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Mill Valley Family Sails into Mexico

In September’s Latitude 38 we shared the story of the Fennell family from Mill Valley, who were sailing in Nicaragua aboard their Bavaria 46E Taliesin Rose when pandemic restrictions around the world began to take effect. The story left off as the crew of four were pondering their next course  — Mexico or home. This month we bring you an update.

We loved our life on the peaceful estero, even with the pandemic restrictions, but we could feel the change in season as the afternoons brought huge poofy clouds threatening rain, not to mention our 90-day tourist visas were soon to expire. We heard unofficial rumors that it was becoming increasingly difficult to get exit documents processed. Combined with impending responsibilities back in the States, it felt like the prudent decision was to get north, away from electrical storms and torrential downpours — and to eventually repatriate.

Rowan Fennell at Isla San Francisco
Rowan ‘summits’ the hills above Isla San Francisco just before the tsunami scare.
© 2020 Taliesin Rose

It was imperative to us that wherever we traveled we could easily respect any restrictions and that we were welcome. Mexico was the only option other than sailing directly to the US via Hawaii, which we were prepared to do if Mexico suddenly shut its doors, as countries were doing everywhere. But even Hawaii had made it clear that they did not want visitors. Don Roberto had to make some calls, and the US Embassy made inquiries on our behalf. By the skin of our teeth, we were able to get a navy commander to come and grant us our exit zarpe, without which we wouldn’t have been allowed entry into Mexico. We then had 30 minutes to say hasty but heartfelt goodbyes to some of our favorite people, track down Moto, the cat, who had taken to spending afternoons napping on Don Roberto’s boat, and set sail on the three-day passage to Chiapas with our fingers and toes crossed that the border didn’t close before we arrived. Luck was with us again as the evening lightning storms stayed far off in the mountains, and we had a pleasant and uneventful passage.

Fennell family in Dinghy
The Fennell family from left to right: Rowan, Emmy, Lucy and Vikki.
© 2020 Taliesin Rose

We were welcomed by the Mexican navy with a health screening and temperature check, masks, and a hearty “¡Bienvenidos a Mexico!” We stayed at Marina Chiapas just long enough to get some well-deserved ice cream, fuel and provisions, and then rolled right into a Tehuantepec crossing and five-day, 700-mile passage to Ixtapa.

At one point we were approached by a fishing panga, and our occasional cynicism made us wary of their approach. The fishermen asked for food. We quickly filled a care package with cans, snacks and drinks and passed it over. The three men shouted an enthusiastic “¡Gracias!” They immediately came to an abrupt stop and dug right into the cereal bars and jar of nuts with famished abandon.

Please follow the link to October’s Latitude 38 to keep reading.

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