Trailering Magazine Archives - Destinations
When trailer boat owners in California, Texas or Arizona look at a map to plan a trip, they not only look to the east and the north and, depending on where they are in California, west. Today, more and more are looking south. To Mexico.
South of San Diego lies the Baja: the longest peninsula in the world. Stretching 780 miles with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other, Mexico's Baja Peninsula is part desert, part mountain and part seaport. While it continues to be separated by the Sea of Cortez from the Mexican "mainland" the Baja Peninsula is now being promoted by the Mexican government as an increasingly popular tourist destination. Harbors are undergoing improvements, more and more highways are being expanded from two to four lanes and with this progress, the number of visitors to Mexico has increased.
It's not just the Baja that is becoming a destination for recreational boaters with a trailer. The "mainland," along the eastern shore of the Sea of Cortez, (this is called the state of Sonora) is undergoing a similar transformation from third world country to an area that is more tourist-friendly. Located just 250 miles south of Tucson, Kino Bay has blossomed into a recreational area with terrific hotels, good restaurants and some of the best boat ramps in the country. It has become common for tour buses to leave Phoenix on a weekly basis to take vacationers to Kino Bay for some quiet times along the Sea of Cortez.
Fred Jones, of the boat trailer group Vagabundos, has been coming to Kino Bay for more than 40 years. "It's an easy day's drive from southern Arizona," he says, "and if I were to give any advice to the first-timer in Mexico with a boat trailer, it is this: take the toll road (Mexico Road 15). Other roads are more scenic and you will save money but staying on the main highways is the way to go." Just offshore on Kino Bay are a number of islands, the largest of which is called Tiberon (3.7 square miles). Jones has crossed the Sea of Cortez to San Felipe (55 miles) on the Baja side, another Mexican city with good boat ramps and recreational facilities.
Kino Bay is where visitors can buy ironwood carvings made by descendants of the Seri Indians whose ancestors lived in the area centuries earlier. Seris make musical instruments and wicker baskets which aren't exported to the United States. Kino Bay has ten miles of shoreline with white sand beaches. Offshore, more than 700 different species of fish are the reason this town attracts anglers from around the world. You will want to take the time and see nearby Copper Canyon in the Sierra Tarahumara Mountains.
Just 70 miles south of Tijuana (near San Diego) is Ensenada. It is reached by using the Transpeninsula Toll Highway which is a modern four lane well-maintained road . The "Green Angels" patrol the highway daily from 8AM-8Pm assisting motorists in need of fuel, water or, in a few cases, directions. In addition, there is a roadside telephone every few miles for motorists without a cell phone. Ensenada is becoming a cruise ship destination as well so if you are in the city when a ship enters the harbor, plan on seeing a lot of people within the hour. It is also a port of call for sailors cruising the peninsula. The next good harbor for provisions is 400 miles south (Bahai Tortuga) so Ensenada's harbor is always a destination for those arriving by sea.
The Coral Hotel has a marina next door with a top of the line launch ramp. There is also ample parking for the tow vehicle. This is the place you will want to use when visiting. The marina is full service with a variety of nearby restaurants. Near the Coral is the fish market, where the bounty of the ocean is brought in every day. Ensenada is also home to a number of fine wineries.
Ensenada's location is also a favorite of whale watchers. Until early April, gray whales are migrating from the cooler northern waters to the warmer southern Pacific in what is the longest journey made by a mammal. Charter boats take people out every day and guarantee a whale sighting every trip.
Thirty minutes south of Ensenada is "La Bufadora," a natural hole along the rocky coastline through which waves will shoot 40 feet into the air. It is located in the town of Punta Banda which is a favorite for recreational campers.
If you bring a Trailer, Bring these too:
A Tourist Card is required if you intend to stay in Mexico longer than 72 hours or, if you intend to travel farther than 100 miles into the country. This will be picked up at the border as you pass through immigration. You will need not only the registration for the tow vehicle but also registration for both the boat and trailer. You will save time by carrying a number of copies of these documents as you pass through the checkpoints.
Insurance is an issue that requires attention. While it isn't mandatory, you will find having the proper paperwork will speed you through immigration. It is important to understand Mexico doesn't honor coverage by US carriers. This is why it is strongly recommended you carry Mexican Liability insurance for the tow vehicle, boat and trailer. In the event of an accident, and having no liability insurance, Mexican authorities will seize your vehicle, boat and trailer as well as possessions to cover potential damages. Confinement is also a possibility depending on the seriousness of the accident. Fred Jones of the Vagabundo's says "while you may not think it's needed, you ought to have it for your own well-bring." BoatUS works with a recognized provider of Mexican Liability Insurance and can write a policy to cover the boat and trailer while it is traveling through the country.
BoatUS Insurance http://www.boatus.com/insurance/
Mexican Consulate http://www.mexonline.com/consulate.htm
Fred Jones on Trailering to Mexico:
-- Do you have enough time to make the trip safely? Ask yourself if you are pushing destinations with a timetable?
-- How skillful are you? Mexican roads are narrower than most secondary roads in the United States. Many Mexican roads have no shoulders. If there is any doubt about keeping the wheels on the highway, don't go to Mexico.
-- Ability to drive under constraints. Aside from the Transpeninsula Toll Highway, Mexico doesn't have the high speed and well-lighted roads. It's not uncommon to be driving on a rural road at night and come upon a black cow in the middle of the road.
Mexico Bound? Call BoatUS Insurance
--Members with BoatUS Insurance should call (1-800-283-2883) and inform us of your plan to trailer your boat into Mexico.
--Bass boats are always covered for trips into Mexico but it is always a good idea to call and talk with a Marine Insurance Specialist about your plans. Bass boats will still need liability coverage when entering Mexico.
--You will need separate coverage for the tow vehicle, boat and trailer. This will protect you in the event the boat is separated from the trailer or the trailer is separated from the tow vehicle.