The short report is: yet another incredible winter trip to La Ventana in
southern Baja!! I can't 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 Kirk's the week after New Year's. We'll 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,
fully planing 7.0 days). This is pretty typical for La Ventana; it blows
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
term campers staying in the public campsite. A huge number of them are
gorge sailers that drove their RV's down to stay a couple of months. For
shorter term fly-in sailors, the options are Captain Kirk's, Ventana
Windsurf, and Baja Joe's. Rumor has it that the two remaining Los Barrilles
operations, Vela and Mr. Bill's, are trying to relocate to La Ventana
the wind is so much more consistent at La Ventana. In my opinion, the only
place to go in La Ventana is Kirk's. 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. It's 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 Kirk's 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. It's 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, Kirk's 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 haven't
been to La Ventana yet, you're really missing out! It's close, reasonable
in cost, and a hell of a lot of fun. I can't think of a better way to get
in a winter sailing fix.
Check out www.captainkirks.com for more info about La Ventana