It's good to see you're planning ahead for your cruise
to Mexico. That's a prudent first step. I'd agree with most everything that has been shared here. Do get the First Timers Guide to Cruising Mexico from Downwind Marine
if you find yourself in San Diego
. Also, have one or more good cruising guides
of the areas you intend to visit. While there are several places to duck in along the west coast
of Baja, you'll want a good description of what to expect before making refuge, since some have rock hazards off the headlands that define the anchorages
. Charlies Charts are good, as is the Mexico cruising guide put out by Pat Rains. For the west coast of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez
, I'd recommend you looking at the two guides published by Heather Bansmer and Shawn Breeding; they're both excellent. The Mexican Navy
has also just recently resurveyed the west coast of Mexico and has published new charts based on these surveys. Look into getting copies of these for your chart collection.
Depending on what type of boat you have, I suspect your average speed will be probably close to half of the 10 knots you expect (less if you plan to strictly sail and not motor). Diesel
is readily available (no need of a taxi and jerry jugs) in Ensenada, Bahia
Tortugas (Turtle Bay), Puerto San Carlos
(Bahia Magdalena), Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and La Paz. I have a Cal
39 with a 30hp Yanmar diesel
and a 45 gallon tank. For my trips south, I carry at least another 20 gallons of diesel on the rail. For the bash back north, I increase this to 40 gallons on the rail. Either way, I've always made the stop at Bahia
Tortugas to top off, just to be prudent. This is about the half way point between San Diego and Cabo San Lucas and is a good protected harbor to spend a lay day or two if you feel you need it.
Check into the country may be made in Ensenada (convenient, since all the facilities are located in one place, close to the harbor), Cabo San Lucas (expensive to stay there, with the Port Captain
and Immigration located far apart from each other) and La Paz (great town, with Immigration close to Marina de La Paz and the Port Captains office a bit further away). Once you clear into Mexico, checking in and out of ports
will be different from place to place. If you stay in a marina, often they will help with the check in and out. Otherwise, ask to know what to expect, but always try to get your paperwork signed and stamped from the last port visited. When entering a new port, check in with the Port Captain
(usually on channel 16) and see if they want you to personally visit the office or will accept the radio
check in. It's easier than it sounds. A copy of "Spanish for Cruisers" would be a good investment for your cruising library unless you're already fluent in Spanish.
With respect to sailing down the west coast of Baja, I'd beg to respectfully differ from the advice suggested by zeehag. The peninsula falls away to the east as you head
due south (I believe Cabo San Lucas is nearly on the same longitude as Salt
Lake City) and the predominate winds during the Fall season, when most chose to go south, are from the north-northwest. The coast under these conditions does not qualify as a lee shore and there's no need to be 200nm offshore
. Do, however, get a Mexican fishing license
for each person on the boat.
Currently, we're in Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto, BCS, MX. You'll find fellow cruisers generally to be some of the nicest and most helpful people you'll meet. You're sure to make some friendships for life...Good sailing!