Saturday, January 22, 2011

Marina's in La Paz

Two questions we often get from friends and other sailors who haven't yet been to Mexico are: Is it safe; and, do you feel comfortable leaving your boat in the marina unattended. Much has been written about safety in Mexico and it has been my experience that it is nearly impossible to change peoples perceptions once they've decided that Mexico is the land of the headless corpses.

It probably speaks poorly to my credibility when I tell them that I feel safer in Mexico than when traveling in the U.S. That's not to downplay the tragic and horrible narco-violence that is a reality here in Mexico. However, virtually all of the violence is confined within the drug cartels or directed towards the federal authorities, politicians and proactive journalist. The violence is not endemic, but rather confined to the border areas and a few of the larger cities. It also must be acknowledged this problem is fueled and funded directly by drug demand in the U.S.

Marinas in Mexico are generally nicer and much more inclusive than what is found in the U.S.. In Mexico, as elsewhere, each marina has its' own personality. Since we're currently staying in Marina de La Paz, I will use this as an example of what to expect.

While the port of La Paz has offered shelter to sailors since it was first
visited by Hernan Cortez in 1535, the first pier in town wasn't constructed until 1863. By 1983, a handful of cruisers banded with a boat-builder (Max Shroyer) to develop a small marina along the waterfront that catered to cruisers. In the years since, it has grown to what it has become today, Marina de La Paz with 150 slips, and has been joined by a number of other marinas in town (Abaroa's; Don Jose's; La Costa; Palmira; and Costa Baja). As an historical aside, for those of you suffering from thalassoharpaxophobia, some of the last pirates to prowl these Mexican waters were Sir Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish.

Marina de La Paz consists of a fenced and gated compound that
encompasses several satellite buildings and businesses, as well as parking for some of the marina tenants. There are the marina offices, which include administrative space and houses the high speed Internet server and WiFi connections. There is space for the reverse osmosis system (750gph) that supplies the marina's water needs and a large enclosed workshop space for the support staff and mechanics employed by the marina. Tenant amenities include spotless men's and women's bathroom and shower facilities (thanks in large part to Maria's efforts), a conference room above the bathrooms, the Club Cruceros Clubhouse (housing the charitable club, its' book and video exchange), and a small playground for children with slides, swings and climbing structures.

There is an on-site laundry facility; a yacht brokerage; a ships agent; a dive shop and a restaurant. Staff is on-site 24/7 to provide support and security for the tenants. The gates to the compound are closed and locked after 11 p.m. and reopened at the start of the next day. Security is always available to let you in if you're out after the marina is locked for the night.

The docks are floating and secured by pilings driven into the bay bottom. Slips range in size to accommodate 16-20 foot pangas, to 60' yachts. Side ties are available for multihulls and the several mega-yachts (150' plus) that spend time in the Sea of Cortez during the cruising season. We currently occupy one of the
40' slips. Several concrete barrier pilings have been constructed towards the entrance to the bay to help protect the floating docks and minimize potential damage caused by storm surge in the event of a hurricane.

The decking on the docks are composed of either ipe or treks. The newer additions seem to be going to treks. Each proper slip has 30 and
50 amp power, water supply (RO water) and a high speed Internet connection which are all inclusive with no additional charge. There is also diesel fuel available on one of the end docks. Pump out service is available at an extra charge and is handled by the marina staff with a portable tank and manual pump system. There is a permant staff of about 12 dockworkers, security and mechanics, along with an office staff of 4 in addition to the Shroyer family (Max, Mary and Neil).

Marina de La Paz offers a cruiser friendly marina to clean-up and provision. The staff is friendly and gracious as are the fellow cruisers who call Marina de La Paz 'home'. Using marinas is not for everyone who are out cruising. Staying at one, while inexpensive by southern California standards, still can put a big dent in your cruising kitty. It is another choice available that allows the cruiser to safely leave the boat to learn the language, to do more overland exploring and have an opportunity to get to know the people and culture of this beautiful country.


Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Thanks for the informative post! We agree that there's just as much danger in the cities of the US and we can't wait to visit Mexico by sailboat. Looks great!

Neophyte Cruiser said...

Thanks for your comments Ken and Cheryl. I should be doing more boat maintenance rather than blogging! I think you'll find Mexico as enchanting as we do. Pete n Kathie

Windy said...

Thanks for visiting our blog. We are so looking forward to spending time in the Sea of Cortez. Mike and I were there in the late 90s and that portion of the trip was truly unforgettable. Hope to run into you when we're in the area. Happy sailing. --Windy (and the Robertson family)

Yacht Jobs said...

It's been really great going through your blog post, very well informed and described. Great to read and know more about such kind of stuff.

Marina Cortez said...

Very useful information. Given that you are mentioning several marinas in La Paz, I'd like to tell you and your readers about MARINA CORTEZ, the newest marina in the area. We are walking steps from the Malecon and downtown. Please take a look at our web page at for more info. Thanks!