

Storm Sails: Do you Need Them?

Many sailors embarking on ocean passages will take along the obligatory storm jib and trysail, with the vague idea that they may come in handy. Few sailors, however, have a real understanding of how and when to set them.It doesn’t help matters when we hear from seasoned sailors ...read more

IntheWater(1)

Boaters University Unveils Rescue Course

Boaters University has just announced its latest online course, Safety & Rescue at Sea, taught by Mario Vittone, whose name you might recognize from the pages of our sister publication, Soundings Magazine and his Lifelines blog.Mario Vittone is a retired U.S. Coast Guard rescue ...read more

IMG_20170920_132819

How to: Installing New Electronics

I had been sailing my Tayana 42, Eclipse, for a few years without any installed electronics on board. I’d gone pretty far up and down the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts with paper charts, the Navionics app on my Android phone, a hand-bearing compass and the ship’s compass. ...read more

02-Douglas-Adkins---Coriolis---Orcas-Island-KevinLightPhoto

A Phoenix-like Concordia

Cutting a fine wake on the cobalt-blue waters of West Sound on Orcas Island, Coriolis sparkles like a diamond. Her lovely silhouette is offset by emerald forests that frame the ocean, within spitting distance of the border with Canada. Seen up close, this Concordia yawl is a ...read more

IMG_1051

The Latest Boat Trends from Dusseldorf

The world’s biggest boat and watersports show, held in Düsseldorf on the banks of Germany’s Rhine River each January, is the place to scope out emerging trends in the boat design and building.What would be the new trends for 2018 and beyond? Hint—sophisticated electronics figure ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGood ConnectionsI wish I’d had a dollar for every time I’ve cobbled together an electrical fitting with a “that’s good enough” shrug. An old shipwright once taught me that “good enough is not good enough” ...read more

tides2

Gear Test: Tides Marine Sailtrack

Gravity is an important force at work on a sailboat. It keeps the boat upright, it makes the anchor drop to the bottom, and it makes the mainsail slide neatly down the mast to be flaked and put away at the end of the day… until it doesn’t.In the case of dropping the mainsail, the ...read more