It’s April, Time to Plan for the Ensenada Race

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April is a special month for me as a newspaper columnist, because on April 16, 2001, I began my weekly boating column in the Daily Pilot. At that time over a decade ago, I was hosting the Boathouse TV Show on FOX Sports Net’s Sunshine Network, and delivering yachts from as far south as Ensenada along the coast to as far north as Canada and to Hawaii.

Some of my favorite deliveries still are to the San Francisco Bay area marinas, but you have to plan your voyage for when Point Conception is settled down, especially for northbound traffic. I still enjoy cruising the Pacific Northwest from Seattle into Canadian waters, and bringing boats out of Lake Union through the lock is a unique experience.

Well, another international cruise is rapidly approaching for boaters who will be sailing 125 nautical miles from the Balboa Pier to Ensenada, Mexico. The Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race has a couple of changes for sailors to keep in mind as a few years ago the start line was relocated to off the Balboa Pier and now the finish line is visible from the Hotel Coral. This year’s festivities will be held at the Hotel Coral and Marina that is located just north of the town.

Bajarama Tours will be providing bus service to Hotel Coral, as well as the usual return from Ensenada, and the cost is only $50 for one way, and $70 for a round-trip ticket. The bus will be picking up and dropping off riders from The Newport Dunes, Dana Point, and San Diego Old Town Park & Ride. You have to make reservations, and the schedule is posted on NOSA’s website.

Locally, a kick-off party is scheduled at the Balboa Fun Zone on Sunday, April 22, from noon to 4 p.m. with entertainment from Mark Wood and his Parrot Head Band, classic cars, kids’ boat building, and race boats on display. You can tour the ExplorOcean Nautical Museum, ride the ferris wheel for a dollar less, jump on Fun Zone Boat Co. tour boat, plus other merchant specials for the afternoon.

Then, on race weekend, you will not want to miss the huge party at Hotel Coral in Ensenada on Saturday night, April 28, at 3:30 p.m. for the Welcome Event and later at 5:30 p.m. for the concert that will be featuring Abbey Road Tribute from Los Angeles with the Ensenada Classical Orchestra.

Additionally, Lexus will award the skipper with best corrected time a two-year lease of a 2013 Lexus GS 350. CRUZ classes are not eligible, and boats racing in classes within classes (i.e. double-handed, or all female crews) are eligible in their primary class only.

Jerry Shandera with NOSA emailed, “We currently have more entries in the 2012 race than in 2011 and are on pace to have more than 225 entries this year, a 30% increase. Cruising classes will start at 11 a.m. with all other classes starting at noon on 4/27, in an attempt to get the racers more time racing and less time sitting. Visit to see more details about all these race-related things that would probably help you write a couple of articles between now and race day!”

You can find out more information and details on the race and events at or call 949-644-1023. You will need a passport to re-enter the United States from Mexico whether you are taking the bus, driving, or returning by boat.

Tip of the week is for those who will read my column online prior to Friday’s printed edition. I will be speaking at the American Legion Yacht Club on Thursday, April 5 at 1800 hours. I will be chatting about what’s happening in Newport Harbor, the state level, and any new regulations proposed by the Feds such as  Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act.

The yacht club is at the American Legion Post 291, bayside at 215 East 15th Street on the Balboa Peninsula, and their website is

As a reminder, it is time to start planning the decorations for your boat for this year’s Old Glory Boat Parade hosted by the American Legion Yacht Club, and I will have more details as July 4 moves in closer on my radar.

And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific. Join Chandler Bell and me as we talk about  all things boating.  You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at or

Until next week, Safe Voyages!

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