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Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Killer Crossing!

Hotspur sailing downwind!
Vas Kirheim!

Marko was wide-eyed and pointing fervently - he was a bundle of sheer human excitement!
But neither Jim nor I could understand what the heck he was saying - I think it was a combination of German and French and Honey Boo-Boo... we couldn't make him out at all.
As he kept jabbing his index finger towards the water we turned to look and finally he exploded some English words through his thick German accent,
"Free Willy!"
Sure enough, surfacing from the deep Mexican waters, an Orca's head appeared.

Jim and I have heard rumors of Killer Whales in the Sea of Cortez, but we have never actually seen them. What an exciting moment - breath-taking and exhilarating - to see 6 of them right next to the boat. We were fully under sail... and the whales were fast! The only photo we were able to capture was the last time we saw them come up for air... blurry - but definitely their black, sharp fins standing tall against the horizontal waterline. A most excellent siting!

Our two German crew members, Marko and Anja, couldn't have been more delighted. Sea turtles, dolphins playing in the bow's wake, flying fish (which they had never heard of before and thought must be some kind of joke), some-kind-of-whale or two along the way - and now - a positive whale ID...
Free Willy and his family.
Marko napping - he had a small case of sea sickness but we fed him some
Stugeron tabs (30 mg 6-8 hours) and he bounced back nicely.
Reading on their Androids and typing letters.
They liked the freedom of our Fatty Knees and rowed to the beach while we waited at
Isla Espiritu Santo for wind to take us across
But if that wasn't enough, we sailed into Banderas Bay with another sight to behold. Humpbacks! How many? I couldn't tell you... but their aquatic displays of whaleness were some of the most phenomenal and beautiful that we have ever seen. Lying on their backs and clapping like seals or slapping the water with their enormous pectoral fins (we understand it is to call food towards them) - whatever the case, the Humpbacks were very numerous and we all enjoyed their welcoming us to the bay.

I tried wholeheartedly to catch a fish during the 6 days we were out after leaving La Paz (2 nights we spent on Isla Espiritu Santo waiting for wind, night 3 we spent at Los Muertos with a good forecast for the next morning, and 2 nights underway), but the fish in La Paz were too cold to eat and the ones we sailed over in 79*F water on the other side of the Tropic of Cancer were apparently picky eaters. I did so desperately want to catch a Dorado and cook him up to share with our friends, but we had pressure cooker stroganoff instead - absolutely delicious... but not fresh Dorado seared in butter and garlic and lime.

The closest I came to catching a fish was when a flying fish landed on deck with a loud thump during my night watch - about 1:00 am. Thankfully, we had the side panels up to cut down on the chill or he would have definitely been my new hair ornament. The next morning I gathered him and and the 2 little squiddies he was chasing and placed them in a gallon baggie in the freezer. They will be very nice fish bait next time we troll!


  • Jim lost his expensive brand new prescription eyeglasses overboard - why he wasn't wearing his lanyard? I dunno. We have another ugly "just in case" pair on board and now he will be stuck with those until we can order replacement lenses.
  • Our Icom M710 took some figuring out - a long time not using and we have forgotten lots. The radio is a fine SSB for those specific pre-programmed channels... but not a great Ham rig. Switching to random Ham frequencies to listen only is easy. If you want to also transmit then it becomes a real pain to use... SO many button presses to program the transmit frequency that we have to have a cheat sheet because we can't remember all the steps. Takes a little while as well. Can't just go up 3 Megahertz and start talking... gotta program it in. Here is the cryptic procedure:
Program RX channel
  1. Select the channel to use (Like 160)
  2. Push [CE]
  3. Enter the 5-6 digit frequency
  4. Select the mode (Like USB)
  5. Push the RX button and hold for 1 second
But wait! Your not done. Program the TX channel
  1. Select the user channel (ex. 160 again)
  2. Push the [CE] button. A right pointing triangle will appear on the screen.
  3. Enter the frequency.
  4. Push and hold the [TX] button for 1 second.
  5. Push [TX] again to clear blinking TX on screen.
  6. Hope to hell the frequency is still clear because NOW you can transmit:) 
  • We experienced some weird electrical anomalies... what I imagine would be Bermuda Triangle type experiences: Radar and auto pilot and depth sounder problems - the GPS sender shut off and reconnected several times - the depth gauge disappeared completely - and the auto pilot (which is wired into a completely separate system) began to steer wiggy and then completely shut down. A bit scary to depend on your electronics and have them start going schizoid on you.
  • The refrigerator cycled and re-cycled - 5 minutes later it cycled and re-cycled - again... and again... on and off (day and night) - yet another boat chore.


  1. Windy: thanks for the great HAM programming instructions, we have the same radio and these will be helpful.
    Michael: "Davidhasselhoff!"--hilarious.

  2. Hi Jim and Meri. Just recently came cross your blog. Love your posts! I am another Southwestern Colorado native, originally from Montrose. My family and I are planning to begin our journey in November. We just recently purchased our boat and she is on the hard at Gabriel's Marina in Guaymas. We are strategizing on how to obtain our TIP. Do you recall if the port captain in Guaymas required a formal check in? Did he issue an Entrada and Salida? Any suggestions. We are still waiting on the original bill of sale and our new coast guard doccummentation but want to get the ball rolling to be legal and avoid AGACE! Thanks for sharing all your experiences! Matt and Courtney

    1. Great to hear from you, Matt and Courtney... email coming soon!

  3. with regard to glasses.....I have been very fussy when mine got smashed or sank....till I started ordering them cheap on the interweb. It was a little bit of a learning curve...but the price was right . (i used zenni)

    1. Gerard, I agree - we LOVE Zenni Optical! I will order Jim's replacement lenses from them - but getting them down to Mainland Mexico means waiting for a friend (or a friend of a friend) who might be flying or driving down.