The 90 Day Yacht Club Returns to Baja
But, safety concerns are rampant
Captain Lonnie Ryan

The 90 Day Yacht Club returned to Ensenada in August, after a two year hiatus. The Club consists of yacht owners that spend 90 days in northern Baja waters in order to save the sales tax on the purchase of a new yacht. For two years, the California legislature had changed the length of time offshore to one year, hoping that buyers would just pay the tax instead of staying offshore a whole year.

But, the intent of the change in the law failed. The posh yachting community north of the border instead simply stopped buying new watercraft. The boat brokers practically experienced an embargo on boat buying. Soon, the state of California was hurting its own tax collection agencies and destroying the entire yacht sales industry. Baja marinas felt the pinch immediately, and occupancy levels plummeted. Local service trades, waterfront chandlery and local Captains were also hurt. In August, the California legislature passed a new budget which changed the requirement for time spent off shore back to 90 days.

Now, the tide has turned. High end yachts started arriving in Baja almost immediately after the new law went into effect. Now, mid priced powerboats and sailboats are beginning to sail to Baja also, a great sign for the local waterfront’s economic future. Occupancy is up, and the support businesses are thriving again. First the yachts fill a marina slip, then they call the canvas man, then it’s the mechanical and electronics workers. Local fishing and general maintenance Captains are also feeling the boom.

Yes, it looks like a strong year to come for the local Baja marine trade economy. But, the local authorities MUST get a handle on the recently reported crime wave now being aired out in the California press. New arrivals and seasoned veterans alike are concerned about the future of safe traveling in Baja. One gentleman has been here for three years on a 61 foot power cruiser. He just returned from a two week trip to Magdalena Bay from Ensenada to bring home a load of wahoo and other exotics. He used to park his Cadillac Escalade truck at his home marina during his travels, but is now considering buying a beater to drive south. He mused, “I have worked all my life to realize this moment, retired with a fishing boat in Mexico, now I am having second thoughts.”

The future looks bright for the local marinas, especially since most of them are sheltered and gated. But, it is imperative that the roads to and from the marina be secured, to keep the big yachts and the big dollars they spend coming to Baja.

The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada is a product of True Traveler Publishing written by Captain Lonnie Ryan. Visit his website at for more informationabout Ensenada and this informative Ensenada general travel guide.



Gringo Gazette, Baja's English Language Newspaper