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From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada

February 2004

Volume 2, Number 2



A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival®








The EnsenadaGold Rush

  115 Years Ago This Month

    It's interesting to note that there is no missionary built church in Ensenada. Gold, not God, developed the area into what is now known as a town. In February 1889, accounts reported that gold had been discovered in the Santa Clara Mountains about sixty miles southeast of Ensenada, which signaled the beginning of the boomtown era as gold rush fever brought new settlers from other areas. Now becoming a center of trade and support for the miners, with all the graft and greed that are usually a result, Ensenada endured the effects of this sudden prosperity. Rumors about the size of the area and its richness traveled from man to man. The farther the stories spread, the more incredible became the stories of the gold discovery. Soon the Baja California gold strike was given rumor status comparable to that of 1849 in central California. Old timers that had panned for gold as “forty-niners” near San Francisco, began streaming south in search of the quick riches that had eluded them in the north. 

   Joining them were men who had traveled to the west in search of a new life found land was abundant but jobs were scarce. The result was those who had made this migration to the area had no choice but to remain, regardless of the financial troubles they were experiencing. The news of the gold strike was quickly spread among these men in the Southern California region and soon they too were joining the rush to the Ensenada area. This news was circulated widely by Southern California News sources, which sent many correspondents to the new Santa Clara gold settlements. These journalists even further fueled the frenzy by exaggerating accounts of the event in order to increase the circulation of their publications. 

   The gold was in four gulches in a region of the mountains some 4,500 feet above sea level. The settlers in these gulches named their settlement after the ethnic group that was the primary population. American, Indian and Mexican names were assigned to three of the gulches; the other was of no particular ethnic connection named Alamo. These were inhospitable, cold and snowy areas and the camps attracted many more than their advertised capacity of 1,000. This tremendous pressure on an area that was quickly depleted of the gold found, created an even greater hardship than the environment on these men as they realized the fabled gold strike was mere fallacy.

   The miners were gouged in every conceivable way by the services employed by the rush. Southern California steam ship and stagecoach lines all increased their fares by as much as doubling the costs of transportation south. The cost was increased to as much as $10 to reach the mining area. Additional schooners were enlisted that were charging $6 per passage. Even at these inflated rates, they had to schedule extra runs which were loaded with men, animals and equipment. Many chose to travel by foot with pack mules and burros and campfires were seen glowing along the entire length of the dusty dirt road between Tijuana and the Santa Clara claims. Burros were in great demand and the cost of a good animal rose from $15 to as high as $40! All supplies were channeled through San Diego to the departing miners as news spread that Ensenada had no more supplies for those going south. To outfit for the trip, complete with food and equipment cost about $50.

   By 1890 the mines were depleted and the area returned to its previous pastoral existence. This period of increased activity boosted the local mercantile business and a few of the miners involved did obtain great riches through their successful efforts to harvest the small amount of gold that was found. During this era, Ensenada consisted of three hotels, one bar, a pier, a few shops, a flour mill, a school, a stable and a wine cellar. A new telegraph and phone line between San Diego and Ensenada had been established. The discovery of gold had lured Hussong’s Cantina’s founder, German immigrant Johann Hussong to Ensenada. In those days, the cantina was located where Papas & Beer is now. The next door neighbors complained constantly about the noise, so Johann, who had assumed the name Juan, moved his bar across the street. In April, 1892 Hussong’s Cantina was formally established it’s the current location. The town's population of 1400 consisted of primarily out-of-luck miners.



   During the entire month of February, our book, “The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada” will be on display and featured at the downtown San Diego Library. Please visit the expo and tell the library personnel how much you enjoyed our book and how you had hoped it had been in the library when you first started looking for the book. Wish us luck in the Writers Digest Self Publishers book contest that will award a nice dollar amount prize as well as an award seal to display on our next edition’s cover.




Do you realize what would happen if Moses were alive today? He’d go up to Mount Sinai, come back with the Ten Commandments, and spend the next 8 years trying to get them published.





    As you walk on the malecon along the Ensenada waterfront between the fish market and Gordo’s Sports Fishing, you may have noticed a collection of boats resting on cradles being attended to by local work personnel. For many years, this yard was reserved for the service of the colorful charter craft of the Gordo's sports fishing fleet. Now it is an alternative to other yards for the haul out and repair of visiting and local private yachts. Next to the Titanic Restaurant and Bar, the harbor side walk transverses a drawbridge that is raised to permit the cradled boat to be pulled up the causeway by cable. The drawbridge is hand lever winched by block and tackle and chain attached to each wing of the bridge. During this period of time the malecon is impassable at this point and always seems to draw an interested crowd. A group of wide-eyed local school children that were visiting the area on a field trip to see the seals were lucky to witness the process recently. 

   These boat haul out and launches are timed to coincide with the highest high tides, which occur twice a month during the full and new moons. The local Ensenada port authorities must be notified and approve of the haul out prior to the event. These extreme high tidal flows provide the amount of water necessary to maneuver the boat as it is floated over a submerged steel cradle. This cradle is attached to a truck in the yard by heavy cable and after the water born craft is positioned on the cradle a winch on the truck pulls the boat up the cement boat ramp. Oversize rubber tires support the cradled boat as it is moved up the incline to its resting place in the yard.

   To position the floating boat and install the necessary below the water supports a diver is used. His job is to make certain the boat will stay upright when the boat leaves the sea’s influence and enters the dry land gravitational forces. The process is a slow one as it is very important the diver has the wood wedges and steel scaffolds in place and locked. For the owner of the yacht, this can be a very stressful phase of the haul out and complete trust must be placed on the yard personnel shoulders.

            The facility can service 2 to 3 boats at a time up to 70 feet in length. Paint and mechanical work are performed in the water at adjacent docks. Bottom paints that are more effective and toxic designed to protect the boat’s bottom from growth can be applied in Ensenada. Many of these paint brands have been outlawed for use in stateside boatyards due to questionable environmental laws. Compared to the prices being charged in the states for the same services, the smart yacht owner often takes advantage of the savings found in the local Ensenada shipyards, and a chance to enjoy Ensenada’s many hospitalities during his stay.

   The next time you notice it is a full or new moon or happen to be reading your tide tables and realize the tides are at one of their apexes for the month, visit this area and ask someone at the yard or at Gordo’s Sports Fishing when they next plan to haul and/or launch. If your schedule permits, make yourself available to view the next eventful episode of busy Gordo’s ramp activities in one of the most colorful areas of Ensenada.

See the photos on our Photo Album page that illustrate the above article.



     La Forchetta Italian Restaraunt: Ave. Blancarte #7. If you desire a full menu of Italian dishes beyond the local pizza fare, this is the place to visit. You will discover a quiet and quaint atmosphere with great service and delicious food. 

Tel. 178-3408

Click on this photo and the following photos in this newsletter and use your web browser back button to return to this page

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    It is a characteristic of the FM frequency band that FM stations are very clear at short range but fade quickly when confronted with topographical barriers or distances over 75 miles. Ensenada does not receive any but the strongest U.S. FM stations and only when atmospheric skip conditions are good.                                                                                                                                                                        On the other commercial radio band, AM frequencies travel quite well over long distances. We rely on Los Angeles 1070 AM station KNX for 24-hour news and weather reports, which we can survey from a distance while sitting in the tranquility of our cockpit. Interestingly, this station can be received into the Sea of Cortez and is a good source of information on weather conditions coming from the north. When the Santa Ana winds are blowing in Southern California, it's a good bet the dreaded Northerlies are raging in the Sea of Cortez. San Diego 600 AM is an all talk Rush Limbaugh type format, which at this date of publication provides border traffic reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. San Diego 690 AM is a sports talk station and perhaps the strongest station due to their transmitter tower being on a hill near Tijuana. Another sports talk station transmitted from Rosarito is San Diego 1090 AM, which has San Diego Padre and San Diego State College Aztec sports broadcasts. Many FM and AM stations based in Ensenada feature U.S. oldies and some current music releases. Various major sporting events such as the World Series and the Super Bowl can be found on the local non-cable Ensenada television channels and you can listen to the commentary on U.S. AM radio stations in English. The radio satellite subscription system is ideal for a large selection of radio programming and is reported to have its coverage extend to Mazatlan on the mainland of Mexico. If you bring down your Direct TV dish, you can receive all the TV and music channels you wish while in Ensenada.




   Below is an interesting juxtaposition of a bug control advertisement and a lobster which we sometimes refer to as a bug. This is found along the new six lane cement free road in south Rosarito while traveling to Ensenada. 

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The best book collaboration is between the author and the reader.




    Panaderia El Coliman: Calle Delante #297. As you travel east on Delante you will pass 2 stop lights and two stop signs as you approach huge electrical towers; the bakery is next to the power plant on the left going east. Ensenada is famous for its variety of freshly baked 7 grain natural whole wheat Mexican breads. Try the delicious hot empanadas filled with tuna (atun), cheese (queso), chicken (pollo), or ham (jamon). The smell in this shop is heavenly, a must stop while you visit!

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(#8 on our site locator maps in our books)

     The Marco Polo and Dina touring buses are the Boeing 747's of Mexico. A mid-night stop at one of the large bus stations in a major city reminds us of a scaled down Chicago O'Hare airport, complete with taco and hot dog stands, bustling with the excitement of wide-eyed True Travelers looking for their coach along the long line of idling, arriving and departing super cruisers. A ticket from Ensenada to La Paz one-way is around US $80; a wild 22 hour ride complete with movies on suspended TV's, stops for livestock on the road along the dark unlit Baja desert highway, a sunrise cruise along the incredibly beautiful Santa Rosalia to Puerto Escondido area on the Sea of Cortez, and a scary bathroom with emanating fumage. *Travel tips - Take the 2 pm bus to La Paz to time sunset over the Pacific Ocean at San Quintin, and sunrise over the Sea of Cortez at Santa Rosalia. Bring your own toilet paper and avoid sitting in the rear near the water closet. Ave. Riveroll between 10th and 11th.

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A roadside artisan in front of the Fox studios where the Movie Titanic was filmed produces decorative musical instruments. It takes one week to manufacture one of these and they are offered for sale at US $200.

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