Photograph by Tyler Bradt

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.

Erik and Sarah have been featured as Adventurers of the Year. Tyler currently holds the world record waterfall descent on Palouse Falls in Washington.

Photograph by Erik Boomer

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.

Photograph by Erik Boomer

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.

Photograph by Sarah McNair-Landry

The northerly winds often brought big waves and swell. Sarah bails her boat after it was filled up with water by a crashing wave.

Photograph by Sarah McNair-Landry

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.

Photograph by Erik Boomer

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.

Photograph by Tyler Bradt

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.

Photograph by Erik Boomer

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.

Photograph by Erik Boomer

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.

Photography by Erik Boomer

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.

Photograph by Tyler Bradt

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.

Comments

  1. Doug Satre @dougsatre
    San Diego, CA
    August 28, 2012, 12:59 am

    Thanks for this post! Brought back great memories of kayaking to the near islands from Bahia de los Angeles with a good friend of mine. Incredible fishing, and the wind flipping the kayaks in the night. Need to start planning that next trip…

  2. Ben Otero
    Cartagena, Colombia
    August 30, 2012, 2:44 pm

    What a nice adventure. The photos are spectacular! It inspire me and my friends to take a similar trip to our close by Rosario Islands. Hope we make it, though.

  3. CHEBOUB Abdelatif
    Chlef, Algeria
    September 4, 2012, 9:44 am

    It’s a nice adventure that’s what i like to be Adventurer !
    Congratulations !

  4. K Beckwith
    NM
    September 4, 2012, 10:11 am

    Beautiful trip, ‘O wonderful & fleeting youth. I took a trip with other young adventurers long ago in the 80’s to the sea of Cortez for 3 weeks of kayaking the desert coast, spearfishing, exploring from sun up til sun down, which became a ritual, a routine that fit in with the sea birds who came gliding up the shore line over the wave tops as the sun came up, then back down it in the evening as the sun set. In the day bird circled high in the sky, slowly, like a timeless galaxy. Along with glass clear and deep ocean water, everyday had its own spontaneous lyrical poetry overcoming one’s thoughts, matching the natural wonders abounding there. That’s what I remember.

  5. Bob WURMAN f
    New York
    September 4, 2012, 10:50 am

    What is (or caused) that white line snaking across the photo. In the picture taken at the cove where Sarah’s boat was repaired?

  6. Maura Hoff
    Chicago
    September 5, 2012, 8:02 am

    Great Story! Makes me feel that summer isn’t coming to an end….instead I just need to head to Baha to continue kayaking. It would be even better if this article had a small map with their path on it.

  7. Tom the rower
    Florida
    September 6, 2012, 7:41 am

    Those sails on the kayaks look great. I bet they could really move quickly. And the whole trimaran idea is great. Probably super stable. Must have been a trip of a lifetime.

  8. Dillon Julius
    Spearfish, SD
    January 29, 2013, 2:23 am

    Yeah! These people are always doing something crazy. I love it! Keep on living the dream.