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The sea is the truest coach. This is the place I learned to paddle on the sea.
Wake up beside the beach, float just off the point as the sun warms the day and the swells move through. Catch gentle rides, point breaks that peel to the right and let you out before they break, if you ask nicely. Study the waves and the other riders while catching a bite to eat in the palapa. Wander the hills on a windy afternoon and let the wide open spaces inspire and fill the soul. If you’re ready for something different, paddle up the coast to flirt with rocks. Blowholes, slots, and tiny sandy beaches provide scenery and challenges. Sometimes a gray whale glides on her long slow journey north.
Camp itself is a collection of rustic palapas (3-sided buildings) on a remote Pacific beach in front of a point break. It’s popular with surfers during the winter season. We’re shooting for the small gap between the surfers and the spring wind, just after Easter. We’ll base camp here and choose the adventure of the day based on the weather and on how we feel.
Only NW swell can make it into the bay, and it is well groomed by the shape of the land. The bay itself faces south. There are also hiking opportunities, to petroglyphs, to caves with shell middens, and along the wild shoreline. Dinners are catered in camp by a local family and feature seafood freshly caught by their relatives, with some store-bought variations.
For this course, we are providing van transportation from San Diego. Don’t be dismayed by the 9-10hour ride. It’s Baja. You’re transitioning into a different time dimension. The scenery is like none you’ll see anywhere else. The Catavina boulder fields. The Valle de los Cirios National Protected Area with its unique, endemic plants that look like Dr Seuss designed them. The Cardon cacti with their reaching arms petitioning the blue sky.
Who can come? In the BCU framework, if you’re working on your 3-star and like to be challenged, that’s good enough. Because the surf is gentled by having to wrap almost 180 degrees to get into this bay, and the landing is mostly sandy, and because we’re base-camping, we can handle a variety of skill levels. You don’t need a roll, though it will be helpful. If you know what a brace is, can paddle in 15 knot wind with waves of 2-3′, and are interested in pushing your learning curve, you’re welcome to join us. If you’ve got your 4-star and want to play on an amazing coastline, you will be inspired. I’ve got five and I’m still in heaven every day I’m there.
We’ll be providing sea kayaks–plastic Nigel Dennis Romany kayaks, or other fiberglass NDK model, or plastic Delfin kayaks. If you are interested in driving down with your other toys, please do. Surf kayaks, SUP, surfboards, and boogie boards are all fun to play with. We may have a SUP or two as well if we can fit it.
Bonnie Perry will drive the van down from San Diego and be our second coach. In the BCU, Bonnie is the fourth woman in North America to be awarded the 5 Star Leader on the Sea. She’s also a Level 3 Sea Coach, a 3 star assessor, and 3 star open boater. In the UKCC she is one of three people in the US with the Level 3 Discipline Specific Sea Kayak Training. In the ACA, Bonnie is a Level 4 Open Water Instructor Trainer and in Paddle Canada she’s a Level 2 Instructor. Bonnie spent her formative years in Hawaii messing around on surfboards. Surf Camp will be a homecoming for her as well, coaching others in the magnificent forces of nature, and inviting them to express joy through play. When Bonnie is not on the water she is the Rector/Senior Pastor of All Saints’ Episcopal Church www.allsaintschicago.org.
A BCU 3-star assessment is possible for anyone interested.
Sharing this special place is the dream that goaded me into starting Sea Kayak Baja Mexico in the first place. Though I’ve taken friends here before, this is the first official Surf Camp we’re offering. The number of courses will always be limited by conditions and by trying to maintain good relationships with other surf users. Once a year or every other year, perhaps. Join us in making history, and, more importantly, in building your skills or firing up your inspiration for the sea.