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December 23, 2013

Foreign Yachts in Mexico Update

A source told us that of the 50 or so boats ‘impounded’ in this marina, only three didn’t have Temporary Import Permits or had other paperwork problems.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We received a phone call on Sunday from Jorge Gamboa, the head of Tourism for Mexico in California. As you might imagine, he’s very distressed that a reported 338 foreign yachts, including Profligate, have been impounded in the sense that they are under orders from Hacienda (the Mexican IRS) not to leave the marinas they are in. After all, just when things have been looking up for the image of personal and fiscal safety of foreigners in Mexico, this bomb blows up, reinforcing every gringo fear that Mexico is a scary place where nothing is safe. And believe us, if your boat gets impounded, despite you having all the correct paperwork, and no reason is given why, it is scary. Especially since Hacienda says that they have 45 to 120 days to make a decision on whether your boat will be fined, confiscated or set free.

For a lot of sailors, that can blow almost the whole cruising season. For those who were cruising Mexico in anticipation of doing the Puddle Jump, it can lay waste to all their plans. It’s also very expensive.

So Gamboa called us yesterday to say that he will be speaking with the head of Hacienda and the head of SCET, which controls ports and port captains, to try to resolve this issue. For Mexico’s sake, as well as the sake of every boat owner, we hope he’s successful. We fully believe in Mexico’s requirements for Temporary Import Permits, boats checking into the country, and crew checking into the country. All we ask is that we and others not be convicted without an opportunity to prove our compliance.

Some readers have asked where boats have been impounded and which ones have been impounded. We do not have a list of the boats. But we do know they are from two marinas in Ensenada, one in La Cruz, at least one in San Carlos, at least one in Nuevo Vallarta, at least one in Mazatlan and at least one in Cabo San Lucas. We don’t have a complete list, but have been told there are 12 marinas in all. This does not mean boats in other marinas won’t be checked in the future.

The SAT auditors found many required items ‘no visible’.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Lawyers for marinas from Ensenada to Banderas Bay have been hired, and the marinas are spending big money fighting this. They know scared mariners aren’t going to come to Mexico and utilize their facilities. Some boat owners whose boats have been impounded have hired lawyers and begun contacting the Coast Guard, newspapers, and members of the U.S. Senate and their state representatives.

Here’s an example of a hull identification number (HIN) that was ‘no visible’ to auditors in Ensenada.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At this point, we’re going to see what, if anything, Gamboa is able to accomplish. Then, since everyone is preoccupied with Christmas, we’re going to hold off and give the Mexican government time to come up with a solution. If there are no positive signs after the beginning of the year, we can’t see any other option but a full-scale publicity campaign to let the sailing and greater world know what’s been taking place.

Keep your fingers crossed, and have happy holidays.

We’re very concerned, but we’re still optimistic. That’s why we’re writing this from a Starbucks in Tucson, where we’ve bought a US car that we’re going to pay some bucks to legally import into Mexico at Nogales. We’re hoping we never have to bring that car back to the US, but you never know.

New Pardey Biography

Old pal and former Latitude coworker Herb McCormick has spent the last few years working on a biography of ‘the first couple of cruising’, Lin and Larry Pardey, and the final product has just been released. As Long As It’s Fun isn’t just an overview of the couple’s sailing accomplishments — you can read more about those in their books Cruising in Serrafyn, Serrafyn’s Oriental Adventure, and their latest, Bull Canyon, to name a few — but a deeper look into their occasionally tumultuous, often-exciting and always-fascinating lives together. 

Handsome Herb shows off his new book, As Long As It’s Fun.

© Elaine Lembo / Cruising World

We haven’t received our review copy of the book yet (hint hint, ol’ Herbie boy), but the combination of Herb’s incredible talent and subjects who never fail to inspire is guaranteed to keep us up late into the night. You can pick up the hardcover now and the ebook in January.

And speaking of Lin and Larry, they made a stunning announcement last week: "We’ve made a very important, but difficult decision this week — we’ve decided it is time to begin interviewing prospective adopters for Taleisin. She has been such a wonderful part of our lives, from the time when we cut the first trees (black locust from the edge of a farm in Virginia) to build her, through thousands of miles of voyaging, to the local exploring we’ve been doing the past few years. But now we know she needs someone else to share the pleasure of the open sea."

We wish Lin and Larry nothing but the very best, but we can’t help feeling a twinge of sorrow at the end of an era.

Happy Holidays from Latitude 38

The holidays are almost in full swing, and since our January issue is off to the presses, it’s time for us to take a well-deserved break and enjoy some time with our families and friends.

The entire crew here at Latitude 38 wishes you the happiest of holidays. We’ll be back on December 30 to review 2013 in ‘Lectronic and take a look forward to a happy and healthy 2014.

We sure hope not, although thanks to the actions of a new sub-agency of Hacienda (the Mexican IRS) called AGACE, it appears the country is on the verge of doing just that — and even worse, perhaps setting the stage for possible problems with the United States government.
There are still a few opportunities to get some racing in before Christmas if you’ve gotten all of your holiday shopping done (see the next story if you haven’t).