So, we ended up staying in San Diego for a few extra days to take advantage of our reciprocal moorage at the San Diego Yacht Club. The SDYC took the cake as the BEST yacht club from San Francisco to San Diego. They had a great lap pool, hot tub, free ice, laundry, fitness center, and beautiful grounds and facilities. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. We received 3 complimentary days and they let us stay in our slip on the fourth day till 1 am at no charge.
We took off for Ensenada on Monday at 1 am and pulled into Baja Naval Marina around 3:30 pm. US Customs & Immigration stopped to have a chat with us as we left SD Bay, other than that it was an uneventful trip. The girls were up at 3 am practicing their Spanish from their bunks. They were in a state of giddiness, excited to finally be heading to Mexico.
We checked into the country the next day. The offices close at 4:30 on weekdays. If you are not there well before that they'll charge overtime fees to check in after hours. Every agency is in one office which makes it convenient. We obtained tourist visas ($24/person) which allow us to stay in Mexico for 6 months. Then we checked in with the Port Captain ($18). After that we secured our temporary import permit (TIP) for the boat ($60).
Everyone at Baja Naval Marina has been extremely nice and helpful. The haul out yard is the nicest I've ever seen. It is apparently THE place to get a bottom job with very reasonable prices. The yard and marina are only accessible by key card. There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance. There is also easy access to public transportation to Costco & Walmart for 50 cents/person.
Today we watched the Baja 1000 event. I had never heard of it, but apparently it's a pretty big deal. The Baja 1000 is a race in which several different classes of off-road vehicles race through the desert from Ensenada to La Paz. Here is how I would describe the event after watching: grown men who have spent way too much money on off-road vehicles (toys) line up on the street and take off one by one while spectators line the streets praying that they don't get run over. Let's just say that there would be a few more safety precautions had this been happening in the States.
So far we're having a great time exploring, attempting to speak Spanish, and hanging out with cruiser friends. The plan is to take off Sunday for Turtle Bay. We have disconnected our cell phones so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.