Archive for September, 2009

September 12-Colourful Downtown Ensenada

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

 On September 4th, 2009, we have moved from Marina Coral (the fancy expensive resort) to Marina Ensenada. Kind of like moving from the Coast Hotel in Victoria back to Fisherman’s Wharf. We actually like it better here. Well, with the exception of the bathing facilities. At Hotel Coral, I got up in the morning, put on a sarong and a pair of thongs, and sauntered up to the Spa. There was coffee and juice, fresh clean towels, and several swimming pools and hot tubs. The showers were tepid, but it was already hot out, so that was not a big problem. Returned to the boat for breakfast, or went into town with other cruisers who had a car, and had breakfast at Alfonso’s. (More about that later). Or you could throw your laundry in at the laundry room and then have a hot tub and swim while the laundry got washed and dried. Pretty luxurious.


       The evening meal at the Hotel could be the $7.00 Chef’s Special. This included great big chunks of delicious warm bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it in. Then a salad bar (not-so-good-limp veggies for the most part, very limited choices and the mushrooms were old),. Next came the main dish-you chose fish or chicken or beef (Not -too –bad) -came with rice or pasta. The chicken was several tenders over spaghetti, with tomato sauce. Then a dessert- a small slice of crème caramel, and strong coffee. All this out on the patio (not much view) with an American cover band in one ear (not too bad) and typical hotel musak in the other ear. Altogether Not-Too-Bad for $7.00, but not outstanding.


       We got up early on the 4th to find the Marina socked in with fog. What a day to move! But local knowledge said “Wait an hour or 2 and it will clear”. So we swam and did laundry and got fenders and dock lines ready, and phoned Marina Ensenada to confirm our arrival. Our slip there is about half way down, and a very tight turn in a busy harbour.


       The fog lifted and we motored over to the main harbour of Ensenada. Absolutely no wind, but we knew it would fill in any minute. At Marina Ensenada, Gerardo was waiting on the dock, with a couple of other guys, including one other cruiser (Gary, from Sparkle). Pat managed to get a bowline to the dock on the first throw and we were in with no trouble. Everyone sported a huge smile and we spent the rest of the morning settling in, and meeting the locals and cruisers on the dock. Then off to Alfonso’s for the Mexicano special breakfast. This comes with quesadillas and coffee, and consists of tortillas with scrambled eggs with sweet peppers and the special house salsa-excellent!


The quesadillas come with either corn or flour torillas. They are smallish tortillas, thicker than the store bought ones in Canada and the USA. They are served warm, folded over and full of yummy stringy cheese. The homemade salsa is perfect – just the right amount of heat. This breakfast habit is going to be hard to resist, but neither our health nor our budget can survive a daily dose-although we would love it. The food is great, and the service is excellent too. We were greeted as old friends by Santiago. Since then we have met several of the other local gringos (both cruisers and landlubbers). It’s encouraging to note that many have been here for several years. It seems to be a common theme. They came “through” Ensenda 2 or 3 or 7 or ten years ago and never left.


       After breakfast, we made several attempts to pay our moorage. The first time, we needed to have cash, no credit cards, and we needed to go get all our documents – Tourist Visa, Boat Registration, Insurance Policy, Boat Import Permit. Then, when we went back, Norma (the office lady) was not there. A few more tries and one of the fellows from the gift shop said, “Manana”.


       Marina Ensenada has no facilities whatsoever-no baños (toilets, restrooms, washrooms, whatever you want to call them), no showers, no laundry, no towels and no hot tubs! The docks are rather iffy, and several people have told us the story of how they broke up during a surge a couple of years ago and one boat sank at the dock. On the other hand, the staff are delightful, there is water and electricity, and we are allowed to work on the boat. That’s our main consideration, as we had several serious projects pop up just before we left Alameda. And the price is much better at $400 a month (if you pay for 3 months in advance). In addition, we are right downtown in front of the enormous Mexican flag. We are surrounded by colourful local people making their living from their boats or selling their wares on the street. There is a cantina with a live band every night and most days all day. (Surely a mixed blessing, but all part of the local colour.) There is one lady who comes by with hot eggrolls every afternoon, and numerous Mexican food vendors as well. There is the constant noise of children with firecracker powder and holiday horns and clackers and drums. There are fishing boats and tour boats. There are some sirens, (not as many as Vancouver had), the sounds of the docklines creaking and the docks lurching and locals calling out to each other. There are two local “pet” sea lions barking. They heave their huge bodies up on to the dock to pose for the tourists. So far, they have not come onto our little dock, but we hear that they often do. There are pelicans and many varieties of sea gulls. Last night we watched a huge cruise ship leave the harbour. Quite a sight as it moves so slowly and has the ability to maneuver in such a controlled way in this small harbour.


       Everyone is friendly and cheerful, and eager to help us with our Spanish and to practice English on us.


       There are mixed messages about the safety of Ensenada. The cruisers, in general, feel it’s a pretty safe place. There are a few areas to avoid (what city doesn’t have some of those?) and we are still not quite clear about that yet. It’s best not to walk the highway, or drive it at night, or go downtown to bars in the late hours. Common sense, really, in Victoria BC, or Vancouver,  or San Diego or San Francisco or wherever. One day, Tony inadvertently went for breakfast wearing his rigging knife, and a very distinguished and handsome state police officer took us aside and suggested that it be left on the boat. “We don’t mind,” he assured us, “but the local police would be most upset.” We hear that this one group of police officers frequent Alfonso’s, and are a good bunch of guys. Some of the locals have warned us not to go too far away from the tourist areas, but then we wouldn’t be able to shop for groceries.  So we still need to clarify that.




We have had some good tips from other cruisers, and have already had our awning repaired within 24 hours. With the awning up, the boat is much more comfortable during the heat of the day.




There is a cruisers net on VHF 21 every weekday morning at 8 am. And many of the cruisers monitor 21 during the day as a way of keeping in touch.








We will begin serious boatwork in a day or two. In the meantime, we have been catching up on some of the rest we have missed in the long haul from Victoria to Ensenada, setting up the BBQ, the awning and water and electricity. And continuing the familiarization process in a new and exciting culture.

Please note: You cannot leave a reply to this Blog, as we had to close that function down due to the spam it attracted. We can be contacted at

September 2nd, 2009, Ensenada, Mexico

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Left San Diego just after midnight on the 2nd of September–a lovely, warm, quiet night-no wind, but a very easy and uneventful motor trip- a little wind on the nose-of course the wind came up as we were circling in Ensenada Harbour about 10 am. There was no room in any of the Marinas, so we back tracked to Marina Coral, just around the corner. This is a luxury Marina - very expensive - with Spa (pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room,excercise room, coffee and juice in the morning)-we are here for 2 days, but have now found a place we can work on the boat for the next three months, and that we can afford. Yesterday we spent all afternoon doing the paperwork. It’s supposed to be one stop shopping now in Ensenada for paperwork, but yesterday, all the machines were down - copy machines, receipt machines, banks computers-so we had hours of walking back and forth until finally most of it was done-had to go back today for one more thing. By last night we were hot and tired and discouraged as there seemed to be no place to go and do some work on the boat-and $143 a day is too much for long term!!!

We were well looked after by the cruisers here, however. As in San Diego, and everywhere else. (We have hugely fond memories of San Diego, even though we were there only a week).

We spent the morning today, the 3rd, visiting every Marina in town, with Andre and Victor, who have stayed at every one and are loved by all. They drove us and translated and taught us some Spanish and all about money and tips for living here. We had delicious snacks and lunch and were delighted to spend time with these lovely folks. They have been here for 3 years, so they certainly know the ropes.

We checked out the pharmacies and located the grocery stores - learned where to go and where not to go.

Then we came back to the Marina and spent the afternoon lounging around the many pools, alternating with the hot tubs and jaccuzzis. Might as well use it while we can. Tomorrow it’s back to the real world.

Tonight I am sitting on deck, watching fish jumping, seals swimming, pelicans and other water birds flying around and wandering the docks. There is an unbelievable full moon over the hills and a delicious cool breeze–we will sleep well tonight. But first, up to the Hotel for some more pool and hot tub, and the $7 dinner special recommended to us by the cruisers. We will try to update as often as possible.