Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rock Gardens and Desert Islands, Mexico

Team "J" (John, Jim, Jay, and Jen), spent 6 fantastic days off the Pacific coast of Baja in early April, 2008. John, Jim, and Jay, all from Colorado are skilled sea kayakers who were looking for a little rough water training in a beautiful location. Northern Baja was the perfect answer!

Just 3 hours south of San Diego is a world class rock garden paradise where we explored and practiced our skills for 2 days before heading to Todos Santos Islands. We made the 8 mile trip (only 3 miles of open water) against big Pacific swell and a 15+ kt headwind and the Colorado crew agreed that not all 8 mile paddles are equal! But the hard work was worth every stroke. We shared the island with seals, sea lions, elephant seals, and a couple of local fisherman, but our picture perfect cove was all ours the first night.

We circumnavigated the islands twice, exploring every nook and crannie on the way. There were some fantastic rock garden features that challenged our skills and provided some pretty exciting water. We practiced rescues and towing in a fabulous slot that provided dynamic conditions and some real-life "pressure" to get the job done, but flushed through into calm water. Team J's skills rose to the challenge even when things started to go pear-shaped and we all learned a lot!

Our second morning on the island, we were just heading out of our cove when two kayaks glided around the corner. I recognised the paddlers instantly - it was Ed Gillet (he kayaked from CA to Hawaii solo in the 80's) and his wife Katie Kampe (an accomplished rower and sea kayaker). They owned a kayak shop in San Diego for many years called Southwest Kayaks and Ed introduced many paddlers to the wonders of Baja. We must have looked a sight to them. There we were, Team J, all decked out in helmets, PFDs, and dry suits, with our tow belts and knives strapped on for combat, and Ed an Katie glide up with PFDs on deck, wearing only t-shirts. What a contrast!

We ended our trip at a Mexican tourist attraction - La Bufadora. It's a huge blowhole with a market and restaurants built up around it. The cervesas tasted particularly good on the veranda overlooking the coast we had just paddled.

Thanks for a great time guys!

Southwest Kayak Symposium, 2008

Aqua Adventures hosts a kayak symposium on Mission Bay in San Diego each year. We had another great event March 28-30 with a handful of talented coaches from across the country and a couple hundred enthusiastic kayakers! Our group took up 42 campsites at Campland so the folk from LA, NV, AZ, Mexico, and other places far and wide never even had to leave the event location! Even some locals chose to camp for the social atmosphere and convenience. We had a couple of great parties including a Friday evening event with music by Steve Wilson of California Kayak Friends, a slide show by Russell Farrow, and yummy food provided by the Hakala's of Valley Wide Kayak Club and many other generous contributers! The Saturday night beach bonfire ended a bit early when a light drizzle started, but the music by Nigel Foster, Steve Wilson, Russell Farrow and others was excellent.

We'll be doing it again next year March 27-29, so stay tuned!

Aqua Adventures is lucky to count 2 professional photographers among our friends. They have both taken beautiful photos for us for many years. Check out the symposium fun as shot by Mike Franklin at
There are lots of photos from the Saturday night might think kayakers like to party!

The photos on this post were shot by Dominique Lemarie. Visit his website at to see more of his work including some spectacular kayaking surfing phots!

We had some "firsts" at the symposium this year icluding kayak surfing classes by current World Champion Sean Morley, plus the US premier of Nigel Foster's newest kayak design - the Whiskey, made by Point65.

2008 vital statistics:

Nigel Foster, Seattle, WA
Steve Maynard, Plattsburgh, NY
Brent Reitz, Monterey, CA
Russell Farrow, Sweetwater Kayaks, FL
Jean Totz, Sweetwater Kayaks, FL
Marsha Hensen, Sea Kayak Georgia
Ronnie Kemp, Sea Kayak Georgia

208 attendees took an average of 1.36 on-water classes each.
With 36 on-water classes plus "tent talks" to choose from there was something for everyone.

See you there next year!