News & DepartmentsEl Reporte

Spring News Briefs for Mexico Boaters

Baja Ha Ha Update

Yes, Richard Spindler (a.k.a. the Grand Poohbah) has relented and now promises to organize and lead one final Baja Ha Ha group cruise down Baja this fall. This will be the 30th rendition of this hugely popular sailboat voyage from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with R & R stops at Turtle Bay and Santa Maria Bay.

Sign ups open May 9, then close September 4. During September participating boaters can enjoy parties and seminars in Sausalito. In San Diego, Downwind Marine hosts their annual Cruisers Welcome Party and Vendors Fair, and West Marine hosts the Kickoff Costume Party.

November 4 the Baja Ha Ha fleet departs San Diego in a choreographed parade. November 7 – 9 they visit Turtle Bay, play baseball and party on the beach. By the 11th the fleet arrives in Santa Maria Bay, departs south on the 13th. Reaching Cabo San Lucas, they will dance, kiss and award prizes until the 16th. This final year, an optional cruise has been added, around the corner and up to La Paz by November 24. For more information, visit


Islas Marias Update and Request

Since the Islas Marias became Mexico’s newest ANP (Protected Natural Area) last year, a limited number of tourists with permits have been allowed weekend visits to the new Visitor Center at Puerto Balleto on Isla Maria Madre. This former prison village (1905 to 2019) still has a hospital and airport, and it now offers basic cabins, a cafeteria, museum and church, plus naturalist-guided hiking and biking trails to scenic overlooks. Most of this pristine 4-island chain remains devoid of human contact – like a Jurassic Park.

But to date, visitors can only arrive at the Islas Marias aboard a special weekend ferry operated by the Mexican Navy that docks at Puerto Balleto.

Otherwise, this Protected Natural Area is not open to visitors, including those who could arrive by private boat.

Here’s my thought. Puerto Balleto’s location (10 n.m. off the 300 n.m. rhumb line between Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta) makes it a natural emergency refuge for the many cruising yachts making that 300 n.m. open-ocean passage. (See graphics.) Puerto Balleto has a Navy base, pier, anchorage, hospital and airport. So, I plan to ask the appropriate Mexican governmental agencies to consider setting perhaps three emergency moorings in Puerto Balleto that could be available for recreational boat emergencies – such as extremely dangerous weather or sea conditions, or serious medical or mechanical problems.

If emergency moorings are possible, then perhaps they will also consider initially setting six temporary moorings for tourism purposes.

Here’s my request. Please email me “Yes” if you have ever crossed between Baja and Puerto Vallarta (or might someday) and would have felt safer knowing that an emergency refuge was available at Puerto Balleto. Also, would you visit Puerto Balleto if a tourist mooring were available? If yes, what size mooring would you need for your boat’s displacement and length overall in a sheltered bay for two or three nights.

Armed with your emails, I will request consideration of emergency and tourist moorings when I visit the Marias April 6 (to view the total solar eclipse). Please let me hear from you ASAP; your input could help Mexico improve the safety of boaters cruising Mexico. Thanks.


Turtle Bay Fuel Update

The historic fuel pier at Turtle Bay is still closed, and no fuel panga is working here as of March 10. But boaters needing jerry-jug quantities of diesel and gasoline can usually buy it at the village’s Pemex station about three quarters of a mile inland from the old pier, a slow hike on mostly dirt streets. Unfortunately, many local taxistas (taxi drivers) will not transport fuel jugs unless they’re empty, due to potential spill or fire hazards.

The good news: Rogelio Arce is a local Cruisers’ Helper who boaters can contact for assistance in procuring diesel and gasoline, parts, provisions, etc.

In particular, Rogelio can send his panga and driver out to the anchored boat, pick up the boater and their empty 15-gallon jerry jugs, transport them to shore. There Rogelio waits with his pickup truck to drive them out to the Pemex station and back to the beach, where his panguero transports the boater and the full fuel jugs back out to the anchored boat. Negotiate your own deal with Rogelio (pronounced “row-HAY-lee-oh”), but he asks that boaters contact him using WhatsApp to avoid cell phone charges. Rogelio Arce: +52-55-5944-5501.

Alternately, Pemex gasoline is usually available at the village of Bahia Asuncion, 53 n.m. down the coast. For help getting gasoline by jerry jugs, contact Shari or Serena Bondy at +52-615-155-7197, or visit As former cruisers, they can guide visiting boaters to whatever help they need in Bahia Asuncion (pronounced “ah-soon-see-OWN”). They operate surfing, diving, fishing and whale watching tours and own the La Bufadora Inn and restaurant on the town’s south point.

Previously reported, Enrique Soto who for years ran Turtle Bay’s fuel pier and fuel pangas was reported missing by the state government. But recently the state has further declared him deceased, according to local sources.


Update on TIPs

It’s time to check your 10-year TIP (Temporary Import Permit). On the Caribbean side of Mexico, teams of federal inspectors from the tax agency SAT (like our IRS) have provisionally seized 400 recreational boats berthed in 22 marinas in Puerto Yucalpeten, Yucatan.

According to The Yucatan Times, inspectors who were looking for boats that were either stolen or had expired TIPs (See example document.) soon found hundreds of paperwork violations, so those 400 boats were prohibited from leaving their berths, and owners had 10 days to appear in Merida with original paperwork, prepared to pay fines, or their boats could be confiscated they warned.

SAT inspectors were also looking to confirm that the TIP was in the name of the current boat owner, according to The Yucatan Times. After so many boats were detained, the SAT inspections were halted temporarily, to give boat owners time to correct the violations, but inspections were expected to resume after Easter.

SAT inspections did not say when they would begin on the Pacific coast.

Santa Rosalia Fuel Update

The fuel dock inside Santa Rosalia harbor has been out of service, temporarily. Until it is back in service, the nearest diesel dock lies 77 n.m. across the Sea of Cortez at Marina San Carlos in Sonora. Or on Baja the nearest diesel dock is 117 n.m. south at Marina Puerto Escondido, BCS.

When daily operations of all the unsold Fonatur marinas were taken over by the Mexican Navy, a fuel permit at first was not transferred properly, according to the current marina management. So fuel was not delivered to Santa Rosalia’s fuel dock. However, that permit is now in process, the manager said, so hopefully diesel will be available by the time you get there. Call ahead.

Fonatur Marinas Update

Last July, by order of President Lopez Obrador, seven of Mexico’s original 22 Fonatur marinas that were not yet sold to new marina operators had their management or daily operations turned over to the Mexican Navy, and any undeveloped Fonatur lands adjacent to those marinas that had not been sold were to become ANP or Protected Nature Areas.

Fonatur marinas that were affected by these changes include those at Puerto Penasco, Guaymas, Mazatlan and San Blas on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez, also San Felipe, Santa Rosalia and La Paz on the Baja side. Non Fonatur marinas are not affected.

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