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Author Topic:   Trip Report: Outrage South of the Border
tomol posted 10-29-2009 07:01 PM ET (US)   Profile for tomol   Send Email to tomol  
I hope everyone will forgive the lengthy post (and JimH, what are sure to be a host of bad links), but continuouswave is the best place I can think of to share a long trip with the Outrage.

Three friends and I normally tow two boats to the Sea of Cortez – specifically Punta San Francisquito -- in late spring for a few days of spearfishing

This year we waited until October hoping for warm water -- 77 degrees (daytime air temps in the mid 80’s, nighttime in the low to mid 70’s) -- and lots of tasty warm water fish. Apparently, someone told the fish we were coming. They were hard to come by. But the real fun is in the pursuit and we had lots of that.

We met at the launch ramp parking lot in Dana Point, CA, in a downpour. We packed the trucks, hooked up the Outrage and it’s companion, a smokin’ Bertram 20, “X-Games” and headed south.

The weather cleared before we hit Ensenada.

We’ve learned to take nothing for granted and to be prepared for the unexpected, so we weren’t too taken aback by the “Black Pearl” in the shipyard.

One of the group, Mark, can’t let a Mexican restaurant (or taco stand) go unsampled, and he pressed us to try an “amazingly good” restaurant in San Quintin.

He was right. It really was amazing. Perfect linguini with chicken while watching a screaming westerly pelt the boats and trucks with grit.

I should add that part of my Baja safety kit is a nuclear strength antibiotic. Didn’t need it, though.

After 12 hours and almost 450 miles of small towns, countless speed bumps and seemingly endless desert we rolled into to Bahia de Los Angeles

We fueled the boats and trucks (cheap gas!) and slept like 7-year-olds on Christmas Eve.

The next morning we packed the boats to the gunnels and were ready before dawn.

After a brief wait for the hotel’s coffee service, we splashed the boats into the Sea of Cortez before heading into the rising sun at 23 knots. Leaving the Bay, we turned southeast for the 50 mile run down the east coast of Baja.

A pod of sperm whales broke up the trip. They weren’t friendly.

We arrived at San Francisquito without incident, unloaded the gear and headed to a favorite reef for an afternoon dive. Unfortunately, the wind had been building steadily and was now blowing a steady 20, which combined with a 2.5 knot current made diving difficult.

I don’t remember if it has been discussed on continuouswave, but both boats had new SPOT Locators on them: I can’t say enough good things about them. The units told our loved ones where we were and that we were safe several times a day. Our designated 911 contact, a San Francisquito regular, said he really enjoyed watching our trip unfold from his office in Los Angeles with each new email from SPOT.

We had a difficult time finding fish the whole trip, but that just meant more exploring in the Outrage. This was our first visit to Isla Esteban in the middle of the Sea of Cortez.

Here X-Games powers past Isla San Lorenzo on it’s way to Esteban


Baja’s history is volcanic so its topography can be dramatic, including the western face of Esteban.

The diving was slow there too, but the huge population of sea lions kept things interesting. They are alternately threatened and amused by freedivers. Harmless, but noisy and distracting.

They also attract HUGE sharks, so we looked over our shoulders a lot. No big sharks sighted, just one 6 or 7 footer that apparently followed me when I should have been looking over my shoulder. My buddy saw it from the boat and came over, but it melted into the gloom, and I never saw it. They’re alarmingly good at that.

The Sea of Cortez can test you. On some days it will alternate between flat and bone jarring every few hundred yards. Here, current races by a corner of Esteban before flattening out.


We found a few fish the second day, so we anchored off Isla San Lorenzo to clean them and straighten up the boats.

The man cleaning the fish, Ron Mullins, devised this cleaning table that’s a back saver for those of us in the over 50 club. He made two poles that fit in rod holders and slide over inserts under the table. This makes the table waist high. No more bending over to clean fish, and it stows reasonably well inside the gunnel.

After the work, we enjoyed an idyllic 25-knot cruise back to the resort.

For the record, “resort” is a little misleading. It’s primitive. We sleep on cots in “Cabanas” with corrugated roofs and thatch over the metal. The front of each cabana is open and faces east into the gulf. We love it. If you can get past the cacophonous snoring of four middle aged men, you can’t beat it. Sunrise.

The patio.

The view looking north.

For the record, many people drive here. It’s a 4-hour, 80-mile dirt road form BOLA. But most guests fly their own planes in. We’re one of the few groups that arrive by boat. This year we tied them to a dock in a natural bay or “caleta” two miles across the peninsula.

Every year when we load the boats for the final day of diving, we take everything with us. After diving, instead of returning to the resort, we run 55 miles back to BOLA. To help, the resort provided us with its finest shuttle.

Consistent with all vacations, an hour before we had to stop diving on the last day of the trip, we finally found the fish. Big, fat, tasty leopard grouper that had eluded us and now seemed to taunt us. A few of them paid for their insolence and spent the rest of the day on ice, but most of them still swim.

But we’ll be back next year.

We skipped back to BOLA at 24 knots in a 15 knot southerly, reloaded the trucks.

We cleaned up and enjoyed a last cold, cold margarita. My GPS said we put 305 miles on the Outrage. Average speed: 9.7 knots. 3.86 mpg. The slow speed and low mileage were due to lots of “live boating” in which three men dive while the fourth plods around in the boat catering to the divers.

The mark of a successful trip: dazed, wind burned, crispy, happy divers.

The next morning we were up before dawn for the long drive back to reality. Here, our last stop in Mexico. Checking the rigs with San Diego’s Point Loma in the background.

At the risk of sounding maudlin, I turned 50 this year, and more than ever I thank my lucky stars that I have a wonderful wife who tolerates me, three great friends with a shared passion (and probably a screw loose).

And the perfect boat for a Baja road trip.

The Panther posted 10-29-2009 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for The Panther    
This is gonna look Great in the trips and rendezvous section!
elaelap posted 10-29-2009 07:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
A super report about a super trip, tomol. My wife and I have flown down to Cabo and La Paz several times, rented cars and driven from there over to La Ventana on the East Cape and up to Loreto, but I've always wanted to tow my Whaler down to Bahia de Los Angeles rather than ending up chartering pangas in the other locations. How about some practical info on border crossing difficulties (if any), insurance requirements, necessary paperwork, fishing license fees, ramp and accommodation costs, etc.

My boat partner Matt/placerville and I went fishing and then pulled our boat for the winter from its Bodega Bay slip this morning. Crystal clear out here on the ocean 60 miles north of San Francisco, but cold--high 30s to low 40s in the early morning hours, so your October trip south of the border looked even more attractive. Thanks for a great post.


tomol posted 10-29-2009 09:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for tomol  Send Email to tomol     

It's a remarkably easy trip, though time consuming. Bahia de Los Angeles is an all day drive from southern California. The roads are great but narrow, so sometimes 18-wheelers coming at you can be unnerving.

Much of the road is down the spine of the peninsula, so you need a tow vehicle that can take it. I wouldn't dream of using my 4Runner despite it's being fine in the States.

Boat insurance is a challenge. You can get -- and are required to have -- liability insurance for every vehicle. My State Farm policy only covers me to Ensenada.

Fortunately, there are dozens of vendors just before the border. I haven't been able to find one that will cover loss or theft of the boat if it's older than 1980. Mine's an '85, so I'm good. I think my boat and my partner's Nissan Titan got the works for about $140.00 for six days.

You have to get a tourist card if you plan on going south of Ensenada. You can get it right in the customs inspection station at the border, and this year they were free.

We buy annual fishing licenses. Officially $45.00, but there's usually a $20.00 mark up if you buy it in the states. Many U.S. tackle shops carry them.

You no longer need a boat permit in Mexico.

If you're planning on towing the Classic down there, think Spring and Fall. From about November 1 through late April the Sea of Cortez gets hammered by north winds that can last for a week or more. From July through September, the gulf side is unbearably hot. We usually go in June and/or October.

The Sea of Cortez has more launch ramps than the Pacific side. Puertocitos, Bahia de Los Angeles, Santa Rosalia, San Lucas, Mulege come to mind.

Most hotels are surprisingly inexpensive, typically $25 per man per night. There are some exceptions, though, so ask first.

This trip cost just shy of $700 per person. That didn't include having my trailer bearings inspected and repacked before leaving. But, it did include everything else: gas, beer, all hotels, beer, insurance, groceries, beer, beer, everything. Pretty reasonable for 6-day vacation, particularly when you consider how much gas two enormous trucks and two boats can burn.

elaelap posted 10-29-2009 10:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
Great information. Thx again.
Dan posted 10-30-2009 08:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dan  Send Email to Dan     
That's quite a trip. Best trip I've seen in a while. Sea of Cortez must be an amazing place to go on a trip. I'd love to take a trip there with my 18, but I have to keep my trips local. They're not really trips because a trip should be at least a day to qualify as a trip. Congrats on a fantastic trip.
prj posted 10-30-2009 10:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Great report, tomol, I particularly appreciated the links to map locations at each relevant step. It helps a non-local follow along.

Highlights from my reading:
The familiar "dazed, wind burned and crispy" photograph which clearly picks up your perfect adjectives.
The recognition of your good fortune to have a close group of adventurous fellas that regularly undertake such committed trips.
Your selection of resorts and accommodations, what more could a man need (assuming you have fine single malts along...) ?

Good livin' man!

tomol posted 10-30-2009 11:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for tomol  Send Email to tomol     
No single malts this time. But I always bring lots of V8 juice to stave off cramps, so we roughed it with Ketel One and V8.
Buckda posted 10-30-2009 11:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Awesome. Great read, and great photos. Thanks for sharing. Let's hope this gets moved to Trips and archived there so I can read it again when the snow is flying and everything up here is frozen solid....

tomol posted 10-30-2009 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for tomol  Send Email to tomol     
Yeah, my apologies for posting it here. Somehow I never noticed the "Trips" part of "Trips and Rendezvous".

I also never claimed to be very bright.

tedious posted 10-30-2009 06:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for tedious    
Glad you posted it here, or anywhere - looks like a blast!


WT posted 10-30-2009 08:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
Wow! Looks like lots of fun.

If you guys need a third boat as a spotter next year, let me know.


jimh posted 10-31-2009 10:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
jimh posted 10-31-2009 01:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Great trip report!

ASIDE: Thanks for using images of reasonable size. They're much easier to incorporate as in-line elements.

tomol posted 10-31-2009 06:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for tomol  Send Email to tomol     
Thanks, Jim, for the move and for embedding the pics!
mateobosch posted 11-01-2009 04:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for mateobosch  Send Email to mateobosch     
Looks like that was a great time. Thanks for sharing.
jmorgan40 posted 11-02-2009 05:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
Thanks for a great report. I would love to do this trip.

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