Petting whales in Baja

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Chris B
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Petting whales in Baja

Post by Chris B »

Here are a few pics from our adventure last week in Baja California. It was a long flight (six hours each way from the Bay Area to Loreto), but we had a wonderful time. One proud mother gray whale and her calf were incredibly playful, staying in close proximity to our small skiff for about 40 minutes. We were probably their toy, as they seemed to enjoy pushing us around.

Twice the mother lifted the bow of our boat until the transom nearly flooded, and she also frequently showered us with water by purposefully exhaling just under the surface next to the railing. The mother is *huge*. It would have been very easy for her to swamp us at any time. With all of our shrieking, I was reminded of how dogs enjoy squeaky chew toys! :D

Other than needing to touch-up the paint on the prop & nose wheel fairing, our little plane did great on the dirt strip. One important tip: no matter how hot it is on the ground, under no circumstances crack the canopy before starting the engine on a dirt strip. DAMHIKT... :oops:

For high-resolution versions of these photos, check here: Link

Chris
Mama showing off her calf.JPG
My wife petting the mother gray whale.JPG
My wife giving mama a kiss.JPG
Genuine baleen.JPG
Eye-to-eye with the calf.JPG
The calf has 'whiskers'.JPG
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Chris B
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Re: Petting whales in Baja

Post by Chris B »

Parking at Laguna San Ignacio.JPG
The planes in our group.JPG
Flying over central Baja.JPG
Just before sunrise in Loreto.JPG
Entrance to harbor with Hotel Mision in background.JPG
Sunrise in Loreto.JPG
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Colin
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Re: Petting whales in Baja

Post by Colin »

That is a fantastic experience. I was in the same lagoon in high school in an inflatable raft and had similar encounters. It was unbelievable to have the water around me flatten, roil, and bubble... and then have the whale surface six feet beyond me and turn around to have a look at me. I will never forget it surface next to that tiny craft and staring at me, pausing while surfacing to just look eye-to-eye.

You didn't fly six hours straight, though, right? Where did you refuel?

I was a member of Baja Pilots for a few years. I kept thinking about that trip to see the whales.

Then I read this story: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2002837/posts (although in a lot more detail back then, that's just what I found with Google now). Here is some more detail a year after: http://bajasafari.blogspot.com/2009/04/ ... o-guy.html

Sounds like a plane every three months is stolen, although a DA40 isn't really what they are looking for. A guy on the old Diamond board had the radios stolen out of a Piper when he went down. That's incredibly frustrating.

I hope in the following decade we'll see the end of the war on drugs and a reversal of the lawlessness and violence in Mexico.
Colin Summers, PP Multi-Engine IFR, ~2,600hrs
colin@mightycheese.com
http://www.flyingsummers.com
N972RD DA42 G1000 2.0 s/n 42.AC100
N971RD DA40 G1000 s/n 40.508 (traded)
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Chris B
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Re: Petting whales in Baja

Post by Chris B »

Colin wrote:You didn't fly six hours straight, though, right? Where did you refuel?
We stopped for gas and immigration at San Felipe going south, and Calexico going north. Loreto has a beautiful airport, with a runway suitable for commercial jet flights.
Sounds like a plane every three months is stolen, although a DA40 isn't really what they are looking for.
AFAIK, the current theft rate is much lower than once every three months. In the last few years the Mexican government has eliminated refueling at all but a handful of major airports on the Baja peninsula, and these airports have full-time military personnel who check your documents for all arrivals and departures. Combined with prohibitions on night VFR flight, this appears to have had the desired effect.

In any event, this is one case where the DA40's gross-weight challenges are a distinct advantage.
Not exactly an optimal drug hauling machine! :D
I hope in the following decade we'll see the end of the war on drugs and a reversal of the lawlessness and violence in Mexico.
That would be wonderful!

BTW, one thing that really surprised me was the cleanliness in Loreto. There is no trash - as in, Disneyland clean - in the waterfront area, and the water around the docks is pristine.

Chris
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