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Isla Mujeres

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Fabled landfall for yachts, Isla Mujeres (Women Island) welcomes you to the Yucatan Channel.

Isla Mujeres lies 104 n.m. WSW of Cabo San Antonio, Cuba; about 330 n.m. SW of Key West, Florida; 490 n.m. SE of the Mississippi River mouth; or 650 n.m. ESE of the Rio Grande at the US border. This low island runs 4.2 n.m. long (NW to SE) and lies about 3 n.m off the mainland state of Quintana Roo, 6 n.m. NE of Cancun. Bahia Mujeres is the 5-mile wide somewhat sheltered pass W of Isla Mujeres.

Isla Mujeres (pronounced “moo-HAIR-ayz”) is less touristy than Cancun, but it’s hoping to catch up. The harbor has ferry docks, Navy piers, at least 3 marinas, an anchorage and many docks. Laguna Makax in the middle of the island is a popular hurricane hole, reached by a narrow maintained channel (usually 8’ depth, 10’ after dredging), and this mangrove lined lagoon contains at least 3 marinas and spots to anchor.

Domestic port clearance can be done on Isla Mujeres, but international arrival requires a ride across Bahia Mujeres on one of the ferries to Puerto Juarez to handle the international part of your paperwork.

Approaches: The S end of Contoy Reef (mostly breaking) is 3.5 n.m. N of El Yunque (Anvil Rock Light), which stands about 400 yards off the N tip of Isla Mujeres. Between these lies a submerged reef (about 9’ to 14’ depth) that deep-draft craft must avoid.

Isla Mujeres is so low that when arriving from the NE, you first see large hotels on the N tip. The windward E side of the island is steep coral cliffs with no inlets. Garrafón and Manchones are reefs extending .75 n.m. S from the island’s SW end. The leeward W side is more hospitable, and the anchorage and lagoon entrance is found on the NW quadrant.

From the NE, our GPS approach waypoint (21°16.3’N, 86°45.1’W) is about .4 n.m. N of El Yunque (Anvil Rock Light). From there, turn to 190°M and head for the buoy marking the harbor entrance (min. 8’ depth), putting it on your starboard bow. Be careful of a brownish shoal on starboard, visible with high sun. Keeping the entrance buoy to starboard, turn to port while keeping the low white sandy point off your port side. Pass close along shore. You’ll pass another buoy on your starboard marking a shoal, so stay closer to shore to avoid it.

From the SE, pass between Roca La Bandera, also called Becket Rock (21°10’N, 86°44’W) and the S end of Isla Mujeres, heading to just W of Bajo Pepito buoy (21°12.5’N, 86°45.3’W). Manchones and Garrafón reefs lie between this buoy and the island, and a very strong current sets you toward the reefs. Round Pepito Shoal in 18’ of water, and you’ll see range lights marking the harbor entrance. Keep these off your starboard bow at about 2.2 n.m. until you see the channel buoys. Stay N of the channel buoys as you enter the harbor, to avoid a shoal.

La Caida or the chute is a narrow, twisting dinghy or panga passage (max 5’ depth) at the SW corner or the main harbor; heavy current, not dredged. A private home with dock stands on the S side of La Caida.

Anchorages: First, Isla Mujeres’ municipal anchorage (10’ over sand and mud) parallels the W side of the harbor channel, from lighted Roca La Carbonera (underwater sculpture) backed up along the inside of Chico and Tiburon islands, to a shoal opposite Paradise Marina at the S end of the harbor. This anchorage has grass patches, wakes, some petty theft from boats unattended after dark. Avoid the 3 ferry docks, Navy base and several commercial piers in the main harbor.

Second, at the S end of the harbor, mangroves and sea walls line the narrow 500-yard long Makax Channel (max. 10’ depth in center) into sheltered lagoon that spreads half a mile SE (S end shoals) filling the island’s SW interior. Visiting yates can usually anchor anywhere in Makax Lagoon not obstructing access to the marinas and private docks. Let the port captain know you’re anchored down here, so perhaps he will increase patrols against petty theft.

Hurricane Hole: Makax Lagoon is the best known hurricane hole in the NW Caribbean. Despite grass patches on the bottom, we’ve sat out hurricane outer bands in safety, as it’s surrounded in mangroves and raised limestone road beds. We sound 12’ in middle of N end, but the S end narrows, shoals & has coral chunks. If you’re too slow seeking refuge inside, it may be crammed full. Puerto Isla Mujeres docks are a reasonable alternative, but they also fill up – some are turned away.

Marinas: Looking to port upon entering the main harbor, Enrique Lima’s Marina is the first you reach, located between ferry docks (wakes), has Pemex fuel dock on seaward end; 22 full-service slips, walk to downtown, Enrique’s ship’s agency offered. FMI call (998) 877-0211.

El Milagro Marina: 25 stern-ties to about 40’ on 1 pier, 220-volt 50-amp shore power; dockmasters Hugo (in Spanish) and Jaime (in English) on VHF 16. FMI (998) 274-0129, or call on VHF 13. Milagro has a “penthouse” apartment you can rent to get off the boat for awhile. Family run marina also operates a pizza restaurant on the street level.

Paraiso Marina: 37 slips to 80’ on 2 piers, 220-volt 50-amp shore power; laundry, pool; cabins. Dockmaster Tomas Boylan or Miguel can help with your port clearance. (998) 877-0252. FMI: email paraisoclubdeyates@yahoo.com or rhardwick@paradisemarina.net The owners of this marina also own Paradise Marina in Puerto Yukalpeten near Progreso, Yucatan, and they offer to make yatistas a deal for rates if you visit both marinas in one season.

Marina El Sol: Smallest and cheapest marina in the main harbor, it has 10 to 12 slips, located at the SE end of the outer lagoon, below the Navy’s antenna array. We found 8’ of water at the outer slips with power, but some shallower multi-hull slips without power are less expensive. FMI (998) 888-0929, or email MarinaDelSol_im@hotmail.com

Puerto Isla Mujeres Marina, largest on the island, lies inside the NE corner of Makax Lagoon. Dockmaster Federico Cortino records same 10’ depths as Makax Channel, has 64 full-service slips to 80’ and 10 slips to 175’, pool, laundry service, in secure resort hotel compound. Zama Beach across the lagoon has a dock for 80’ LOA. This resort’s fuel dock and boat yard (see local services) are on the E side of the channel. FMI, call Puerto Isla Mujeres (998) 287-3340 or email marina@puertoislamujeres.com.

Marina del Sol is farther down the mangrove filled E side of Laguna Makax, with about 15 berths on 2 piers. Office is atop stairway, monitors VHF 16 and 13. FMI call  (998) 888-0929 or 888-0125, cell 044-998-128-6393. Fax (998) 888-0929, or email marinadelsol_im@hotmail.com

Marina Varadero de Oscar (aka Oscar’s Marina) is farther SE in the lagoon, has about 10 shallow spots on 2 docks. No phone but a surfboard sign and 2 cantinas mark the marina office on Rueda Medina.

Private dockage: Besides PIM’s Zama Beach, at least 6 more private docks line Makax Lagoon, most are nice or in construction, others run down and presently clogged with wrecks or projects. You must look in person by dinghy before deciding to inquire about renting space or dinghy landing and negotiating a price for however long you want to be here.

Port Clearance: The Capitanía (VHF 16) is on Rueda Medina, the malecon, just S of the ferry docks. This is a Port of Entry; Migración and Aduana are side by side about 3 blocks up the street. When you check in on VHF, don’t hesitate to ask the Port Capitanía or Navy for directions or for a local guide to lead you safely into the harbor.

The Port Captain and Marines close this port when hurricanes threaten during the summer and fall. That means boats already here cannot depart, due to unsafe conditions over the shoals or dangerously heavy seas as you enter the Gulf Stream. Of course, if you make it here, you can come in.

Local Services: Fuel docks: (1.) Enrique’s Marina fuel dock is in N end of the harbor; boats to 50’ Med-moor and hang over while fueling, and the Pemex station is nearby. (2.) Larger yachts use the 200’ side tie at Puerto Isla Mujeres on the E side of Makax Channel (max 10’ depth).

Puerto Isla Mujeres shipyard (150-ton Travelift, to 29’ beam) is on the E side of Makax Channel (10’) into the lagoon, just past the fuel dock. Their marina seca or dry storage space is limited; call (998) 287-3340. (La Amada Marina has the other haulout yard in this region, and Meridiano 87 dry dock is in construction at Cozumel, so check our UPDATES.)

Isla Mujeres street maps handed out free, showing local services. Isla Mujeres Centro and the main plaza fill the island’s N end, and locals live in the S end.

Ultra Mar fast ferry takes only 20 minutes to reach Puerto Juarez (CIS office, Hacienda del Mar Marina). Slower people ferry goes to Tortuga Dock near Cancun Bridge. Car and people ferry goes to Punta Sam near La Amada Marina.

Provisions: Super Express is the best grocery store for everything, then Super Benito. The Mercado Municipal (open 0600) is at the N end of Matamoros; best produce on ferry days. Or, take the ferry to Cancun and taxi to Soriana’s, Costco, Sam’s or WalMart. Ferries go to 2 different docks in Puerto Juarez, and the car ferry goes to Punta Sam.

Visit the Mayan observatory on the S tip of Isla Mujeres, or the pink flamingo ponds along the SE flank. Garrafón Reef is sadly picked over.

Emergency medical: English-speaking Dr. Antonio Salas (monitors VHF 68) runs a 24/7 medical clinic at #18 Hidalgo Street, middle of Isla Mujeres downtown N end. Phone Salas (998) 877-0477 or 0021 or 845-2370.

History & Culture: The Isle of Women was named by Hernán Córdoba in 1517, when he visited the uninhabited island and the ancient Mayan temple on its S end. Inside were many statues of their fertility goddess Ixchel and her female court; hence the name Isla Mujeres. Ixchel and her Mayan mujeres slept in tranquility for centuries. Today, tiny Isla Mujeres is still a Caribbean beauty, but she has WIFI, street drugs and is working hard to catch up to her glitzy sister, Cancun.

Central American Resource Directory

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Marinas and  Yacht Clubs

Bahía Ballena Yacht Club, Tambor, Costa Rica, (506) 683-0095 Bahíabyc@racsa.co.cr

Bahia del Sol Hotel & Marina, El Salvador (503) 2327-0300.

Balboa Yacht Club, Balboa, Ancon, Republic of Panama, (507) 228-5794 bycmarina@cwpanama.net.

Banana Bay Marina, Golfito, Costa Rica, (506) 2775-0838 www.BananaBayMarina.com

Barefoot Cay Marina, Roatan, Honduras, (504) 2455-6235 www.barefootcay.com

Barillas Marina Club, Bahía Jiquilisco, El Salvador, (503) 2675-1131, fax 1134, or 2263-3650, 3620. info@barillasmarina.com

Belize Yacht Club, San Pedro, Ambergris Cay, Belize, (510) 226-4338 www.BelizeYachtClub.com

Bocas Yacht Club & Marina, Bocas del Toro, Republic of Panama, (507) 757-9800 www.BocasMarina.com

Bruno’s Marina, Frontera, Rio Dulce, Guatemala, (502) 7930-5121 or 5174 rio@guat.net

Catamaran Inn & Marina, Frontera, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 7930-5494 and 95 catamaran@intelgua.com.

Cayman Islands Yacht Club, West Bay, Grand Cayman Island, Benny, (809) 947-4322.

Club de Yates de Veracruz, Mexico, (229) 932-0917.

Club de Yates de Yukalpetén, Yucatan, Eduardo Ponce, (969) 935-2969.

Costa Rica Yacht Club, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, www.costaricayachtclub.com (506) 661-0784.

Cozumel Club Nautico, (919) 872-1113 or 1118.

Cucumber Beach Marina, Belize City, (501) 222-4153 marina@oldbelize.com

Denny’s Beach Marina, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 4636-6156.

El Tortugal Marina, Fronteras, Guatemala (502) 5306-6432.

El Relleno Marina, Rio Dulce (502) 7930-9739.

Enrique’s Marina, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico, (998) 877-0211.

Fantasy Island Island Resort & Marina, Roatan, Honduras (504) 2445-7612, or 7510 www.fantasyislandresort.com.

Fish Hook Marina, Golfito, CR (305) 248-2810, or (506)775-1624

Fort George Radisson Marina, Belize City, (501) 223-3333 www.radissonbelize.com.

Fuerte Amador Marina & Resort, Balboa, Panama, (507) 314-1980 or 0665 www.fuerteamador.com

Hacienda Tijax, Fronteras, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 7930-5505.

Harbour House Marina, George Town, Grand Cayman, (345) 947-1307

Hemingway International Yacht Club, Cuba, (537) 204-6653, fax (537) 204-1689 yachtclub@cnih.mh.cyt.cu

Isla Xalaja, Rio Dulce (502) 5991-9645.

Lagoon Marina, La Ceiba, Honduras (504) 440-0614.

La Marina, Livingston, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 974-0303

La Jolla del Rio Marina, Rio Dulce, Guat (502) 7902-7539 rio@guat.net

Los Sueños Resort & Marina, Costa Rica, (506) 2630-4200, or 637-8886 US toll free (866) 865-9759. www.lsrm.com

Mango Marina, Fronteras, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 5213-6868 mangocharter@hotmail.com

Maria La Gorda, Cuba (53) 827-1306, fax (53) 827-8131

Marina Carenero, Bocas del Toro, Panama, (506) 757-9242 MarinaCarenero@hotmail.com www.CareeningCay.com

Marina Cayo Guillermo, Cuba (53-33) 30-1738 or 30-1637, fax (53-33) 30-1737, psol@cayo.cco.tur.cu

Marina Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba (53) 548-213 or 548-133, fax (53) 548-212 gcom@psol.cls.tur.cu

Marina Chapelín, Cuba (53) 566-7550 or 566-7566, fax (53) 566-7093.

Marina El Cid Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico, (998) 871-0184 dockmaster at elcidcaribe@prodigy.net.mx

Marina El Colony, Cuba (53) 619-8181 and 8182, fax (53) 619-8420 carpeta.colony@gerona.inf.cu

Marina Hemingway, Havana, Cuba: (537) 209-7270 or 7928 or 7201, fax (537) 204-5280 Sergio Ameneiro at rpublicas@prto.mh.cyt.cu or Ing. Isuara Oraz Perez at comercial@prto.mh.cyt.cu

Marina Miramar, Panama City, Panama, (507) 206-8888 panama@interconti.com

Marina Papagayo, Playa del Coco, CR (506) 2696-2262.

Marina Pez Vela, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (502) 2379-5778.

Marina Pez Vela, Quepos, Costa Rica, (866) 739-8352, or (506) 777-4141 www.MarinaPezVela.com

Marina Puerto Aventuras, Quintana Roo, Mexico, (984) 873-5110 marina@puertoaventuras.com.mx

Marina Puerto Azul, Puntarenas, CR (506) 2282-9204.

Marina Puertosol Cienfuegos, Cuba (53-43) 245-1241, fax (53-43) 245-1275 mpsolcfg@ip.etecsa.cu

Marina Puertosol Trinidad, Cuba (53) 419-6205, marinastdad@ip.etecsa.cu

Marina Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua, (505) 883-0781 or 880-0013 or (cellular, extra digit) 880-00190 mpuestadelsol@yahoo.com

Marina Tortugal, Rio Dulce, Guat (502) 7742-8847 or 5306-6432.

Marina Santiago de Cuba (53) 226-91446, or fax 226-86108.

Marina Varadero, Cuba (53) 566-7755 or 566-7756, or fax (53) 566-7756.

Marina Vita, Cuba (53) 243-0132, or fax 243-0126.

Mario’s Marina, Fronteras, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 7930-5569 or visit www.mariosmarina.com

Mar Marine, Rio Dulce, Guatemala, (502) 7930-5090.

Milagro Marina, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico (988) 877-1708 or (805) 698-8165.

Monkey Bay Marina, Rio Dulce, Guatemala, (502) 5368-9604 harbormaster@monkeybaymarina.com

Nene’s Marina, Isla San Andrés, Colombia, (578) 512-6139.

Nutria Marina, Fronteras, Guatemala (502) 5863-9635 or visit www.nutriamarina.com

Panama Club de Yates y Pesca, Panama City, Panama, (507) 2227-0145.

Paradise Marina, Isla Mujeres, Qintana Roo, Mexico (998) 877-0252 marinaparaiso@yahoo.com.mx.

Parrot Tree Plantation Marina, Roatan, (504) 9700-9240.

Puerto Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, (998) 287-3340 marina@puertoislamujeres.com

Shelter Bay Marina, Colón, Panama, (507) 433-3581 www.ShelterBayMarina.com

Taboga Island Moorings, Balboa, Pan (507) 6442-5712, VHF 74.

Texan Bay Marina, El Golfete, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 5758-8748 www.TexanBayMarina.com

Tijax Hacienda Marina, Rio Dulce, Guat (502) 7930-5505.

Fuel Docks

Banana Bay Marina, Golfito, Costa Rica, (506) 2775-0838 www.BananaBayMarina.com.

Barefoot Cay Marina, Roatan, Honduras (504) 2455-6235 www.barefootcay.com

Barillas Marina Club, Bahía Jiquilisco, El Salvador, (503) 2263-3650 x 3620. info@barillasmarina.com

Bocas Yacht Club & Marina, Bocas del Toro, Panama, (507) 757-9800 www.BocasMarina,com

Cucumber Beach Marina, Belize City, (501) 222-4153 marina@oldbelize.com

Fantasy Island Resort & Marina, Roatan, Honduras, (504) 2445-7612 lr 7510 www.fantasyislandresort.com

Fuerte Amador Marina, (Flamenco YC) Panama City, R.P. (507) 314-1980 or 314-0665 www.fuerteamador.com

Los Sueños Resort & Marina, Costa Rica, (506) 2630-4200, or 637-8886 US toll free (866) 865-9759. www.lsrm.com

Marina Carenero, Bocas del Toro, Panama, (506) 757-9242 www.CareeningCay.com

Marina El Cid Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, (998) 871-0184.

Marina Hemingway, Havana, Cuba: (537) 209-7270 or 7928 or 7201, fax (537) 204-5280.

Marina Miramar, Panama City, R.P. (507) 2206-8888 panama@interconti.com.

Marina Papagayo, Playa del Coco, CR (506) 2696-2262.

Marina Pez Vela, Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (502) 2379-5778.

Marina Pez Vela, Quepos, Costa Rica, (866) 739-8352, or (506) 777-4141 www.MarinaPezVela.com

Marina Puerto Aventuras, Quintana Roo, (984) 873-5110 marina@puertoaventuras.com.mx

Marina Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua (505) 883-0781 or 880-0013 or (cellular, extra digit) 880-00190 mpuestadelsol@yahoo.com

Nene’s Marina, San Andrés, Colombia, (578) 512-6139.

Puerto Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico, (998) 287-3340 marina@puertoislamujeres.com

Ram Marine, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 7930-5408

Shelter Bay Marina, Colón, Panama, (507) 433-3581 www.ShelterBayMarina.com

Haul Out Yards

Abel’s Boat Yard (Astillero Rodriquez) Lago Izabel, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 7930-5059

A & D Dry Dock, French Harbour, Honduras, (504) 455-5450.

Fuerte Amador Marina & Resort, Panama City, Panama, (507) 314-0665 www.fuerteamador.com

Island Marine, Bahía Jaltepeque, El Salvador, (503) 7724-8221 or 7947-2132

La Ceiba Shipyard, La Ceiba, Honduras (504) 440-0614.

Mar Marine, Rio Ducle, Guat (502) 7930-5089.

Ram Marine, Fronteras, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 7930-5408.

Shelter Bay Marina, Colón, Panama, (507) 433-3581 www.ShelterBayMarina.com

Island Marine, Bahia del Sol, El Salvador (503) 7724-8221.

Varadero Puerto Barillas, Bahía Jiquilisco, El Salvador (503) 278-3298, fax 278-3292.

Ship’s Agents

Panama Canal: Stevens, Pete: Delfino Maritime Agency, Panama, (507) 6735-7356, or 261-3554 Cel (507) 6613-1134 6613-1599 Fax (507) 261-3943 delfinomaritime@hotmail.com

Panama Canal: McBride, Tina: Panama Canal Transits, Panama, Cel (507) 6637-2999 Fax (507) 232-8843 (request tone) tinamcbride@hotmail.com www.PanamaCanalTransits.com

Panama Canal: Manrique, David: Match Ship Management, Panama, Cel (507) 6615-8157 (507) 314-0850 Fax (507) 314-0841 www.matchship.com

Panama Canal: Plummer, Enrique: Agencia Naviera Plummer, Panama, Cel (507) 6674-2086 Fax (507) 314-0895 eplummer@hotmail.com

Providencia: Bush Agency: Isla Providencia, Colombia, (6) 334-805

Puerto Quetzal: Ovalle, Manuel de Jesus or “Miguel Oscar” (502) 7881-3679. Or Eduardo Perez (502) 2407-9026.

Puntarenas: Andrade, Ernesto: Puntarenas, Costa Rica, (506) 661-0948 eandrade@racsa.co.cr

Rio Dulce: Langdon, M.E. (“Emy”): Fronteras, Rio Dulce, Guatemala (502) 5612-1415

Rio Dulce: Raul the Customs Agent: Fronteras, Guatemala, (502) 7947-0083.

Roatan: Ebanks, Beatman: Roatan, Honduras (504) 2445-1271, and 2445-0469 ebanksagency@yahoo.com

San Andrés: Rene at Serrana Agency (578) 5120-4628.

Useful Contacts

Aeroperlas, Panama, iflyap@aeroperlas.com)

Balboa Admeasurer, Panama Canal, (507) 272-4571.

Belize Tourism, www.travelbelize.org

Cabañas Parida, Isla Parida, Panama (507) 774-8166

Carlos the Yacht Trucker, Rio Dulce, Guatemala rio@guate.net.gt See photo this page.

Citibank, Balboa, Panama, (507-228-0165)

Citibank, Colón, Panama, (507-441-6303 and 441-6144)

Colón Admeasurer, Panama Canal, (507) 443-2293.

Cruising World Magazine www.CruisingWorld.com

Dancing Roots, Crocodile! herbal insect repellent. www.dancingroots.com (603) 357-5050.

Grand Cayman Customs, (345) 949-2473

Hotel Bahía del Sol, Bahía Jaltepeque, El Salvador info@Bahíadelsolelsalvador.com

International Health Certificate (Pets), www.aphis.usda.gov

Islamorada (chart store), 808 Balboa Ave, Balboa, Panama, (507)-228-4348 info@islamorada.com

Livingston, Guatemala, Port Captain’s office, (502)-7947-0029

Mapiex, charter planes, Panama, aero@sinfo.net

Medical Kit, www.medicalofficer.net

Mexican Fishing Licenses, SEMARNAT Office, 2550 Fifth Ave., Suite 101, San Diego, CA 92103-6622 (619) 233-6956.

Panama Canal information & forms, www.pancanal.com

Passport application (US), http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

Pilot Service, Barillas Marina, Bahia Jiquilisco, El Salvador, (503) 632-1802 info@barillasmarina.com

Proyecto Linguistico Francisco Marroquin (PLFM), Spanish & Mayan Language School, Antigua, Guatemala (309) 692-2961 www.langlink.com/guatemala or info@plfm-antigua.org

San Pedro, Belize. Customs & Immigration officers, (501) 422-3869.

Turneffe Island Lodge, Belize, (713) 313-4670

US State Dept. travel advisories, http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) http://www.treas.gov/offices/eotffc/ofac/

Seabreeze Books and Charts, worldwide, San Diego, (888)-449-7011 www.seabreeze.com

The Log Newspaper, Southern California & Mexico Boating News, www.thelog.com

Weather Routing International, (318) 798-4939, www.wriwx.com

New – Red Frog Beach Marina, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Red Frog Beach Marina

is the newest facility for cruising yachts and sportfishers on the Caribbean side of Panama. Located in a sheltered cove on the south side of huge Isla Bastiamentos (Bocas del Toro region), the marina opened a few weeks ago with 50 full-service slips, shore amenities, the first of two restaurants, and in association with the more established Red Frog Beach Resort – fancy cabanas in the jungle – all within the national park and wildlife preserve.  As of mid September 2010, almost all the first 50 slips were filled – many with boats that are summering over well south of Hurricane Alley while their owners jet north. Yatistas report enjoying the Kayuco’s Restaurant in the jungle overlooking the marina. Another 60 slips are going in during October, should be ready for the fall migration of yachts into the tropics. I just spoke with Dan Cranney, the resort operator, so I’ll have more news and some photos next week. Meanwhile, if you’re considering cruising south to Panama this year or next, you should contact Red Frog Beach Marina – (800) 968-9906 from the US, or in country (507) 836-5311. Or email Dan at dcranney at Red Frog Beach dot com.

New Marina at Topolobampo, Sea of Cortez

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Club de Yates Palmira Topolobampo is the full name of the newest marina in the Sea of Cortez, but many yatistas already refer to it as Marina Topo – short for Topolobampo.

Thanks to its handy location on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez, Marina Topo provides a much-needed overnight destination, fuel dock and service center for yatistas cruising between Mazatlan (244 n.m. to the SE) and the San Carlos-Guaymas area (200 n.m. to the NW). This side of the Sea of Cortez is pristine, a naturalist’s heaven, with several smaller ports and anchorages north and south of Topolobampo. This sheltered port is only 10 land miles from Los Mochis, the starting point of the popular Copper Canyon train excursion. This has become the best place to leave your boat – safely – while doing the Copper Canyon.

Club de Yates Palmira Topolobampo opened quietly in December 2009, and now it has 50 full-service slips from 42 to 114 feet. The slips are not expensive, but yatistas on a tight budget can anchor off the marina and land dinks in the marina for a tiny day-use fee. Minimum depth in the marina basin is 12 feet. All slips have potable water, 110- and 220-volt shore power, and the marina has electronically controlled security gates, 24-hour guards and free WiFi. The marina office and a restaurant are open, with laundry, showers, chandler store, hotel and other shops on the property. Next door is a large Pemex fuel dock. When completed in December 2010, the Club de Yates Palmira Topolobampo plans to open its own floating fuel dock, 69 more slips between 42 and 64 feet, plus two side-tie docks for yachts up to 113 and 122 feet.

Location is everything. Marina Topo is located on the NW side of the town peninsula, very sheltered from winter and summer wind directions. “Mexico Boating Guide” has a new GPS chart in the upcoming 3rd edition showing this new marina’s exact location and safe approach path. Check the latest UPDATES for more information.

Dockmaster Alberto Arreola, who speaks English and Spanish, said yatistas who rent a slip at the Palmira Marina in La Paz, Baja Sur, can get free dockage at the company’s Topolobampo Marina. This marina is owned by the same people who own Club de Yates Palmira in La Paz.

For slip reservations or more information about the new Club de Yates Palmira Topolobampo, call the marina office at 011-52 (668) 886-21544, or call dockmaster Alberto Arreola’s cell phone (668) 137-3852. Check back here www.MexicoBoating.com for future updates on this and two additional new marinas in the Topo region of the Sea of Cortez!