[031128, 0042 UTC, Bahia San Quintin, BCN, Mexico; 3021.9'N/11558.3' W]

Dear Friends;

We arrived in Ensenada, Mexico on Thursday, November 20 and then spent the next five days getting our official paperwork filed, or I should say, waiting to get it filed. Our problem was that we arrived in Mexico on a holiday (Revolution Day). It was quite fun to walk around and take in the holiday ambience as it seems that everyone in Ensenada was out walking and visiting. The next day being Friday, and perhaps oh so close to the weekend, the Port Captain decided to take a day off. So...nothing in the way of port officialdom happening 'til Monday. Comprende? We were advised, however, to call on Migracion (immigration) on Friday and were successful in getting our visas stamped.

Though not the prettiest Mexican city, Ensenada does have a certain appeal. Real people actually live and work here although cruise ships call here a few times a week which changes the atmosphere considerably. The locals are very friendly and we enjoyed trying different taco stands to see which had the best quality. Tacos are simple but freshly prepared and very inexpensive. "Street" tacos are made with soft tortillas, not the fried variety we are used to in the 'States. A fish or asada (beef) taco went for a whopping 7 pesos or 63 cents at 11.05 USD per nuevo peso. With your taco you get an offering of three different pepper salsas (green, red and brownish), chopped fresh tomato, cilantro and onion, shredded fresh green cabbage (it's good, really), Mexican lime wedges, whole radishes, a selection of hot sauces and some form of sour cream or mayonnaise type dressing. One taqueria we found was particularly wonderful as they were making the tortillas fresh (corn or flour, senor?). Wonderful. Ensenada also has a huge fish market - the Mercado de Mariscos where the freshest fish possible is between 30 and 50 pesos/kilo! You figure it out...more than 2.2 lbs. per kilo and 11 pesos to the US$...a good hearty meal for two cost us just over two bucks.

Ensenada was our first port of entry into Mexico which dictates doing the "paperwork cha-cha". Mexican bureaucrats love multiple copies of crew lists (in Spanish, por favor), visas, copies of the boat US documentation, passports, etc., etc., etc. We must have looked confused because we were met with firm but patient assistance at every office (and bank) we visited. When you enter a port you are given an "Entrada" and when you leave you receive a "Salida". At the last port in a country, you receive a document called a "Zarpe" which you have to present to the first port in the next country. We received both an entrada and a salida on Monday that gets us as far as Cabo San Lucas where we will enter the domain of the next port captain and have to perform the same routine. Our planned stops down the coast do not require us to check in but we may if we stop at Isla Cedros. We departed Ensenada for Bahia (bay) San Quintin, 114 miles distant, on Tuesday, November 25 at just after 0600 hrs local time.

After motoring for an hour or so, the northwest winds (10 to 20 knots) kicked in and we sailed the rest of the day and evening and on into the next morning when the winds died (but ocean swells picked up) fifteen miles from Bahia San Quintin. This is a huge bay which could easily fit 5,000 boats at anchor, though much of the northwest part of the bay and estuary are shoals and sport some impressive waves quite far out at low tide! We were the only visiting boat on Wednesday. There are fishing pangas and the fishermen live in sparse fishing camps along the shore. This part of Baja is accessible by vehicle and there are apparently motels and other types of "civilization" on shore, though not discernible from the anchorage we have selected. The surrounding land is desert dry with little vegetation and dotted with small cinder cones (a few hundred feet tall). Our intention is to spend Thanksgiving Day here while awaiting for predicted NE winds (Santa Anas) to blow out then leave the next day. Philip fished from the boat and caught 3 pacific mackerel which we filleted and had for supper Wednesday. On Thanksgiving Day we were visited by a panguero with whom we traded some National Geographic magazines and canned chicken (pollo) for three lobsters (langosta). That will be our holiday feast. Les baked a bread and Jake took a nap after having a hard evening of sleeping between us. On TG day, three more sailboats arrived and dropped anchor; "The Great Escape" (Jim and Judy) from San Francisco, "Vagrant" (we've only met Jane so far) from Scotland and "Andiamo" (John and Lisa) from Seattle. (John and Lisa on Andiamo had also been guests at the Silvergate Yacht Club in San Diego and we enjoyed movie night together, watching (to Philip's dismay) Finding Nemo.)

Our next planned stop will be Islas (islands) San Benito or Isla Cedros. Islas San Benito are three small islands that are much less populated and wild, so that is our natural preference. We have also been told that Isla Cedros is a great stop to meet friendly people, so time and weather permitting we may try to visit both places.

Buenos Noches,

Leslie, Philip & Jake the cat