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Baja by Schooner

  • February 2nd through 9th, 2013
  • Registration deadline: November 15th, 2012

Note: This alumni adventure is closed.

Voyage I:   February 2nd through 9th, 2013

Voyage II:  February 10th through 18th, 2013

The Trip

Beginning in Baja California, our two successive voyages, led by Perry Mason, the John E. Sawyer Professor of Philosophy and Liberal Learning, Emeritus, and Gary Schwarzman '66, will spend six days exploring the coves and islands of the Sea of Cortez (Voyage I).  Then, after briefly returning to La Paz, we will set sail (Voyage II) for a blue water passage to explore the islands of Banderas Bay on the way to our voyage's end at Puerto Vallarta.

Baja California is the land that John Steinbeck described as possessing “profound and unworldly beauty.”  Desert scenery, sport fishing and fine beaches, together with convenient access from California, have made Baja California a popular destination for both tourists and retirees from the north.  Our plan is to avoid the tourist hot spots and sail to uninhabited islands and fishing villages not reached by highways.

The Sea of Cortez (or, less romantically, the Gulf of California) separates the peninsula of Baja California from the Mexican mainland.  This is one of the most diverse seas on the planet, and we will probably see whales, dolphins, rays and sea lions, as well as birds such as the blue-footed booby and the magnificent frigate bird (that’s it’s official name, honest!)

Banderas Bay offers warm water, superb snorkeling, white sand beaches, coastal towns and, ultimately, the destination city of Puerto Vallarta with excellent air connections.

John Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez will be our touchstone.  Perry Mason, Carleton’s John E. Sawyer Professor of Philosophy and Liberal Learning, will be leading that exploration.

We will be a small group, just 12 in all, so we can tailor our other activities to peoples’  wishes.  Hiking, geology, bird watching, snorkeling, and even celestial navigation are possibilities, as well as time on the beach.

Our explorations will be aboard the sailing schooner Seaward, a graceful 82-foot steel sailing ship (details below.)   For those who would like, there will be plenty of opportunity to steer the ship, help set and trim the sails.  The nav station is open to everyone, with its charts and instruments.

Trip Leaders

Perry Mason, the John E. Sawyer Professor of Philosophy and Liberal Learning, Emeritus, at Carleton, has a particular interest in environmental ethics.  He will be leading discussions of Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez.  Gary Schwarzman, trip organizer, will be offering expertise in navigation, seamanship and yarns from decades of voyaging under sail.  When not off on Carleton adventures, both Perry and Gary sail their own boats.

Itineraries

The two voyages are distinctly different.  You can sign on for either or both:

Voyage I:  Beginning and ending in the historic small city of La Paz, Baja California, we’ll spend part of each day underway and anchor each evening at some island or cove.

Voyage II:  We’ll depart from La Paz, stop overnight at a Baja island anchorage, then set sail on a blue water passage of about 360 miles to Banderas Bay.

We have scheduled this trip to maximize our chances of pleasant weather, but rough seas are a possibility.  Participants do not need to be especially fit, but should be able to climb between the ship’s deck and the small boat for going ashore.  This is roughly equivalent to climbing a 6-foot vertical ladder.

Voyage I:

Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013.  Arrive La Paz.  You will be met at the airport by a member of the trip and driven to our hotel.  Group dinner that evening.

Sunday, Feb. 3.  After a group breakfast, board the Schooner Seaward.  Meet the captain and crew, receive an orientation and stow your bag.  Then we set sail.

Sunday - Friday.  Explore the Sea of Cortez.  The islands offer fine beaches, excellent snorkeling and colonies of sea lions.  Whales are a common sight.  Between anchorages you are welcome to help sail the schooner, or just relax.

Friday, Feb. 8.  Return to La Paz.  Bid farewell to the schooner and transfer to the hotel for a shower and a rest, or explore the historic city of La Paz before a final group dinner.

Saturday, Feb. 9 – if you are not staying for Voyage II, then either transfer to the airport for the flight home, or stay longer to explore Baja California, as you wish.  (Rental cars are reasonably priced, and destinations such as Todos Santos and Magdalena Bay are feasible day trips.)

Voyage II:

Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.  Arrive La Paz.  You will be met at the airport by a member of the trip and driven to our hotel.  Group dinner that evening.

Monday, Feb 11.  After a group breakfast, board the Schooner Seaward.  Meet the captain and crew, receive an orientation and stow your bag.  Then we set sail.

Monday – Sunday.  Depart La Paz aboard Schooner Seaward.  We’ll spend a night or two in the offshore islands, then set sail towards Banderas Bay, standing night watches.  Conditions permitting, we’ll probably stop at Isla Isabela, a nature preserve with extraordinary bird life and snorkeling.  Banderas Bay itself offers the Islas Marietas, plus several attractive coastal villages before we head for the bright lights of Puerto Vallarta.

Sunday, Feb. 17.  Arrive Puerto Vallarta.  Bid farewell to the schooner and transfer to the hotel for a shower and a rest, or explore the city before a final group dinner.

Monday, Feb. 18.  Transfer to the airport for the flight home, or stay longer in Mexico, as you wish.

Pricing

Voyage I:   February 2nd through 9th, 2013
Capacity: 10
Cost:  $1,550.00 (plus airfare)

Voyage II:  February 10th through 18th, 2013
Capacity: 10
Cost: $1,760.00 (plus airfare)

Included

  • Transfer from La Paz airport to the hotel
  • Hotel stay, first night (La Paz) and last night (La Paz or Puerto Vallarta)
  • Transfers between the hotel and the schooner
  • The sailing trip
  • Transfer from the hotel to the airport (La Paz or Puerto Vallarta) on the last morning
  • All meals beginning with dinner on the first night through dinner on the last night of each Voyage
  • For those joining both Voyages,  hotel stay in La Paz on Saturday, Feb. 9th (but meals are on your own until the group dinner on Feb. 10th.)

Excluded

  • Transportation from your home to La Paz and back from either La Paz or Puerto Vallarta
  • Any additional traveling you may wish to do before or after the voyage

The Ship

Our ship, the schooner Seaward, is owned and operated by Call of the Sea, an educational non-profit based in California.  She is a graceful steel sailing vessel, inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard for voyages up to 200 miles offshore from Alaska to Panama.  She sails under a U.S. Coast Guard licensed professional captain, with an American crew of experienced sailors.

  • Length Overall: 82’
  • Length On Deck: 65’
  • Beam: 17’-6”
  • Draft: 8’-4”
  • Displacement: 65 tons
  • Safety Equipment: Liferaft, 406 EPIRB, Radar, VHF radio, SSB radio, AIS, Navtex, and all required Coast Guard safety gear.

Seaward’s interior has the classic elegance of a traditional yacht with a pilot house, well-equipped galley and comfortable saloon.  Accommodations are comfortable but basic, as is customary for such a vessel.  There are no private cabins, but each person has a large single berth with a privacy curtain, reading light and shelf for clothing and personal items.

PAYMENT AND REFUND POLICY

A $200 deposit is due with registration.  This deposit is non-refundable.

The balance is due by October 31st, 2012.

Any cancellation must be made in writing.

After October 31st, 2012, refunds will only be made if we can fill the space on the trip.

Please note: Because we charter the whole schooner for a fixed fee, payments will be refunded only if we can fill the space on the trip. We recommend that you purchase travel insurance, and we'll send information with registration.

Questions or To Sign Up

You’ll receive a packet of more detailed info when you sign up, but if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact Gary Schwarzman at gschwarzman AT earthlink.net or by phone at 508-540-5432.  To reserve your spot, please contact Gary Schwarzman '66 directly as he will be handling registrations.  A deposit check to hold your spot on the trip should be made payable to Carleton College, but sent to Gary Schwarzman, P.O. Box 84, Falmouth, MA 02541.