Cruisers have options when it comes time for a haulout in Mexico.
“Uh oh we hit something heavy. There’s a serious vibration!”
Quickly you shift the engine into neutral, grab a snorkel and slide overboard to see how bad it is. Dang. A gnarly “snag” is jammed between two prop blades, the skeg and the hull. Plus, polypro line is wrapped around everything. Fifteen minutes later you’ve cleared it, so you ease the engine back into gear. Nope. The hull shudders with loud vibrations. In the engine room too much water is coming in the shaft coupling.
“Any vessel, this is Sea Witch looking for information about the nearest haulout yard. Sea Witch is standing by on VHF 68.”
First-time southbound boaters are often surprised to learn that 23 haulout yards are available along Mexico’s Pacific coast and around the Sea of Cortez. That’s not counting a couple of hundred launch ramp services and a few emergency haulouts from the Mexican navy.
For example, one first-timer’s 56-foot trawler started taking on water at an alarming rate. He was 30 nautical miles south of the Coronado Islands on the first leg of a 15-day Mexican cruise with the CUBAR group. Within minutes of discovering rising water in his bilge, he flipped through his nautical guidebook and used his cellphone to contact Baja Naval boatyard in Ensenada. The yard sent out a fast panga that guided him into the harbor and immediately into the Travelift slings. Within hours, the failed through-hull fitting was replaced. The first-timer continued his 1,000-mile voyage.
Ensenada is a nautical hub, so it has two very active boatyards. But the rest of Baja’s Pacific coast, unfortunately, has a paucity of places to get hauled out in an emergency. So it’s wise to keep in mind exactly where they’re located, in case you need a dry dock pronto.
Just like in the U.S., not all boatyards are created equal. Some use a marine railway, a synchro-lift or 60-, 100- and 150-ton Travelifts, while others have an 85-ton crane for hoisting out engines. Some specialize in TIG or GTAW welding; others have prop-straightening capabilities in different diameters.
Keep this list handy. In coastal order, I’ve listed where the boatyards are and how to contact them. Thanks to increased cellular and satellite phone services and HF email on board, most boaters find it fairly easy to check out the websites or call ahead to see what the nearest yard has.
Note that between Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, the distance between haulout opportunities is about 690 nautical miles. And in the upper Sea of Cortez, it’s about 260 nautical miles between the full-service yards at San Carlos and Puerto Penasco.
The Yard List
La Paz, BCS
• Bercovich Boat Yard, bercovichboatworks.com (closest to sea)
• Atalanta Dry Marina & Storage, (612) 121-5186
• Big Abaroa’s Boat Yard, abaroamarineyard.com (downtown)
• Rosas Boat Yard at Marina Fonatur La Paz, (612) 147-1046 (farthest from sea)
Puerto Escondido, BCS
• Marina Puerto Escondido Boat Yard, marinapuertoescondido.com, (613) 131-8097
Puerto Penasco, SON
• Cabrales Boat Yard, cabralesboatyard.com, (638) 112-0204
San Carlos, SON
• Marina Seca San Carlos, marinasecasancarlos.com, (622) 225-0610
• Marina Palmira Topolobampo Boat Yard, marinapalmira.com.mx, (668) 862-1544
San Blas, NAY
• Astillero Marina Fonatur San Blas, (323) 285-0033
La Cruz, NAY
• La Cruz Shipyard at Marina Riviera Nayarit, lacruzshipyard.com, (329) 295-5504
Puerto Vallarta, JAL
• Opequimar Marine Center (municipal harbor), opequimar.com, (322) 221-1800
• Marina Ixtapa Boat Yard, astilleroixtapa.com, (755) 553-2099
• Acapulco Yacht Club, clubdeyatesdeacapulco.com, (744) 434-1999
• Acapulco Navy Base Icacos (emergency haulout), (744) 481-3964
Puerto Chiapas, CHI
• Marina Chiapas Astillero, email dockmaster firstname.lastname@example.org, (962) 620-4038