You'll appreciate the maneuverability of a kayak as you explore the coves and coastlines of the Gulf of California.
Photo: Alexa Callison-Burch
A NOLS semester without the hiking boots? That’s right. The Baja Ocean Semester is one-of-a-kind! You’ll explore the eastern edge of the Baja Peninsula, where the freshly scrubbed beaches of the Sonoran Desert meet the Sea of Cortez, your waterway for the duration of your semester. As your expedition heads south from the Bahía de Los Angeles to the La Paz Islands, your watercraft will switch from sea kayak to Drascombe Longboat to keelboat as your ability to travel competently and responsibly over water develops. When not practicing navigation and boat handling, you will have the opportunity to free dive and possibly even spear fish at different points in your journey.
The rugged Sonoran mountain ranges and blue-green waters will create the perfect backdrop as you learn the many facets of seamanship, as well as the NOLS core curriculum that will allow you to lead others safely and comfortably in the ocean wilderness.
Wilderness First Aid
Your adventure will be just beginning as you arrive at NOLS Mexico, our facility in Coyote Bay near Mulegé. Here you’ll have 16 hours of first aid training specific to wilderness emergencies and essential for backcountry travelers, presented by the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS.
After dialing your first aid skills for the expedition ahead, you’ll get right on the water with your sea kayak. Rolling, wet exits, surf landings, and efficient paddle strokes will get you ready to navigate down this wild desert coast. By the end of these 30 days, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a well-rounded ocean traveler with a feel for the winds and a developing sense of tides and currents.
During this month-long section, you’ll learn the essentials of sail theory aboard a 22-foot Drascombe Longboat, a perfect boat to nail down the fundamentals. You will appreciate its maneuverability in small coves along with its capability to make larger crossings to islands. Leadership, seamanship, navigation, and oceanography will be expanded upon, as well as further mastery of your Leave No Trace camping skills on shore.
After mastering the basics of sailing on a Longboat, you'll venture further from shore aboard a 40-foot keelboat.
Photo: Louis Urvois
By the end of your semester, you’ll be ready to tackle keelboat sailing and work with your coursemates as a high-performing crew. These 40-foot boats will be your home for the final 10 days of your semester, each carrying seven students and an instructor. As you move further from the shore and closer as a crew, you’ll practice all of the skills you’ve acquired thus far—from sail theory to leadership to impeccable expedition behavior—in order to drive this large, complex sailboat.