Kim Kirch Tells All About Her Adventure Sailing Trip

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Kim Kirch Sailing in San Fransisco

1. How did you get into sailing and how long have you been sailing?

I always wanted to learn to sail, but couldn’t afford to. At the time, I was 20 years old and working as a boat captain. The majority of work available was on sailboats, so I got a job crewing on a handful of local charter boats. Then, I ended up teaching sailing. When I was 23, I met my girlfriend Kelsey. Within the first month we dated, we sailed 1,000 nm together. Ever since I’ve been in love with both her and the sea.

2. Tell me about the trip to Hawaii and all the preparation that went into that trip.

Steve (Kelsey’s Dad) retired almost a year before we left. Right when he retired, he let us girls know to start getting ready. It took me nearly a year to sell everything I owned. I got a “big girl job” to save enough money to not have to work for a while. We spent the year fixing up the boat and getting her sea-worthy. By the time we left, we were as prepared as we thought we’d ever be, and that most definitely was still not enough.

The Hawaii passage was rough. We left during the Trans Pac and did well in comparison. The Trans-Pac is a race from LA to Hawaii. We made it to the Hawaiian Islands two days after the Trans Pac winner. During our route there we had four hurricanes pass by. Two got really close, and the last one made landfall in Hilo two days before we did. On our way home, we hand steered for 25 days, hand steered with the emergency tiller for 5, and it took 27 days to reach San Francisco. We are a crew of three. We steer two hours on four hours off. At the same time, someone having to hand pump out the extensive amount of water making its way into the boat every 30 min.

The trip to the mainland tested us all around. It was in no way easy, but at some point, your life depends on you being mentally capable of doing what needs to be done despite how sick or tired you are.

3. Could you explain all the work that goes into the ship before you are ready to sail?

Well the big number one is to check the weather. Then, read about where you are headed, and the typical weather patterns for that area at that time of year. Sometimes you will need to contact the marina or local port captain before you leave/arrive. Engine working? Sails good? Emergency equipment? Provisioning? (food) Spare parts?
That is the typical run down for us on pre-departure. The longer the trip, the more we go over everything.

4. What was your scariest moment out on the water?

We had 24 hours to cross behind and under a hurricane because another one was heading north to our position. We had 30 hours to move before it got to us. May seem like a long time, but when your top speed is 9 knots and the hurricane is moving 20+ knots it’s time to get a move on.

The first time we tried to leave Kauai, we had checked the report and it was supposed to be 4-5 ft seas and 10 – 15 knots. When we got out passed the lee of the Island it was 15 ft seas and 30+ knot winds. We hadn’t even put our life lines out, so we were so not prepared for the conditions. Waves were smashing over the bow and flying over the entire boat. We decided to turn around and head back to Kauai and wait for the next weather window.

It was a really eerie afternoon. A mist fell over the water just before dark which as of my experience in the middle of the ocean is really uncommon. Later that night we hit a squall and with full sails up. Half way through the squall we snapped the steering cable. One sad moment while your sitting in the rain realizing your 1,000 nm north of land one way and 2,000 miles west of land the other and you know longer have a way to steer.

5. What are some of your best moments?

I’ve seen a full moon rise with purple and gold clouds, while on the other the sun is setting pink and blue. I’ve swum with schools of dolphins. My favorite is when schools of dolphins will chase the boat at night flying through the phosphorescence like torpedoes. We’ve caught huge fish! There’s not really a much better feeling than a 20-knot wind on the beam on a beautiful afternoon with the boat flying 9 knots. I love the boat and living on the water, but most of all I love the people you meet along the way. Us transient, full of life, crazy, sea people.

6. Tell us about your latest trip to Mexico. How is that going so far?

Mexico, we are more of a motorboat on a glassy day so it’s been super easy boating, to say the least. I love Mexico. There are a ton of cruisers (boat people) from all over here. Baja is so empty, and we had fun surfing and fishing our way down the coast. Mainland has had some fun surf and the culture and food have been incredible. I could spend a lifetime in Mexico no problem.

7. Where are you headed to next?

We are in El Salvador now, going to surf El Tunco for my birthday this week. We are working our way south to Ecuador. We had to make it this far south because of hurricane season that starts here this month. Next, we will head to Costa Rica where we will spend the next month or so…

8. Have you been surfing along the way? What are some of the places you’ve surfed?

Cardon- in the realm of the 7 sisters was small while we were there but super fun.
Scorpion bay – We caught a huge west swell making its way south from San Fran that allowed us to surf 2nd point at Scorpion bay in January. The outer points catch some NW but the 2nd point is the wave that Scorpion bay is really famous for and it was cool to have a shoulder high day in the offseason.
Burros – One of many waves in Bahia de Banderas. Burros is a little right reef break and is consistent and can always find it surfable at low tide. Kelsey and I’s favorite wave in that area.
Barra De Navidad – There is a mushy a frame that is right our front of the lagoon/anchorage at Barra De Navidad. Wave has potential to be a perfect left-hand point break. While it’s good it will close out the entrance to the lagoon. It needs a big NW to be like that and it was really pretty small while we were there.

Los Gatos – A super fun left point break that funnels into the anchorage at Zihuatenejo. Has the clearest water I’ve surfed in all of Mexico. Nobody really surfs this wave in this area until its firing so when its mid-sized to small you’ll find yourself all alone out there.

Puerto Escondido – Surfed the infamous Zicatela at 2-4ft and was still super heavy – kind of like surfing Blacks. We also surfed La Punta, had a couple fun days practicing Spanish in a super crowded lineup.

Barra De La Cruz – Perfect secluded right-hand point break. This wave is just outside Bahias de Huatulco and the area is amazing. Ocean like a swimming pool, good reefs to dive, and lots of fresh organic food to be found.

9. What other activities have you been doing?

We hike, run, swim, dive, read, fix, or learn to fix the boat surf whenever possible.

Follow Kim and her adventures here:
https://www.instagram.com/captain__kirch/
http://www.kimkirch.com/sailing-blog

About the author / 

Nicole Grodesky
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Nicole loves surfing, photography and developing her skills in online marketing and publishing.

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