Location: 17°46'N 107°05W
Water temperature: 91 (Is this right? That's what Raymarine claims.)
Air temperature: 85
Sky condition: Dark
Weather: Light Snow
Wind: 9 knots
Boat speed: 8 knots (with one motor)
The night before last about 2:00 a.m. I was tooling along, minding my own business, and I noticed something come up on the radar.
The return looked like a big ship, but it didn't have an AIS (identification signal) like most ships do now. It looked like it was
headed toward us from 15 miles away.
A little later, I could make out some lights on the horizon. They kept getting closer. It was going about 13 knots. We were going a
blinding 6 knots. They seemed to be coming right at us, from the right. I think that's starboard. I couldn't tell whether they would
pass in front of, behind of, or over the top of us.
About two miles out, I got a radio call in Spanish asking for the vessel at our latitude and longitude in Spanish. I wasn't 100%
sure of the numbers, since I lost track in my translation after about the 4th or 5th digit, but since we were the only two boats for
hundreds of square miles, I guessed they wanted to talk to me.
I replied with the time-honored naval greeting, "Hablo Ingles?" It turned out the other boat was a Mexican Navy Warship, trying to
get by us without resorting to artillery. I offered to turn left or right, and speed up or slow down. They requested a left turn or
reduced speed, and I gave them both.
When they passed us I could see it was a BIG ship, even though I could only make out the outline. After I slowed down and turned,
Mike woke up and wandered outside, a little incoherent. He probably still thinks it was a UFO.
Yesterday morning we arrived at Isla Socorro, about 300 miles off the coast of Mexico. There is a naval garrison there. I called on
the radio for Socorro and Capitania and etc. on three different channels to get clearance into Mexico and/or Socorro, but nobody
Finally we got the dinghy out, threw in a bicycle, and I headed for shore with our papers, hoping to find aduanes and migracion, or
at least a naval officer who could make us legal.
I had do duck under a big 2" rope going about 200 yards across the harbor, holding a barge in position while they unloaded it. When
I got close to the dock, I saw several men with M16 rifles getting into a small boat. I waved to them, they waved back, and they
followed me under the rope and out to the Minnow.
We've never had machine guns on the boat before. Too bad I had taken the skeet off the boat in Oregon. The officer completed our
paperwork while the other guys stood guard. Mike fed everybody Coke Zeros and Chips Ahoy.
We asked a few questions. There is an airport on the island. There are 347 people there in the naval garrison. The Island and
surrounding is a nature preserve. The scuba diving is no good because of low visibility. He has been stationed there for a year. We
were not allowed to go onto the island.
After we were officially cleared, Mike and I broke out the scuba gear. The naval officer was correct. The visibility was lousy near
the bottom (60 feet down). Nearer the surface, visibility was 75 feet or so, but down below it was more like 8 feet because of all
the silt. So we cleaned the bottom of the boat.
As we left, the water was pretty smooth. There must have been some swells, though, because there were some huge waves smashing into
the rocks on shore. There were a couple of places where the water splashed up 30 or 40 feet. There was a big blowhole where water
shot up even higher. It looked a little dangerous for kayaking, so we headed out into open water.
We are now headed to Acapulco for diesel, or possibly Guatemala or Christchurch. This navigational business is confusing.