Baja Road Trip

Baja Road Trip

Post by Rolf Schreib » Thu, 31 May 1990 06:32:57

[Please take a couple of :-)'s with the keywords...]

Hiya gang, hope you are all reading this after a windy and fun Memorial Day...

I finally got the courage up to go on a road trip that promised rather extreme
conditions, and actually lived to tell about it! Let me preface this by saying
that I'm an intermediate-level windsurfer, good at waterstarts (I've
done *lots*
of 'em :-) but my jibes are the pits. I have (had?) very little experience in
4.X weather or in big surf, hence I was a bit apprehensive. On with the tale...

The gang (Jim, Rob, Julie and myself) left San Diego about 3am on Wednesday and
drove all night, stopping only for breakfast and to pick up the
obligatory several
cases of Cerveza (beer to you gringos). The trip is about 8 hours total driving
time from San Diego, the last 2 of them being on a rutted, dry, dusty
dirt road.
We spotted the ocean about 10 miles from camp - you could already see the 'caps
even that far away. Needless to say, we pushed as hard aas we could to get the
last few miles, arriving about 1pm. Only a few people out sailing... but there
were only a few people there period! Immediately, there was a rigging frenzy as
we went right to our 4.1 wave sails and sinker asymmetric wave boards.

Hitting the water, we found the temp to be a cool but bearable 62-64
degrees with
gentle 2-3 foot waves breaking off a nearby point. The launch site is rocky but
you can find your way out with a little care. We sailed for the next 4 hours in
solid 4.0 conditions. The wind finally died down a bit around 6:30pm, prompting
us to come in and go set up camp. As it turns out, the winter storms and high
tides have carved perfect little board and rig-sized undercuts in the cliffs by
the water, so you can leave everything close to the water and rigged up
overnight, totally protected from the wind.

The wind got up almost as early as we did - it had blown a respectable
15-20 kts
all night Wednesday, clocking around from the normal side-offshore (!!) to a
dead-offshore. The surf crowd was in the water at 6am, enjoying the longboard
waves that pumped up to about 3-4 feet. By 9am, the wind had clocked
back around
and pumped up to a solid 25 knots again. Once, again, we hit the water on our
(already rigged!) 4.1 sails, finding great satisfaction in the increased swell
size. Jim and Rob took advantage of the waves to impress the crowd with lots of
good air time and some very nice duck jibes inside. Meanwhile, I bobbled along
missing most of my jibes but doing a [relatively] reasonable job of wave
thanks to my previous surfing skills. The sailing crowd was still under
10 people, making it easy to get waves. Magically, at noon the water
emptied and
everyone went in for lunch. The afternoon sailing was much the same as the
morning, except that the swell continued to increase and was about 4-5 feet by
the time we quit for the day. Interestingly, the wind calmed down to almost nil
by sundown, making for a pleasant (but *cold*) night, great for barbecueing and
sucking down tequila...

Friday started out with almost no wind, and a swell that had increased
all night.
By now, the waves were a good 6-8 feet (that's the *backs* of the waves for
those of you who aren't familiar with wave measurement... the faces were easily
10-15 feet on the bigger sets). Whew! Unfortunately, the wind remained offshore
and light well past noon. Finally, we couldn't stand it, and rigged our
5.4 wave
sails. *Big* mistake! The wind turned on just about the time we got outside the
lineup and we got *hammered* big time. Rob and Jim managed to get back
in (being
better sailors than I) and go back out (still overpowered) on 4.6 sails. I went
into "survival sailing" mode, hopelessly overpowered on my 5.4,
waterstarting and
getting slammed every ten yards. I finally got in past the wind line and
sailed to a small cove about 1/2 mile from the launch site, but had to drag my
rig up a niche in a 30 foot cliff and carry it back to the launch area.
By then,
I was too tired and disgusted with myself to go back out in the water,
with sets
that were now approaching 10 foot at times (over mast-high faces!) and
4.0 conditions again. It was fun just sitting on the beach and watching,
though, as
there were quite a few new arrivals, with a few doing loops and barrel
rolls. Not
many people getting air time - it seemed that most everyone wanted to ride the
waves rather than jump them. The notable exception was Jim - while
watching another boardhead shred a big set wave, I suddenly saw Jim
appear *very* airborne
about 10-15 feet above the second   wave of the set! What a show! Lots
of busted
equipment that day - I saw at least two blown out sails, a broken mast and some
very hammered wave boards.

By Saturday, the crowd had really grown, with about 25 people sailing by
11am. The swell had dropped back to a respectable 3-5 feet, and the wind
was still
requiring sails in the 4.0 range. Having learned our lesson, we didn't venture
out until the wind was consistently about 25 knots, having put away all our
5.0 and bigger sails. The wind was a bit tricky, though... a definite
wind hole
had developed right in the lineup off the point. It made for some rather
interesting sailing though, and we sailed until late afternoon. Unfortunately,
the light wind inside meant it was tough to get back out sometimes. Jim
found out
the hard way, getting a light-air launch off a wave and nose diving into the
back side, squarely planting his head in the middle of his mast (which broke!)
At this point, we decided to leave the ever more crowded water and heed
the call of our very sore muscles to quit for good. A couple of hours
later, and we were
headed back to the states, one *great* road trip [almost] behind us.

Some lessons/morals to be learned:
1. Never, never, *never* sail overpowered in the surf!
2. Just say no to 5.0! :-)
3. If you have a helmet, *wear* it! (Right, Jim? How's that headache?)
4. Don't be afraid to sail in challenging conditions, just use common
sense when
   it comes to choosing your equipment and stay out of the hairy stuff
until you
   are reasonalbly confident you can handle it.
5. Baja kicks ass! Well worth a long drive from the States!

Hope this kept you entertained, maybe we'll see you later this summer. Let's
have some more road trip reports! Living in San Diego, hearing about the wind
is about the only thing that keeps my sailing motivation up!

                                - Rolf