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Trip Report - La Ventana, Baja - Jan 2000

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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2000 11:51 pm    Post subject: Trip Report - La Ventana, Baja - Jan 2000 Reply with quote

The short report is: yet another incredible winter trip to La Ventana in southern Baja!! I cant think of much that would have improved this trip (except more days, but with small children I take whatever I can get). La Ventana is one of the few places that is really practical for short trips like the one I took.

I spent 4 days at Captain Kirks the week after New Years. Well get to the important stuff first; at 190 pounds, the sailing conditions these days were 5.0, 5.0, 6.0 and 5.0!! My sailing buddy stayed two extra days and had 5.0 and 4.7 sailing both days. People that were there longer all reported stats like 10 out of 10 days or 13 out of 13 days (with a couple light wind, but
fully planing 7.0 days). This is pretty typical for La Ventana; it blows 80-90%
of the time in the winter and more than two no wind days in a row is quite rare. The bottom line is there simply is no better spot for guaranteed wind during the winter that is reasonably close to the West Coast of the U.S.

The secret is certainly out now about La Ventana - there were hundreds of long
term campers staying in the public campsite. A huge number of them are gorge sailers that drove their RVs down to stay a couple of months. For the
shorter term fly-in sailors, the options are Captain Kirks, Ventana Windsurf, and Baja Joes. Rumor has it that the two remaining Los Barrilles operations, Vela and Mr. Bills, are trying to relocate to La Ventana because
the wind is so much more consistent at La Ventana. In my opinion, the only place to go in La Ventana is Kirks. Kirk has a beautiful 3-acre spread in a prime part of La Ventana, with all the natural vegetation still in place. The natural vegetation is a pretty unique habitat known as tropical thorn forest, basically 20 foot high cactus, thorny trees, and bushes. The facilities Kirk has built are rustic but get the job done and keep getter better every year.

Kirk has a great selection of new Naish boards and sails, Fanatic, Bic, Seatrend, Sailworks, Ezzy, and others. The number of visitors is kept to 10 or less, so there is plenty of selection. Its great to be able to have all the gear rigged and waiting and not to have to do any driving or rigging to sail. One of the best things about La Ventana is that the wind is very steady and predictable. On the windy days you can sail from 10:00 am to sundown using only two different sail sizes.

The other great thing is the big rolling swell and, occasionally, large breaking surf. The first two days we had honest-to-God 6-8 foot high surf breaking on the reef in front of Kirks site. Kirk said the surf comes only on a prolonged El Norte blow, and they get an average of about 4-5 surf days per month during the November to March season. Its kinda weird to get surf coming down from the north on the Sea of Cortez side, but it really does happen. The surf is mushy, but still pretty powerful; a couple of guys got dragged over the urchin covered reef. Justin, Kirks assistant, was getting some loops and seriously big air out in the surf. For those less proficient in the surf, there is a calm launch just upwind of the reef that allows you to get in and out without dealing with the surf zone.

Besides the truly excellent windsurfing conditions, we had a great time with the other activities available, including kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, and excellent local dining. Kirk now has a fishing boat available and we took it out with a guide one morning. We motored out, put our lines in the water before the sun was up, and within one minute we were both hooked up! A couple of 5-pound Gaina, just like that! We caught an ice chest full of Gaina and Sierra before 9:00 am and started heading back as the north winds started to stir for another day of sailing. We had enough fish to feed the whole camp dinner, and still gave more than half of it away to the locals. The fishing at the east cape area is some of the best in the world and makes a nice sidelight to a windsurfing trip.

The only complaint my sailing buddy had about La Ventana was that it was a little cold. Most of you snowbound guys will laugh at calling 70 degree water and 65-75 daytime air temps cold. A shorty wetsuit was plenty for me. January is the coldest time of year there, though, and at night it can sometimes drop to 50 degrees with strong winds. If you want warmth, just go during November, February, or March, when it is 80 degrees plus every day.

Bottom line - if you live in the western half of North America and havent been to La Ventana yet, youre really missing out! Its close, reasonable in cost, and a hell of a lot of fun. I cant think of a better way to get in a winter sailing fix.


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