The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada
Volume 2 , Number 10
A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival®
As I do this posting a seal is bouncing my hull back and
forth intently searching for discarded fish thrown overboard by the marina
fish cleaning Pirates...
THE PIRATE AND SURVIVALIST HALLOWEEN EDITION
THE LEGEND OF THE PIRATES OF THE CORONADO ISLANDS
(a sample Chapter from our books)
As the Gold Rush raged in Northern California, a band of bloodthirsty pirates flew the skull and crossbones on South Coronado Island and used a cave now known as Pirate Cave as their hideout. Ships traveling south from San Francisco carried rich cargos of newly mined gold to the East and their course lay directly abeam of the pirate's nest.
The leader of these thieves was Jose Alverez, his origin either a castoff from LaFitte's hearty lads banished from New Orleans or a deserter from the Mexican Army. Regardless of his true past, it is known that he stole a schooner from a Mexican port, and after arming it with plenty of cannon and saber wielding scallywags, he made his base on the Coronados. In a clever game of hide and seek, he set up business in pursuit of the buccaneer's goal of fortune and fame.
The fame factor was to elude these troops, as the barbarous practice of taking no prisoners and scuttling every vessel they assaulted made tracing their actions impossible. It was assumed by the shipping companies that the missing ships were the victims of foul weather or unseen shoals, and they were reported as lost at sea.
A vessel named the Chelsea was apprehended and as the passengers and crew were being killed, a cabin boy named Tom Bolter proclaimed, perhaps in earnest, or in the desire to save his bones from Davey Jones, that he had long admired Alverez and wished to prove himself a worthy addition to the cutlery compadres. This feigned or real adulation fed the ego of Alverez and in addition, the fact that young Tom knew the sailing dates of future shipments of riches, cajoled Alverez into breaking his vow of murdering all and he spared Tom his life. This breach in the pirate's take no prisoner's code would prove to be their undoing.
After two devastating raids of ships, tipped off due to Tom's information, the cabin boy considered himself now a pirate of great repute and questioned Alverez about the size of his share of the captured booty. An argument and fight ensued and Tom only escaped with his life due to the fact that he had information valuable to Alverez. You see, Tom had smartly only given enough information to make himself still useful if in the event he became expendable.
Tom was left in the cave under armed guard while the pirate ship embarked to plunder the next galleon to arrive from San Francisco, using Tom's information of the next ship's expected passage of the islands. The second day after his imprisoning, the guards lapsed in their assignment of duty, and Tom succeeded in freeing himself and killed them both.
He set sail in the pirate's fishing dory, loaded with as much treasure as she would hold, and soon arrived at the waterfront hide houses of San Diego harbor. His arrival prompted much attention from the sailors collected to greet his landing. He was invited to tell his story aboard the Boston vessel Grendo. His claims of buccaneering braggadocio brought exclamations of amusement and disbelief from the assembled sea dogs. They demanded proof in the form of captured riches and were all sobered by the display of loot Tom produced to back up his story.
The hide houses and whaling station on Point Loma were solicited for any volunteers wishing to form a raiding party to sail to the Coronados and rout the returning pirate brigade. An overwhelming response to the call saw a formidable force of San Diego wharf rats boarding the Grendo for the Islands. When they arrived, the Grendo was hidden behind the South Island with only a skeleton crew, the main body of the others stationed on the island out of sight in wait. Tom assumed his position as if he were still under guard in the cave, with a man to pose as guard.
Upon their return, the pirates dragged their plunder up the cliffs to the hideout, leaving their arms aboard the schooner. Taken completely by surprise, the struggle was soon over and the pirates, bound and beaten, were loaded onto the ships for the sail to San Diego and an appointment with the yardarms. As the lot were hanged, more than a few harsh words of condemnation were heard to be cast in Tom Bolter's direction.
The pirate schooner was sold, its proceeds and the captured loot were divided amongst the men who had brought the criminals to justice. Tom demanded the largest share, making him a man of wealth and stature and to some a hero.
BAJA CALIFORNIA TOPOGRAPHICAL WEATHER CHARACTERISTICS
The “Land of Little Rain” as Baja has been called is easily distinguished from the rest of the planet in satellite photos daily transmitted back to earth by our weather agencies. The striking image of the peninsula’s unique shape is always visible as the surrounding regions are shrouded by cloud cover and moist weather patterns. The coastline, sierras, deserts and arroyos which define the Baja landscape are plainly etched in the images through the clear skies that grace the area more than any other location in adjacent earth zones. The chances of a day without rain in Baja are 95%, beating out Hawaii’s 84% and Florida’s 87%. Three variables influence temperatures at any given Baja location: elevation, latitude, and longitude. The higher you climb the cooler it gets, the farther south you go the warmer it gets, and the Pacific side is always cooler that the Sea of Cortez side. According to the travel publication Conde Nast Traveler, Baja California is the best dollar value per hour of sunshine of any area west of Denver.
Because of prevailing ocean currents, the Pacific coast experiences the least overall variation in temperatures, staying cool all year long. From March to July, the California Current flows southward along the coast, bringing cooler temperatures from the north that moderate seasonal atmospheric warming, while the Davidson Current warms the coast with its northward flow in December and January. These seasonal currents stabilize the air temperature so that Ensenada averages a sunny 68° in August and a pleasant dry 54° in January. The only occasional Ensenada cloud cover is caused by a rare south migrating winter northern storm or a north migrating summer southern born hurricane/tropical storm. These influences usually dissipate quickly and within a few days the normal sunny weather pattern resumes.
Along much of the mid-Pacific coast the cool air brought in by the California Current meets the warm air from the interior of the peninsula, this interaction can result in fog masses that can sometimes extend over 20 miles inland. During winter months the Pacific coast south of Magdalena Bay to Cabo San Lucas enjoys the warmest temperatures of any Pacific coastal region due to its relative protection from cool winter northern winds.
The Sea of Cortez has its own set of currents that are fed from the south by the waters of the South Pacific. The current flows in a counter clockwise direction north from Acapulco along the Mexican mainland coast and then south to La Paz along the Baja Peninsular coast. As a result of this exchange of warm water flow the Sea enjoys an average sea temperature of 74° as compared to the average sea temperature of 64° on the Pacific side of the Baja. The weather along the Cortez coast is mild and sunny all winter long. Summer temperatures are high ranging from 82° in the north to 100° in the south. La Paz is normally warmer than San Felipe but cooler than Loreto. The high rate of evaporation at the north end of the Sea contributes to the warmer air temperatures. This combination of warm air and sea temperatures means the Sea of Cortez is classified as tropical over its entire length.
The global position of Baja California defines its annual weather
patterns. It is out of reach of the major weather systems that influence
climate in North America. Northwesterly Eurasian and Artic storms bring
rain and snow to the American Northwest and Midwest all winter long, while
tropical storms crossing the South Pacific from Asia and hurricanes
originating in Central America wreak havoc along the lower coast of Mexico
and Central America in summer. Baja California only catches the outer
edges of these storms and its climates therefore ranges from desert to
tropical to a pleasant and always comfortable Mediterranean ambiance. In
some areas overlapping micro climes defy classification; combining
elements of semiarid, arid, subtropical and tropical daily moods which
backdrop your always agreeable Baja California experience.
From the forthcoming “90 Day Yacht Club Guide to the Baja California Cape and the Sea of Cortez” currently in development.
THE ALLURE OF ENSENADA
sample excerpt from our books)
A part of the Ensenada allure is its tendency to be event driven, rather than relying on specific sites of tourism. We enjoy annual celebrations; which include Carnival, Cinco de Mayo, wine festivals, surfing contests, sailboat races, fishing tournaments, off-road car races, and the migration of the gray whale. If your schedule permits we suggest a more sedate mid-week visit as this area is either a busy tourist center or a small quiet town, dependant on whether you visit on a Saturday or a Wednesday.
MY LATENT SURVIVALIST PSYCHOLOGY
My latent survivalist psychology has me here at Marina Coral wondering when the next shoe will drop in this panorama which is “our common life existence”. It is now late September and as the marina again mid-week becomes the property of the few that reside here more or less constantly dependent on scheduling with business and family concerns north of the border; earthquakes are rumbling Mount Saint Helens, separate hurricanes two weeks apart are taking the same path and making landfall at exactly the same coastal spot, and a pending national election’s mere performance is thought to conceivably trigger another terrorist attack.
I sit in my cockpit sipping a ballena (translated whale, quart size bottle-simply the best beer value in Mexico at a dollar a bottle) of Pacifico and with a bag of cacahuates (translated peanuts, Sabritas salados type-simply the best peanuts at a dollar for a big bag) and I thank the forces that be (translated our karmic spiritual just deserts) for the quietude of this tranquility on the docks after a busy summer. A summer hectic with fisherman, firecrackers and fickle, indecisive and vacillating lawmakers intent on changing the 90-day offshore delivered yacht law. But as they say, “be careful for what you wish for” as the effects of the new one year statute already are being widely viewed and editorialized as negative for the marine yacht sales industry. But not for Ensenada… as the moorage space waiting list increases…
I worked on the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) survey ship McArthur in the Colombia River performing tide survey work in 1980 as an Electronic Technician just after the last Mount Saint Helens blast and witnessed first hand the effects of that disaster. Whether that disaster and other potential disasters have a latent effect on my boats current list of equipment, I don’t know. Aboard my sailboat I have solar and wind generated power, a 25-amp Trace inverter, 800 amp-hours of battery power, air conditioning, a water maker and a germicidal water purifier, 4 computers (I sold another two this past summer), icemaker, and night vision. This in addition to the surround sound TV and stereo, 4 GPS units, 4 radios, refrigeration, auto pilot, propane barbeque, 3 depth sounders and radar we are all accustomed to having aboard. Also, I have enough tools and spare parts to perhaps build another small boat to tow behind the dingy suspended on my davits.
Having all this available, ready and waiting to kick away from the dock at a moments notice is a good thing as our world situation becomes further demented with potential threat and calamity. I will simply go further south and live on tortillas and cheese and visit little fishing villages for lobster and swordfish if the preverbal “stuff” hits the fan stateside. This then is another positive to having your yacht parked in Ensenada as you and your family can head south and join me in a safe escape south to Baja coves scarcely charted and rarely explored.
If, lets say, a nuclear reactor gets hit, or perhaps a dirty bomb is exploded, or if the petroleum supply gets interrupted (in that case, I hope you have a sailboat or a full tank of fuel) having your boat south in Mexico for a year as a failsafe get away is again, “a good thing”. This scenario is not so far fetched if you have you ear to the ground and are evaluating current events with our new found perceptive vision made more acute by the events of 9-11-2001. Banditos worldwide are on the loose and whatever we can do to protect our families and ourselves is totally warranted and acceptable behavior not to be viewed as wild paranoia. If you are in Ensenada for a year or so saving a bit of currency on your new yacht purchase, I advise you to spend a little of that saved cash to equip your new yacht with some extra equipment and provisions that may prove to come in handy if the crazies are again let out of the box.
I love being a writer, what I can’t stand is the paperwork
THE HISTORY OF SAN QUINTIN
Bahia de San Quintin, the second largest bay next to Ensenada in the northern Baja, is situated about 114 miles by road south of Ensenada. Following the shoreline, the town of San Quintin is located east inland of Punta San Quintin on the Pacific Ocean. It is interesting to note that this bay that is now considered a lagoon would closely resemble San Diego Bay if properly dredged and manicured. Nowadays, the bay and estuary can only accommodate small ships and craft of shallow draft due to the sand bars and silting that is the predominant characteristic of the inshore waters. It was not too many years ago that steamships of greater draft could anchor in front of the town roadstead. If visiting the area by boat today, the inner bay can be navigated with the help of a local resident in a small boat with current local knowledge of the bottom contours.
In 1887 it was noted that a little vessel of eight to ten tons would have difficulty passing the bar to the inner harbor. Twenty years later a plan to dredge the area was afoot, and no doubt carried out, as shortly thereafter a pier was built near the town. But by 1912, it is reported that the regular steamer had to anchor 5 miles from the town, and cargo had to be delivered by means of smaller craft.
The coastal plains of San Quintin, averaging several miles in width and stretching about 20 miles north and nearly as far south of the town site, was the most expansive of the northern Baja frontera. It contained a total area of 100 square miles, and in aboriginal times, was one of the most densely settled areas of Baja California. Although salt had been gathered from nearby salinas and traded with the occasional trading vessel and sea otter hunters that visited, the area was considered uninhabitable by the mission friars due to the lack of sufficient fresh water. Interestingly, the first commercial exploitation of these salt beds in 1856 is said to have marked the first time in history that the frontera had ever produced any revenue for the national treasury.
In the mid-1880’s, the Colonia Romero Rubio was established at San Quintin with 31 Mexican, 11 American, and 17 European colonists. For a time of prosperity the population continued to grow to a reported 200 colonists by the year 1891. The original plan called for the raising of wheat by dry farming, but unfortunately it was found that the growth of grain crops was impossible unless the season included an unusually wet winter.
By 1905, it was observed that many houses large and small, elaborate and simple, water tanks and wire fenced developments had been abandoned for a number of years. A large flour mill at the extreme head of the bay a mile above town had been constructed, built to grind the wheat the colonists were to produce. A railhead was planed to serve a line northward to Southern California, to ship the grain, but only scraps of rail were found to be successfully laid in place. San Quintin was the local headquarters of the colony, which extended more than 10 miles up and down the coast.
In 1921 the population was listed at 223 as the area stagnated in growth due to the lack of agricultural development. A number of deserted frame houses marked the failure of the colonization efforts, and one or two adjoining rancheros were the only occupied lands in addition to the considerable area that was once colonized.
Today, except for the pilings of the ruined pier, the old cemetery and its markers with English names, and a few relics of machinery; little remains of the Colonia Romero Rubio and the old town of San Quintin. But, current day San Quintin is a colorful tourist destination with sandy beaches and sand dunes along the ocean. It is also a paradise for outdoor sport aficionados with excellent hiking, hunting, clamming, kayaking, bird watching and fishing. Historical landmarks include the above mentioned Old Mill, Old Pier and the English Cemetery, all remnants of the failed 19th century British attempt at colonial control of the area. Today, San Quintin provides a wide assortment of restaurants, hotels, RV parks, stores and services.
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