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:
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

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more