Traveling into Mexican Waters

Kandu at Ensenada's Cruise Port Village with cruise ship dock before her.
Kandu at Ensenada’s Cruise Port Village with cruise ship dock before her.
Kandu moored at Ensenada's Cruise Port Village
Kandu moored at Ensenada’s Cruise Port Village

Kandu departed San Diego’s Southwestern Yacht Club Friday (3/20/2015) at 5:00 a.m. with Uncle Bill and Joe Houska aboard. We bid farewell to U.S. conveniences…most especially our car!

Silver Gate YC amenity, evening Jacuzzi in front of Kandu lit by her spreader lights.
Silver Gate YC amenity, evening Jacuzzi in front of Kandu lit by her spreader lights.

Arrived safely without trouble at Ensenada’s Cruise Port Village, Mexico around 4:30 p.m. We’re enjoying the sites, the color schemes, and especially the food – taking advantage of the great currency exchange due to a strong dollar…about 14.5 pesos per dollar. Friday night after we arrived, we ate at a great fish restaurant off the main drag: Mariscos Bahia Ensenada. The staff was excellent and the ambiance spiced up by Mariachis.

Celebratory dinner of delicious Ensenada seafood
Celebratory dinner of delicious Ensenada seafood

Several times we ate fish tacos at a small stand near the Mercado de la Nueva Viga, the local fish market. Bryce thought it was cool that as we approached the area, we were beckoned into a taco stand where everyone inside agreed that we would taste Ensenada’s best fish tacos there.

Bryce prefers the sweeter Mexican Coke
Bryce prefers the sweeter Mexican Coke

The tacos were most definitely tasty, yet just around the corner we discovered probably another 20 taco stands, likely equally as good, butted up against each other adjacent to the fish market. After lunch, we strolled along the fish and fishermen at the fish market. The large selection of fresh fish and seafood is astounding in Puerto Ensenada. Such an incredible display of fresh fish and seafood: all varieties & sizes of fish, clams, oysters, abalone, shrimp, lobsters, etc. We were passing one sectional of fish sporting an enormous fish head (the head of a 400-lbs black seabass). The fisherman beckoned me over to take a picture with him and the trophy head.

Catching a halibut, the sea bass took the prize and became the bigger prize!
Catching a halibut, the sea bass took the prize and became the bigger prize!

His display of fish included large steaks of smoked marlin. When I inquired in broken Spanish how long a red-colored smoked steak might last, he offered us a taste (which was delicious) and explained that unrefrigerated it would last, no problem, 7 days. Refrigerated, it could last up to 2 months. I told him we would be back to purchase some before we left. I also priced out a large Halibut – $10 – the equivalent in Ventura would have been $25. Could be a delicious lunch during our first passage. (So far we haven’t caught any fish while trolling down the coast.)

Ensenada Church while strolling on errands.
Ensenada Church while strolling on errands.

When we returned to Kandu, Uncle Bill and Joe finished the repair on the anchor locker hinges, which had gotten broken in Long Beach. We are so grateful for their help. Bryce and Trent enjoyed the opportunity to surf with Joe. “Ensenada Beaches” (about a 25 minute walk south from Cruise Port Village) turns out to have had decent swell for surfing and they had an adventure trying to load three rather sizable surfboards into a small Toyota Celica Taxi for the return home! The two smaller boards fit inside while Bryce and Joe supported the longboard just outside the windows. Talk about learning how to solve problems! With the exception of the boys’ surf trek, we’ve been walking everywhere. While they were off enjoying the water, Eric and I took care of laundry and found an open Smart’n Final for fresh vegetable provisions in preparation for our departure down the coast of Baja after finalizing Mexican customs.

Trent and Joe leave the dock for inland adventures
Trent and Joe leave the dock for inland adventures

While we’ve been here, Trent has taken upon himself the challenge of learning Spanish. He has been studying and trying to remember/make-sense-of general greetings and simple phrases. It’s exciting for me to observe his enthusiasm. He even downloaded a Spanish learning game app to quiz himself on words and phrases. Bryce wonders at the lack of solid rules. It seems to him that Mexican people have more freedoms to do what they want. I explained to him that people here are less litigious, maybe because they don’t have as much to lose, and/or because Mexican bureaucracy (bribery) causes complaints to take much longer…there is definitely a sense of living at your own risk, fewer safety nets…hence the reason why when skateboarding, the boys must still wear their helmets!!! haha

Joe outside ECPV
Joe outside ECPV

We planned only to stay in Ensenada through the weekend, but on Monday morning, with the anticipation of a strong Northwest wind, Eric checked the weather through the Chubasco radio net and the meteorologist strongly recommended that we wait two days until Wednesday morning to depart. The winds were expected to blow up to 30 knots.

High winds give Kandu's crew a couple extra days in Ensenada
High winds give Kandu’s crew a couple extra days in Ensenada
Put the lime in the coconut and eat it all up!
Put the lime in the coconut and eat it all up!

Considering it would be the boys’ first experience with sailing overnight and having night watches, we decided to wait out the heavy breeze for a more-gentle send-off. I imagine once we make French Polynesia after sailing 3 10-15 day passages, 30-knot winds will be acceptable, but today, it’s best to be conservative. In any case, the two extra days have allowed us more time to explore the area, to add a couple more convenience touches to the boat, ie: bungee straps to stabilize bathroom garbage cans, and to refill our water tanks with reverse osmosis (RO) water, using shore-power to run the motors.

Last of the hot showers for awhile
Last of the hot showers for awhile

It had been three months since Eric first ran the RO unit to convert seawater into fresh. Since then, Bryce has been actively rinsing the membranes with fresh water. Eric figured once he got the system working the first time, it would be ready to go on demand. Unfortunately, while teaching the boys how to work the system, the RO unit failed to work. After spending 2 stressful hours troubleshooting the problem, he discovered that the installed 15-amp circuit breaker for the booster pump (the 12-volt water pump that pulls seawater up to the high pressure RO pump for processing) was too small. Having been a professional technician, Eric is fond of stating that the difference between a user and a technician is that the tech read the manual. Thus, Eric calmly sat down to re-read the set-up installation instructions. He learned that the breaker amperage spec (20A) is rated higher for the system than the spec rating (15A) on the pump. Fortunately, he stocked a lot of spare parts, and was able to change it out that same day—problem solved!

Baja chart with surf spot notations
Baja chart with surf spot notations

From here, we are headed south toward Turtle Bay, but will stop-off for the boys to surf off Isla Natividad, weather permitting. One weather report forecasts a southern swell for Thursday, so we’ll see. Then we’re off to “Mag Bay” and Puerto Vallarta, before our first big crossing: Galapagos. Here at Cruise Port Village, in the port of Ensenada, is our last chance to benefit from WiFi and hot showers for quite some time…maybe not until Puerto Vallarta. It may also be our last marina slip for several years, meaning we’ll be anchored off shore, taking our dinghy in, with no power connection to shore power. We’re unplugging!

Bryce and Trent unplug Kandu
Bryce and Trent unplug Kandu

 Leslie Rigney

11 thoughts on “Traveling into Mexican Waters”

  1. Glad to hear all is well! Try to keep us posted. There is a lot of WiFi in Mexico and you may be surprised…

  2. Hi Rigneys!

    I have been following your blog. I hope you are enjoying your time in Ensenada. Sorry to hear about the phone scam in San Diego and the GoPro problems.

    Things are the same here in Ventura, except your energy is missing. It was so nice to have shared some fun times with you all. I hope to see you when you return, and I will continue to follow your adventures.

    Stay Safe,
    Rick

    1. Hello Rick – so nice to hear from you. Our time in Ensenada was great. We accomplished a lot and left on a really good note. New posts are forthcoming about our travels down the coast. We are now hanging in La Cruz about 30 miles Northwest of Puerto Vallarta, with a few more fixes to address before heading off again on the “BIG” passage. Our Spanish is improving. Today, the boys and I took the public bus to a surf spot near Burro’s (sp?) at the Paladium Resort. It was a terrific experience and tuckered all three of us out. Great stuff!
      Miss you at home in Ventura too. I did get a chance to sing at a local La Cruz church the Ave Maria by Schubert. The parishioners seemed to appreciate it and I was pleased with the result. Amazing what hot muggy weather can do for a singer’s vocal chords! Sending thoughts back to you, Leslie

  3. Looks like you guys are having a great time….handling all these little hiccups with ease….that’s what all the good preparation does for you!

    1. It hasn’t been all roses, but things are generally going well. We’re handling the hot muggy weather in stride. Gotta get used to the smells! Ugh!
      Hugs, Leslie

  4. Hello Rigneys! I have been keeping tabs on you folks. Very happy and excited that you have started this most wonderful life experience. Looks like the boys are enjoying trying new things.
    Look forward to your blogs and photos.

    take care of each other and safe journey,
    Fran

    1. Hello JP – So nice of you to be following us. We have arrived in La Cruz located in the Banderas Bay. La Cruz is about 30 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta. We’re hanging here to enjoy a bit cruising families with kids. Bryce and Trent were bemoaning spending soooooooo much time with adults. We heard this evening that Paradise Village in Puerto Vallarta also has a lot of kids. We plan to head over there next week for a couple of rest days….We’ve been spending this past week in a marina to get some more work done – ie: needing strong wifi. On Thursday, we’ll head back out to the anchorage where things are cheaper (free)!
      Sending you and your family BIG hugs!
      Leslie

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