Isla Tiburon in Sonora Mexico, October 16th to November 3rd 2004.

When I planned my recent trip across the Gulfo de California (the Sea of Cortez) I asked for advice from Sid Taylor, who has done this trip several times. I suggested to him that I might like to circumnavigate Isla Tiburon while I was there. He dissuaded me, saying that Isla Tiburon was a two week trip all unto itself. I decided my next trip to Mexico would be to go around this island.

I have been going to Baja in the spring almost every year now for a kayaking trip. Why do I go in the spring? In the winter the winds are two strong. In the summer the air is too hot. The spring is a good time, however some people go in the fall. I have gone in the spring mainly because many people get a vacation then. Konstantin Gortinsky gets two weeks off for spring break and I have designed my trips around that. However, Konstantin has bailed on the last two or three of these trips and not gone despite all my planning around his schedule! Going down on a two week break makes the trip a mad dash. If I went in the fall I could schedule a more relaxed trip and take three weeks off. In the spring we often encounter nesting birds on the islands of the Gulfo. If the Baja islands were on US soil, the rangers would declare them all off-limits to avoid disturbing the birds. If I went in the fall I could avoid bothering nesting birds. In the fall the water would have had more time to warm up and would be more comfortable for swimming and diving. I decided to try the Gulfo de California in the fall for a change. Rather than skipping a spring trip, I further decided to do two Mexico trips in one year to accomplish the changeover!

As usual I invited a large number of people to come down with me. As usual most of them decided, some at the last minute, not to come after all. In the end only three other people besides myself ended up going. Most of us were ready on Friday evening October 15th and arranged to meet at Joe Petolino’s house in Santa Clara. Joe was not going on the trip but his house was conveniently located and he was willing to invite us all to crash at his place and serve us breakfast in the morning. This gave us a head start on driving down on Saturday morning. I had hoped that we could drive down to the put-in in Bahia Kino in two days, but by the end of the second day we had only made it to Hermosillo Mexico. We drove around the town until we found an inexpensive motel with a restaurant that stayed open late. Then on the third day we drove the short distance to Bahia Kino and found another inexpensive hotel.

Before the day was over John Somers and I drove to the Indian village at Punta Chueca to get camping permits for Isla Tiburon (which is Seri Indian land). Once there we quickly found Ernesto Marino who issues camping permits. I had dealt with him when crossing the Gulfo de California, but this time we asked him to give us a receipt for all the money we were giving him. ($4 US per day per person). He agreed, borrowed my notepad and pen then disappeared into his house for a long time. Apparently paperwork is a very difficult thing to ask for, and we had to wait around 45 minutes.

While John and I were taking care of Seri Indian permits, Don Fleming and Lucy O’Brien were back in Bahia Kino finding the local Agua Purificada (Purified Water) store and filling all our water bags. When John and I came back the water bags were arranged all over the porch in front of our hotel room to make sure they were not leaking. We were each carrying 40 liters of water, barely enough for 13 days with no margin for emergencies. But if we ran low we could hustle over to Punta Chueca and buy water for the last two days of the trip. Looking at all the water bags lined up on the porch, Don commented “It feels like a great deal of wealth”. To us it was. It meant we could spend 13 days on a desert island.

All text and images Copyright © 2004 by Mike Higgins / contact