Last January, extreme kayakers Tyler Bradt and Erik Boomer and polar explorer/adventure extraordinaire Sarah McNair-Landry set out to navigate 450 kilometers across the Sea of Cortez. Utilizing the prevailing northerly winds, they sailed their kayaks as much as possible, paddling through calms, waiting out storms, and interacting with the abundant (and sometimes territorial) wildlife along the way. They spearfished for their own fish tacos, camped under the stars on secluded islands, and kiteboarded whenever the wind would pick up. Not a bad way to spend the coldest months of winter. Here’s a photo essay of their trip.
On the water before sunrise, kayakers Erik Boomer and Tyler Bradt sail into the morning light. Starting in Sonora, Mexico, the team sailed and paddled their 17-foot Triaks 450 miles across to Baja and south along the peninsula. They ended in the town of Loretto. Their fiberglass kayaks with outriggers and two sails were loaded with food, water, and toys for the month-long trip.
The team jumps in celebration after reaching Isla Del Tiburon, the first of four Midriff Islands that acted as stepping-stones between mainland Mexico and the Baja Peninsula. From left to right: Sarah McNair-Landry, Tyler Bradt, and Erik Boomer.
The northerly winds often brought big waves and swell. Sarah bails her boat after it was filled up with water by a crashing wave.
The Midriff Islands lay in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. At approximately ten-mile intervals apart, the narrow constrictions coupled with high tides create dangerous currents. They were marooned on several islands, a total of seven days, waiting for good weather before attempting to cross.
As they paddled around the northern end of Isla Turon, Sarah hit a reef. With water seeping into her boat, they paddled toward shore to repair the damage. As they approached, the team noticed dozens of seals covering the beach. They quickly noticed the kayakers, too, and jumped into the water aggressively swimming toward them, the males making terrible growling sounds. Every beach they tried to land on, the seals would scare them away. Eventually they found a tiny cove where they were able to pull ashore and re-fiberglass Sarah’s boat.
Forced to pull ashore to repair Sarah’s boat, they made camp in a small cove. The hole in Sarah’s boat was repaired with their fiberglass kit, and they settled down for the night. Overnight the northerly winds raged, and waves crashed heavily on shore. As the waves grew and took over our beach, they huddled against the back cliff of the cove, expecting any minute to be flooded by a wave. They waited three days for the storm to die down.
Tyler Bradt and Sarah McNair-Landry are seen taking advantage of the winds. This trip was really about the journey and not the destination. Their Triaks were fully loaded with kite surfing gear, spear fishing gear, and camera equipment.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Tyler Bradt holds up a fish that he caught while trolling with a small lure from his boat. They often dragged a line and cedar plug behind their boats. Their prized catch would later become delicious fish tacos for dinner.
In contrast of the dry desert of the Baja Peninsula, the Sea of Cortez is abundant in wildlife. Birds, seals, whales, dolphins, and turtles were among the wildlife they saw almost every day. Sarah and Tyler sail south past a flock of pelicans.
The team relaxing around a campfire, after a long day of paddling and sailing. They did not have a tent with them, instead they would sleep under the stars every night.