As we pack for the trip back to the Gorge from La Ventana its fun to reflect on the season. We arrived here the end of September to the threat of hurricanes, which thankfully turned to the west before making landfall in southern Baja. We kept the steel storm shutters handy until mid October just in case…Mother Nature is in Hurricane mode officially until the first of November. Historically the last week of September and the first week of October is the peak period for southern Baja Hurricanes.
La Ventana Bay: (thanks to Google Earth)
We’ve been coming to La Ventana for 10 seasons and this is the first season for us that a major El Nino was brewing in the eastern equatorial region. The early season winds in October and November were pretty light for sailing, unless you had big sails and boards. We did have some sailable winds from Thanksgiving until the New Year, be we didn’t see the typical El Norte pattern of 4 or 5 days of strong winds every week. Then as predicted the El Nino hit the first part of January and continued until the first part of March. With record rains lashing California and mild, dry weather in the Northwest the prediction had become a reality.
The La Ventana Campground on Easter Weekend: a three day Party!
During January and February we averaged 2 or 3 days of sailable winds per week. Having sailed here for many years we had gotten pretty good at predicting wind, but with the El Nino I humbly surrendered my junior Weatherman badge. The wind would come up like normal in the morning and then suddenly die at 1 in the afternoon…or suddenly come up and be great for an hour or two then die. We use the ocean buoy reports for predicting our wind which are usually consistently accurate. But the El Nino seemed to affect their reliability too. But fortunately the first week of March Mother Nature flipped the switch and the great wind that Baja is known for finally arrived. For the past 3 1/2 weeks the wind has been terrific…and strong. Most days I’ve been on a 4.5 with several 4.0 days just to remind me that the Gorge awaits our return.
My heart goes out to those sailors who came to Baja for a vacation this season and hit one of the several windless spells. It reminds me of all the windsurfing vacations from my past 25 years of sailing; some were great, but some were spent windless on the beach. I would have to include Hawaii, South Padre, the Gorge, and yes, Baja on that list. The one benefit that we always find from windless days in Baja is that it gives us the opportunity to experience the wonders that this beautiful place offers. What’s the saying about lemons and lemonade?
Gary’s last sail: Even I got to try the new Panther…veeerrry nice!
I’ll be doing demos again this summer in the Gorge. I’m excited and looking forward to meeting you at the beach and getting you out on the new sails from Ezzy. Thanks to everyone we met (and old friends too) this season in Baja for helping make it the best yet. See ya on the beach, Gary & Nancy