Initially, we were going to do a night sail from San Diego to Ensenada. It is about 60 nautical miles and with the days shortening and the recent time change for daylight savings time, we knew it would be impossible to do the entire trip during the daylight hours. So, we decided to compromise and leave early in the morning, (before sun-up) to arrive before sun-down. This way, we’d be able to see where we were going, enjoy the new Mexican landscape and throw a fishing line out as well. We got up at 3:30am on Tuesday, Nov 8th and were on our way about 4am. It was dark and very foggy throughout the entire channel of San Diego harbor. This made for a tricky exit, however, with Bloom’s navigation lights and our radar system, we felt confident that we’d find our way out. It is a long channel and took us a while to exit, but before we knew it, the daylight started to creep in, making everything easier to see. We sailed on and said farewell to the USA at about 6:30am and hoisted our Mexican courtesy flag. The Bloom crew gave some loud cheers (Carson requested a wake-up call before crossing the border) and on we pushed towards Ensenada.
The winds were supposed to pick up at noon that day, but alas, they never arrived…. This meant burning the fossil fuels the entire way to Ensenada, which made the possibility of arriving after sundown real, which was not ideal.
The sun was very low in the sky as we entered the bay of Todos Santos and we could not see the city of Ensenada up ahead as it was hiding behind a huge blanket of fog. What the?! The next thing we knew, the sun was behind the clouds and the fog was getting thicker and thicker. Although we did not expect to exit and enter a harbor in the dark that day, we did it twice and Jason did an awesome job of docking Bloom. There was barely any daylight left and everything (including our eyelashes!) was covered in misty water droplets. My first impression of Ensenada was the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. It was dark and foggy with wooden docks, sea lions swimming all around us and a huge wooden lattice gate at the top of the docks, complete with a pirate-style ship up on the hard above us. There were even rats crawling on the row boat that was tied up a couple of slips over. Wow. Not what we expected! I think perhaps a daylight entrance may have proved to be quite different…
We awoke to glorious sunshine with two cruise ships right behind us and all was well. The marina staff at Baja Naval were very friendly- providing us with a map and instructions on how to go and check in to the Immigration Office. We obtained our TIP (temporary import permit, which is required to bring your boat into Mexico) for Bloom, as well as all of the other paperwork required before we arrived, so this definitely saved us some time at the immigration office. We were in and out in about an hour, which is much less than I’ve heard of from other cruisers.
Perhaps it depends on the staff you get when you check in. Who knows. Check in involves an ‘Arribo’ form (provided by the marina) that you get stamped along with filling out your FMMs and then heading to the Port Captain to pay your tonnage fees. The marina facilitates a lot of the paperwork for you included with your stay, which is fantastic! Anyhow, we are now free to roam the country for 6 months until we have to renew our FMMs, so we’re good for a bit!
We hit up the taco stand for lunch (10 fish tacos for $100 pesos, which is around $6.50 Canadian) So yummy! Then we had tacos for the next
3 days 7 days for lunch also. We may also have had a lot of churros too. Okay, we did. ‘Mr.Churro’ across the street from the water and light show has churros filled with chocolate, caramel, cream or strawberry flavour. Ya. See how many days you can resist that one.
Baja Naval is the cheapest of the four marinas in Ensenada, and is also the closest to downtown. For these reasons, we decided to stay here. As of this post, if you stay 11 days you only pay 50 cents a foot. Less than 11 days is $1.00 a foot. Still the cheapest around. I will warn you though that this marina can be very, very SURGEY! Not sure if that is a word, but your boat basically never stops moving. We had to have 9 lines coming off Bloom to ensure her security in the slip.
We knew we had provisioning and laundry to do, etc. and also wanted to be able to walk to the Immigration Office. The facilities are decent- you must pay for potable water by the gallon, but they will bring it to you and even put it into your tanks if you like, it was also very, very cheap. Diesel fuel is only available at Hotel Coral across the bay. We plan to walk up with jerry cans in a dock cart to the gas station (Rudametikin is the only one that has diesel) and get 10 gallons of diesel that way. We need to make sure we’re maxed out since there is no fuel again until Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay).
The Mexican flag finally got put up onto its empty pole on day 9 of our stay here. What a site. Amazingly beautiful, the humungous Mexican flag almost glows in the sky while it flies. Sure makes you feel welcome and excited to be in Mexico!
With our bellies full and Bloom’s tanks all full, we are set and ready for the next leg of our journey- Cabo San Quintin, which is an anchorage about 115 nautical miles south from Ensenada. We’ve checked out which (contrary to what we’ve heard from other cruisers) only took us about 45 minutes in total and are ready to leave this port tomorrow morning after we get the last of our nice, hot ‘land’ showers in!
Stay tuned for our adventures in San Quintin and more!