Really late Sea of Cortez cruising report

rtmorandi

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Oct 31, 2008
277
65
Huntington Beach, CA
Name
Rob Morandi
Boat
34' Fountain with twin Verado 350's
This “report” is a long time coming, like eight-nine months ago….and since this was more than half year ago, not all of the details will be remember or noted! This is definitely not a fishing report as we only caught a handful of baby sharks but more of a cruising and how to relax log, with a few logistical comments. Sorry for the length too.

Back in late 2018, my girlfriend at the time, Becca and I wanted to take our boat to Baja but were not set on the Pacific or Sea of Cortez side. We thought about taking a few weeks off of work and pull a “Shad Burke” and cruise from San Diego, around Cabo and up the Sea of Cortez to San Felipe but after thinking about it, we decided to take baby steps, take two-ish weeks off and explore the Sea of Cortez. After talking to Shad, Ali, Bob Rehfuss and Sherm, we made a list of stuff we needed and some stuff we really did not need but was happy we did (like the dinghy): Sat phone, another EPIRB, dinghy, two RTIC coolers, etc.

In mid-April 2019, we packed up the boat and trailered from Huntington Beach to Calexico for the border crossing. The drive was a piece of cake, fueled the boat up at a local gas station and crossed the border. They directed us to the furthest right lane which was still super tight with a long bed truck and a 34’ boat + trailer but we squeezed in. As the young solider helped his dog into the boat for a sniff, Becca went into the office to get our paperwork stamped and after about a 10 minute stop, we were on our way to San Felipe.

The drive to San Felipe was a non-event and arrived around 3:00 pm. We found the public boat ramps – there are two – a newer, well maintained ramp at the north end of the marina and one, much less maintained (many large and deep potholes) next to the fuel dock and the marina manager. While we were packing the boat, Caesar, the marina manager asked us about our trip and asked if we needed parking for the truck and trailer. We were going to visit a couple storage lots / hotels as they told us via phone they would have space but after Caesar showed us his secure parking, it was a no brainer. The truck was parked inside the locked gate with all of the other marina vehicles and the trailer was parked next the fuel dock. He had a hose to wash the trailer down and the total cost for the two weeks of storage was less than $100. When we returned, they helped backing the trailer down and load the boat. Caesar was very helpful and if you do the trip, I would see if he has space.

The weather was great and we headed south towards Gonzaga Bay about an hour before sunset. We were able to run wide open until dark and once it was too dark to safely see, we turned the radar and autopilot on and cruised with flat seas and a full moon. We arrived in GB safely, anchored up and hit the sack for the night – the sack was an air mattress, pillows, a tarp and a couple of blankets – and we slept under the stars for all but two nights. We woke up, “dinghied” into shore and had a delicious breakfast at Alfonsina. We were the only boat in the bay but the beach was fairly busy with campers and people staying at the various hotels. After eating, we packed up the boat and headed out to sea as the warmer weather was a bit further south.

We pointed the boat towards the north end of Isla Guarda (Refugio), with a planned stop at the Golden Reef. Arriving at Golden, we dropped a few jigs and lost them all – coming home, we witnessed a massive fish – assuming a grouper – being pulled over a panga. After five donated jigs, we headed south. We arrived at the north end, and discovered a ton of sea lions which we later learned was a rookery (sp?) or a breeding area for these guys. They surrounded the boat and entertained us until we had enough and went to find a spot to anchor up and relax. After we were done at Guarda, we motored to the islands just north of Bay of LA. Again, more sight-seeing, anchoring, lunching, relaxing on beaches with no one but us, drinking beer and chilling. We skipped Bay of LA proper and headed for our second overnight at San Francisquito. Again, we had the entire area to ourselves and enjoyed another night with a grilled steak, cocktails, another night under the stars, etc. Woke up, made breakfast, tidied up the boat and off we went, heading towards Santa Rosalia for our first fuel stop as we had about 350 miles under our belt and it was about 90 miles to the fuel dock.

Traveling from San Francisquito to Rosalia was not fun, period. We were well offshore and got caught in a wind tunnel or so it felt. The wind was coming off of the mountains, just blew and made a complete mess out of the sea. We had to slow down to about 10-ish mph and slog our way through it for about four hours. Once we got to a lighthouse north of Rosalia and a couple hundred yards off of the beach, we were protected but soaked. Rolled into the marina at Rosalia and were met by another gentleman, again named Caesar. While we fueled the boat, Caesar offered the use of the marina’s showers and bathroom which we graciously accepted and enjoyed! After grabbing a couple of empanadas, saying hi to the soldiers/marines and grabbing some sweets, we were on our way to Bahia Concepcion, the first stop for an extended stay since the weather was nice – low 70’s for the water and mid to high 80’s for the air.

Bahia Concepcion treated us very well. We were too late for whale watching but we anchored up at various spots in the northern portion of the bay and did absolutely nothing, with frequent trips to the beaches to grab a local taco or two and some Sol beers and snorkeling which Becca loved seeing rays, turtles, etc. We tried to troll some lures between Punta Chivato and the mouth of Bahia Concepcion but there was so much sea grass that it fouled every few minutes, so we gave that up and went back to the beaches. I think we spent three days here before feeling a need for a proper shower and bed.

It was a quick trip to Loreto (less than 100 miles) and we stopped at Isla Coronado (along with 50 other boats) for another dip in the warm sea. By now, the water temp was upper 70’s and absolutely beautiful. After a day in the sun at Coronado, we had three days booked at Puerto Escondido for the boat and a couple of nights book at La Mission in Loreto. Puerto Escondido is just great. Again, the dockhand – I forgot is name – but he was extremely helpful and courteous. Becca speaks pretty good Spanish so all of the local guys we met, focused on her and I was basically invisible which is fine to me! After topping off for fuel and getting the boat organized, we took a taxi to La Mission and enjoyed a real bed, shower, etc. We enjoyed “pizza night” with an Italian pizza chef who just baked pies all night and you got what he decided to cook. During the day, we explored the area, snorkeled, drank and ate until we could not anymore and just decompressed. All of our side/shore excursions were great but the one that stands out was our day trip to Aqua Verde, about 25 miles (I think) south of Loreto. The water was perfect, snorkeling out of this world and we took a little hike to a goat dairy farm – we saw a lot of beautiful areas on our trip but this was the most scenic by far in our opinions. After we checked out and re-fueled the boat, we started our way north again with another planned stop at Bahia Concepcion. Along our way, we saw a bunch of birds diving and threw Nomad’s at them and quickly caught three juvenile sharks. We were not that far from Isla Coronada and Becca said no more snorkeling for her since baby sharks were all over the place!

We got to Concepcion and repeated what we did about three days prior for another four days. After we were done here, we checked the weather and there was another front moving in so we decided to make a long run to get to Gonzaga, about 275 miles. The weather was absolutely fantastic and after our last fuel stop at Rosalia, we hauled some butt to Gonzaga Bay – we wanted to get far enough north so that the last day was not daunting. We rolled into Gonzaga Bay well before dark and had another fantastic dinner on the boat. Around midnight, the wind kicked up pretty fierce and kept us up for most of the night, wondering if we were going to drift into the beach. Before we left OC, we bought a Rocna anchor, had a windlass installed and added 50’ of chain – probably a little overkill but we had zero issues with that ground tackle set-up and slept pretty peacefully all except one night. The next day, the wind died down so we goofed off in GB before heading to SF to pull out and stay a night in a hotel before driving back to OC the following day.

That is the trip in a nutshell. Everyone we met was super friendly and we had zero issues with harassment, theft, anything bad. The locals were super helpful when we had questions and very appreciative when we offered snacks or drinks. Sure we missed a lot of places on our travels but Bahia Concepcion and Loreto were two spots on our list that we wanted to spend the most time. We ran a little over 1,200 statute miles and burned a little more than 800 gallons of gas. The boat holds 418 gallons of fuel, 30 gallons on water and has a head and sink in the console which made life really enjoyable for the misses. We had the two RTIC coolers that kept ice and food solid for our trip, used a Magma grill to cook everything, a fish cleaning board in the rod holder as our impromptu bar and the coffee pot was a godsend via the 12 volt plug! I think the next time we do this trip, we will leave in late May so that the weather is a little warmer.

Before we left on our adventure, I was offered a relocation opportunity with my current employer of 23 years to Frisco, Texas. I told my potential future boss that we had our Baja vacation planned and we would connect after our return. Becca and I talked about moving and once we got back, we went on a couple fact finding trips to Dallas and decided to take the plunge. It has been quite the last six or so months – moved to Dallas, got married, bought a house and started a new job, albeit with the same company. The relocation to Dallas is a mixed bag so far – lack of ocean and moderate weather are the two big misses and offsetting these are no state income taxes, lower cost of living (not by that much but still lesser than OC) and super friendly people. The boat is moving to Surfside Marina this weekend (1/4/20), home of the Booby Trap and we will see how much we use her over the next year and decide then what to do with the boat. She is going to be dry stacked, so out of the elements all year while on the rack. We are planning another Baja trip for summer of 2020 but this one will probably start in Rocky Point since that is a little closer to our new home.

Thanks again to the guys mentioned above – a lot of valuable and useful information was received and very appreciative. Any questions, please ask and have a great 2020!
 

Jose Caballero

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Feb 28, 2016
568
319
sb
Name
Jose Caballero
Boat
"Reveille" 17' arima sea chaser
Awesome story, bravo, only thing missing was pics...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Carpfisher

bobrehfuss

Rufo
May 23, 2006
1,353
1,018
Around the Way
Name
Bob
Boat
Yes
Soooooo Cooool!!!!

Woke up with a new fire burning in 2020 thanks to you.

Puerto Peñasco is a great starting point for your next trip. Look forward to your Mainland report as Im still grounded with health issues for another 10-12 months. Or maybe a daytime swordfish report Texas style!

Congrats on your marriage. Wish you years of happiness :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: denis

terryc.

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Mar 12, 2006
831
365
Chatsworth
Name
Terry
Boat
20 ft. Marlin cc
Great trip. Has been a Bucket list trip for me for about 40 years !!!! Thanks for sharing it.
 

skipjackrobert

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Apr 2, 2013
7,522
2,593
The OC
Name
Rob
Boat
The Constitution or Tomahawk with Stan
Very cool story as one can visualize your entire trip from leaving OC, to the crossing, to the different villages, to the rookery, until the end of the trip! Love it down there and good luck in Texas!
 

dctrjayyy

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jun 27, 2005
363
163
42
Tustin
Name
Joshua
Boat
whaler
Rob, Happy New Year. I fished with you once on the Hydra Sports about 10 years ago. Anyway, I've done spearfishing trips out of Surfside the last few years. The boat we use is there only the dry stack where you will be. One of my good buddies just moved to Houston and has his 28 Carolina nearby. Great fisherman if you need help with anything send me a note and I'll connect you. Good luck. Great fishing there, sometimes a bit of a run but you've got the perfect boat for it.
 

jbarbosa

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Oct 24, 2003
272
187
San Diego, CA
Visit site
Name
John "Rio" Barbosa
Boat
cabo panga
Too long to read with not even a sniff of a fish report.... didnt bother to read...
so-sorry...
 

avhljh

Member
Jun 8, 2008
33
11
Name
andrew
Boat
2601 wa
Such a great read. Can you please share you planning and prep for the trip