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Old 15-11-2019, 23:49   #1
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Best time to leave San Diego for Ensenada

We are planning to sail to Ensenada from San Diego next weekend.

One option is to set sail at around 10am when we arrive at the boat. That means we will arrive at around or past midnight. This is actually desirable, apart from me not being very excited about entering a new marina at night (Marina Coral). I have the Navionics charts on my MFD and backup charts for iSailor, and a radar. Studying the charts, entrance does not look bad but I usually try to avoid marinas I am not familiar with at night. Also I don't know how swells affect the area.

Alternative is to wait until ~4pm to leave, trying to time our arrival at sunrise. I don't want to delay our departure to after sunset, also don't want to risk arriving too early. That is a bit tricky with shortened daylights.

Any recommendations? Or anything specific to watch out between San Diego and Ensenada?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 16-11-2019, 01:24   #2
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Re: Best time to leave San Diego for Ensenada

We did that run years ago, my wife and I, and like you we prefer not to enter any unknown harbor/marina late at night - specifically because we don't want to miss out on everything there is to see while making a new port!

My suggestion: Get a good (early) dinner ashore, fill that thermos of hot chocolate, and slip the lines with enough time to clear the breakwater shortly before susnset. For us, it wasn't a race but another adventure. And there's nothing like that first morning cup of coffee at a new dock (or that first beer after the anchor grabs and sets in a new harbor). Make sure to grab the spyglasses and have a good look around on the way in.

Guess what I''m trying to say is that it'll be a new day in a new port, so why make landfall any more stressful than needed? Arrive shortly affter sunrise. But that's just us. Either way you choose, have a great passage!

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Old 16-11-2019, 02:43   #3
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Re: Best time to leave San Diego for Ensenada

I went from San Francisco to Ensenada last October for first time in 25-years, through we did a touch and go to drop a crew member in San Diego. Our Ensenada destination was Baja Naval, not Marina Coral and arrived mid afternoon. I offer no advice to you, only what my decision making would look like if I were in your shoes. Assumes weather is not a factor.

I had a mildly difficult time reconciling what I saw with what was on the chart plotter. There is a surprising amount of development along the coast and lots of lights at night I'm sure. It would be a 100% instrument approach - buoy lights are likely small and obscured by background lights.

I've done quite a few first-time-at-night harbor landings despite conventional wisdom not to (which is good wisdom - I don't always eat my vegetables either). I find them very stressful and exhausting. Good crew is essential.

There probably isn't a good place to anchor if you decide to abort the approach which might force me into a bad decision.

Finally, I happen to enjoy overnight passages - nothing like a cup of coffee at first light. So I'd leave the day before and gain a half day vs lose it.

If I were to decide to chance it with a nightiime arrival, I'd print out Google Earth shots of at least 5-miles north and south of Marina Coral so I could better correlate visuals vs chart plotter rendering. And I'd look for an anchorage just in case.

If you go, and if you're a beer drinker, find Wendtland Brewery. Their Perro del Mar IPA just won a best-in-show for Mexico. The brewery is situated not far from Coral near a bunch of fish packing plants. The aguachiles ceviche there is some of the best I've had anywhere.
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