Internet Newsletter

From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada

July 2005

Volume 3 , Number 7



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










Downwind Marine celebrated 20 years in business this past month and is absolutely the best place for cruisers to shop for the gear that will see you through extended cruising. Downwind not only serves cruisers but is also a complete marine store for the local boating enthusiast. Staffed by sailors with blue water experience, they will answer your questions and help you find the right marine equipment and supplies at the right price. Downwind specializes in special order items. If you want they will find it and get it for you. At one time in their history, the ham net operated by the store was a handy way for the cruisers in remote locations to get gear delivered by other boats headed their way. But, in this modern day world, it’s the e-mail internet service that facilitates Downwind to now ship supplies all over the world to yachts in far distant areas. Downwind is famous for hosting two annual barbecue parties in late October and early November; one for the Baja Haha group while they are visiting San Diego and the other for all cruisers passing through San Diego headed south. Downwind Marine has put together an extensive cruising guide that is a must for anyone planning on venturing south of the border. The guide is full of information such as phone numbers, check lists, radio schedules, maps, SSB channels, Ham net guidelines, weather fax info, Spanish tips, San Diego anchorages, Mexican paper trail info and more. And it’s free! The guide is posted on the Downwind web site at Downwind has over 7,600 items contained in over 260 categories in their online database for you to search. You may order online if you wish or visit Downwind in San Diego at 2804 Cañon Street in the heart of Shelter Island, the center of San Diego's boating scene, just one block from San Diego Yacht Club, a few blocks from Southwestern Yacht Club, and the many marinas in the Shelter Island Yacht Basin. You can e-mail Downwind at .  Phone: (619) 224-2733 - Fax: (619) 224-7683. Are you at sea or in port and can't easily get to a phone or fax, but still need to place an order? No problem! Use Downwind Marine's SSB Parts Ordering Service! Simply contact Downwind Marine on SSB channel 8A (8.294 MHz) between 1700Z - 1730Z or on channel 12A (12.353 MHz) between 1730Z - 1900Z, Monday - Friday and place your order! All you need is a catalog name, date and item number from that catalog, or a manufacture name and other identifying data. Shop and compare, if you find a better price somewhere else give Downwind a chance to match it. Visit Chris Frost and his friendly staff and ask for and buy “The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada” while you are there!


The Migration of the Russians who Settled in the Valle de Guadalupe

100 Years Ago the Deal was Closed

In ancient Armenia, about eighty miles northwest of 16,925 foot Mt. Ararat, on which, according to Holy Writ Noah's Ark rested after the deluge of forty days and forty nights lies the city of Kars. This territory south of the towering Caucasus Mountains for ages has been the pawn of warring nations. Even in the present century it has been Russian soil and now is a part of Turkey. 

In Kars were a people who loved peace and who detested war. Yet they long had been plagued by wars, which took from them their men folk, many of whom fell in the line of battle. Their lands had been laid to waste only to be rebuilt, and to become impoverished again. This had been the story for countless generations. 

These people bore the name of Molokans, which means milk eaters. True enough, they made cheese and were fond of it. The Molokans were Christians, but they were not members of the old Russian Orthodox Church. The Bible was their guide and their religion was known as that of the Molokan Church. These intensely religious people prayed to God that they might be delivered from further warfare and somewhere in the world find a refuge where they could reside in quietude and simplicity, cultivate the soil and live in contentment. 

It was in 1905, near the close of the Russo-Japanese War, that the Molokans received permission from the government of Nicholas II, czar of all the Russias, to leave the land of their birth and migrate to some far corner of the earth. So, like the dove that Noah sent from the Ark as the waters abated, these people sent forth three of their number on a voyage of exploration to the New World, to determine where a suitable place for colonization could be found and in due course to report back to the homefolk. 

In Los Angeles the trio met a banker who informed them that a large tract of land owned by the bank in the Guadalupe Valley of Baja California could be purchased and on easy terms. The three advance men inspected the property, found it suitable, and reported to their people in far-off Kars.

They accepted the offer, the deal was closed, and 200 Russian men, women and children said goodbye forever to their homeland, to its wars and persecutions, to its troubles and sorrows, and removed to the beautiful valley first settled seventy years before by the Dominican friars who had established a mission there. The valley, known as the Guadalupe Valley, fifteen miles inland from the Pacific Ocean is reached by Highway 3 (this road travels you to Tecate - see our updated Tecate map in our archived June 2005 Newsletter) that leaves the Coast Highway about 3 miles northwest of Ensenada just as you pass out of El Sauzal en route to Tijuana. 

Read the two previous articles about the Russian Molokan settlers in our June and July 2004 archived newsletters.


The Beach Houses and View at San Miguel

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te·qui·la (t…-k¶“l…) n. An alcoholic liquor distilled from the fermented juice of the Central American century plant Agave tequilana


a·ga·ve (…-gä“v¶, …-g³“-) n. Any of numerous plants of the genus Agave,  native to hot, dry regions of the New World and having basal rosettes of tough, sword-shaped, often spiny-margined leaves. Agaves are grown for ornament, fiber, and food. Also called the century plant and grouped into the family of succulent plants. The best-known species is the American aloe, or century plant, which usually flowers only once, between the ages of 10 and 25 years. Shortly before it flowers, a long stalk grows rapidly upward to a height of about 12 m (about 40 ft). The flowers are large and greenish and cover short, horizontal branches that spring from the upper half of the stalk. Some plants die after flowering, but rhizomes of suckers often develop into new plants. The plant may also be grown from seeds, bulbs, or underground stems. The agave has large, thick, and fleshy leaves, which can store considerable quantities of water. They are spiked, particularly at the tips, are evergreen, and grow to a length of about 2 m (about 6 ft) in a cluster around the base of the plant. The blue agave (agave azul tequilana weber) has long bluish green spiny leaves with sharp points and a large heart (called piña or pineapple) from which the juices are extracted and then distilled twice. One liter of distilled tequila requires between 6 and 8 kilos of agave pulp. Tequila is not distilled from pulque nor is it produced from any cactus. Different agaves and processes produce mezcal with different names throughout Mexico: stotol in Chihuanhua, mezcal in Oaxaca, and bacanora in Sonora.

Many species of agave are of economic importance. Sisal, native to the West Indies but now also grown in Mexico and various tropical countries of Eurasia, yields sisal or sisal hemp. Fibers up to 1.5 m (5 ft) long are obtained from the leaves of this plant and are used to make rope. Other species of agave yield similar fibers that are called sisal or, more properly, false sisal. The roots of some species yield a pulp that produces a lather when wet and is used as soap. Such soap plants are called amoles. All agave is called maguey in Mexico. One species, the false aloe, is native to the southeastern United States.

Tequila is famous around the world for its unique taste and bouquet and it is also the great mixer used in Margaritas that have become one of the most popular cocktails ever. Tequila is a Mexican liquor distilled from the fermented juices obtained from the hearts of blue agave plants grown in the Tequila Region. The liquor gets its name from the town of Tequila located in the state of Jalisco where production started more than 200 years ago.

The process of tequila begins when a blue agave plant is ripe, usually 8 to 12 years after it is planted. Leaves are chopped away from its core by a "jimador" who assesses the plants ripeness. If the plant is harvested too soon, there won't be enough sugars to do the job. Too late and the agave's sugars will have already been used to form a once-in-a-lifetime stem "quiote" that springs 25 to 40 feet high so that the seeds grown at the top of the stem can scatter with the wind. The jimador's task is a crucial one; once he decides that the plant is ready, he wields a special long knife known as a "coa" to clear the core. The cores or piñas (Spanish for pineapple) weight an average of 40 to 70 pounds, and can weight up to 200 pounds. The “piña” will be visible when all the leaves (pencas) have been cleared. Piñas are hauled to the distillery where they are cut in half or chopped and put to roast. Starches turn to sugar as the piñas are roasted in furnaces called "hornos". Modern distilleries use huge steam ovens to increase output and save on energy. Roughly speaking, seven kilos (15 lb.) of agave piña are needed to produce one liter (one quart U.S.) of tequila.

The roasted piñas are then shredded, their juices pressed out and placed in fermenting tanks or vats. Some distilleries use the traditional method to produce tequila. In this method –artesian tequila– the cores are crushed with a stone wheel at a grinding mill called "tahona" and the fibers are dumped into the wooden vat to enhance fermentation and to provide extra flavor. Once the juices are in the vats yeast is added. Every distiller keeps its own yeast as a closely guarded secret. During fermenting, the yeast acts upon the sugars of the agave plant converting them into alcohol.


Juices ferment for 30 to 48 hours then they are distilled twice in traditional copper stills or more modern ones made of stainless steel or in continuous distillation towers. The first distillation produces a low-grade alcohol and the second a fiery colorless liquid that is later blended before being bottled. Alcohol content may be between 70 and 110 Proof. At this moment the liquor is no longer mezcal but tequila.

Types of Tequilas

Tequila can only be produced in Mexico, in the Tequila Region, and must comply with strict Mexican government regulations. In order to satisfy an ever-growing demand and a multitude of consumer's preferences and tastes, tequila is produced in two general categories and four different types in three of those categories. The two categories are defined by the percentage of juices coming from the blue agave:

Tequila 100% Agave. Must be made with 100% blue agave juices and must be bottled at the distillery in Mexico. It may be Blanco, Reposado, or Añejo.

Tequila. Must be made with at least 51% blue agave juices. This tequila may be exported in bulk to be bottled in other countries following the NOM standard. It may be Blanco, Gold, Reposado, or Añejo

Blanco or Silver
This is the traditional tequila that started it all. Clear and transparent, fresh from the still tequila is called Blanco (white or silver) and must be bottled immediately after the distillation process. It has the true bouquet and flavor of the blue agave. It is usually strong and is traditionally enjoyed in a "caballito" (2 oz small glass).

Oro or Gold
Is tequila Blanco mellowed by the addition of colorants and flavorings, caramel being the most common. It is the tequila of choice for frozen Margaritas.

Reposado or Rested
It is Blanco that has been kept (or rested) in white oak casks or vats called "pipones" for more than two months and up to one year. The oak barrels give Reposado a mellowed taste, pleasing bouquet, and its pale color. Reposado keeps the blue agave taste and is gentler to the palate. These tequilas have experienced exponential demand and high prices.

Añejo or Aged
It is Blanco tequila aged in white oak casks for more than a year. Maximum capacity of the casks should not exceed 600 liters (159 gallons). The amber color and woody flavor are picked up from the oak, and the oxidation that takes place through the porous wood develops the unique bouquet and taste.

Although not a category in itself, it is a special Añejo that certain distillers keep in oak casks for up to 8 years. Reserva enters the big leagues of liquor both in taste and in price.



(a sample excerpt from our books)

Ensenada weather is much like that of southern California. Summers are rarely hot as strong afternoon west to NW winds directly from the ocean keep extremes of temperatures rare. Winters are milder with less windy days, but winds can sometimes be stronger than summer winds, fueled by storms from the north. A healthy surge can be experienced at Marina Coral and the Ensenada harbor docks. Therefore, extra dock lines are advisable; spring lines at both beams and double lines at both bow and stern cleats. Chafing gear should be in place at all wear points.

We have heard complaints of, “When does it ever get warm?” in the summer, and seen heavy iron pool furniture blown into the pool during the winter. Other winter days can be so clear and warm that the Marina Coral pool beckons you during morning coffee. We've experienced days so humid and sticky that the pool calls you 24 hours a day for a number of days, as summer hurricanes from the south dissipate during their northerly journey. Bahia Todos Santos is located directly on the Pacific Ocean; therefore there are no geographic barriers to protect the area from the always changeable weather patterns associated with an ocean climate. We have a theory that the islands of Catalina, San Clemente, Santa Barbara and San Nicolas create a lee for the waters of the San Pedro Channel and south to San Diego and the lee of the Coronado Islands. As you pass south of the Coronado Islands you are leaving these protected waters and experience a much more spirited direct wind from the northwest. Regardless of the weather, you will delight in the lack of smog, absence of constant air traffic (a passing plane is a noteworthy event), and the feeling of being surrounded by a vital, natural and healthy environment.


Baja California (state, Mexico) or Lower California, state in northwestern Mexico occupying the northern half of the peninsula of Baja California. The Mexican state is on the southern border of the United States, directly south of California. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by the Gulf of California and the Mexican state of Sonora, and on the south by the state of Baja California Sur, which occupies the southern end of the peninsula.

 The northern part of Baja California has a climate similar to that of southern California, with rainfall ranging from 250 to 640 mm (10 to 25 in) per year. The rest of the state, however, receives very little rainfall and has few creeks or streams that run year-round. Vegetation in much of this region is characterized by desert plants, such as the giant cactus, although some areas are virtually barren. The highest peak in the state is El Picacho del Diablo, 3095 m (10,154 ft) high. The Colorado River forms the eastern-most boundary with the state of Sonora. Constitución de 1857 National Park, located in the Sierra de Juárez Mountains in the northern part of the state, protects temperate forests of pine and oak, habitat that is critical for local animal species such as puma, bobcat, and bald eagle. The state covers an area of 71,576 sq km (27,636 sq mi).

 All of Baja California’s major cities—Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, California; Mexicali, the state capital; and Ensenada, an important coastal resort—are located in the northern quarter of the state. Tecate, a small city known for its beer-making industry, is located on the U.S. border. The population is largely mestizo—a mix of Native American and European ancestry—and many people are recent immigrants. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Baja California attracted more immigrants from within Mexico than any other Mexican state, except Quintana Roo. Most of the state’s population lives in urban areas, giving it the third highest percentage of urban residents in Mexico, after the Distrito Federal and the state of Nuevo León. The Colegio Frontera del Norte in Tijuana is a noted university. In addition, the state is home to four campuses of the Autonomous University of Baja California (1957)—in Ensenada, Mexicali, Tecate, and Tijuana. Baja California’s estimated population in 1995 was 2,112,140.

 Baja California is an important site of assembly industries along the border with the United States, particularly between San Diego and Tijuana, where North American and Japanese investors own numerous plants. Fishing is also an important industry in the state, with lobster, shellfish, and tuna being some of the most prominent species. Agriculture, which depends on irrigation, is directed primarily toward markets in the United States, particularly California, for which Baja California has increased its production of organically grown foodstuffs. The state is also an important center for the production of beer, wine, and soap. Baja California has three major highways: a north-south route from Tijuana to San José del Cabo, at the southern tip of the peninsula; an east-west route along the northern border connecting Baja California to the state of Sonora; and a shorter north-south route extending south from Mexicali. A major multi-lane toll road runs from Tijuana south to Ensenada on the Pacific Coast. Economic and population growth in southern California have contributed to Baja California’s economy and millions of tourists cross from San Diego into Tijuana each year. Rapid development along Baja California’s northern border, however, has exacerbated serious environmental problems. Local leaders in San Diego and Tijuana often collaborate on efforts to resolve some of these difficult issues.

 Originally part of the Spanish territory of California, Baja California was designated a territory under the 1917 constitution because of its small population. It became a state in 1952. In 1989 a candidate for governor from the National Action Party defeated a candidate from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, making Baja California the first state in the nation to elect a governor from an opposition political party.




(another sample excerpt from our books)

           One helpful aspect of your trip to the 90 Day Yacht Club is that you have just had a survey of the boat completed as a part of the sales process. This information concerning the condition of your new boat is a valuable tool when evaluating her seaworthiness during the trip planning phase. Any repairs to the basic systems that propel and keep the boat afloat should be performed before departure. A vessel assist card is a good investment for the first year that you own the boat, until you are familiar with the boat and are sure of her condition. The structural quality of your boat outweighs the size of your boat when evaluating seaworthiness. You will be navigating in the open ocean and you should be aware of the possibility of encountering all possible weather conditions and be prepared for an unexpected breakdown of an onboard system. A good mechanic will have a list of pre-trip diagnostic procedures that are inexpensive insurance against finding yourself adrift and having to deplete your Visa card balance for rescue and repair costs. Preventive maintenance when preparing and operating a boat is the key ingredient that will decide whether your day spent out on the ocean is one of delight or despair.



As you pass El Mirador you may notice all the cars that have ended up at the bottom of the cliff that meets the sea below. Many were occupied as they tumbled down the hill but some were just tossed over the cliff for fun. Its best to take the turn in this area slowly and carefully. We advise you to stop at El Mirador during your journey south and enjoy the buena vista at this spot, as this is perhaps the most magnificent view along the entire transpeninsular highway.

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