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California to deep south of Mexico

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Mike Kas, May 24, 2021.

  1. Mike Kas

    Mike Kas New Member

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    Has anyone made this trip from California to the deep southern points of Mexico close to the Guatemalan border. Where did you go and with what size vessel? How was the trip, rough seas? would you do it again? What month did you go? I would like to plan/make the trip next year for the first time and it would be nice to maybe have another vessel along for the trip if interested.
  2. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    130' vessel. Seas were fine. Left San Diego on Jan 11. Arrived Ensenada on that day. Left Ensenada on the 14th, arrived Cabo San Lucas on the 16th. Went from Cabo to La Paz on the 20th. Left La Paz on the 22nd, arriving in Mazatlan on the 23rd. Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta on the 26th. Left Puerto Vallarta on the 29th and arrived in Acapulco on the 30th. On Feb 1 went from Acapulco to Huatulco. On February 2 to Guatemala. 2302 nm, 139 engine hours. Average speed 16.6 knots. 18-20 knots day time and 12 or so typically at night.
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  3. Mike Kas

    Mike Kas New Member

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    Thank you! Quite a vessel at 130'. Thoughts on a 68' vessel having any problems in those seas. I have only ventured up and down the California coast on the occasional overnight trip. I have since invested in a second home on the shores of Southern Mexico and I would like to make annual trips by water to my home hopefully with minimal drama.
    Last edited: May 25, 2021
  4. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    You don't say what 68' vessel. Many boats in that range travel those areas. A matter of boat, captain and weather windows.
  5. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    I've done it many times, from a 40' Searay San Diego to Acapulco, to several yachts to 82' from San Diego through Panama. I've stopped at just about every port and anchorage along the way in Mexico except Lazaro Cardenas but including Salina Cruz. There is no better way to do it than using a good printed cruising guide. especially THIS one.
    Nothing beats boning up on a port before entering the harbor from the guide. It's like having another crewperson with local knowledge aboard.
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  6. Mike Kas

    Mike Kas New Member

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    Sorry....Azimut 68S
  7. Mike Kas

    Mike Kas New Member

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    That's great!!! When is your next venture and to where? How many typically with you during these trips.
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    The Azimut should do well on the trip, except......range. From what I know, that model doesn't carry a lot of fuel. What is your range? You may have to resort to some unique methods to fill such as panga delivery or you may need to carry some drums.
  9. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    Nothing on the immediate horizon,,
    I do it with a minimum of three competent helmsmen, with my own crew and also with a number of owners with their parties .
    I've done a 68' Azimut delivery from Oakland to Ixtapa, actually. All went well and the boat continues to live in Mexico.
  10. chrisjbell

    chrisjbell New Member

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    What is the range of an Azimut 68?
  11. German Yachting

    German Yachting Senior Member

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    I’m guessing it’s in the 200nm range at cruise.
  12. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I am as well, although the OP has avoided that question. That's going to be his real challenge.
  13. chrisjbell

    chrisjbell New Member

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    I looked at Azimuts in that size range and I think it's a bit better than that, although not a whole lot. One of the reasons I decided not to go with them - more "sport" than "cruise".... super nice boats tho

    I'm more curious about what kind of range a boat *needs* to have to do those trips. I know that some of the longer recommended runs are several hundred miles (and as much as 400) but is it really that far between available fuel sometimes?
  14. German Yachting

    German Yachting Senior Member

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    Yea you are looking 700NM from Ensenada to Cabo with no marinas in between. There’s one place to stop for fuel but you need to jerry can it and not really feasible with a boat your size.

    What I could find quickly searching was 53 GPH likely at a cruise of 23 knots giving you about 278NM at 90% and not running anything else. I’d think your only bet would be to dial her back quite a bit to displacement speeds as well as being some 50 gallon drums or bladders on board for that stretch. I’m not sure of the marina situation much past that but I think that might be the worst part.
  15. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Hoping d_meister shares more on his delivery experience in that regard. We never faced the challenge so didn't explore all possibilities. However, the only real long run we had was Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas in which we covered 726 nm, but we likely ran further off shore than the shortest route. Also, there is a possible stop in between and that is Turtle Bay. It's a rickety dock and many use Pangas instead to run it to them in 50 gallon drums. Also notorious for needing to make sure the pumps were cleared and you're not paying again for the last person. You can imagine fueling 600-800 gallons is a big job but can be done there. It's a long time stable. Turtle Bay is well known as a site for refuge, provisioning and resting while fueling.

    Still that brings you to two runs over 300 nm. Guessing from memory about 330-350 nm but one needs to look it up.

    Based on our 63' Riva, I'm guessing his range is no more than 250 nm or a maximum of 270 nm at anything more than 12 knots or so. At 1000 RPM we run 11 knots and range becomes 337 nm. Could extend by running even slower. Just a tough way to cruise that area. He has about 6-7% more fuel than our 63 but figure he uses a little more fuel than we do except at very slow speeds.

    So, I figure he can likely slow close to hull speed and make the distances, carrying some drums as insurance.

    We did run other long runs but there are fuel stops we could have made. The only real challenge I'm aware of is from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas by way of Turtle Bay.
  16. MYTraveler

    MYTraveler Member

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    I have never been south of Acapulco, but to get that far south from San Diego you need about 450 nm range, and with that you will have to fuel up in Mag or Turtle Bays, where fuel shortages occur at least occasionally, and you may have to pay well above market price, and you may get dirty fuel. Much better to have the range to Cabo, maybe 800 nm.
  17. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    The comments about distances to fuel are pretty close, and the stops for diesel are Ensenada, Turtle Bay, Magdalena Bay and finally Cabo. I've bought fuel from commercial vessels in the Cedros Island harbor, and from panga deliveries in Magdalena Bay village, but they just can't be relied upon as an option. Older Boaters distance is just right for a range target. I've shaved the distances down to 726 nm from San Diego to Cabo, and Turtle Bay is a bit over half way. If you use Marinetraffic, other sites, or your own plotter, you can right-click and draw routes or multi-step distance lines to get an idea, but it's essentially hull speed for bigger boats to make the distances, and often a stop in Turtle Bay. The last time I was in there, Maria made a big deal out of showing the zero-set of the meter, and I think it's possible now to pay by credit card, with them taking you to the bank, maybe. That would mean weekdays and banking hours, so cash would be a good idea. Many of the stories about the fuel meter accuracy are anecdotal from fuel buyers being sure that their estimated capacity needs are more accurate than the meters, but in the final analysis. it's their business, take it or leave it. I would be surprised if the meter has ever been inspected by weights & measures, and I would be equally surprised that they would have tampered with it. I've interacted with the nice folks at Turtle Bay many times, and they know that their business depends a lot on customer good will. Bear in mind that the fuel is trucked in on a dirt road from over 100 miles away. There have been delays because the road has washed out, and also because THE truck that brings fuel had a broken axle. Things change, and especially there. It's little wonder that fuel costs more there. There was a fuel lightering operation, Anabel, once upon a time, but there was much acrimony about competition and lots of rumors, but it's gone. Maria's brother, Ernesto, tries to sell fuel in the anchorage, but it's a real circus and takes forever, two barrels transferred at a time. It's best to just drop the hook and back up to the picturesque pier.
    Magdalena Bay is at least an all day adventure to fuel at, since it's so far up inside the bay to San Carlos. It's a commercial grain-loading port with a fleet of fishing boats in there. If you somehow get to the concrete dock to fuel, there can always be the chance that a less-than-immaculate vessel will just tie up to you. Chances are you'll tie up to one of them.
    It's best and less risky than betting on the vagaries of fuel availability to stretch the range of the vessel with barrels or bladders.
    Definitely think about shipping the boat home from La Paz to Ensenada if range is tight. It takes more fuel to get back.
    The Baja Peninsula is basically desert by the sea, and much of the trip is out of view of land, so don't expect too much. Personally, I love the trip!
  18. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    As MYTraveler says, you can get dirty fuel, but that can happen anywhere I've never had it happen in Turtle Bay, but others have in the past. I did get really bad fuel at Opequimar in Puerto Vallarta, once. That's the biggest, and only, fuel seller in Puerto Vallarta, and does high volume. You can't get near the fuel dock there in the late afternoon because the tourist boats are all refueling. My rule of thumb is that if you can see a fuel delivery happening; come back another day. I've literally pulled up to a fuel dock and tied up, saw the fuel truck, and left.
    Always carry more fuel filters than you think you'll need in a worst case scenario.
  19. German Yachting

    German Yachting Senior Member

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    I know in the early 2000’s they planned on having marinas along the coast but that obviously fell apart. It would be really great for California cruisers if they were to add in one or two between Ensenada and Cabo. Just no real cities to piggy back on.
  20. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Great info, Meister. I'd add one thing. There are simple, inexpensive kits to check fuel before filling. Everyone should have one. The contaminant you're most looking for is water. In about 120,000 nm of cruising and all the fueling tied to that, we've twice found problems. One was in the US and one outside. One had fuel which had set and in an area of flooding and the other was a delivery on that day.