West Coast Wind Blog: Dec. 15, 2018

by Mike Godsey, iwindsurf.com/ikitesurf.com
Weatheflow.com

 

 

Mail: mikeATwindsurf.com

 

This looks like a perfect set up for at least upper-teens wind. But…

 

 

The first image shows the isobars of a large high pressure in Great Basin extending over the 4 corners and into mainland Mexico.

 

This results in isobars over the Sea of Cortez creating a N. to S. pressure gradient.

 

 

The next image shows a close up on the model output for La Ventana and El Sargento waters. The color suggests upper-teens winds.

 

 

Add to that the boost of local thermal wind to the Los Planes Valley and we might reach the low 20’s… BUT

 

The satellite imagery from Friday twilight shows the clouds from the Sub Tropical Jetstream are moving towards La Ventana and Los Barriles.

 

If these clouds are too thick we will have weaker thermal winds and the El Norte winds will have a hard time filling into the beaches.

 

This would mean weaker up and down wind anywhere near the beach.

 

West Coast Wind Blog: Friday, Dec. 14

by Mike Godsey, iwindsurf.com/ikitesurf.com
Weatheflow.com

Mail: mikeATwindsurf.com

Below is the clouds associated with the high-speed winds at ≈ 18,000 ft. that were near Baja yesterday. These clouds as well as the low clouds you see in the bottom image took the edge off the winds yesterday and made them up and down at times near shore. Overnight this upper trough has mostly moved into mainland Mexico so we should see more blue skies. So even though the El Norte winds are fading the local thermal winds will build.

West Coast Wind Blog: Thursday, Dec 13, 2018

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

 

 

With low swell already hitting the beaches and UP AND DOWN winds sometimes hitting 18 mph at the campground sensor it is clear that El Norte winds will develop just outside today.

 

But to get those winds to the beach we need a local pressure gradient to the Los Planes Valley and the valleys near Los Barriles.

 

At dawn, there are lots of low-level gray clouds over the region as indicated by the yellow arrows. Notice how those clouds fade away north Isla Cerralvo. So those clouds should not be in an issue. But the wispy upper-level clouds streaming towards us may be an issue if they thicken, We need those clouds to largely dissipate to heat the valleys and product the local pressure gradient.

 

In the 2nd image note how the great mass of the clouds are to our south. That is encouraging. The second image shows that most of the low-resolution models have the clouds mostly clearing. These low-res models are not very useful for forecasting local winds but they are better for large features. So this is also encouraging.

 

The bottom image shows the low level water vapor.  This suggests that clouds could form very easily.

 

Hence the iffy nature of my forecast.

 

West Coast Wind Blog: Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Poorly positioned high pressure at the surface and an upper trough aloft means mild winds.

by Mike Godsey, mail: MikeATiwindsurf.com

Looking at the model animation below note that in part one we are seeing the surface winds while in part 2 we are seeing the winds of an upper trough at about 18,000 ft.

The surface animation shows there is up high pressure moving towards the Great Basin but it is a little too far away to help our wind until tomorrow. The real wind killer is the southward extending loop of high speed wind you see in red and blue. This upper trough is at ≈ 18,000 ft. and brings cooler air over Baja and an increasing chance of clouds.

The combo of these events means mild wind today. Tomorrow the upper trough moves eastward and the high pressure drops southward and we see solid wind.

 

West Coast Wind Blog: Baja’s East Cape image of the day: Dec. 11, 2018

by Mike Godsey

You know the routine. First one to two day of strong El Norte winds. Then 1 or 2 days of mild El Norte + mild local sea breezes. So today you would expect at least upper-teens northerly wind. But…..no. Why, let’s examine the images below.

First look at the surface isobars for yesterday. Note the high pressure in the Great Basin and how isobars over the Sea of Cortez are creating northerly wind.

Now, look at the Today image. There is still high pressure but it is centered more to the north which, by itself, would mean weaker Baja winds. But the big news is that low-pressure area over the entire Sea of Cortez. As you can see this causes isobars to cluster over Nevada. So “our” wind is focused in that area.

So where did this area come from?

Look at the bottom image which shows the surface isobars AND  the winds at ≈ 18,000 ft. Notice the southward dip in these winds. This is known as an upper trough and brings clouds and cooler air to our region. Also not the counter-clockwise spinning area within the upper trough. This is a near Cut-Off Low. Together these events have induced the surface low pressure you see in the isobars. Hence the weak winds likely today.

West Coast Wind Blog: Baja’s East Cape image of the day3

by Mike Godsey, Mike AT iwindsurf.com

The model output below from yesterday and today show 3 critical differences:

1. The high pressure is weaker today and evidenced by the greater distance between the isobars.

2. Today the high pressure has centered further north of the ideal location near the 4 corners.

3. And you can see below that this means there are fewer isobars over the Sea of Cortez so the N. to S. pressure gradient is weaker.

None of these are favorable signs for strong El Norte winds but even weak El Norte wind can combine with local sea breezes if the valleys are clear and so we should see decent wind today especially in the La Ventana area. 

 

West Coast Wind Blog: San Carlos Hurricane Diary

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Most of the eastern Pacific hurricanes run up the coast of mainland Mexico then turn into the Pacific without impacting Baja. But as the imagery below shows some do track up the Baja coast and impact townd, roads and the kite and windsurfing sites. This diary kept by Chris and Annie documents what is like to be camping near the path of a hurricane. In this case it was hurricane Nora that passed near the wave mecca of Punta San Carlos.

DAY FOUR OF TRIP

UPDATE BY: CHRIS – No A.M. wind. Hike the mountains with Annie after coffee and muffins- and end up at the rock beach by airstrip. Surf the Stewart longboard with Dale and Annie at Bombora. Fun drops then a long slow ride to the gap. More wind at the point than up here. Watched Dale sail the Fanatic surf/sailboard. Another feast with BBQ lobster, tri-tip ala Kevin. Lunch was an epic Luis special – corvina ceviche. Watched Marc’s TV and weather channel tracking the big hurricane (Nora). Where will it hit? No one knows, but Marc is packing it up! He has been here since early August and was leaving soon anyway.
UPDATE BY: ANNIE – Surfing wasn’t very easy, but once in a while I was rewarded with a gliding ride. Chris had his eye on the larger sets at the Bombora and sensing his need for more challenging conditions I said I’d paddle out with him. At the Bombora he would move deep into the shoulder as it jacked up, well overhead and take off deep+steep, riding what seemed like a quarter of a mile into shore. I was too chicken to take off on the Bombora wave so I paddled back to the former spot and surfed on my own for a while. Later in the evening huge cumulus clouds gathered east of us on the shore and a light show of thunderbolts went off. I was feeling a bit scared and asked a lot of questions about storms in San Carlos, (eg. that couldn’t be the hurricane could it?!) many questions unanswered or with a general “no cause for alarm” attitude. I began to feel like the overreacting female.
Meanwhile, NWS HURRICANE WARNING:

AT 5 AM PDT1200ZTHE CENTER OF HURRICANE NORA IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTH A GRADUAL TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHEAST WITH AN- INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS. ON THIS TRACK, THE CENTER OF NORA WILL LIKELY CROSS THE EXTREME NORTHERN GULF OF CALIFORNIA AND MOVE INTO NORTHERN SONORA MEXICO AND THEN INTO SOUTHWESTERN ARIZONA LATER TODAY.
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 75 MPH / 120 KM/HR WITH HIGHER GUSTS. ESPECIALLY STRONG GUSTS ARE LIKELY OVER HIGH TERRAIN. WEAKENING IS LIKELY DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.
HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 60 MILES 95 KM FROM THE CENTER AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 145 MILES / 230 KM.
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 985 MB / 29.09 INCHES.
A STORM SURGE OF 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS CAN BE EXPECTED IN THE WARNED AREA PARTICULARLY IN THE NORTHERN GULF OF CALIFORNIA AND THE BAHIA SEBASTIAN VIZCAINO ON THE PACIFIC COAST OF BAJA CALIFORNIA. THE SURGE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES.
RAINFALL TOTALS OF 2 TO 5 INCHES WITH ISOLATED AMOUNTS NEAR 10 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE IN ASSOCIATION WITH NORA. THE RAINBANDS OF NORA ARE MOVING OVER PORTIONS OF NORTHERN BAJA CALIFORNIA

DAY FIVE
CHRIS – Sunny and hot, very light wind. Collect trash with Kevin and Dale of Solo Sports from all of the campers. Talked with Sheldon while Annie surfs. Swell increasing. Peaky waves at Bomby with 2-3′ inside. Fish Camp stop to drop off water barrel for Luis’ trip to El Rosario. Chill out with Luis and his homeboys in Luis’ crib. Red tide at fish camp. Take Fanatic surf/sail board out to Bombora, caught inside after 2 rides, leash snaps, board on rocks. Dale saves it from total destruction. Damage report. 2 small areas of chipped gelcoat. Then it hits us. A cloud burst front comes down the mountain. We watch a tent roll over the cliff down closer to the point. Our camp handles it well. Pretty soon the sun is out, humidity is up and we’re BBQ’ing chicken for dinner, while all the other camps are putting it back together.

DAY SIX
CHRIS – Short A.M. shower, kona winds, swell a bit bigger, full cloud cover. A.M. session at Dale’s left with 6-10′ faces. Epic session with Kevin and Dale as wind is El Norte and blowing straight up these mackers. Great waves, great conditions, only three of us in rotation, plenty o’ waves for everyone. Mountain bike to rock beach by landing strip with Annie. This beach is exactly like Goat Rock beach at the mouth of the Russian River, but twice as steep and very loud from the rocks getting polished. Afternoon surf with Annie out front. Large stormy waves, lefts and rights, rain starts up again. Another feast, then we all enjoy the cool evening air – oblivious to the night of terror we are about to endure. The wind increases with gusts of 20 to ?. The camp, set up for the prevailing winds, cannot hold up for this bitch of a wind from Nora that is coming in the opposite direction. Two sections of awnings take all the abuse as they peel back in the blasts. Annie and I head for the van and sleep  as it rocks back and forth in the stronger puffs. Kevin and Dale tent it and wake up soggy.
ANNIE – Evening brought increasing fear about the looming storm. The water began to look disorganized and dark and when the strong winds and rain came I opted for moving into the van for the night. Not a wink of sleep, feeling the van rock sideways, making a sick sound with the raging wind and waves making thunder. I woke Chris up all night saying, “I’m scared!” I kept thinking the van was going to fall over or be pushed, sliding in the mud, off the bluff into the angry ocean. I was terrified and the only thing I could think of was seeing my two little boys’ faces again. I kept asking “Is THIS THE hurricane?” given answers of “no” or “I don’t know”. I tried listening to the radio but the only information given was that the hurricane was in Baja. Daylight arrived painfully slow.

DAY SEVEN
CHRIS – Wow! What a night! Damage report: 2 10X20 awning sections mangled like they were made of wire. Kevin’s tent rod snapped forcing him into a back up tent. A few lobster traps pushed by the surf with the shorebreak. Fishermen from the fish camp reported news of winds up to 80mph during the night and that a few fishing shacks were flattened. The surf is another notch larger and lumpier than yesterday, wind is side-off and howling. Spray off tops of waves is spectacular. Quick drive around to check on all the campers. The driving is almost impossible on even the flattest ground as the mud beneath sucks the tires in. Hope this rain stops soon so the road will dry out in time for us to travel it. Everyone OK and holed up. It continues to rain lightly. Driving is tricky at best, Nora is here to party. Annie heard radio reports that the storm is heading inland over central Baja, then up towards Phoenix and Tucson. Rain continued ’til noon then stops, blue sky visible over the ocean to the south and west. The swell is HUGE at the Bombora with 15-20′ faces closing out. We watch in amazement. Dale and I surf out front, some fun head high peaks, steep drops and fast sections. Dale redeems himself with a late take off on a critically vert, overhead right barrel-does he make it? ASK DALE? Ribs on the BBQ after a hike up the mountain to the cross (Nora had blown it over). Early to bed still a little soggy), we are all tired from the previous night.
ANNIE – So happy to see daylight. Throughout the evening the howling wind had switched from NE to NW and I heard radio reports that the hurricane was going to arrive in Arizona by nightfall. Again I asked the questions, “So Was THAT THE hurricane? It sure felt like one!” With responses of “NO, NO the hurricane was 100’s, maybe 200 or 300 miles from here!” At that point I began to trust my own feelings. Later in California we found out that the hurricane passed directly over us and that San Carlos was within 20-50 miles of the eye. Light on the Bombora revealed double mast high waves. From my limited experience, I couldn’t exactly tell the size of them, but was told that they were double-mast high and could inflict significant damage. Too exhausted to attempt surfing out front in overhead conditions I biked to the point observing the beauty of surging volumes of water pushing their way into the Chili Bowl. It was good to be alive and I felt like crying.

DAY EIGHT
CHRIS – Clear A.M. light tradewinds, surf is still huge, but a little cleaner. The Bombora is whitewater, the inside = a nightmare. Coffee and bagels and we’re off to check out the surf. The fish camp right is going off. Dale, Kevin and I score another epic session. Unlike the rides at Dale’s Left these are endless waves with sections that jack completely covering you for moments them spitting you out down the line. This session and the one at Dale’s Left rank as the two on the top of my list for larger surf.
-Lunch and rig for sailing. Me on 5.5, 9’1″ Blair, Annie 4.5 Ezzy, 8’3″ Mistral. Very light inside, powered on the outside, but mast high Bombora waves keep you in check – no going out there – certain disaster!! Inside is pretty big, too – not easy for some. We take a break and watch the action, then Solo camp gets the 911 call. Can we help the lady with the gaping leg wound? They bring her over and every one scrambles around, luckily Solo Sports 1st Aid kit is loaded. 10 stitches are placed in her outer right thigh. The wound was as deep as it was long 3 1/2″. Surgery lasts 1-2 hours, Annie is my assistant and moral support. Julie is taken by her friends to San Diego for further help. The camp quiets down. Last dinner in camp with Luis. Early to bed, early to rise – one more day. Injuries reported in all the camps – this has been a difficult day for some.
ANNIE – I assisted Chris in the surgery, having assisted him many times at the dental office. She was allergic to the available antibiotic and so getting her to a hospital in the States was important. Julie’s main concern was for her friends to be able to stay on and sail, instead of transporting her to a hospital in the U.S. Kevin quickly offered transportation as well. Kevin takes care of everyone – a guy with a huge heart. That evening Julie and her friends blasted off for the U.S. Later, when I was told what her name was, I remembered reading in the recent windsurfing Magazine that she won the Gorge Pro Am, San Francisco Bay Pro Am, and 2nd in the US Open.

West Coast Wind Blog: Baja Hurricane Diary OLD

West Coast Wind Blog: Customer comments about Human Baja wind forecast:

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Forecasting for Baja’s East Cape is hard. Many of the tools we take for granted in the USA are not available. And unlike the USA where we have lots of sensors at major kite and windsurf regions we only have one proprietary sensor in Baja. Still, I keep slowly climbing up the forecast learning curve. The last year I forecast I asked for feedback from customers about the forecast. Below are all the e-mails that came in during the next week or so. Such comments are what fuel my passion for improving the forecasts. Mike Godsey

West Coast Wind Blog: Where to go for Baja winter winds.

Where to go for Baja winter winds:

by Mike Godsey, mikeATiwindsurf.com

First, don’t confuse the April-Oct. down-the-line wave riding at Punta San Carlos and the other spots on the Baja Pacific coast with Sea of Cortez kiting and windsurfing. Different season, different crowd, and scant wave riding except when there is exceptionally big swell that breaks on sandbars or reefs and provides backside wave riding like you see in my photo from Cabo Pulmo to the right.

It is always tricky to make hard and fast wind rules but after having spent a total of 60 months living in Baja over 35 years I’ll stick my neck out.

Most years the Sea of Cortez winds are the strongest and most reliable from December to mid-February so this is the best time to visit if you are a windsurfer. If you are kiting add a month or two earlier and later. If you are a foiler you don’t even need to be reading this. If California is having an early winter then strong Baja winds can start in early November. If it is an extraordinarily mild winter in California then you better hope that the fishing is good in Baja. (this relates it being a El Nino or La Nino or Neutral winter which is a topic for another blog) The best pattern is when there are well-spaced storms coming over the west coast with clear spells between each storm. For example, in Nov. 2001 an unending series of storms hit the west coast and there was little wind in Baja.

When El Norte blows, all the sites from Punta Chivato to Cabo Pulmo have wind. Don’t switch sites if it is dead at your site… all the sites are probably dead. The only exceptions to this rule are Cabo Pulmo and La Ventana. Sometimes Pulmo just does not get wind. While La Ventana can have a very light sailable wind when the other sites are dead.
Most reliable winds (from most consistent to least consistent):

1. La Ventana
2. Los Barilles
3. Punta Chivato
4. L.A. Bay
5. Punta Arena
6. Cabo Pulmo

Strongest winds and most radical conditions (locations with typically the strongest winds and the most radical locations are mentioned higher on the list):
1. Cabo Pulmo (shown in photo)
2. Los Barilles
3. La Ventana
4. L.A. Bay
5. Punta Chivato
6. Punta Arena

Dangers

Baja has few of the sharks that worry sailors on the west coast and Hawaii. The only dangers here are needle fish. These sea-going daggers have been known to leap out of the water causing puncture wounds. If you see long narrow fish 1 to 2 feet long jumping out of the waves in front of you, dump into the water and water start going the opposite direction. Hitting one of these daggers when it is moving at 20 mph and you are moving at 30 mph can send its point jaw into some unpleasant places. At all of the sailing spots, longtime sailors can recount last seasons fish stories. For example, if you are at La Ventana, drop by Ventana Windsurf and ask Steve to see the X-rays of his butt. And when at Las Barilles, stop by Vela and ask Bill about his knee. The danger is small but the stories large. At times, there are man-of-war jellyfish but they are small compared to the ones in Maui. All in all Baja sailing is very mellow.

 

More Details:

Los Barriles

This used to be most popular Baja windsurfing destination. If you are coming down for a short trip and like at least a hint of resort life and the proximity to the Los Cabos nightlife and shopping, this is the best place to consider.

There is a wide variety of accommodations ranging from windsurfing resorts to the camping of North Beach. Please see our “Resorts and B&Bs” page for further information. The social life is hot (by Baja standards) and there are lots of stores and places to eat. Telephones, banks, RV park, gas stations await you. There are superb resort and windsurfing rental facilities. For your none windsurfing partner Los Cabos an hour to the south may beckon. There amaze of resorts, golf courses and tennis courts and shopping malls stand ready to devour money and time.

The wind is strong and side shore with very big swell close to shore. On most days, this a rugged place for complete beginners. There is often a good size shore break but once you are a few feet from shore it is no problem. Sometimes there are boats anchored in the inshore waters that you have to watch out for. If you sail southward you will find several points with breaking surf and fun backside wave sailing on larger days.

The winds are a bit stronger here than at La Vantana but when El Norte dies there can be periods of no wind. The large sweeping beach way downwind acts to catch wayward sailors but if you are more than a mile offshore you will have a long drift.

The wind alternatives range from ATVs, to world-class fishing, to exercise classes, sea kayaking, and mountain biking. From shore you can see the windline as it moves towards the land. Typically the wind picks up at a civilized hour in the late morning. In town are all the supplies you need and there are good restaurants. There is usually a satellite network so you can get the weather channel and track those Highs and Lows. There is also internet access. On a typical year the winds blow 4 or 5 days out of seven here. The wind here is fairly consistent and the swells can get very large.

This is the easiest sailing place to find. From the border, head south for several days. The highway goes right on the outskirts of town. Head into town to your destination.

Los Barriles caters more to travelers staying at windsurfing resorts and RV parks, but also offers beach camping. In addition, this area has the most complete infrastructure including supermarkets and medical care.

Baja Adventures offers a full-service Bed & Breakfast in Buena Vista — just south of Las Barilles. This nice B&B offers rates from single bunk rooms to double accommodations.

Vela Windsurf Resorts is located in front of the main launch in Las Barilles — on the beach at Bahia de Palmas, 1/2 mile east of Highway 1, on the north side of town. Vela has a reputation for having some of the best windsurf equipment, accommodations, and instructors in Baja.

If your budget or lifestyle prefer beach camping, then you may be able to camp at North Beach in the arroyo on the north of town. The status of this camping area is always in flux.

Martin Verdugo’s is on the beach at Bahia de Palmas, next to Vela. It is partially shaded area with 69 level RV sites and 25 tent sites. There are full hook-ups, flush toilets, showers, laundry, and a restaurant & Bar. The RV camping here is crowded and you are parked with almost overlapping mirrors. This is definitely not a pristine Baja experience but the sailing is great!

The Playa de Oro RV resort has 54 RV sites and 2 tent sites. It has full hook-ups, flush toilets, showers, boat ramp, laundry, and ice. You can make reservations by calling (818) 336-7494.

 

La Ventana
The northernmost of the fabled East Cape sites. South of La Paz this site was relatively unknown until the 93/94 season. 15 years ago we sailed here for a week and never saw another sailor.

The water and air are warm and the campsites are fairly protected from the wind. If your are driving down for a week or two and sailing is your only goal, this is a good place to spend your trip. The sideshore winds at La Ventana are a combination of two wind patterns. The hot, broad San Juan de los Planes valley downwind creates a local thermal wind that accelerates a mild 18 knot El Norte into fun 20-25 knot breeze. When El Norte cranks this thermal assist gives La Ventana serious winds.

 

The wind at La Ventana is further accelerated by the venturi effect created by Isla Cerralvo located offshore. The swells are a bit smaller than sites to the south (still they dwarf the Gorge on a 4.0 day) but they line up cleaner than Los Barriles. There is backside wave sailing at the small break at the shallow sandbar about 300 feet off the camping beach. There is another good wave sailing place at the turn of the beach to the south. None of these offer real down the line surf sailing but they are fun!

 

There is more interesting back side wave sailing 200 yards upwind with glassy breaking waves. There is also some wave action to the south at the bend in the beach. At all of these sites, a surfer can use a long board in the early morning before the wind kicks in. There is world class surfing 90 minutes away at Todo Santos on the pacific side but don’t expect any wind.

The sandbar in front of the camping area absorbs the shorebreak making this Baja’s best place for complete beginners. There are lots of very sharp sea urchins in the cobblestones towards the pier just downwind. Unless you are able to return exactly to one of the cleared pathways through the cobbles you should wear booties.

If you climb the small hill across the road in the morning you can see the windline and watch as it approaches the shore. A huge beach sweeps downwind acts as a parachute for drifting sailors. Even if you break down 6 miles outside you will land on the beach after drifting only about 1-2 miles. On a typical year the winds blow 4 to 6 days a week.

Be forewarned this is not a place for those looking for nightlife. There is a nice campground with water, trash pickup, showers, and somewhat funky restrooms. It can be very crowded at times. The town has no bar, no paved roads, no gas station, and unreliable phones. There are several tiny but good restaurants. There are 3 small windsurfing and kiting B&Bs. See our “Resorts and B&Bs” page for a full listing. If you are camping the prices for provisions are currently cheaper than at other Baja sites.

The reason La Ventana was so late being discovered is its isolation from Mex. 1. To get there if you are driving south, watch for the airport on the right as you near La Paz. If you are flying into La Paz leave the airport heading east and turn right when you reach Mex. 1. Once past the airport, head towards La Paz. When you get to the whaletail monument turn right and you will be on Boulevard Las Garzas (also called Agustin Olachea). Follow it to the first stoplight where you will turn right on Boulevard Luis D. Colosio. Continue out of La Paz and it turns into Hwy 286 to SJ de Los Planes.

You will know you are on the right road when you pass the Pepsi and Coca Cola bottling plants. Then the road heads to a mountain ridge. Then it drops down an endless hill into the Los Planos valley, where you will have your first view of La Ventana and the huge island offshore. If it is blowing you will see flashes of mylar sails.

As the road levels out, look for a paved road on the left going to El Sargento. Go about 7 KM to the tiny village of La Ventana. Just past the garish pink house on the left you will see Baja Joe’s, then Ventana Windsurf. A bit down the road is the campground. Captain Kirk’s is on the right about a half mile further.

 

Punta Chivato

Located between Santa Rosalia and Mulege at the end of a 15 mile dirt road, Chivato offers scenic high wind camping. El Norte is somewhat accelerated here by the thermal warm basin of spectacular Conception Bay to the south. There is big swell and flat water speed sailing here in strong winds. Produce and water are sometimes available and there is a resort nearby. The rumors of the camping area on the beach being closed have so far not been realized and improvements to the camping area are being made. The camping is on a firm sand beach. The launch is sandy with none of the rocks found at most of sailing sites. There is OK diving right near shore on windless days but fish are scanty near shore. The wind and water are very cool compared to the sites way to the south. The fishing is good from a kayak but nothing like the East Cape sites at this time of the year. Blowing sand can bury equipment and slow moving sailors. Typically the winds blow 2 to 3 days per week.

Chavato is easy to find. There is a sign “Palo Verde” at the entrance to the road to Punta Chivato. Once on this 15 mile dirt road follow the sign
“New Road” at the fork in the road. The road is usually it is in pretty good condition unless it has rained recently.They have reopened the hotel restaurant and are building a second restaurant near the airstrip.

 

Secret Spot

Located south of Santa Rosalia there is a place with some nice waves. You need a boat to get there easily. Breaking swell with good rides.

 

Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Plumo has spectacular scenery, Baja’s only coral reef, great fishing, whale watching, kayaking, hiking, biking, diving, huge swells, and very high winds. The only element missing many years is reliable wind. There are only about 20 wind-protected camping sites and they are usually taken by long-term campers. Camping on the exposed beach in 25 to 40 knot side offshore winds is not fun and it is not uncommon for sailing gear and small dogs to be blown out to sea.

Like Jay Valentine once said, “this is a site waiting for an accident to happen.” Be forewarned Pulmo is for advanced sailors only. The winds are side-offshore and the shore break fattens up on broken masts. If you break down far outside you risk being washed up in Central America.

On the upper reef, the breaking swells are far larger and more vertical than other sites and the white water can sweep your equipment away. 500 feet downwind, the razor sharp lower coral reef has fangs that stick above the surface at all but the highest tides. Do not sail in near the lower reef since the water ranges from 4 feet to 4 inches in depth.

Killer whales are occasional visitors to the edge of the reef. On a typical year, the wind blows 2 to 3 days per week but there can be long spells with no wind and conversely, long spells with continuous wind if you’re really lucky.

Unlike the rest of Baja, the winds typically blow all night and sleeping can be a challenge. It is not uncommon for the wind to fade by mid-morning. If you sleep in a tent, ear plugs are necessary. The nearest potable water is 16 miles away. When the wind has blown in the 3.0 to 4.6 range for several days, well-organized 6 to 9 foot swells break as they hit the shallow reef beyond the point. Its like backside sailing without an impact zone.

There is spectacular kayaking at the point to the south. There is fairly good fishing but fishing is forbidden within 5 miles of the reef. There is also some of the best shallow water diving in Baja on the lower reef.

 

Bahia de Los Angeles

This spectacular, huge island-studded bay has a small but devoted windsurfing community. If you are driving and you only have a week in Baja, this is your first and last stop. The air and water are far colder than sites far to the south. The winds are moderate here and the passage of even relatively weak Highs to the north will bring good north winds. Despite its beauty, the only sailors that stop here are those who are unwilling to drive for one or two more days to warm water. Typically the winds blow 2 to 4 days per week. The road can sometimes be rough the last 40 miles.

L.A. Bay is easy to find. Just turn left at the well-marked turnoff and head east to the Sea of Cortez. La Gringa, as it’s called by the locals, offers good flat-water sailing from your campsite across the La Gringa Bay to the point. Camping is currently $3.00 per day per car. The beach is sand and cobblestones. Set up camp in a high spot to avoid inundation during real high tides as the water comes in from behind you via a low spot. The waters inside are great for beginners and intermediates. Advanced sailors can head outside and towards the islands. The small unattractive village offers basic supplies and some food items. The market on the right side of the road has a telephone.

 

Punta Arena / Playa de Los Naranges

Located at the mouth of spectacular Bahia de La Conception these sites offer mostly light wind sailing in the 5.5 to 6.0 range. Great camping and boating. You can buy fresh seafood at the fish camp. Lots of long-term non-windsurfing campers. Typically the winds blow 2 or 3 days per week.

To find Punta Arena, pass the Punta Chivato turn off. The road will continue along a coastal plain heading towards Conception Bay. As you ascend the first hill just before the bay look for a wide graded area on the left with a dirt road leading eastward. There will be a sign saying Punta Arena. Follow the road for about 4 miles. There will be a maze of dirt roads at times. Keep on the central road at the 3 way fork. If you come out at a sandy beach with lots of RVs you are at the wrong place. Your destination is about a half mile to the east but you may not be able to drive there along the beach. Head back into the desert and take the next right until you come to a sandy beach with thatched shelters with concrete pads.

 

 

 

 

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