We first met Ben of Baja Outdoor Activities at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Switzerland. He wanted to know if we'd like to Kayak in Baja California, Mexico in the divorce boat. Aka a double kayak. His exact phrase was, “”do double kayaks really threaten marital bliss?” We love a challenge and hey, if we could survive four months of rubbing butt butter on ourselves in a tiny two man tent as we cycled down the continent of Africa, we figured we could handle the divorce boat. When we arrived in Mexico, we actually found out that our boat had another nickname, the big cow. Or was it the white elephant? Either way, it signified that it was one big beast that nobody liked to paddle.
La Paz, Mexico
We flew into beautiful La Paz and after a couple of days enjoying the town, we actually started looking at real estate prices. This town is paradise. It is a resort town, but still has a quietness to it that isn't found in other places like Cabo or Cancun. It also seems very liveable. People run along the promenade at sunset, it has a movie theatre and Costco, yet it feels like a sleepy laid back Mexican town that has held on to a bit of its culture. People seem happy here and we could definitely live here too.
Kayaking The Sea of Cortez
Dave and I were joining a group of avid adventurers form Portland Oregon. They were kind enough to let us crash their private trip around San Jose Island and we won't lie, we were a little worried about holding everyone back. We've been traveling pretty hard for a couple of years and while we manage to fit a lot of adventure into our travels, we haven't been able to keep up a regular workout routine. To join avid kayakers for a 10 day trip, circumnavigating an island on the Sea of Cortez made us a little nervous.
We put on a brave face though, and showed up with smiles ready and raring to go. It was a two-hour drive from San Jose to the launch point at Ensenada Blanca where we packed up our kayaks for the 10 days ahead, so doing what Dave and Deb do, we fell fast asleep for the entire ride.
Everyone else was going to be travelling in single kayaks while Dave and I and another couple who joined the trip were given double kayaks.(The Divorce Boats) But it was our big white kayak that was called the cow. It carried the porta potty, the garbage and whatever else fit into the hull. It is one heavy beast and it was going to be a brute to push along.
We had 10 days ahead of us. No showers, no fresh water pools to jump into, just heat, sun and a lot of salt lay ahead. This trip around San Jose Island was completely unsupported. We had to carry in all our food, water and the ever important tequila and beer and then carry it all back out again. By the time we left the launch sight, all of our kayaks were loaded down.
So How did the Divorce Boat Go?
It turns out, the divorce boat wasn't so bad. Sure, it was big, and sure it was heavy, but it wasn't that bad. We've been together 22 years and I can understand how couple's can lose it on each other when kayaking together. There are times when I wanted to tell Dave what to do and there were times when Dave wanted to tell me to get my ass to work and start paddling harder. He told me that he could tell when I lost focus…err, interest. I'd be paddling along at full swing and then suddenly I'd look out over the water and halfheartedly dip my paddle into the water as I zoned out.
Lucky for him, I couldn't see what he was doing, for all I know, I was pulling the boat along the entire time and it was only when I zoned that he had to pick it up.
In truth though, we had no problem keeping pace with the group. We are proud to say that for the entire 10 days, we were right in the thick of things. Sometimes even out front.
The one thing we always preach about a healthy and happy relationship is that you have to be able to communicate. When I was slacking off or when Dave was veering in the wrong direction, we would say something. We never ‘lost it' on each other though. We were surprisingly relaxed, and would just gently remind each other to get back on track. Phrases like “Honey do you see that giant rock ahead?” Or “Honey are your arms sore, you don't seem to be paddling?” came out of our mouths. We've been together long enough to know what what each other meant. To put those phrases into clearer terms for you we meant “Get your ass in gear we're loosing steam!”
We seriously had such a great time, that by time the second day of paddling was over, the boat was renamed, “The Beluga” The big cow just didn't have a good ring to it. We wanted something positive for future guests. So the big white two man kayak is no longer the cow or the elephant, it's a beautiful beluga. A beluga whale may be large, but it's elegant and moves effortlessly through the water. That's how we felt about our baby. We loved our baby.
Tips for Surviving the Divorce Boat
One of the tricks of kayaking together is that you have to work together. I think that most people have problems with the two-man kayak because they want to paddle in a single kayak to be in control. When you are in a two-man kayak, you have to relinquish control. Especially if you are in the front. You can't worry about what's going on in the back, you have to trust that everyone knows what's they're doing. If you are in the front and trying to steer the boat, you're just going to grow frustrated. So don't bother trying to steer. My best advice is to keep a steady and consistent stroke and let the person in the back do all the steering. The boats from BOA have rudders on them that are controlled by foot pedals in the back, so it makes the boat very easy to steer.
Communication is also key to having an enjoyable paddle. The person in the back can't see everything so it is important for the person up front to let him know of any obstacles. If I saw some rocks coming up or shallow water, I would just let Dave know to turn left or right. It's important to trust what he is doing. Once you clearly communicate what's ahead, let him do his job. It's hard not to be a backseat driver, but there is no use in trying. When you are at the front of a long and heavy boat, it's difficult to have any control, so just keep on paddling and enjoy the ride.
When coming in for a beach landing or going through rough water, listen to each other. The person in the back has control so if they tell you to paddle hard on the left, or back paddle or stop, do as they say. The best thing you can do is work together. If you spend all your time butting heads, you aren't going to get anywhere and then you are going to hold up the group.
Have a Sense of Humour
I think that the biggest strength in our relationship is that we can laugh at each other. We know when one of us is slacking or when one of us is messing up. We are confident in our relationship enough to disagree, but to let the fight go. We don't hang on to things. If someone loses it, we'll laugh about it later. Sometimes we'll laugh right in the moment. Sure, I've had Dave laugh at me in the middle of me yelling at him and I can either get angrier or join in the fun. Most of the time, I get angrier first and then join in the fun. If we have an argument on the boat, we get over it quickly. I mean really, what are you really fighting over? A silly hard shore landing or a wrong turn? You're in paradise, what's the big deal if a mistake is made or if you aren't paddling perfect. The point of adventure is to have a great time, enjoy the view and maybe if your lucky spot a dolphin or two.
The Divorce Boat Experiment
And as far as the divorce boat? Well, I think it is actually a great boat for couple's therapy. It forces a couple to communicate and trust one another and if you can survive a 10 day trip around San Jose in the Beluga without a shower, you can survive anything.
We felt great when our guide told us that he has never seen anyone handle this boat so well. He said that he's going to use us as examples the next time people complain about the boat. Apparently everyone hates it and uses the excuse that it's too big and heavy to keep up with the group. Well, I've got news for the next pair who has to paddle “The Beluga,” we lead the way most of the time during the trip. We were never left behind and in choppy waters, we had more control than anyone and we sped through the waves with ease. No more excuses people, the Beluga is here to stay.
For more information on Kayaking in Baja California visit BOA's Website. They offer private tours, packages, day trips and rentals from La Paz.
For accommodation in La Paz, visit Hotel Marina, located right in the town of La Paz at the Marina. Free Internet.
For more information on travel to La Paz, visit the Baja Sur Website to find out all the activities that can be done in the area.