Skipper and Crew. As mentioned before, the Sea of Cortez is not recommended in winter and the mainland less recommended in summer. If you’re one of those people who likes to stay in touch with your family, friends and business, there are many ways to communicate back to the States. If your boat is large enough, a third or fourth person often makes the trip down Baja more of a pleasure cruise. When it comes to large quantities, life is cheap – as evidenced by the 22 people murdered in Ensenada in ’98. In fact, do yourself a favor and stay out of authentic cantinas. When it comes to the Sea of Cortez, Gerry Cunningham markets specialized charts for the more popular areas. It’s the kind of thing you probably won’t ever need, but if you do, you’ll be really glad you have it. America's Other Coast: Cruising the Gulf of Mexico. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ is for landlubbers. Sailing in Mexico is one of the most popular activities when visiting the country. The Moon Publication handbooks are great for things you might not have thought of. 4) Over-Provisioning. To our mind, there’s nothing like the look, feel and romance of original charts – which unfortunately run $15 or more. Money. If we had to guess, we’d say about 50% of the boats cruising Mexico have this kind of insurance. 2018 PUB.153 SAILING DIRECTIONS (ENROUTE) WEST COASTS OF MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA All geographical features have GPS coordinates for emergency navigation. While you don’t need to apply for this permit until your initial six months is about to run out, many cruisers get them sooner because having one theoretically exempts you from having to pay duty on replacement parts for your boat. Others, including me, are drawn to the Pacific Northwest and the overwhelming beauty of Puget Sound, the San Juan and Gulf Islands, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska. If you already have it, there’s a good chance your insurer will add a Mexico ‘rider’ for a relatively small fee. So what looks like an enormous anchor and monster rode sitting on a shelf in a chandlery looks like toy stuff when trying to hold a 12-ton boat off a lee shore in a 40-knot blow. While some … It’s not only the nice thing to do, but what goes around comes around. By the way, November is normally the best month to do the ‘Baja Bash’ back to California. So why cruisers continue to load up with six month’s worth of goods at Costco in San Diego is beyond us. © Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc., 1998-2001 Published or Updated on: January 1, 2006 by 38 Latitude © 2008, Your email address will not be published. Little Isla Partida, just up from La Paz, for example, has more good anchorages than the entire Hawaiian chain. This is wrong, wrong, wrong – and has gotten several cruisers into very serious trouble. South of Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta, the air and water temperatures are pleasant all year round. West Coast Multihulls – Sea of Cortez Loreto – Marina Puerto Escondido Calle Bahia de las Palmas Puerto Escondido 23894 Baja California Sur, Mexico US Phone: 619.365.4326 La Paz – Marina Palmira Carr. This wasn’t proper, of course, but we smiled and explained to the officials that we decided we’d much rather be in Mazatlan than in San Diego. The hurricane season in Mexico is roughly from June 1 until October 31. Set sail for Los Islotes, a rock outcropping teeming with playful seals. Always try to rely on more than one source of navigational information. While the sailing winds in Mexico are normally light and benign during the prime cruising season between November and June, there are some notable exceptions. Radio Licenses – In addition to having an FCC ship’s station license*, Ham operators would do well to obtain a reciprocal Mexican license. At sea, a stitch can save you from a lot of misery. Maybe she could be YOUR next adventure! The good news about Mexico is that other than at Cabo, where the outer harbor is an uphill sand bottom, and La Paz, where the famous tidal waltz has boats drifting about in all directions, the anchoring conditions are generally very good. Before heading south of the border, the skipper and crew should review all the boat’s emergency gear, systems, and engine controls. It’s no secret that Mexico … When you want to leave, or if you change crew, you get to do the dance all over again. Here are some of our favorite anchorages. If your boat is not a U.S. documented vessel, you must carry registration papers and a bill of sale or other proof of ownership. Private sailing charters that will give you the freedom to hang out with friends and enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean in Quintana Roo. One of the great reasons to go cruising is to avoid the overload of information. To our mind, the following is the minimum: EPIRB, Coast Guard required safety gear, liferaft, dinghy (which may be modified to serve as a liferaft), three appropriate size anchors with appropriate size rode, compass, two GPSs, VHF radio, working sails, a light air headsail, some kind of cockpit shading, one set of charts and one cruising guide. If you own a trailerable boat that wasn’t designed for open-ocean sailing, remember that parts of the Sea of Cortez are ideal for trailerboat sailing. Most cruisers have the option of heading home via Cabo and the ‘Baja Bash’, or sailing to San Carlos and having their boat trucked back to the States. The only cruising guide left that covers all of Mexico is Charlie’s Charts. Lots of cruisers take a ‘vacation’ from cruising in August and September when it’s so very hot in the Sea of Cortez. The keys to enjoying cruising are realizing that it takes time to adapt to an entirely new lifestyle and to sloooooow down. We suggest that everyone about to take off cruising take full advantage of the opportunity. There are two types of insurance you’ll want to consider. The only two solutions are to limit electrical consumption or increase capacity. If you really like to mosey, skip the Sea of Cortez and don’t sail south of Manzanillo. To give you an economic frame of reference, the minimum daily wage in Mexico is $3 U.S. That’s daily, not hourly. Hurry down the coast of Baja, have a beer and a shower in Cabo, then hustle up to the islands just north of La Paz. Staying In Touch. Caution: Do not try this behavior in a authentic Mexican cantina. A forum community dedicated to Sailing enthusiasts. You need to be comfortable with night sailing, heavy weather sailing, coastal and offshore navigation, anchoring, and the fatigue that accompanies the first couple of days at sea. There’s nothing like cold beers and lots of fresh water when you’re cruising. West Coast Sailing, based in Ensenada, Mexico, and San Diego, offers Learn to Sail vacations for beginning sailors or those who would like to gain more experience. Many cruisers have behaved as though the permit gave them carte blanche to import anything they wanted into Mexico duty free. We’d say the first two, at about $15 each, are ‘must buys’ to fully appreciate Mexico. As such, all our itineraries are based on getting south to Cabo by mid-November. On Mexico's west coast are these two great sailing routes: Between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, there's a stretch of about 175 miles of great cruising. Mexico sailing is a blast, and the Pacific coast of Baja Mexico is often overlooked in cruisers’ enthusiasm to get south quick. My good chum Uncle Grand Dog and I departed Seattle on 12 September, 2016, and headed south for Mexico in my 35 foot sailboat, Lutra. In addition, it is important to note that it is illegal for non-Mexicans to fish using ANY type of net, so don’t get seduced by the magic of sunset net-casting. Put the boat in a marina and return home to see family and friends – and to be reminded why it was they wanted to leave in the first place. Required fields are marked *. See Jack Williams’ Baja Guide for the best shelters for the different conditions. Hi, I'm a mother of 3 boys and am looking for a good cruising guide for Mexico's west coast. Messing around with any amount of drugs in Mexico is dangerous. If you want to be an authority on Mexican hurricanes, go to: Come join the discussion about sailing, modifications, classifieds, troubleshooting, repairs, reviews, maintenance, and more! For many who cruise the West Coast, the lure of sun and tranquility in Mexico and points south is very compelling. Insurance. Reefing is essential for safety and comfort. You probably won’t use the wheels anywhere else, but they’re worth it for Mexico alone. These offshore winds create rough conditions off the coast and picking a gap between them is a primary consideration when transiting this area. Sometimes the best thing cruisers can do after a couple of months is take a ‘vacation’ from cruising. But while both refrigeration and watermakers are great, remember that in addition to their initial cost, they’ll also increase demands on your boat’s electrical supply and your maintenance time. If you can successfully anchor in the Channel Islands or Hawaii, Mexico will be a cinch. Marina Jack, Sarasota, Fla. Sarasota has consistently been rated as one of the top places to retire. When it comes to cruising climates, there are really two different areas of Mexico. Coromuels come up in the middle of the night and blow out of La Paz … So unless specifically invited to anchor next to someone, assume that you should give them as much space as possible. Produced by the staff of Latitude 38 who remind you to ‘keep in touch’ during your travels. You can get one in Tijuana from the Secretaria de Communicationes y Transportes for a fee of $90. Summer can be very warm – August and September are hot as Hades – but lots of folks still love it. During the last 50 years there have been a handful of Mexican hurricanes in the month of November, none of which would have affected cruisers. 1) Wrongful anchoring. Fortunately, in any large Mexican tourist area there are designated bars for Americans to get drunk and behave like complete idiots. In either case, folks arriving by boat are invariably given a tourist card that’s good for six months. ... but you go cruising on the west coast. If you don’t have adequate experience, you should strongly consider bringing along a seasoned mentor for your virgin run from San Diego to Cabo. Pat Rains. For many, the Pacific coast of Central America conjures up visions of corrupt governments and guerilla warfare, but for others it means palm trees and pristine beaches. The best time to cruise is spring and late autumn. After all, you’re better off discovering that the steering cable needs replacement at the dock in California than at 0200 off of Cedros Island when it’s blowing 30 and everyone is already seasick. But if there’s just two of you making a quick trip from San Diego to Cabo, expect to be wiped out when you arrive at the Cape. In the fall of ’97, a number of cruising boats were driven ashore at Puerto Escondido by a chubasco. Hopefully you won’t ever find yourself in such conditions, but if you do, you don’t want to be trusting your life to a boat designed for lake sailing. TUESDAY. While Mexico usually has lighter winds than sailors prefer, every couple of years we have to report on a group of boats that got caught in 50 knots of wind and 15-foot seas. The number of Americans – mariners and non-mariners alike – who are living out their lives in an alcoholic haze in Mexico is tragic. There’s not a significant food product you can’t find in Cabo, La Paz, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo or Acapulco. Ultimately, the biggest killer of cruising dreams seems to be alcohol. So go starkers on your boat when you’re anchored way out or on some isolated beach. Two winters ago, for instance, we checked out of Cabo for San Diego – then showed up in Mazatlan. There was, however, one nasty hurricane in the middle of December – so you never can tell. Best Cruising Grounds. They come from cold damp cloudy places like Alaska, Canada and Washington. To a much greater extent than in the United States, officials will treat you according to the way you dress and behave. While many people have singlehanded to Mexico, it’s safer – and usually more fun – to have at least one other person along with you. Liability insurance for Mexico is not expensive, and can be purchased in Mexico or in the States from a broker that deals with boat insurance for Mexico. While trying a ‘no money month’, why not try a ‘incommunicado month’, too? After all, the first couple of days at sea are the hardest on even the most experienced sailors, and 12 hours of watches a day will drain anyone. Whenever you stop at an official port of entry – if sailing from Southern California, the first will almost certainly be Ensenada, Cedros Island, San Carlos (inside Mag Bay) or Cabo San Lucas – you’re required to clear in and clear out with Immigration, the Port Administration – if there is one – and the Port Captain. Clearing. If you sail shorthanded, reefing at night is not a bad strategy. John Rains’ MexWX. Hey, it’s Mexico! Allocate five months to enjoy the mainland between Acapulco and Mazatlan, remembering that the real heat is down south by Z-town. Once you get a receipt for port fees, you may have to go back to Immigration. When a Norther is blowing 40 knots and it’s very chilly in Conception Bay, for instance, it might only be blowing 15 and be just a little cool in La Paz. Linguistic and cultural language puzzles in Mexico, Sayulita – a memoir by Robert Richter (Aakenbaaken & Kent, 2020), Foreign artists influence Mexican culture and vice versa, If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants, Choice Cut Or Mystery Meat? Having just spent the last year and a half in the Sea and the W. Coast of Mexico, I think most people will agree with me that there is no single difinitive guide to those areas. Your final stop will be the Port Captain’s Office. Identification, ID Paperwork and such. Gerry Cunningham has authored three guides for the most popular areas of the Sea of Cortez. That means 6 hp for one, 10 hp for two, and 15 hp for three. By the same token, if you get to an anchorage first, don’t be a hog by putting out 10:1 scope. Above all, smile and be patient – because if you rush, the official will be insulted and stall you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. But in between lies another appealing cruising ground—the coasts of California, Oregon, and … You can’t conduct business on ham radio, so if you have an SSB/Ham combo, nonprofit SailMail – developed by racer/cruisers Stan Honey and Jim Corenman of Northern California – is perhaps the easiest and least expensive way to send e-mail around the Pacific and – depending on the propagation – to the Caribbean. While some Northers blow down as far south as Mazatlan, they never reach Puerto Vallarta. Despite the fact that many boats heading to Mexico are loaded down with gear, much of it isn’t absolutely necessary. Buy big and buy extra. In late March or early April, you should cross from Mazatlan to La Paz, remembering that Sea of Cortez Sailing Week is usually held in late April. west coast sailors headed inland in Southern Mexico. Most Annoying Wind. Winter brings the occasional norther and, on the east coast, strong trade winds. Shop for Mexico US West Coast excursions to enjoy during your day in port. Several folks who have done circumnavigations tell us that this is the best 12 months to be found anywhere in the world. It’s actually easy to do. While a combination of their Baja Handbook and Pacific Mexico Handbook will do the job, they also offer handbooks for Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. (The ‘crew list’ is also known as the Rol de Tripulantes, and if you’re clever, you can use the form at the end of this pamphlet by copying and enlarging it.). For details on this important issue, see page 130 of Sightings and page 237 of Changes in Latitudes in the September ’98 issue of Latitude 38. 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