The Sea of Cortez can be very deceptive, it is often very calm and inviting for beginning paddlers. The tide changes on the low flat coastal area can surprise campers and swimmers where the tide goes out very quickly and can come in very quickly. The first I visited Rocky Point area my son and I were caught in a very strong ebb tide and we manage to swim to a small island. Fortunately for us within about a half hour the island became dry land again and we walked back to our family safely.
High winds in the Sea of Cortez happen very regularly and if you talk with the locals they will tell you when and where it is safe to be on the water. Most afternoons are very windy. I don’t how much open ocean experience the paddlers had but it appears they are from the Flagstaff area so one would doubt extensive experience in judging the winds and weather on Sea of Cortez and may not have had good self rescue skills. The fact that they needed help to reach shore in the winds shows a lack of knowledge of skills needed to paddle in the area. A tragic loss of life in an area that is deceptively benign and beautiful.
This article shows the SOTs they were using that were recovered. Both would have been difficult for novice paddlers to handle in rough seas and high winds, but both would be fine for experienced paddler who would know to quarter the winds and head for shore as soon as significant offshores hit the water…
Sad God bless
The ocean or large bodies of water is not to be toyed with. Well anything you can’t stand up in is serious business.
Video shows wind is strong and waves are large.
Its easy to be out in the morning and encounter localized wind changes during the afternoon with unequal warming of land and water. I don’t reply when invited to group paddles. The paddlers I’m familiar with have less experience and approach kayaking as a fun day on the water.
I expect a group to stay together at reasonable intervals so we don’t present a hazard by forcing power boats to weave between us, and aren’t endangered by the high speed boats forced to navigate close to our kayaks. I recall a more experienced member of the forum relating a similar story. I had a long time partner who usually wandered off course, drifted apart when crossing marked channels, consistently resisted tip to improve efficiency, and typically started too fast then burned out at the end. When someone goes out with me, I feel responsible for them, so I prefer to go alone, unless they’re also solo oriented.
Winds on large bodies of water, and open ocean is decidedly that, tend to come up in the late morning/afternoon. People not accustomed to large bodies of water will tend to believe the earlier morning conditions. Closest I and my husband ever came to being a news paper story was when we were tired and ceded to the plans of two others who - we realized later - were technically better paddlers but had zilch in the way of ocean time compared to us.
Never did that again.
Agree and long, relatively narrow bodies of water can be deceptive. The Chesapeake Bay is 200 miles long. A North or South wind blows unobstructed the entire length, but a South wind has the force of the open ocean behind it. On a recent trip, winds were forcasted South at 10-15 mph, gusting 20 mph. When I turned South out of the cove and entering the channel, I could see another kayak about a mile out. At first, I thought it was coming toward me, but soon realized it was going the same direction, because it was still near the same point five minutes later. I passed him after 20 minutes, and I figured he had lost a total of 200 yards paddling into the wind. He looked at me as I passed, all I could say is, “Brisk day!” He replied, “Yeah, but fun!” I agreed. The next time I looked, he had given up and turned into a side creek.