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From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada


September/October 2008


Volume 6 , Number 9/10


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

True Traveler Publishing

P.O. Box 60023

San Diego , CA 92166



(619) 857-0368














How would you like to visit a local restaurant that has Ensenada’s finest Cadillac Margaritas and 24-hour food service too! Welcome to El Corralito! The restaurant and bar are distinguished by the green glass enclosed structure on the curb that sandwiches the sidewalk in between the outdoor seating area and the main bar and galley. This results in everyone that is passing on the walkway to walk through the establishment. Wherever you are seated, the color of the day is vividly on display, and in this reporter’s book, this eatery and bar rivals even France’s sidewalk cafés for an interesting menagerie of passing town traffic. On cruise ship in-port days you will find Ensenada’s streets filled to overflow with a melting pot of locals, partying and shopping gringos, strolling mariachi minstrels, and the town’s many enterprising street vendors.

Eduardo Escobedo has owned the El Corralito for the entire 42 years of its existence. You will see the same employee faces every time you visit, creating a warm and friendly ambiance for you and your party. The food is excellent, as witnessed by a party of 20 that was visiting last week from San Francisco. They had just arrived from Cabo San Lucas by cruise ship and said the El Corralito food was the best yet on their trip. Loren and Michelle had a day in Ensenada to kill during a 13 hour lay-over fresh from Catalina by cruise ship and said, “great tunes, good food, good beer, and a great atmosphere”. They had spent 2 hours watching 3 of the 5 big screens featuring a live Beijing Olympic satellite dish broadcast, a U-2 concert and Baja off-road racing. The place does have a unique interior look, the walls and ceiling are covered with Baja racing memorabilia, signed dollar bills and Polaroid camera shots that date back many years. By the way, all those hundreds of dollars of US dinero are rendered non-negotiable in Mexico after being defaced by the act of personalizing that bill with an ink marker before it is stapled to the wall.

The menu has changed little over the years. The last time the menu was changed was for design purposes only, 2 years ago. Now the El Corralito is expecting a new menu in coming weeks reflecting the new food prices caused by the weakening dollar against the peso. One dollar tacos will now be a little more, as will the most expensive dish, steak and lobster. You will still get a huge serving of local Mexican fare for just over 6 bucks. The specialty of the house is the huge fishbowl Cadillac Margarita, still priced reasonably, containing an interesting and tasty mix of spirits.  The best brands of tequila will be found here, if you want to splurge, try a shot of one of the many preeminent brands of Mexican tequila the bar has to offer! Curbside enclosed and indoor eating 24 hours a day, the bar is closed from 2am to 10am.



Remember the phrase fish or cut bait? Now the question is eat or buy gas. Did you know if your road rig gets 20 miles to the gallon, you driving 60 mile per hour costs you $12 an hour at a cost of $4 per gallon at the pumps… ponder that for a minute, and convert the equation to what your vehicle gets per gallon and what you are paying for fuel. The numbers go like this – speed in miles per hour divided by miles to the gallon your vehicle gets (averaged over the hour), multiplied by the cost per gallon of gas. So if the same rig listed above getting 20 miles to the gallon at $4 per gallon at the pumps drives at a pace of 80 miles per hour, it costs you… $16 an hour to drive that hour. And so on… down the road you go with a greater realization of the money you are hourly burning into polluted thin air.

These same numbers can be applied to your water borne rig, and to most efficiently operate that craft, you have to be very aware of the speed you are traveling across the water and the resultant gallons of fuel you will be consuming at that speed. In a boat, the fuel consumed is directly related to your speed across the sea. Consult your engine manufacturer for a spec sheet as to how your particular engine make is fuel rated. Before you buy a new or used boat be very aware of these numbers, do some research on the most fuel efficient propulsion units that are on the market. Engine manufacturers have made great advancements in engine fuel saving technology, and you want to be sure you as a consumer are fully aware of what you are going to encounter in fuel consumption during the period of time you own your new pleasure yacht or fishing craft… that will determine just how much each of those fish you landed and cocktails to enjoyed while on your cruise actually cost in fuel dollars.


"I worked in a pet store and people would ask how big I would get".

Rodney Dangerfield



Local to Ensenada and the Coronado Islands True Traveling mariners and road warriors can observe many seaborne circular enclosures which are serving as underwater feedlots for the creatures called "the kings of the sea"; thunnus thynnus orientalis, or Pacific bluefin tuna. These valuable fish are symmetrical, with pointed noses, vacuous eyes, and rigid appendages. This is the fish prized above all others by connoisseurs of sushi and sashimi. The fish whose belly meat (called toro) commands the highest prices on Japanese restaurant menus (with the exception of the potentially poisonous fugu, or blowfish, which is not nearly as widely sold). At its best, when the fat content is high, and the fish has been meticulously handled; the flesh is fabulously tender and buttery, ranging in color from a soft pink to a deep wine red. Obviously too luscious to cook and begging to be eaten raw.

Unlike salmon, tuna has not yet been successfully farmed - that is, raised in captivity from egg to maturity. Currently, all bluefin must be caught in the wild, not only the Pacific species but also its giant, biologically similar Atlantic cousin, which is perhaps slightly less desirable from a gastronomic viewpoint. Around the world, fishermen facing declining quotas for high-quality bluefin tuna are discovering that one way to maximize the return on their reduced catch is to add value to it, only in a novel way; catch them live and fatten them up. That’s what Australian tuna fishermen have done in a big way. Concerned over the sustainability of the species, fisheries managers and the industry established quotas in 1984 to limit the tonnage of fish caught to 14,500 metric tons. That was reduced to 6,250 mt in 1988 and 5,265 mt in 1989.

The notion of capturing gold ingot valued tuna and holding them for the market has been around for a quarter of a century. It started in St Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia, in 1976 but stopped a few years later when the giant Atlantic bluefin tuna altered their migration path. Since then, various forms of bluefin aquaculture have been developed, the best known in Port Lincoln, Australia, but with operations spread around the world in Croatia, Malta, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Japan and Mexico. After entrepreneurs found that the high prices paid for such tuna outweighed the cost of building pens, operations quickly expanded into the Atlantic, to Australia, and then to Baja California.  Japan drives the market for fresh fish, it's literally almost a stock exchange. The Japanese auction block determines local tuna prices.  After being caught by local seiners, the fish are then transported to farming facilities at the Coronado Islands and the Ensenada area run by Mexican tuna ranchers. Upon arrival at the site, the tuna are herded from the seiners underwater panels into the farm's football field-sized pens, where they are fattened with sardines, anchovies, and other bait fish for three to six months. After months of gorging, the tuna are auctioned at Tsukiji, Tokyo's fish market. Beginning in the 1970s, international fishing laws prohibited Japan from trawling foreign waters in their own boats. Japan had to import, looking to tuna ranches.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed the bluefin tuna as "critically endangered" on its Red List of species at risk. The number of bluefin tuna has been reduced to less than 5 percent of its original population size in just three decades. Other scientific debates surround the tuna farms and their existence. The Mexican tuna ranchers will do whatever it takes to protect and fatten the “herd”. From the Mexican ecologically forbidden practice of shooting predatory sea lions to spending thousands on temperature-monitoring devices that cool the water so the bluefin build up fat stores and, in turn, fetch a higher price.

Much of the tuna farm production is delivered to Chesapeake Fish Company at Point Loma Seafoods in San Diego for processing. These companies are involved in all aspects of the seasonal bluefin production, from the killing and cleaning of the fish to the packaging and shipping. Last year the Chesapeake employees worked from August to March to fill a quota of 900 tons of bluefin for Japan.

The bluefin are slaughtered individually by sticking a hook between the eyes that punctures the brain. Attached to the hook is a long pipe that's inserted vertically into the fish. This shocks the spine and speeds up rigor mortis. A tuna's value is determined by its grade. The grade is determined by the fish's color and fat content. Number two grade is more highly valued, as it has more fat content, and number one grade is considered less desirable. There are four grades of tuna; however, most fish buyers recognize only the first two, as number three and number four grades are often either canned or frozen.

Negotiations begin on the dock of San Diego. Buyers from Japan inspect the fish, checking fat content, color, and visual appeal. After calls to Japan to determine current prices, high bids are accepted, and the tuna is submerged in crushed ice -- after being sliced up and boxed for shipment and shipped by Chesapeake's fleet of delivery trucks from the company's Harbor Lane facilities to LAX, where it will go to Tokyo via air freight and be auctioned at Tsukiji, all within 48 hours.

Most of the tuna caught off the coast of California is not bluefin, and only a certain clientele is interested in bluefin, mainly the Asian market. Local fishery officials worry that there is simply not enough room in local Mexican waters for more pens to meet the growing demand. In the Ensenada area, there are six tuna-ranching operations either functioning or approved for operation by the Mexican government. The first and largest of these, Maricultura del Norte, on the south side of Punta Banda, operates 15 pens, and legislation to authorize the first American tuna-ranching operation is being drafted.

With funding from Chevron, Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute of San Diego is seeking permits to operate an experimental fish farm and hatchery for three years at Platform Grace, a relay point along an oil pipeline owned by Santa Barbara oil company Venoco Inc., near Ventura in federal waters. The Grace Mariculture Project would include four submerged pens, encompassing 1H square miles. The project's goal is to help supply a growing demand for seafood. The largest trade deficit in the U.S. is oil, the second is seafood imports. As part of the three-year project, the institute would raise bluefin tuna, California yellowtail, California halibut, striped bass, and red abalone. The Grace Mariculture Project would be used to determine the economic and environmental feasibility of tuna ranching in the U.S. a pilot program to determine just how lucrative commercial bluefin farming is.

 A local fishing tournament was affected by the existence of the tuna ranches. On Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005, the Ensenada Club Nautico sponsored the Torneo Internacional De Pesca Deportiva Verano, a huge Baja Norte fishing tournament with over 300 anglers competing in a vastly publicized largest fish contest that was held based in Ensenada. The second place fish, a 64 pound yellowfin tuna was disqualified because it was proven that the angler had bought the tuna from the Salsipuedes pens. Later others commented that the man who submitted the fish had rock cod on his boat and no gear to catch such a fish. The eyes were white and the fish was black and covered in flies. The cheating fisherman got so violent, it was necessary for the police to take him to jail!

Local boats net the fish, tons at a time, as they cruise along the coast, 20 to 30 miles offshore.  Then, the tuna are towed at less than two miles an hour, still in the water in specially designed enclosures, to Puerto Escondido Bay. There they live the life of Riley, splashing happily about in the huge circular pens, gaining weight and building their fat content on a sardine diet - all the fish they can eat, three times every day, six days a week, for four to eight months. To avoid damage to their livers from overeating, the tuna are fed only six days a week.  And on those six days, the sardines are broadcast across the surface of the water to force the big fish to compete aggressively for food. Some farmed salmon are criticized because, having no need to work for nourishment, they develop a flabby texture. This method of fattening takes a run-of-the-mill fish, a so-so fish, and transforms it into a superstar, a fish ripe for the markets of the sushi and sashimi connoisseurs of Japan.

The tuna are caught between June and August, as they swim between Magdalena Bay, near the southern tip of Baja California, and Monterey Bay, south of San Francisco. They are sold between October and March, by which time most of the fish weigh up to 190 pounds. Some of the larger tuna in the pens approach 330 pounds.

When the largest local tuna ranch company, Maricultura del Norte gets an order, an appropriate number of fattened tuna are harvested. That gives them an edge over conventional suppliers: they have to sell as soon as their boats dock. They sell when they want to, whether the demand is high or not. At Christmastime, when the demand peaks, Maricultura sometimes harvests as many as 900 tuna in a single day, working from sunrise to sunset. The current price for a gutted bluefin, with head and tail on, runs about $11.50 a pound for small fish, $15.75 a pound for medium fish and even more for larger fish. The meat sells at retail for as much as $45 a pound, despite the lasting slump in the Japanese economy. A 410-pound tuna was sold for a record $160,000 in 2005. Buyers insist on quality - tuna without bruises or blemishes, with vividly colored flesh, with maximum oil and fat content. When the pen is ready to harvest, it is like a ripe fruit, the fish at a perfect point in their development.

The harvesting of the fish is a systematic display of proven methodology. Divers in black wet suits start by raising a barrier inside one of the pens, separating a dozen or so tuna from the rest. Next they grab the fish, one by one, one hand on the tail and the other in the gills, and hoist them onto a barge, where another crew of workers holds them in place. Instantly that team spikes each tuna in the head, killing it, cut a main artery behind the gills to bleed it, and ran a fine steel wire down the fish's spinal column, paralyzing it immediately. Another team, astonishingly deft like the first, then takes over, cutting out the gills and guts in one swift motion and tossing the bluefin into a 32-degree saline water solution. The whole process takes only about 50 seconds. This method is employed to preserve the tuna's quality in two ways: by avoiding the formation of excessive lactic acid and by preventing the fish's blood temperature from rising after it has left the sea. This yields a cut of fish that is blissfully sweet and custard-like, with no hint of the metallic flavor that mars the elderly fare served at second-rate sushi bars.

About 95 percent of Maricultura's output goes to Japan, the other 5 percent is sold in San Diego and Los Angeles, mostly to top restaurants. Chilly from their cold-water bath, the fish are cleaned, weighed, tagged and measured before being placed with cold gel packs in plastic-lined boxes to keep them fresh. If they are harvested on Thursday, for example, they are packed on Friday morning and trucked to Los Angeles International Airport on Friday afternoon. They arrive in Tokyo on Sunday, local time, and go on sale at 5 a.m. Monday. Most of them will be consumed by Wednesday at the latest. That may sound like a very long time. But in fact it is almost ideal; like a number of other fish, such as Dover sole, bluefin only reaches peak flavor and texture four to six days after it has emerged from the water. The Ensenada operations have a marketing advantage over numerous other tuna-penning locations because of its proximity to the Los Angeles airport with its 19 flights a day directly to Tokyo.

It is the reliability of supply and consistency of quality that make farmed bluefin popular, but they will never replace free-range bluefin in the very top echelon of the market. The true connoisseurs still prefer a wild fish, as they prefer a wild salmon. The muscle and meat structure is not the same from a pen 50 feet across compared to thousands of miles of ocean. Consumers complain about the meat structure and say the fat doesn’t taste right. The wild bluefin still get the top price. When a farmed Australian is going for 3,000 yen per kilo, in the same day a fancy wild bluefin from the East Coast or Spain with good fat will go for 6,000 or 7,000 yen per kilo. It is just a different product; it is not in the same size class, and it is also natural.

Whether tuna farming will serve as a model for farming other species, such as black cod and halibut, remains to be seen; but fishermen in many fleets have a definite success story to ponder as they contemplate the future of their industry. The world's, and especially Japan's, appetite for tuna seems insatiable. The question is whether stocks of bluefin can withstand the pressure. Already, the giant Atlantic bluefin, which can reach up to 1,500 pounds, is listed as endangered by the Monterey Aquarium, which monitors such matters. The southern Pacific bluefin, which is caught off Australia, has also been over fished, but so far the northern Pacific bluefin, caught here, appears to be in better shape.

The below illustration depicts the location of the fish pens pictured above. Note the interference in the course line previously taken by many mariners before the new construction of the LNG plant. Be aware in this area and deviate course as necessary.



"The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

Ronald Reagan




Tijuana is often referred to as the world's most visited border town. Tijuana based Mexicoach, which has provided cross-border bus service for years, is hoping a new endeavor will stimulate a new awareness of this bustling border town beset with a series of bad press reports during this past year. They have launched an effort this past month to show more tourists the attractions of the city of Tijuana. Labeled Tijuana City Tour, three buses have now been converted to showcase Tijuana’s Teniente Guerrero Park, the Agua Caliente Tower, a winery, a brewery and the Rio Zone's restaurant row. The 15-mile city tour starts and ends in the Rio Zone at the Tijuana Cultural Center, or Cecut, but riders can hop on and off at any of the 13 stops, riding all day after paying the $10 adult fare.

The newly commissioned bright-red buses have been designed to give the passenger an unobstructed view of the city. The top of each bus has open air seating giving the rider a constant buena vista of the tour’s route. “A lot of people don't know the city, think that Tijuana is just Avenida Revolucion, but the truth is that there are historic buildings everywhere and lots of stories to tell,” said Jorge Luis Sánchez, tourism director for Grupo Empresarial Mar de Cortez. There is a great deal of scenery indeed, aside from the jumble of Avenida Revolucion stores most associated with the Tijuana experience. The city is a duty-free zone, and it is truly a shopping paradise, with an impressive and astounding variety of merchandise; ranging from leather goods, silver jewelry, designer clothing, tile, ceramics, blown glass, glazed pottery, woven blankets, embroidered dresses, onyx chess sets, Mexican liquors and much more.

Bilingual guides usually accompany the tour, their narration researched through the Tijuana Historical Society. The bus is a chance for tourists to see and experience the side streets that they would never see unless they were brave enough to poke into these obscure and interesting areas by means of their own car. On the bus the rider does not have to worry about speaking Spanish for directions and getting lost while navigating through unfamiliar parts of the city.

New passport laws, reported drug cartel violence, and increasingly slow border crossings have contributed to this economic downturn. Tijuana's Convention and Visitors Committee reports that overall tourism in Tijuana has dropped dramatically since 2005 – from about 25 million visitors annually to nearly 15 million. According to reports, sales on the traditional tourist strip have fallen 80 percent since 2001. Even the painted donkey trade is in danger of being shut down. These props known as a "Mexican Zebras" on Avenida Revolucion are threatened by the recent violence in the streets and the resultant effect on the cities economy. Tijuana's painted burros have been a fixture on the streets of this border city for decades, posing with Hollywood stars and casual tourists alike for the perfect souvenir photo, but the owners of the Mexican Zebras say they fear their trade may become the next casualty of spiraling drug violence. These street photographers still offer a unique yet expensive ($20) memento for today's visitors. The cameras in use today are nearly as old as the profession itself.

Although reports of police extortions have gone down, and an increase in police protection has been provided, as of yet the tourists are not coming back in the numbers experienced in past decades. The expectation is that the new bus tour line will not only attract the day tripper from north of the border but also guests visiting Tijuana from other parts of Mexico. It is hoped more visitors will be attracted to Tijuana, a city of more than 1.4 million people, for not only its many shops and restaurants, but also for a greater appreciation of its cultural history.

When: Every hour. The first trip starts at 10 a.m. from the Tijuana Cultural Center and the last one ends at 8 p.m.

Where: Trip starts at the cultural center, but riders can board at any of 13 stops on the route, such as along Avenida Revolucion and near the border at the Viva Tijuana shopping center.

Fare: Adults pay $10; seniors older than 60 and children younger than 12 pay $5. One child accompanied by an adult may ride free.




4 servings

1 – 1 1/2 lbs jumbo squid body, membranes removed
3 T olive oil
3 T seasoned rice vinegar
2 lemons, juice only
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t dried basil leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch each salt and pepper
3 T mayonnaise
1 t capers
dash or two Tabasco
shredded lettuce
sandwich rolls or bread

Instructions: Cut squid body so that it lays flat on a cutting surface. Slice diagonally (at an angle) into very thin strips. Combine olive oil with next 6 ingredients in a bowl. Add sliced squid, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add squid and cook for 30 – 40 seconds or just until color changes. Combine mayo with capers and Tabasco. Spread on rolls. Mound lettuce on rolls and top with squid.

Note: If your squid is tough and rubbery, you cooked it too long.


"Adopted kids are such a pain - you have to teach them how to look like you."

Gilda Radner



            May 15th (June 1st in the Atlantic region) of every year signals the beginning of the annual hurricane migration north to our west coastal latitudes from the Gulf of Tehuantepec which washes the Pacific shores of extreme southern Mexico. If you own a yacht, your yachts insurance policy probably stipulates that you not venture into latitudes below near Ensenada unless you pay a premium for hurricane coverage. From June 1st to October 31st these restrictions apply, and anyone traveling south by sea to the area from Ensenada to Costa Rica should be aware of the dangers involved in being caught in a tropical depression that could possibly spell disaster. Usually these storms dissipate before they reach latitude 30 degrees north, but the tail end of many hurricanes do reach as far north as Ensenada. Hurricane Linda dated September 12th and 13th in 1997 was one of the largest hurricanes witnessed for years, and her influence caused hot sticky and tropical rainy days as far north as Los Angeles. This was a very volatile weather year which included an El Nino influence.

The largest hurricanes usually occur in the months of August and September, but the July appearance of warm 70 plus degree water off the coast of California this year has warned mariners of a banner year for tropical storm activity. August saw the birth and progression of the season’s 8th eastern Pacific Ocean hurricane, Hernan. And tropical storm Julio reached all the way up the Baja peninsula to inside the northern area of the Sea of Cortez. The life of these storms and often the path they take is determined by the temperature of the water and the warmer the water the more violent the storm. The good result of these storms is the big south swells that cause big surf to place smiles on the faces of the local surfing clan. So let’s emphasize the positive effect of the summer storms and be aware of the possible dangers and enjoy safe and sensible yachting during this summer and early fall. Those interested in monitoring the progression of developing hurricanes should visit for the latest information.


I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her.

Rodney Dangerfield





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