Ham Radio while trolling near the Santa Catalina Islands & thru the 14 Mile Bank – Maritime Mobile

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On this beautiful Saturday, I went 28 nautical miles out to sea, which placed me about 3 miles southwest of the Santa Catalina Islands. Before this trip, I topped off my fuel tank, and by 0415 I was launched. While trolling in the dark from the back bay launching ramp through the Newport Harbor, I used my Mercury 9.9 EXLHP Command Thrust Pro Kicker. Then once beyond the jetties, I used my Mercury 200HP XL Pro XS® Four Stroke V8 for the trip. Once I reached my destination, my fuel gauge had hardly moved.

As anticipated, the winds were light at approx. 20 MPH, the wind waves were only 2’ high, and the westerly swells were only 2’.

While on the infamous 14 Mile Bank, I decided to take a break from trolling and called out to the following ham radio repeater. I’m not surprised I got a bite over the air as quickly as I did. This repeater is located on an airport hangar on the Catalina Islands (147.090, 600 kHz + PL tone 79.7Hz). I’ve spoken to Hams before on this repeater from Big Bear City, as well as other portions of the San Bernardino mountains. Another asset to their great propagation is the saltwater works as a magnifier for greater antenna propagation. I regret not making a specific Ham call to anyone in the San Bernardino mountains. Which would have shown how a mariner can communicate far away from a little HT like mine. 

In these recorded radio contacts, you’ll hear conversations with two out of three fellows. You meet some wonderful folks with unique experience and knowledge over the airwaves. I decided to upload this video because of where I was, and whom I was talking to. Once I went ‘73’ I turned my video camera off. That is when I realized they were still talking about me (according to my bio on the QRZ page), and so here goes my eavesdropping, and the legal wiretapping.

Just before making this Ham call, the U.S. Coastguard (over my marine radio), put out a small craft advisory over channel 22 Alpha, warning of the dangers that lay ahead in the next few hours. So, I began my journey back to the mainland. And that Coastguard warning was accurate, as the waves and swells were much greater as I was getting close to the harbor. I highly recommend that all mariners get their FCC ham radio license. Our Marine radios are great, but there’s a chance that the Coastguard or other receivers will not be close enough to hear your call for help. Albeit I am Coast Guard registered with MMSI & DSC capabilities, having a ham radio is wise.

My total time at sea was 9.0 hours. The ocean was great, but the drive home was not as pleasant.  I keep daydreaming about that retirement home with lakefront property, with our own boat dock. But that might be for another pipedream. Besides, that would have to be in a less expensive State. Hey, not a bad idea.

And the answer is “No.” I did not catch one fish, not even that aforementioned Mako Shark (mentioned in the below conversation). Usually there’s more action in the ocean than in our local crowed lakes, but today was an anomaly. Nevertheless, it’s never just about the fishing. I enjoyed God’s creation while watching some of His marine life, which included a school of light brown Dolphins showing off and doing tricks all around my boat. Additionally, being alone in the ocean is a special prayer place for me, I’ve even studied for sermons way out there. 

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