Mexican Marina Crackdown, and the Ripple Effect

On November 29, 2013, more than 100 Mexican officials, accompanied by armed marines, swooped down on 12 marinas in Mexico to conduct surprise compliance checks on 1,647 boats. The newly created General Audit of Foreign Trade Administration wanted to confirm that every boat was following protocol by carrying a Temporary Importation Permit (TIP).
Author:
Publish date:
 Hotel Coral Marina. Photo by Adam Stuckey

Hotel Coral Marina. Photo by Adam Stuckey

On November 29, 2013, more than 100 local bureaucrats swooped down on 12 marinas in Mexico to conduct surprise compliance checks on 1,647 boats. Apparently, the newly created General Audit of Foreign Trade Administration wanted to confirm that every boat was following protocol by carrying a Temporary Importation Permit (TIP). They also wanted to check and make sure various other boat data, including the type, make and model, the engine serial number, the hull number and the Hull Identification Number were accurate. Ultimately, the officials—who reportedly brought along contingents of armed marines for their inspections—found 338 boats to be noncompliant (including many without anyone on board) and impounded them. As of this week, nearly three months later, 90 percent of those boats are still being held.

Perhaps the most enraging aspect of the fiasco is that many of the impounded boats are, as it turns out, compliant. Many impounded boats had TIPs, but did not have skippers on board when the officials arrived, and were therefore unable to show their paperwork. Even if they hadn’t had updated paperwork, Mexican law states that once sailors learn they are required to have a TIP, they have 20 days to attain one. Yet, upon learning of their oversight, Mexican officials said they could still require between 45 and 120 days to liberate the boats from impoundment. 

For sailors with boats stuck in Mexico, the situation is unfortunate. But for Mexico and its tourism economy, the ripples caused by their legal actions may be even less fortunate as both the cruising and racing communities react.

For sailors who frequently visit Mexico, a dark cloud has been cast over their favorite vacation spot. For racers who participate in regattas between the United States and Mexico, plans are changing. The Corona del Mar to Cabo Race, for example, has been postponed because there were only four entries. The Newport to Ensenada Race, which used to bring in over 600 boats, now has only about 100 entries. The San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race is still on, but with fewer than 40 boats entered, and the San Diego Cabillo Ocean Series has altered its layout, moving all of the courses out of Mexican waters. (To be fair, factors like a struggling economy play into these low entry numbers, but the Mexican government certainly isn’t helping itself.)

On the country’s east coast, where no boats have been impounded though the laws are technically the same, sailing tourism has not been as badly affected. The Regata del Sol al Sol, from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Isla de Mujeres is still set for April 25, 2014, and registration is filling up. The regatta chairman is also sending periodic updates to skippers, keeping them in the know about the situation, and cluing them in on ways in which they can successfully adhere to customs laws and avoid fines or impoundment.

If, after all this, you’re still itching to visit Mexico, here’s how to keep your boat the hands of that country’s occasionally overzealous bureaucrats: First, know that the TIP requirement is not new: it’s just newly being enforced. Whether you’re entering from the West or East Coast, check into customs as soon as you can (Ensenada on the west coast, Isla Mujeres on the east coast), and work with marina management to get an immigration permit ($25), Document of Arrival (Free) and Temporary Import Permit ($50). It would be wise to have a Spanish-speaking member on board for these procedures. Other than that, realize you’re taking a risk. For Mexico’s sake, let’s hope foreign sailors still believe cruising there is a risk worth taking. 

Related

qr_main

Antal: QR Clutch

Get a Grip Italian deck gear maker Antal’s two new QR clutches not only have high holding power—up to 3,500lb for the QR10 and 4,800lb for the QR12—they can be opened and released under maximum load, so there’s no longer any need to take up the strain on a winch before freeing a ...read more

leadpicBoxes

DIY: Easy Drawers and Boxes

During the extensive refit of my Pearson 40, I needed to create a significant number of custom-sized plywood drawers and stowage bins, or boxes. These included 10 under-floor storage bins, under-sink organizers, boxes for tools and stores, and even a specially fitted cat ...read more

ARC2018Flags

Tips on Gaining Experience Passagemaking

Whether you want to build a sailing resume or just gain practical experience, getting more miles under your keel is key. You can sail a lifetime of summer afternoons and never quite get the hang of cruising—where creativity and offshore savvy result in self-sufficiency and ...read more

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more