Where is San Felipe and Puerto Penasco? Ask Siri for a map of Mexico and look at the top north corner of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez that seprates the Baja from the mainland. Puerto Penasco is on the east side, San Felipe directly across the sea on the west side.
Now imagine taking a ride on a jet ski, from one city to another.
From the July editon of the Rocky Point Times Newspaper:
Nobody has ever crossed the sea between Puerto Penasco
and San Felipe…wait for it… on a Jet Ski.
On June 8th, 2019, during the Circus Mexicus weekend In Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Richie Hudson and Rob Kirby decided to create a true adventure and go where no man or woman has gone before. On two modified jet ski’s- purpose-built to hold more fuel- (without any follow-up or support boats), they woke up on a Saturday morning in San Felipe and yep you guessed it, took a cruise across the Sea of Cortez.
Why on a jet ski?
Hudson, a professional athlete and adventure seeker, stated, “I love to do things most people never do.”
If we had a Puerto Penasco Guinness Book of Sea Records, the pair holds the title.
For those not familiar with our neighbor city sparkling across the Sea of Cortez to the west, take a long look at sunset. If the sky is just perfect, you might see the highest mountain in Baja: Mount Diablo. The peak juts out over 10,000 ft into the sky. In nautical miles, the shortest distance between Puerto Penasco and San Felipe by water, is 71 nautical miles, equal to almost 82 miles or 131.72 km.
From Hudson and Kirby’s launch on the beach in San Felipe, they mapped it to be around 87 miles. Their friend Mike Aldridge was the support land chase crew. Aldridge, driving by truck (which takes approximately five hours) was ready for any rescue, or call for help.
Hudson, who spends as much time as he can in mainland Mexico and Baja, is married to Renee Hudson, both long distance ski racers, and owner of Lakeland Marine in Lake Havasu. He custom-built a specific Kawasaki Ultra Jet ski last year for this very purpose. His friend Kirby’s jet ski was just put together this year.
The two adventure seekers picked June 8th for the optimal tides and temperatures of the sea. Their goal was to ride approximately 40 miles per hour, completing the trip in about 2.5 hours. When I asked Hudson for a quote the day before, he stated, “In theory it should be very uneventful.”
I always like the saying, “Want to see God laugh? Tell God your plans”.
Now, to give you a little bit of my background of this body of water, I crossed this same area of sea, four times. The first trip was in a sailboat (with a very experienced sailor) leaving from Puerto Penasco to San Felipe. It was a pretty easy ride with a little bit of changing winds and swells in the middle, and by the large rock “La Roca”, a landmark that juts out of the sea before you can see the town of San Felipe, a little rocky. All-in-all a good trip over. The return was very difficult, as a tropical storm was brewing and my friend and I had to turn around two different mornings and wait for calm, which never came. We eventually had to sail back to Puerto Penasco through the rough sea. The next time I would cross the sea between the two cities, was in our 40’ft motorboat with our partners. Once again we experienced a pleasant trip over, but after spending the night, the return trip was what sea stories are made of, with large swells, crazy winds and a ten-hour boat ride. I mentioned this story to Hudson before he left.
When Hudson and Kirby were ready to launch on the morning of June 8th at 6:00 a.m., the seas were not the calm they expected, however they decided to stick with the plan and set out to travel the distance, attempting a first of its kind experience.
Instead of the 40 mph they expected to achieve, the rough seas and the swells from two different directions kept them to an average of 12-15 mph. Hudson said, “It was gnarly the entire trip. The swells were about 2-4 ft high, coming from two different directions and all they could see of our beautiful Sea of Cortez, was white caps. Their biggest challenge was the condition of the sea and the temperature of the water, and remarked after being wet for so long, they almost experienced hypothermia.
Thirty miles outside of Penasco, a Panga boat of fishermen came over to make sure the pair were okay. The fishermen were shocked to see jet ski’s this far out, especially in rough water conditions. They assured them they were okay, and the pair practically surfed the waves the rest of the way into Puerto Penasco.
When Hudson and Kirby pulled into Marina, the alarms were going off with low fuel. A tourist boat gave them a beer and they recovered on the docks in the sunshine. They ended up spending the night in our own historic Posada La Roca Hotel, which they stated, had friendly staff, great beds and hot showers.
Yes, they made it the first of its kind adventure, but it was a rough crossing and it took them five and a half hours to cross the sea. Regardless, their adventure sounds amazing to me and a Penasco record.
In the words of Hudson before he left, he stated, “ I love what God created and want to see it all.” Well, I suppose, the rough seas are part of the all.
Hudson, two-time winner of the Baja 1000, in different classes, is not stopping there.
So, how do you top this first adventure?
Go even further…
Hudson will do a-sort of Baja 1000 of the Sea, and take the jet ski from San Felipe to Cabo San Lucas, 1000+- nautical mile trip. Stay tuned for the follow- up on the next big adventure. We’re glad they made it, but please note, this is not an adventure to be tried by amateurs.