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You know how most of the boats in a marina hardly ever get used for their intended purpose? Dock queens, they’ve been called.
In the matter of SV Flyin Sideways, this is not the case. After much time, money and effort spent getting her ready for a safe passage, she slipped her lines from the California Yacht Marina, heading South.
And I was lucky enough to come along for the ride.


That’s Smilin’ George, another skydiver, who showed up in San Diego the same Friday night as Pam and I. Saturday morning, there’s gonna be some fireworks. The old electrical generating station South of the marina was scheduled for demolition, and George has the wherewithal to procure airline tickets way cheap (as in free).
The boat was a perfect viewing platform.


Ugly, wasn’t it?

Friday evening, we feasted on pizza from Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, and put a dent in the ship’s store of beer.



Up at 0600 Saturday, we noticed quite the traffic jam on the marina parkway. Poor blighters.
We had an invitation to enjoy the implosion on a neighbor’s vessel, and it has a flybridge. And mimosas! The early morning imbibing was a foreshadowing of the days to come.

The TNT needed to take down that old monstrosity was considerable, and at 0702, expended. The concussions were not only heard, but felt. It started off with about two blasts per second, then the tempo increased to what you might experience during a fireworks finale. Pam was sure we’d attended another implosion back in Detroit, but you tend to remember things like body-wracking sound waves.


We cheered, had more mimosas, thanked our dockmates, and then settled down to the business of preparing for that afternoon’s departure.

charts and manboobs

We needed a current chart for the voyage, but the local West Marine didn’t have one. Kenny, who would join us on Flyin Sideways’ first leg, had an older chart book, and from that Joe laid in a course on the new Garmin chart plotter. All sorts of stuff was stowed topsides and below, including a large solar panel. They’d ordered two panels, but one arrived shattered and useless. Someone will have to “mule” another one down to them.

After dropping George off at the airport, things got a little more serious.

The skipper had laid out the crew’s hierarchy, duties and responsibilities earlier that afternoon, and it was law.

No alcohol immediately preceding or during the voyage.

If you need to go on the foredeck while it’s dark, you’re tethered.

Those were the most important ones that I can remember at the moment.

We wanted to get underway and be out on the ocean by dark, but that didn’t quite happen. You know how it is.

Leaving San Diego

Not the greatest shot of San Diego’s nighttime skyline. I had to be careful not to blind skipper Joe with the camera flash.

As we were exiting the channel alongside Point Loma, a “restricted area” popped up on the chart plotter dead ahead. “See Note B”. Note B?? Where the hell is Note B??? Here was where a current paper chart might have been helpful.

We knew which way we wanted to go, however, and forged on Southward. Luckily, the Navy and/or Marines were snug in their bases ashore. It would have sucked to have met up with some sort of authority at that point in time.

We passed inside the Coronado Islands, the site of a recent sailing race tragedy. The SV Aegean had charted and followed a course directly onto one of the rocky islands, losing all hands. We kept a close watch.

There was one other known obstruction, but Joe had routed us well clear of it. We kept a course of about 150 degrees, while the coast meandered on a more Easterly path, putting us fairly far offshore by the time we got
near Bahia de Todos Santos. We saw a couple of cruise ships, passing about a mile or so to our West, and a container vessel.

We did find enough wind to put out the foresail for an hour or so, then it started getting variable, so we rolled it back up and kept on motoring. The diesel got a good acid test that night.

Karin got her first taste of making coffee while underway, and it was no small feat.

When the skylight of Ensenada became almost due East, we headed towards it. A couple of small islands off our starboard side were skillfully avoided.

It got pretty chilly in the cockpit, but down below, Pam was enjoying a “two-dog night”.

Gypsy portside

Jack starboard

Joe, Kenny, Karin and I pretty much stayed up all night, taking turns at the helm. The brand-new chart plotter got quite a thorough workout, as did the instruction manual. The depth sounder had been acting erratically, showing about 7+ feet of depth, strange for this far out. The paper chart we had indicated depths of around 100 to 600 feet, so we figured some kelp may have been picked up by the keel. Then we decided to reboot the Garmin, and the depth sounder came back to life.

By the time we entered Bahia Todos Santos, we could barely make out the one landmark we needed to guide the boat into the marina’s channel, a conglomerate of cranes used to offload ships. Then, just as we entered the channel proper, the light of day was official. Perfect timing!

Entering Ensenada

Joe and Kenny

Having already raised the quarantine flag, Joe piloted the boat to a smooth docking, and we tied off.

All of her1

Jubilant, we toasted our arrival with adult beverages. Then more adult beverages. I know, it’s early, but we were decompressing.

A couple of marina security guards came by to let us know that it was Sunday (!), and the Port Captain wouldn’t be here anytime soon. But this is Mexico, and very laid back as far as border security goes. We were free to go ashore and get some breakfast. New dock mates got out of their bunks to greet us, folks from all over. We were all fairly hammered by the time we marshaled the five of us plus a Norwegian sailor for the traipse into town. Evan ran circles around us on an electric bicycle.

Evan and Pam

Guess which one’s from Norway?

The morning’s libations on top of last night’s cruise did have their downside. Someone had told us of a good, cheap restaurant, but it was farther than our originally chosen eatery. Nevertheless, Pam had heard the word “cheap”, and set off with Evan towards the place. I’m quite used to just letting Pam have her way, but my male shipmates are not. It was getting mutinous out there on the streets, with “It’s just a little further” becoming tiring to listen to, for some. Probably how Christopher Columbus’ crew felt.
But Pam got her way, again.

After the longish slog back to the boat, more beverages and more new dock mates came forth. A very friendly place, this Cruiseport Village Marina. But soon the piper had to be paid, and we all took an early afternoon siesta. That evening, after checking out the marina’s shower facilities, we again headed into town for some dinner, just not quite so far this time. The trade-off seemed well worth it.

We all slept hard that night, and the next day we recovered from recovering from the cruise down Mexico way.

It was Monday, February 4th, Mexico’s Constitution Day, and guess what? We weren’t going to get checked in today, either! Luckily, the restaurants, shops and cantinas were open for business.
We toured the local fish market, dined at more of Ensenada’s inexpensive restaurants and heard the blare of a marching band as a parade wound its way from the town square to points unknown. Ensenada has what is probably the biggest flag I’ve ever seen, and here it is, in the far background of this photo of a mega-yacht in the marina. It was at half-staff because of the recent Pemex explosion in Mexico City.

Mega yacht

I did happen to get some photos of various other boats in the Marina, too. One of which is the big sister to my little Macgregor 25.


That’s a Macgregor 65, and she’s for sale.




This huge wooden vessel, with a retractable bowsprit. Saves mucho pesos in dockage fees.


A very pretty Flicka 20, which you can stand up in. She’s for sale, too.

Tuesday, Pam and I had to start heading back towards Tucson, and some had thought that was to be the biggest adventure of this trip. But first we had to find the bus station. Our halting Spanish was tested on some young locals, and soon we had two tickets to Tijuana on a very comfortable coach.

Get on the bus

Entering the US

It was not the best time of day to cross the border.

We took the MTA shuttle North to the stop closest to Flyin Sideways’ old marina, and walked the rest of the way there, about a mile or two.

Pam perseveres

We also had to stop at a post office to pick up a pre-paid envelope, so our friends could send all the stuff Pam forgot in Mexico and California back here to Tucson. So it goes.

Meanwhile, Joe and Karin will keep on working on their boat. Only now, they’re doing it in paradise!

Joe and Karin in MX1

I do plan on visiting them again in Ensenada before they light out for points South. Hey, somebody has to get them their replacement solar panel.

But in the meantime, I’m beginning the installation of my new autopilot.

You can follow S/V Flyin Sideways’ progress at



  1. Tom, that was a really well written diary of our adventure. You are awesome crew! We would love to return the favor when you set out into the Sea of Cortez. We learned alot from the shakedown cruise and and after taking the weekend off and enjoying Carnival we are correcting and organizing Flyin Sideways, also I bought every chart and gps card you could ever dream of!!!!!!!!!!!! Now We just have to learn that darn gps. I miss flying Eloy direct Eloy! Thanks for all the laughs and fun, please come see us whenever you get a chance, give my love to Pam and hope all is well.

    Karin and Joe

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had a great time, and will do it again!

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