Application Request: (415) 389-6644


January, 2007

After taking a sabbatical for the 2006 summer season to explore new areas for future sailing/marine biology trips, we have decided to once again establish a schedule for this coming summer, 2007 for the Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico. Details will be posted soon.

We are pleased that our 20-year old twins, Scott and Heather, will be working with us once again, as well as their cousin, Kevin Funkhouser, age 24. They will be taking care of most of the details, booking and arrangements. Bonni and I will lend our support and join them in Mexico for the summer sessions.

January, 2006

A few great links... for your enjoyment.

Great site on many facets of marine biology

My cousin's website. Lynn Funkhouser is a world-renowned underwater photographer.

December, 2005

Season's Greetings from the Funkhouser family. We hope all of our friends, ExploraMar sailors and their families find peace and happiness during this holiday season and the rest of the year as well!

We have made a decision to take a sabbatical for Summer, 2006. We want to explore other options in different parts of the world. As an alternative, we invite you to inquire into a program run by friends of ours, Call of the Sea.

Bonni continues to offer instruction and charters on San Francisco Bay aboard a classic 35’ Hinckley Pilot Sloop out of Sausalito. A great holiday gift idea! Bonni has been a licensed Coast Guard Captain for 30 years and has been teaching the fine art of sailing for over 25 years. Lessons are $25 per hour per person with a minimum of 3 hours. She can teach any level of experience, including beginners, and her philosophy is to get you on the water for hands-on experience with instruction. She sails mostly in the afternoons, and teaches lessons on demand, so there can be anywhere from one to four students aboard. Often times you may find yourself with a one-on-one lesson. If you are interested in a charter on San Francisco Bay, the cost is $60 per hour for up to three people, with a minimum of 3 hours. Additional passengers are $15 per hour each.

July, 2005

Whoa, it has been six months or so since we updated our ExploraNews. So there is a lot to tell. One of the newer words in the tech world is 'blog', so it seems that ExploraMar has been using a semi-blog format since our inception back in 1997. Ah, the pioneering Funkhousers.

As many of our previous students and parents know, all of our Mexico trips this summer were booked by a private school in Southern California. We are now home, and as always, all of the sessions were magical! One of the reasons for booking this way was due to the fact that Scott and Heather graduated from high school and decided that they wanted the summer off from ExploraMar (understandable since they have been on every trip, every summer, since 1997). We plan on returning to our usual booking procedures for next summer. Speaking of which, we should have our Summer, 2006 schedule posted by late October. One of the options we are pursuing is a trip or two to the Greek Islands!

To all of our ExploraMar participants and parents... let us know how you are and what direction your life has taken. We often hear either directly or indirectly from many of you, and we are always thrilled when we learn that your love of the sea and sailing has continued to be a part of your dreams. And don't forget to pass on your new email address or other contact information. We hope everyone is well. -Tom, Bonni, Scott and Heather

November, 2004

November is the month that we try to have your pictures and videos sent off to you. We have viewed them many, many times, and have so much fun re-living summer 2004. We also received Sierra's photos and are hoping to get Liz and Paola to send theirs along as well. For that matter, if any of you took some great photos, please email us. Wish we could all get together for a big reunion and watch the video together. There were so many laughs.

As for the Funk family....
Scott's band is playing quite a bit, and if any of you want, let me know and I will send a CD (it's finally almost complete). I am working as a volunteer at the Marine Mammal center, sailing on the Tam Team and stressing over colleges. By the way, if you want a peer recommendation, I will surely write one for any of you. My dad has been busy writing recommendations students from the past few years. He also inherited a 1950 Dodge, from his uncle's car dealership in Ohio, and he waxes it as much as my mom polishes her boat. Sometimes Scott and I feel like orphans...

That’s all for now. Email me if any of you have a chance.


October, 2004

Ahoy from Mill Valley! We had some amazing experiences this summer on our trips: we saw countless pods of dolphins, schools of squid, and even a few pilot whales. The weather was beautiful and the water was the warmest it has been for a couple of years. The students who came with us were all so great, and many new friendships were created. I am currently working on getting the videos and pictures together for those who attended, so you need not wait much longer. We miss you all so much, and if any of you are in the Bay Area, come stop by and we'll take you sailing.

Check out the August, 2004 issue of National Geographic for an article on squid. Much of the article talks about the Sea of Cortez. Remember that night when they were streaking around the boats? Click to read the first few paragraphs: Squid

For those of you who are interested in next summer, we are still trying to put together our schedule, which should be up in the next month.


Here are some photos from our expeditions this past summer: Summer 2004 Photos


May, 2004

I was just informed about a wonderful new website "dedicated to the unique ecology of the Baja California Peninsula and the Sea of Cortez" :
It is full of useful information and includes links to many other ecological organizations in the Sea of Cortez and Baja California region.

As of May 7, there are no more spaces available for Session A (July 1-9). However, we still have berths for one boy and two girls on Session B (July 12-20).

We are once again starting to get excited with the prospect of spending time with students in one of our favorite places on this planet!

- Heather

February/March, 2004

We just recently completed a round of camp fairs, and as of 2/21/04, we have three spaces still available for Session A (July 1-8) and five for Session B (July 12-20). We have one more fair planned, Thursday, March 4 in Mill Valley at the Strawberry Recreation Center.

All Summer 2003 students should should have received a CD disc of photos and a video within the past few weeks. Please let us know if you did not receive them. Also, we have recently been writing some school recommendation letters for previous ExploraMar students applying to private high schools and colleges. Bonni gets "chills" when we write a recommendation for those who are actually pursuing a career in marine biology. Good luck to all of you. And if anyone else needs a recommendation letter, please let us know.

©Tom Funkhouser

A small story to enjoy....

Mexico Fisherman Story

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican
village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the
small boat was several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the
Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, only a little while.

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my
children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each
evening where I play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and
busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should
spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the
proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you
would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a
middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening
your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and
distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village
and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your
expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then?"

The American laughed and said "That's the best part. When the time is
right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions.. Then what?"

The American said, "Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing
village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids,
take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you
could play your guitar with your amigos."

December, 2003

We posted some pictures from last summer's expeditions. The link can be found by clicking on Summer 2003 Photos

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

- Heather Funkhouser

October, 2003

Where does the time go? Hard to believe it is Fall already. We had a wonderful summer on the Sea of Cortez, lots of amazing sailing and sealife.

Our schedule has been posted for Summer, 2004, and we have planned two trips for Mexico: Session A (July 1-9) and Session B (July 12-20). For more details, click on Schedule, 2004.

- Heather Funkhouser

January, 2003

As of January 5, 2003, we have six remaining berths for Session B in Mexico, July 10-18.

We have finally found the time, after the hectic holidays, to post photos from last summer's Mexico sessions. Tahiti photos will follow shortly. Click on the link below to view the pictures from Mexico, 2002:

Summer 2002 Photos

As a side note, we are including a portion of an email recently sent by a former student of ours, Rachel J:

I have some great news and I wanted to tell you guys about it. I'm doing a semester at sea!
I always wanted to go back for a second term at Exploramar, but it never fit into my schedule...I had so much fun, and I learned more than I thought I did. I wrote about it in my application for the semester at sea, not only as previous experience but also in an essay about an event that changed my life. It was an amazing experience.

I hope you all had happy holidays and good luck with everything in 2003!"

December 29, 2002

Happy Holidays from The Funkhousers! Our hope is that everyone can find the time to share joy and peace with the ones they love.

As far as ExploraMar trips, Session C in Mexico, July 22-30, is already full. We still have seven berths open for session B (7/10-18). Early next year we start our camp fairs, and we expect to fill session B by mid-February. In addition, ExploraMar will once again offer sailing classes on San Francisco Bay in Spring and early Summer, 2003. Please email us regarding information.

If you have the time, the websites below have some interesting articles and information on marine biology:

June, 2002

Well, it is suddenly June 12, and as of today, all of our summer 2002 sessions are full. We are very excited and look forward to fantastic voyages full of sea life and fair winds. We head down to La Paz within a week.

We are already looking ahead to summer 2003. We will keep you posted. We hope everyone has a fun, safe summer. Our next update will be September, 2002, filled with photos from the upcoming adventures.

April/May, 2002

Just two months until we see all of you returning sailors and new students we can't wait to meet! We have word from La Paz that the sea is exceptionally clear and warm, so we are looking forward to a wonderful summer.

Scott is playing bass in his band that performs at the local teen clubs; their music is all original, and they call it "neo funk" (good thing we have such a cool last name!) He is crewing for Bonni on Saturdays with her weekend sailing lessons here on SF Bay. Heather is on the Tam High swim team, doing quite well, never having really spent much time swimming in a pool before. Guess all those years of snorkeling have paid off. She crews for Bonni on Sundays.

If any of you "out-of-towners" want to brush up on your sailing and take some lessons, you are welcome to spend the night at our home here in Mill Valley. We would love to see you.

By the way, we received the following portion of an email from a friend of ours, an ecologist:

"Our whole world depends on having healthy oceans. But our oceans are at risk. Every day, thousands of fish, turtles, dolphins and other marine life are drowned, crushed, and suffocated after being caught on fishing hooks and nets meant for other species. Each year, an estimated 44 billion pounds of unwanted, dead or dying fish and countless numbers of turtles, porpoises, and sharks are simply thrown overboard. Can you take 30 seconds to help stop this senseless destruction? Join me and send a free message at this link: "

March, 2002

In the next two weeks we will be attending three more Camp Fairs in the SF Bay Area, so we project that the remaining open spaces for Summer, 2002 will be filled soon. As of this posting to ExploraNews (March 4), we have openings for 2 students for Session A (6/23-7/1) and 5 for Session B (7/4-12).

This spring and summer, ExploraMar will begin offering sailing classes on San Francisco Bay.

For students who will be joining us this summer, you may want to read some background information on common dolphins, giant manta rays, short fin pilot whales, magnificant frigate birds and sea lions. These are a few of the larger mammals and birds we see on our voyages.

One of our favorite fish species is Dorado (Mahi Mahi in Hawaii; scientific name Coryphaena hippurus). We troll for these fish while sailing, and they are also part of our meal preparations! What makes them interesting is that they are a highly sustainable pelagic fish species: they have relatively short life spans, become sexually mature by the age of one year and grow at fast rates. All of these features translate into a species that is able to withstand fishing pressures world-wide.


February, 2002

Hello everyone. As of today, we still have six spaces available for both session A (6/23-7/1) and session B (7/4-12). Next weekend, we start our camp fairs, so we expect these berths to be filled within a month.

If any of you have missed the airing of "Blue Planet" on the Discovery Channel, here is a link that has information regarding the series. There is also a schedule of times that the segments will be re-broadcast:  


Below are excerpts of two days from a typical log of our 8-day sessions on the Sea of Cortez:

        Day 5

The sail through these waters are often full of dolphins that play on our bow, some grand entertainment. We head north to the settlement of Nopolo, where a family of three households live. The grandfather and Tom play guitar together while the grandmother makes us tortillas over an open fire. The field is full of cows and horses. There are no roads here. They get their supplies by a boat trip to San Evaristo, followed by a 100-mile dirt road to the main highway.

If you can fit some little present in your baggage this is a nice surprise for them. There are always four or five children here, ranging in age from about 5 to 12. We bring canned goods and fresh produce to them, and depending on our fresh water reserves, we try to fill up a 5 gallon container for them. Some ideas for gifts are creams, soaps, sewing supplies or art supplies. There are caves to explore, and this is a good place to practice your Spanish with the children.

       Day 6

By this time we are expert snorkelers and sailors. The captain of the day is taking charge, and we watch a respect developing and flourishing between the students. Not only are they working together to handle a 50' boat under sail, they are understanding how much it takes to live with ten other people in a small space.

We head of for one of the highlights of our trip, a swim with the sea lions at Isla Los Islotes, a marine sanctuary. Our most wonderful experience here was to be in the water while a mother gave birth to her cub and brought it over for its very first swim with humans.

December, 2001

Season's Greetings
from The Funkhousers

Our wish for this Holiday Season is that all of us reflect on the blessed events, love and
acts of kindness that fill our world each and every day, rather than dwelling on the violence, destruction and hatred that has preoccupied us for the past four months.
Our hearts and prayers go out to those who are mourning the loss of friends,
family and loved ones, especially at this time of the year.


November, 2001

Ahoy from the Funkhouser family!

All Summer 2001 sailors should be receiving a CD-ROM disc of photos this week. They are in the mail; open them up on your computer and you should be able to print them. Please let Tom know if you are unable to open the photos (it should work on both PC's and Apple computers). There are some great shots, and the nostalgia is heart-warming. Next in the works will be the video version of your trip, which we hope to finish sometime in December.

The world is changing so quickly, and we constantly receive questions from parents concerned about next year's plans. We will continue to book two sessions in Mexico for next summer.

Heading into our 6th year as ExploraMar Marine Biology/Sailing Expeditions, many students have heard me talk about my dream to have you return as counselors/crew in some capacity. This requires two expeditions with us, sailing lessons, and marine biology courses. I am so very excited to tell you that next summer, Morgann Trumbull will be hired on as crew aboard the girl's boat.

So kids, get out there and take some serious sailing lessons and read up on Baja and the Sea of Cortez's marine life. As you head off to college, wouldn't this be a fun summer job?  Of course it will also involve some work!

As for Scott and Heather, they are both on the Tam High School Sailing Team. Bonni can be found daily aboard her Hinckley 35' sloop in Sausalito, and Tom is teaching in the city, and at 50 still doing gigs with his band! We miss all of you past sailors (please keep in touch) and can't wait to meet next summer's crew.

Adios for now.


September, 2001                            

The following are journal entries that were made by our kids, Scott and Heather, and their friend, Paolo, between sessions B and C from this past summer.

Well, we're more than halfway through our summer trips, with only one session left, and all I can say is that it just keeps getting better and better each year. No two trips are ever the same. Aside from the vivid and ever-changing sea life and picture-perfect sailing, each session has its own unique balance of personalities from all of the students from different regions, setting a different course for the trip to progress upon. The balance of the students on this year's first two trips has created some of the most fun I've ever had in my five years with ExploraMar.      -Scott-

Last trip, Session B, was a total blast. We all had a great time together, and the sea life was magnificent. In fact, we ran into a couple of huge pods of short-fin pilot whales and dolphins. They were all over the sea, jumping and seemingly having a fun time. The whales came up to our boat and swam next to us, splashing and playing. On a few evenings we heard the pilot whales come into our harbor under the full moon. Our hypothesis was that some of the females were giving birth, because we heard baby whale sounds at night and saw lots of young calves during the day. The dolphins were very playful, and we saw about five different schools, including common dolphins and spinner dolphins. Of course we were once again disappointed when we did not run into a whale shark, but we still keep our eyes open and hope to find one next week.     -Heather-

Session B's soccer game was the best game Team ExploraMar has ever had with Team Mexicano in San Evaristo. We gringos lost, but not by 24 goals, not by 16, not even by 4 goals, but by a slim one point margin in a 3 to 4 loss. This was partially due to the fact that we had three great soccer players on this session (Shawn, Ben and Eric), and our all-girl defense formed a rather intimidating wall. Ben's rather impressive juggling skills were a point of interest, accomplished with enough finesse to match the San Evaristo players. We came very close to winning, and I look forward to our next match.     -Paolo-

August, 2001

We will be posting photos from Summer, 2001 within a few weeks, but in the meantime, here is one of Tom's best shots from the summer...

©Tom Funkhouser


May, 2001

Whew! Where did the month of April go? Sometimes we all get so busy that we forget to take some time off to just relax.
All I know is that it has been nine months since the end of last summer's trips, and the Funkhouserfamily is looking forward
to spending more time in La Paz and on the Sea of Cortez: sailing, snorkeling, identifying new species of fish and
invertebrates, and fishing.

As of April 30, all sessions for this coming summer are full. We would like to thank any previous ExploraMar sailors
who may have been called as a reference. Email us and let us know what you are up to these days!

In the meantime, Bonni has launched her weekend sailing lessons for teens on San Francisco Bay. It is a 2-day course
(9 A.M. to 4 P.M.), and the cost is $250 ($200 for previous ExploraMar students). Space is limited to four
students per weekend. Email or call us to make a reservation.

February/March, 2001

February and March are our camp fair months.

Saturday, February 10 you can meet our family at the SCATA Camp Fair at Marin Academy in San Rafael, 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. Sunday, February 11 we will be at the SCATA fair in Atherton at the Menlo School, same hours. These fairs are always fun for us, meeting new students and seeing many of the kids who have sailed with us before. We will be handing out brochures, answering questions and showing photos. So stop by and see us, and please give us a hand working at the booth if you are one of our previous sailors.

Saturday, March 3rd we will be in Oakland at the Head Royce School, and Thursday, March 8 ExploraMar will be in Mill Valley at the Strawberry Recreation Center.

Bonni will start 2-day sail training classes on weekends, starting the first weekend of spring, March 31, and continuing every weekend through June 2, 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. The cost is $250 for the 2 days, but if you have been aboard an ExploraMar expedition before, we will offer the weekend course for $200. Sign up early so you don't miss sailing aboard SEA ANGEL, our Hinckley 35.

December, 2000

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Happy New Year
from the Funkhousers!

Check out:

November, 2000

Happy Thanksgiving month! We thought we would send out all of the ExploraMar videos from last summer to coincide with your school vacations. That way, everyone will be able to enjoy them at a more relaxed time and email comments to us. So hang on until the week of November 23rd. What a great way to spend the day, after eating turkey and all the trimmings, sitting back and watching yourselves sailing through the Sea of Cortez!

During the days between the summer sailing sessions, our family spends time in the city of La Paz, and one of our frequent destinations is to visit the orphanage. It is a moving and loving experience. Most of the children who live there do have parents, but the parents cannot afford to feed the children or provide them with a decent home. Over the years, we have become involved with "Arbol de Navidad Del Nino Pobre" (The Poor Children's Christmas Tree). Bill Steagall, an American living aboard his yacht at the marina in La Paz, has organized the holiday project, and this is their 18th year. Last year they were able to give gifts to 2,700 poor children in La Paz, and all but 3% of the money donated (represents their small overhead) goes directly to the children. We will be sending a check to them early next month (but how very special it would be to go there to see the children receiving their gifts, so maybe our family will fly down). If any of you are interested in making a donation as well, please email us, and we will pass along a copy of his letter, along with the mailing address. Happy Thanksgiving!

October, 2000

October already, and Summer 2000 videos are full of wonderful memories in unedited, uncut versions. Sailing with two boats side by side for session B was perfect for sailing shots, along with all of the competition between the girl's and boy's boats. Who was the fastest boat and who had the most ship-shape yacht? Who won the tug-of- war? Who swam over to the other vessel for a birthday surprise? This trip worked so well that we have decided to sail with two yachts in tandem on all future sessions. Footage of the sea life, meals, dissections, sunsets, soccer games, hikes, and the Nopolo family are priceless. We will be sending them to you in early November.

Many students return to Mexico with us every year, and we hope you will come back again to the magnificent Sea of Cortez.

In the meantime, we encourage you to take as many marine biology classes, sailing courses, Spanish classes, and general studies on Baja that you can find. We want to hire assistants for future summers to help sail and teach the younger students, so start working on your resumes.

If you haven't done so already, check out

September, 2000

Fall is a wonderful time to be sailing on San Francisco Bay. SEA ANGEL is the beautiful new addition to our family, a 35' Hinckley Sloop. Bonni spends two hours a day in the ExploraMar office and the rest of the time sailing and preparing to launch a new branch of ExploraMar: sailing on the Bay. Lots of ideas come and go. Laura Merlo, of Eagle Eye Editing, photographer Doug Menuez and Bonni have been talking about doing a sailing book/manual. What about a "How to Sail" video? Family sailing lessons, over-nights anchored off Angel Island? The list goes on. We invite all of our extended ExploraMar family to join in with ideas and come sailing with us any time. Cruising in Mexican waters was incredible, but the magic can be found right here on San Francisco Bay.

Tom has promised to start posting pictures and editing videos from Summer 2000 within the next week. In the meantime, we are already receiving applications from students who want to sail with us next summer.

By the way, here is a great link for information on Baja and the Sea of Cortez:


Muchas Mas Fotos...    

August, 2000                                              

Having just returned from our Summer, 2000 expeditions (four weeks on the Sea of Cortez), we once again shared magical moments with our students. Our yacht surrounded by 50 to 100 short fin pilot whales. Sailing through a school of over 200 bottlenose dolphin. Spending time with the Léon family in Nopolo. The great Soccer Game of Summer 2000 in San Evaristo. The list could go on and on.

To all of our students and their families, thanks for another wonderful summer! (And if you get any good photos of your own back, please send along a copy so we can put them on the website.

June, 2000     

Summer is finally here! Our family will be flying to La Paz within the next week or so, taking along a lot of extra baggage. We will miss the 1200 mile drive down the Baja, always an adventure.

You can still reach us by email during the summer, and we will check it once a week while ashore. We already have signups for next summer, and we are planning six sessions in Mexico. We will post our Summer, 2001 schedule as soon as we finalize the dates. Adios...

May, 2000

In about six weeks the Funkhousers will be heading for La Paz...ahhh, the sun, saltwater, sealife and sailing! As of 5/22/00 all sessions are filled. We will begin our application mailing for Summer, 2001 after 8/15/00.

The biggest news is that we just purchased our dream boat, a Hinckley Pilot 35, to use here on San Francisco Bay. Although 30 years old, she is a classic Maine design, in absolutely Bristol condition, and she sails beautifully. In the Fall, we will set her up for teaching sailing to teens on the Bay. As a side mention, we have been sighting numerous gray whales on a daily basis in SF Bay for the past three weeks.

Last week, we attended the Sail Expo in Oakland, catching up with old friends and making some new contacts as well. Tom's band was featured at the "Salute to Sail America" party, and it was fun chatting with some of the world's greatest sailors.

April, 2000

We had quite a shock when Alaska Airlines canceled all flights into La Paz for the summer. That left us with 40 reservations to reschedule to get our students there. In the end all has turned out for the best. We will actually be able to add an extra day on to each session, and we will use Aero California from Los Angeles.

March, 2000

With three camp fairs behind us and just one to go, we are filling up fast forSummer, 2000, and it is exciting to watch our business grow, with many kids returning for their second and third times. The sailors become like family, and we are starting to put together a few three-hour reunion sails on S.F. Bay. The first will happen on March 11 with session D from summer '99. Lisa will be in town from Arizona, and that is what inspired the sail. We will be aboard a Beneteau 38from Modern Sailing Academy.

Bonni is currentlyworking long hours in establishing her May teen sailing program here in Sausalito.

We can't wait for summer!

January, 2000

So here it is January, a new century, and there are only five months before we set sail again. Many inquiries for our Mexico sessions are arriving daily, and teacher recommendations are starting to roll in as well.

I thought we would look at some of the anchorages that we visited and reminisce. Let's start with San Evaristo, a small village on the mainland of Baja with many, many kids. There is little to do there but fish and play soocer. Well, on one of our sessions last summer, we happened to have two "Select" soccer players aboard, Daanika and Gladie, and four other players just itching for a challenge. Oh boy, this field was not what they are used to, hard dirt rather than grass, with fishbones scattered about. But hey, these kids are playing in bare feet, so let's kick off our shoes too...a challenge is a challenge!

Yeah, right. The games starts with cheers, and in the end we were beat 10 - 2. Kate and Paolo scored goals for us, and Noelle and Lane played with a lot of spirit, all caught on video. We wouldn't have missed this experience for the world. We'll take them on again this summer!

Chameleon Wrasse ( Halichoeres dispilus )      Jewel Moray ( Muraena lentiginosa )
Scissortail Damselfish                                       ( Chromis atrilobata )

Both drawings by Kate, 1999 Participant

December, 1999              

Sitting around at night, reflecting on the summer, we realize how much more there is to ExploraMar than marine biology and sailing, and we are thankful for the chance to offer new insights. The camaraderie, young people experiencing life on the sea, produces magical moments. Kids sitting on deck as the sun goes down, stars appearing, we listen to their conversations. Nine teenagers on a boat, away from their routine, looking at what is around them, realizing how much more there is to life. We live with limited freshwater, "our own spaceship for a week", we tell the kids. "Please let it live" often rings out from their voices as we reel fish in, and we often send them back to the sea. There is so much more to this journey than we ever suspected. ExploraMar gives teens the opportunity to search their young souls, and we strive to keep ExploraMar a quality program.  Happy Holidays!  Our hope is that you fill the next few weeks with family, peace and joy.


November, 1999              

¡Hola! to all of our friends, ExploraMar sailors and visitors. With four to five brochure requests coming in over the internet each day, Bonni has her hands full in the ExploraMar office, while Tom is back teaching computers at Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco. We are actively pursuing the option of adding a session in August, 2000 to another Moorings location...Tonga? Tahiti? Bahamas? The Caribbean? This session will only be open to past, experienced ExploraMar participants. In addition, our search continues for a boat of our own to keep on San Francisco Bay. Captain Bonni has her heart set on a classic Hinckley. See you next month!

September/October, 1999 

La Paz Fisherman Story

    An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat was several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
    The Mexican replied, only a little while.
    The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?
    The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.
    The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?
    The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and
busy life."
    The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a
middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village
and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise." 
    The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"
   To which the American replied, "15-20 years."
    "But what then?"
    The American laughed and said that's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.
    Millions.. Then what?
    The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you
could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."


August, 1999                                                 

Hard to believe that our 1999 sessions are over. We had a great time with everyone, and we are already looking forward to next year's trips. Over the course of the summer we saw humpbacks, short fin pilot whales, hundreds of dolphins and manta rays, and of course, sea lions and 100+ species of fish and invertebrates. The sailing was great, and all aboard learned how to sail the 50' Beneteau, taking the helm, tacking and jibing, anchoring, trimming the sails and proper line handling  

 More Photos


May, 1999

We recently developed our Summer 2000 Schedule, and we have started taking reservations for the four Mexico sessions. If you are on our waiting list for this coming summer, there have not been any cancellations, but we will contact you if a berth becomes available.

April, 19, 1999

As of today, all of our Summer, 1999 sessions are full. For those of you who have asked, we will be setting up our dates for Summer, 2000 within a few days, and we will add those dates to the ExploraNews section as soon as they are confirmed.

Bonni and I would like to thank all of those on our references list. We could not have accomplished our dream without you.

We have a group that has put together a special trip for two weeks in August. Let us know if you would like to customize your own session as well. We can arrange family or student group trips at any time during the year at twenty-four Moorings bases around the world. The Moorings fleet consists of nearly 600 yachts in the world's most desirable cruising areas, including the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the South Pacific, Mexico's Sea of Cortez and the Suncoast of Florida.

March, 1999

1999? Whoa. Time continues to fly by. We've been very busy taking reservations for this coming summer, and we have been attending a number of camp fairs during the Winter to promote ExploraMar.

During the first week of February, our family drove halfway down the Baja peninsula to see the gray whales. There were an estimated 500+ whales in Scammon's Lagoon (including 50 newborn calves), and about 200 grays in Bahia de San Ignacio. We hired local fishermen to take us out in their pangas and found ourselves surrounded by whales: spouting, spyhopping, breaching and nursing. An experience of a lifetime! At San Ignacio, we ran into an IMAX Cinema crew filming a movie on Baja California, and they were doing a segment on the gray whales. Look for the up-coming movie at your local IMAX theater!

October, 1998

Our participants from this past summer continue to send us photos and testimonials, and we are busy taking reservations for next summer. A number of home-school groups have contacted us recently in regards to arranging special trips for them in the Spring. Let us know how we can meet your sailing and educational needs.

"I loved going and staying on a sail boat...This was a chance for me to go somewhere I never thought possible! I learned about many types of fish, all with amazing characteristics. I saw schools of dolphins and manta rays jumping, which was so cool! I even came face to face with sea lions! It really was the coolest trip ever."  -Christopher Sica, Summer 1998 Participant

September, 1998


"ExploraMar was an incredible trip for me. I am really into marine biology, so the trip was an incredible experience. By the end of the trip, I had written down 107 different marine species...the colors were amazing, and the amount of life was staggering! Bonni got me absolutely hooked on sailing, which I was never interested in before. I got the greatest thrill when I was steering the boat, with the wind blowing past my face."      - Bekka Rosenbaum, Summer 1998 Participant

"ExploraMar made learning about sailing and marine biology incredibly fun, and hanging with the Funkhousers is a really great part of the trip too.  It was a really great experience for me."  
-Lena Hawthorne, Summer 1998 Participant

We just returned from our first full summer of ExploraMar expeditions on the Sea of Cortez, where we successfully launched seven trips, with 34 of the 38 berths filled with students from the Virgin Islands, Virginia, Arizona, Utah, Oregon and California. Everyone had fun, acquired information about the marine biology of the Sea of Cortez ecosystem, practiced sailing techniques, and developed new friendships. We hope to collect photos and short articles from many of the students, and we will add them to our ExploraNews page as they reach us.

Our summer, 1999 schedule for the Sea of Cortez is now available, and we are also in the planning stages of a few trips to other Moorings base locations for families at other times of the year. We will keep you posted. Let us know where you would like to take your family for a sailing and marine biology adventure!

Upon our return, it was brought to our attention that ExploraMar was mentioned in an article by Michael Menduno, "Exploring the Ocean Planet", in the special Oceans quarterly edition of "Scientific American" that hit the newsstands August 25th.                        

1998 Photos

May/June, 1998

Well, sometimes we wonder where the time is going, but on the other hand, as time goes swiftly by, the closer we get to the light at the end of the tunnel, and the reason we started ExploraMar - to be sailing with kids on the Sea of Cortez, experiencing the myriad of life within it's waters.

We have to confess that although this log reads May, it is already June 4th! We have been extremely busy with preparations, but our departure date still remains the same. We will begin our trek south in our Westphalia van on June 13, and we should be arriving in La Paz by the 16th or 17th, to prepare for our first voyage.

We are offering special fares for our six remaining berths for Summer 1998, so please inquire about them when you contact us. Anchors aweigh.....

APRIL, 1998


One of our favorite anchorages is Isla Coyote, a small island located about 35 miles north of La Paz, between Isla San Francisco and Isla San Jose. The islet is only about 200 yards in diameter, but it is the home of about twenty members of the Cuevas family, and they make their living by fishing the Sea of Cortez.

When we went ashore, we gave them some of our extra supplies, and the entire family told us that we were welcome to come back and visit at any time. There are about ten buildings on the island: homes of different branches of the family, a small chapel, and a one-room schoolhouse with two desks and a chalkboard. The Cuevas family has been living on Isla Coyote (they call it Isla Pardito) for over 100 years, and it has the second largest population of all the islands in the Sea of Cortez.

The surrounding waters are a turquoise blue, and the coral reefs on the west side are magnificent for snorkeling.

Isla Coyote Photos

March, 1998

March 1st already. Time seems to almost stand still, waiting for summer, when we can raise our sails.

But time is also flying by when we think of the many minute, yet important details of the business end of ExploraMar that require our attention and energy. There are the legal matters: filing our LLC papers, registering as a California Seller of Travel with the State Attorney General's office, contributing to the California Travel Consumer Restitution Fund. Not to mention airline reservations, and everything else it takes to make our summer a smooth one.

The ExploraMar brochures are out, and most of our inquiries are from our website. We talk to parents almost daily, trying to address their concerns and answer their questions. We also have ads in Sail and Cruising World, two popular national magazines, as well as Latitude 38, the West coast boating journal. Just recently, we were interviewed by the Marin Independent Journal for a great article (Sunday, Feb. 15). We are also proud to announce that we have been accepted by SCATA (Student Camp and Trip Advisors), a national firm that for almost thirty years has been helping parents place their children in summer programs.

My part in ExploraMar will be in the area of sail training, and my goal is to teach everything I know of the wind, the water, and moving a boat through them. For me, teaching sailing is a way of life and has been a personal spiritual journey. I have taught hundreds of adults to handle a boat with confidence, and now with ExploraMar, I will get to share all of my experience and knowledge with a younger age group in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, on one of the finest yachts built.

Happy sailing, Bonni

*Navigation is knowing where you are and where you are going.

*Anchoring..Like all sailing maneuvers, it begins in the skipper's mind long before it happens.

*Through wind and water the sailboat plugs into the basic power supply of the universe.

*Most forms of transport (but not sailing!) work against nature's forces, using engines and machinery to overcome inertia, friction and gravity, excluding the influence of the elements as much as possible. Moving in a sailboat depends on your being in harmony with the forces of nature. You are not overcoming the forces of nature but moving with them.

*To be in harmony with the forces of nature, you must know them intimately.

February, 1998

In 1978, The Mexican government announced the creation of wildlife refuges on 47 islands in the Sea of Cortez. This...

"alerted Mexicans and the world to the presence of a truly extraordinary heritage...a strangely beautiful wilderness steeped in mystery...virtually untrod, largely due to geographical are a witness to what has always been. Surrounded by two seas of extraordinary richness...bizarre plants, whales and isolated islands ...the busyness of life. Until recently, only avid fishermen, a few scientists, and the odd adventurer have journeyed to this little known paradise... Mexico's Galapagos, the richest sea in the world. It has survived wonderfully intact for centuries, a secret wilderness on a very crowded planet."                           - From Lisa Lindblad's Introduction to Baja California    

December, 1997

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the Funkhouser Family! As we look back on the year, we are thankful for all of the events leading up to the establishment of ExploraMar, and having the opportunity to offer a fun, hands-on educational experience centered around one of our most precious resources, the ocean.

In spite of the fact that our brochures have been delayed until January 15, our first session for the 1998 Summer season, Session A, is already completely booked However, all of the remaining sessions have a number of open berths.

We wish you a Happy New Year, and health and happiness for 1998.

November, 1997

We received some great news a few days ago. ExploraMar is now an official broker for The Moorings, the most prominent bareboat charter company in the world. Let us help plan your family's next sailing vacation. The Moorings fleet consists of nearly 600 yachts in the world's most desirable cruising areas: the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, and Mexico's Sea of Cortez.

October, 1997

This month kicked off with a two-page article on ExploraMar in "Latitude 38", the West Coast boating journal. At the moment, final touches are being put on the new logo design and four-color brochure. In addition, our website has been uploaded to the internet. We have applied to The Moorings to become brokers, and we plan on pushing their Mexico and South Pacific locations.

Reminiscing back to our summer '97 voyage, we caught, filleted and cooked two 10# Dorado on the BBQ, ate lots of Calamari, and a local fisherman gave us 5# of fresh fish (Halibut and Parrotfish) while visiting their island. We even managed to slow-roast a turkey overnight on leftover BBQ coals.

"We ate Pasta Primavera for lunch, and before dinner, Mike caught a small grouper. He gutted it and threw it on the BBQ grill, skin and all. He actually ate it, too..." Zac Turpin, 14

September, 1997

We spent the summer developing ExploraMar's curriculum, accompanied by four kids, a marine biologist and an underwater photographer.

Lynn Funkhouser is an internationally published photographer, author, lecturer, environmentalist, and leader in dive expeditions. She specializes in underwater, nature, travel, and environmental images. Her dramatic photos have been published in calendars and major magazines, most notably in "Audubon", "Animals", "International Wildlife", "Time", and "National Geographic" publications. As an environmentalist, Lynn is committed to making a difference on this planet through her images and lectures. She serves as Vice President of the International Marinelife Alliance, USA and as Advisory Director to Ocean Voice International, Canada.

Craig Fusaro is a marine biologist and environmental mediator in Santa Barbara, California. He earned his PhD. in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1977, studying the population dynamics of intertidal marine crustaceans. Dr. Fusaro is the director of the Joint Oil/Fisheries Liaison Office, a non-profit inter-industry communications link and dispute resolution service between the offshore oil industry and the commercial fishing fleets of the Santa Barbara Channel. He also teaches Environmental Biology and Field Studies at Santa Barbara City College. Dr. Fusaro is currently working with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, and water service agencies in Santa Barbara County to restore the historic native steelhead run in the Santa Ynez River.

Upon our return, we started talking with graphic artists and developing the text for our future brochure. We also had the pleasure of meeting with The Moorings head of marketing for the South Pacific and Mexico, David Woodley.


Application Request:    ExploraMar (415) 389-6644.

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