We taste a life of luxury aboard a true Yacht.
The roads around Ensenada can be lethal for cyclists.
A frog marks our passage uphill.
The "free road" twists through
Cyclists race down the mountain.
There was no front pack, just little groups of
three and four riders.
I try my best Graham Watson
This ride caters to sleek racers...
...a man wearing a tutu...
...a masked man...
...a little kid gets a wild ride...
...an older kid does tricks...
The Newport-Ensenada Race arrives on a perfect sunny day.
It's OK is a pure racing machine.
The crew of It's OK congratulates each other on a job
Built for speed, It's OK looks fast even tied up at the dock.
Taxi Dancer is a thoroughbred from another era.
100% carbon fiber, this boat dreams only of winning.
The crew of It's OK takes top spot.
Out on the bay we wait for the boats to arrive.
Elixir en-route to a great finish.
A steady stream of boats arrived in the marina.
We find ourselves caught up in the cockpit parties on the docks.
Behind the scenes on a go-fast boat.
The Mexican SAR swimmers take the
mayhem at the docks in stride.
Bandita and Cha Cha are in a party mood too.
What a glorious day for a race.
Rosarito-Ensenada & Newport-Ensenada Races
Mid-Late April, 2010 - Adding a new twist to our Ensenada
lives, a boat arrived flying the Australian flag. Intrigued, we
made a bee-line for it. The owners and their full-time captain
warmly welcomed us aboard, and we were soon relaxing in a
sumptuous main salon whose "wow" factor easily surpassed
any land-based living room I have seen. We learned that they
had just purchased the boat in San Diego (complete with
broker horror stories like those of most California boat buyers
we've met. How shocking that brokers making hundreds of
thousands of dollars on a deal will cheat their customers).
They were headed to points south in Mexico before visiting the South
Pacific en route to Australia. Gazing down on the marina through
almost 360 degrees of enormous windows (a very different perspective
than on Groovy), I realized that in a small marina everyone loves to
show off their boat, no matter the size, and friendships blossom in
moments. The vast disparity of income levels that too often separates
could-be friends on land isn't a barrier when you are camping -- in
whatever style -- on the water.
One of the big events in
Ensenada every year is
bicycle ride, and we had
looked forward to it since we got here. Boasting thousands of participants, the
ride wanders for 50+ miles up and down the hilly free (non-toll) road on the coast.
Rather than fight the logistics of this one-way ride, we opted to ride the last few
miles backwards and join the cyclists as they passed through.
Our goal was to stop and take photos of the
leaders as they began the final descent into
town. The climb up this last hill was
exhilarating as we rose higher and higher
above the twisting road. I staked out a spot at
the top of the hill while Mark rode a little
further to get some more exercise. When the
leaders filtered past, one at a time, lead out by
police cars, I clicked a few shots, waiting for
the main pack to arrive.
But the typical race pack never arrived. I did
my best to emulate the great cycling
photographer Graham Watson, catching the
spurts of three and four riders as they flew by
the wildflowers at 40 mph.
After a while I wondered when Mark would return down the
hill, but I kept snapping photos, figuring he'd
show up sooner or later.
Sleek racers were enjoying the steep climbs and
descents of this ride at race pace, while many
recreational riders dressed up in crazy outfits.
There was a guy in a ballet tutu, Wonder
Woman, some fellows in full face masks, Darth
Vadar, families, kids in trailers and a few bikers
doing tricks. In no time I realized I had been
taking photos for well over an hour.
Not sure what had happened to Mark, I grabbed my
bike to start looking for him and found the rear tire was
flat. Rats. Heaving a sigh, I took out my spare -- and
found it had a huge tear near the valve stem. What the
heck?! I wanted to patch my flat, but couldn't find the
pin-hole leak, so I started walking the 12 miles towards
Yikes, would this turn into a four hour walk?
Lots of people asked if I needed help, but I
knew (with evaporating certainty) that Mark
would be along any minute. Finally a trio of
Mexican racers who were deep into a flat
fixing session waved me over. We found
and patched the hole just as Sponge Bob
Square Pants rode by (where was my
camera?), and we were on our way, cruising
down the hills to the bottom all together.
I finally arrived back at the boat to find Mark
had spent the last two hours sitting on the wall in front of the hotel scanning the
thousands of cyclists going by, looking for me. Arrghh. He had cruised down the hill
hours ago, flying along with the first three riders, glancing at the side of the road now
and then to see if I was there. Not seeing me, he kept on a-goin' as fast as the hills
would let him. Why didn't I recognize him? Well, it's hard to distinguish much of
anything through a camera's viewfinder, especially when the targets are going 40 mph.
Why didn't he see me? Hmmm... when descending a hill with twisty roads as fast as
possible, you gotta keep your eyes on the road. We were both bummed and more
than a little irate, because we had missed the most important part of the event which
was downtown at the Coronado Hotel where several thousand arriving cyclists mingled,
munched, swapped stories in English and Spanish while bands filled the air with music.
Oh well. The following week we made a point to stick close
together for the arrival of the Newport to Ensenada sailboat
race. Once the largest international sailboat race in the world
with some 600+ boats, this year's roster was just over 200,
due to a disgruntled former racer sponsoring a rival race from
Newport to San Diego on the same weekend. But the
festivities and energy made up for any shortfalls in enrollment.
Leaving Newport Beach, California at noon on Friday, the first boat
crossed the finish line outside our marina entrance at 2:00 a.m.
Saturday morning. By the time we got out of bed a few hours later, two
boats were tied up at our docks, each a phenomenal racing machine.
(Other boats had turned around at the finish to start the long trip home.)
The crew on the custom 50' boat It's OK was still on board when we wandered
down. They happily sipped their first orange juices of the morning, diluted with
something much stronger, in celebration. They invited us aboard, and our eyes
popped at the sight of a carbon fiber ladder going into the cabin, a carbon fiber
toilet and a no-nonsense command center at the navigation station. There was a
galley, but the interior of the boat was essentially a mixture of sailbags and sleeping
bags, with the sailbags filling the main cabin while the sleeping bags were stuffed
around the fringes. No question what the priorities were on this boat.
At the next dock we got a look at Taxi Dancer, another marvel of
racing machinery. This boat was built in the 1980's and is another
carbon fiber racing thoroughbred. As we walked back, we could
hear and see the crew from It's OK in their corner suite on the top
balcony of the hotel. Their sunrise festivities were much deserved,
after a full night of racing.
Although the winds had been light, they had hit speeds of 12.5
knots at times. But their boat is capable of much more. On an
earlier run near Cabo San Lucas they had seen speeds of 24
knots. This is just a little shy of the folks on Taxi Dancer who
reported speeds of 26 knots on their run from Santa Cruz to
Newport Beach before the race began.
We went out on Elizabeth Too, our new friends' boat, and drifted in
circles at 1 to 2 knots while a morning calm prevailed. Eventually
some boats appeared on the horizon and we wandered among
them, engaging in a slow motion dance as they raced past us at the
pace of a great-grandpa using a walker.
Finally the wind
rose a little and
came out, and
we had the color
we had been
Back at the marina there was
pure mayhem as 50 boats
began a steady flow through the
skinny entrance into their
assigned slips. Exhausted but exhilarated,
most boats and crew were highly
challenged by the narrow fairways and
strong crosswinds and current in the
marina. Dockhands and resident marina
dwellers scampered up and down the docks
for hours, taking docklines and fending off.
And then the party started.
Blessed with a fantastic sunny
day, every cockpit was brimming
with people, drinks and snacks, and
everyone hopped freely from cockpit to
cockpit, meeting new folks, checking out
each other's boats and comparing notes
on the overnight race. Because of the
oddities of sailboat racing and the
handicaps assigned to each boat
according to its make, model and
equipment, no one knew exactly how they had placed. However, the crew on Elixir
could barely contain their excitement when a rival they have raced against many
times didn't appear until three hours later. The disappointment in the rival captain's
voice was palpable when he finally showed up and found out from Elixir's crew that
he had arrived three hours after they did.
Most of the boats were in by late afternoon. With flags flying in
the rigging and most slips full, the marina began to take on the
look of a boat show. There was a feeling of satisfaction among
the sailors that the race was finished, even if all had not gone
according to plan, and congratulations were shared all around.
Below decks on the boats told the real story of the hard work
and fast action of engaging in a race for 24 hours.
Mexican SAR (search
and rescue) swimmers who train in the marina waters every weekend carried on
with their drills, even as the sailboats continued arriving. Meanwhile, up at the
hotel, a beautiful outdoor wedding was underway. The rich voice of the operatic
tenor who entertained the wedding guests by the pool added an air of elegance to
the wild, party atmosphere down on the the docks.
Even our neighbor's dogs Bandita
and Cha Cha got into the swing,
going from boat to boat in hopes of
scraps from the cockpit tables.
Next morning the fog rolled in and the
revelers slept in. The mood was
subdued as the crews awoke to the task
of preparing their boats for the return
trip. Crews carefully laid out their
space-age, hand-crafted sails, folded
them neatly and tweaked and tested the
various equipment that had acted up
during the race. One by one the boats began to slip away. Each faced an initial run to
San Diego to clear US Customs followed by another leg to their home port. Upwind and
into the swells the whole way, most planned to motor home.
We tidied up Groovy too, having entertained more folks in our cockpit in two days than
we had entertained in any dwelling in years. All the liveaboards were sad to see the
boats go, but there was a contentment, too, in returning to our regular routines in
Find Ensenada on Mexico Maps.