Ensenada Inspiration – Let’s Go!

A megayacht too large for Marina Coral anchors outside.

A megayacht too large for Marina Coral anchors outside.

"Inspiration" leaves Ensenada for

Alabama via the Panama Canal.

Richard Dreschler of Catalina 470

Fearless cancer survivor Richard Dreschler of "Last

Resort" provides true inspiration.

Two little boys at Marina Coral

Two little boys at Marina Coral keep us all

young at heart.

Hanging in the rigging at Hotel Coral y Marina

Hanging in the rigging.

Hanging in the rigging at Hotel Coral y Marina A whale breaches near Islas Todos Santos

A whale breaches as we approach.

Juvenile black crowned night heron at Hotel Coral and Marina

A juvenile black crowned

night heron.

Juvenile black crowned night heron at Hotel Coral & Marina Re-corre tu Puerto, Ensenada, Mexico

Numero Uno.

Re-corre tu Puerto, Ensenada, Mexico Re-corre tu Puerto, Ensenada, Mexico Re-corre tu Puerto running race, Ensenada, Mexico Re-corre tu Puerto 6k running race, Ensenada, Mexico

Lined up for the "Re-corre tu Puerto" 6K race.

Re-corre tu Puerto 6k running race, Ensenada, Mexico

This is a race for people of all

ages, and not just those on foot.

Re-corre tu Puerto 6k running race, Ensenada, Mexico Re-corre tu Puerto 6k running race, Ensenada, Mexico A wedding at scenic Hotel Coral & Marina.

A wedding at scenic Hotel Coral &


A wedding at scenic Marina Coral

You may kiss the bride...

Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX

Papas & Beer 5K race, Sol Beer gals and rock


Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX

A youth running group stretches before the race.

Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX

Warming up...

Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX


Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX

The Sol Beer gals play with the finish line tape...

Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX

...but the tape is intact when the winner arrives.

Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX

The raffle grand prize is a trip to New York.

Papas & Beer 5K running race, Ensenada, MX

Emeterio Nava and Mark swap stories about runners

and races in the 1980's.

Personalities & Running Races in Ensenada

July, 2010 - Although we ventured out of town for a wonderful

day on La Ruta del Vino, we found there was always more

than enough action in town to keep us very busy.  Marina

Coral is one of three major marinas in Ensenada, and boating

travelers heading both north and south stop here for fuel,

provisions, rest and a spell in the hot tub.  Many mornings

we'd be woken at oh-dark-thirty by the sound of an engine in

the water as a new boat arrived or as a boat we had just met

pulled out.

The marina can handle boats over 100' long, but some

travelers float about in such grand style that their yacht can neither negotiate the skinny entrance nor tie up at the docks

without hanging way over.  These guys have to anchor outside the marina entrance.  Whenever one showed up it was always

worth a kayak ride to go check it out.  Seeing a helicopter perched on deck, ready to take the owners ashore, was proof

enough that these people lived in a different economic stratosphere than any we'd ever know.

Even more fun was meeting all the folks returning from their adventures down south during

the springtime migration up the west coast.  As hurricane season approaches each year,

the cruisers in southern Mexico either stay close to harbors where they can find refuge

from sudden tempests or they come north to spend the summer sailing in southern

California.  All had fascinating tales of their adventures in the tropics, and on many

occasions we sat spellbound in their cockpits, our Mexican cruising guide opened wide and

pen in hand, as we listened to them describe the places they had been.

Once in a while a boat would take off in the opposite direction, heading south towards the

Panama Canal for adventures in the Caribbean.  Aptly named Inspiration, a motor yacht left

the marina one grey morning bound for Alabama via the Central American coast, Panama

Canal and Western Caribbean.  The final destination wasn't particularly exotic, but most

ports in between would surely offer up adventures of all kinds.

The travelers stopping in at Hotel Coral & Marina ranged from a young couple in their early

thirties fresh off an 8 month Mexican sabbatical escaping high paying jobs at Microsoft to a

nearly 80-year-old retired physician who had spent the last 17 years cruising Central

America.  One couple had purchased a big beautiful brand new catamaran right from the

factory in France and sailed it from France to Ensenada via the Caribbean, while another

couple set out on a tiny 1970's vintage thirty footer to see what they could find in the South

Pacific and New Zealand.  Meeting people like this on a daily basis was refreshing and eye opening.

But perhaps the most inspirational story of all was that of Richard

Dreschler aboard Last Resort, a Catalina 470.  Diagnosed in 2005 with

a particularly complicated form of throat cancer that was expected to

kill him in a few months, Richard battled the disease into remission and

in 2008 took off with his wife Sharon to go cruising.  Alaska was first on

their agenda, and a year later they went south to Mexico.  We met

them on their way back to California before they restarted their

journey, this time for Central America, through the Canal, the

Caribbean and on to the Mediterranean.  All this exotic travel, and yet

Richard is unable to eat.  He survives on a special medically

formulated liquid diet because his esophagus is only a pencil thickness

wide.  As he said to me casually, "My neck has been completely

reconstructed."  For anyone who is letting fear hold them from

pursuing their dreams, this man is an inspiration.

While pondering the meaning of life and dreams,

we got daily entertainment from a charming pair

of boys who lived aboard a boat in a slip nearby.

Aged five and seven, and growing up with a

degree of freedom that would make most kids

extremely jealous, we watched them cavorting

everywhere.  They rode their bikes up and down

the docks, catching air whenever possible,

terrifying all us wiser folks that they would fly off

into the water.  But they had the confidence of top

BMX racers and never missed.  When they

wanted to climb the rigging, their parents simply

strung them up in their sailing harnesses so they

could play safely.  Families with children are rare

in traveling lifestyles, and it was pure joy to watch these

little monkeys as they hung by their knees and chased

each other all over the docks.

Out in the bay many mini whale families

had migrated up from the south.  Mama

whales could be seen all around

babysitting their calves.  Unlike the

wintertime when the whales had been on

a mission to get from Point A to Point B,

we now found them lolling around, resting,

sleeping, and probably watching their

calves cavorting under water as we had

been watching those boys on the docks.

Another creature arrived at the marina

around this time too.  Late each afternoon

a flock of big, noisy birds would show up,

taking over the marina as if it were their own.  We didn't pay much attention at first, simply

tuning out their shrill, raucous cries.  But when we found evidence of their nightly fishing

expeditions all over the deck of our boat in the form of bird poop, we stood up and took notice.

These bombers were big and loud, and when they dropped their payload it sounded like

someone was spraying the boat with a hose.  But they were wonderfully funny characters too.

They were black crowned night herons, and once darkness fell their favorite fishing spots were

on the docklines that each boat had tied across its slip.  Marina Coral is only half-full at the

moment, so every boat enjoyed a double slip to itself.  Because the surge is significant, most

boats tied several docklines across the adjacent empty slip to the cleats on the far side.  As

evening fell, each heron would choose a dockline and then gingerly step out onto it like a tight

rope walker, testing the line with its toes a few times before venturing out.

Once out in the middle of the line, the bird would patiently ride

up and down as the line tightened and loosened below him,

rising and falling with the surge.  Scanning the water for fish

(and on many nights the water was literally boiling and popping

because there were so many small fish near the surface), the bird would time his catch with

the movement of the rope.  But sometimes he would line up his perfect catch, extend his neck

and beak towards the water ready to snatch the fish, only to have the line begin to tighten

below him and raise him up and out of reach of his prey.  Oh well, better luck next time.  We

laughed out loud watching these antics through the window.  However, despite the

complication of fishing from a rising and falling platform, the herons always got their fill by

night's end and deposited the digested remains on the deck of our boat and all over the

docks.  Personally, I thought the evening's comedy show was worth the mess in the morning.

A brief stop at a running store in town got us hooked on running

once again.  A 6K running race was coming up, sponsored by the Port of Ensenada, and

suddenly we found ourselves in training.  I did too much too soon on broken down shoes and

put myself out of commission with a bum knee almost immediately, but Mark trained diligently,

increasing his efforts slowly.  By race day his bib #1 looked pretty good on his chest.  Usually

reserved for seeded racers, he got the number by virtue of having been the first to sign up for

the race.

We didn't know what to expect, but Glenda, the race

organizer said free t-shirts would go to the first 600 runners.

Would that many people sign up in the remaining 3 weeks?

What a shock on race day to find the plaza around the

waterfront packed to overflowing with runners, walkers and


Music blared and people of all shapes and sizes stretched and

warmed up around us.  Amazingly, there were 900 entrants,

and from what I could see we were the only Gringos to show

up.  But running has a culture and a language all its own.  This

was a day for racers and a day for families, and it didn't matter

if you were on foot or on wheels, it was all about having a good


Unlike races in the US where there is a hefty entrance fee,

timing chips tied into your shoelaces, and special recognition for

winners of different age groups, this race was free and your

finishing time was a private matter between you and the race clock.  However, a huge raffle at the end made many folks

winners -- of gym memberships, running shoe discounts, and even an all expense paid vacation to Las Vegas.  What a fun

way to celebrate the running spirit.

Back at Hotel Coral we discovered that July is

wedding month.  During our runs and walks along

the waterfront into town we could see catering

trucks and wedding receptions being set up at villas

all along our route every weekend.  One Saturday

morning we counted nine different weddings under

construction for that afternoon.  Hotel Coral is a

picturesque spot for a wedding, and while sitting in

the hot tub with a wedding party on the day of their

rehearsal, I found out the hour of the wedding the

next day and snuck back with my camera.

Mark's race time in the Re-Corre tu Puerto race

wasn't quite up to the standard he sets for himself.

So he was thrilled to find out there was another

race in a few weeks sponsored by the popular bar

Papas & Beer ("Papas" are potatoes).

He trained carefully and hard,

and was definitely in high

spirits when race day

arrived.  Even bigger than

the previous running race,

this one attracted 1500

entrants, and again we

were just about the only

Gringos that I could see.

Running clubs gathered

here and there, and a

high school team did

group stretches nearby.

Mark took off to warm up while the sexy Sol Beer gals entertained the

rest of us on the stage.  A cheerleading group did acrobatics nearby.

The music was loud and the place was

humming as everyone gathered under the

Tecate beer sign for the start of the race.  Suddenly

the gun sounded and they were off.  Milling around

the now empty streets, we all waited with high

anticipation for racers to bring the life back to the

party.  The Sol Beer gals played with the finish line

tape and the race clock slowly ticked away.

Suddenly the winner appeared, led by a police

car with sirens wailing and lights flashing, and

the excitement returned.  Mark shaved a few

minutes off his time and was ecstatic that at 56

he hasn't lost it yet.  But checking the world

track and field records online a little later, he

discovered that in his age group the 5K world record is 15:37, faster, ahem, than his fastest pace in his

prime.  Those records hold a lot of hope, however, as there is a 100+ age group for several distances.

For the 400 meter (~1/4 mile), the 100-year-old world record holder cooked along at less than a 15

minute per mile pace.  Merely being alive at 100, never mind donning running shorts, pinning on a race

number and jogging around a track, is remarkable.

The Papas & Beer race is all about family fun, not record setting,

however.  The party went on for hours as sweaty runners downed water

and oranges and bananas.  Cheering spouses, grandparents and

children exchanged proud smiles.  As with the previous race, all the

prizes were awarded through a raffle, and the grand prize was an all

expense paid trip to New York.  Of course visiting the US requires

government paperwork, and these days the US is not making it easy for

Mexicans to vacation north of the border.  As a Mexican friend

explained to me, applying for the mandatory $200 US visa is not as

easy as it sounds.  The visa might or might not be granted by the US

government, and sadly, if your application is rejected you won't get a

refund.  This makes it a risky bit of government paperwork to purchase,

especially since the minimum wage in Mexico is around $5 per day.

The grand prize trip to NYC was won by four different raffle ticket

holders before the eventual winner -- a bona fide US travel visa holder -- was actually able to accept it.

Government policies pale next to personal friendships,

however, and Mark discovered he had a lot in common with

race organizer Emeterio Nava.  Both had raced in the same

era, and they knew a lot of the same runners.  Mark

mentioned Mexican legend Arturo Barrios whom he had long

admired for setting the open road 10K world record (among

several other world records) in 1989.  Emeterio grinned

broadly and said, "He's a good friend of mine!" and promptly

called him on his cell phone and handed the phone to Mark.

What do you say to an idol?

These were our final weeks in Ensenada.  Our emotions were

becoming bittersweet as we realized we could count the days until

our departure.  One last week at the Baja Naval boatyard would

complete our stay before we headed off into the sunrise for

anchorages unknown.

Find Ensenada on Mexico Maps.