Frequent news reports on the so-called Mexican drug war has dampened enthusiasm for travel south of the border at a time when the Mexican economy is already struggling. But the government is determined to re-establish confidence, especially among boaters.
Earlier this summer, it was announced that the Mexican Navy has greatly enhanced its search and rescue (SAR) capabilities, with the funding of a new base at Ensenada. The group’s personnel have been trained by the U.S. Coast Guard, and their commanders all speak English. In addition to new SAR-equipped helicopters, their purpose-built vessels — which are almost identical to those used in near-shore waters by U.S. Guardsmen — are capable of speeds up to 50 knots.
Noting that a record Baja Ha-Ha fleet of more than 190 boats will be heading south at the end of the month, Mexican authorities want all fleet members to know that the Ensenada-based unit’s primary purpose is to assist boaters in distress. The unit maintains a 24/7 radio watch on VHF 16 and can also be reached from the U.S. at 011-52-646-1-72-40-00.
Southbound travelers should also note that if you have trouble ashore in Baja, dialing 078 on your cell phone will get you connected to an English-speaking Mexican travel official whose mandate is to assist you. Elsewhere in Mexico, 911 functions as the default emergency number, and there too, dispatchers are required to know English.