The Mexican Navy is No Longer Searching For Me!

Air temp: 63 degrees
Humidity: 80% Barometer: 1008 mb
Speed: 3-4 knots Course: 240 degrees magnetic
Distance Left to Hawaii: 2526 miles
Point of Sail: Close Hauled Stbd tack pointed south of Hawaii
Wind speed: West 20-25 knots
Swells: From the west 8-12 ft

Finally enroute to Hawaii. For the last time! Just cleared out of Cabo San Lucas. Cruising along with a double-reefed main and a storm sail. No doubt, the winds will calm down significantly once I get past the cape a few miles.

I have no doubt everybody reading this blog was confused as to my last post. Some of you were thinking “WTF – you left for Hawaii five days ago, what do you mean you’re going to get a Zarpe (Mexico Clearance Papers) in Cabo?” Well, the truth is, the Port Captain in Nuevo Vallarta was a stickler for paperwork. After a brief visit with him and Velma (who did not resemble my lifelong friend from my favorite show at all), the lady at the Nuevo Vallarta book store who does all the gringo boat paperwork, visa’s, TIPs, etc… made it clear I was going to have a problem clearing out due to my lack of a TIP. A T.I.P. – Temporary Import Permit – is a 10 year permit for your imported boat or vehicle in Mexico. No one could tell us upon checking into Mexico if this was something we actually, really needed. We were told by some we should obtain one if we were going to be there for more then six months. We were also told no one really cares. Those who have them said they have never been asked for it. A few cruisers who were asked for it when checking out of the country said they had to buy one on the spot for $300 pesos ($25 American. No big deal). None of this was the case in Nuevo Vallarta. At least not with the Port Captain I was working with. Of course, that’s Mexico. Every situation is different with every person.

It was made clear to me the lack of having a TIP was going to be a problem in Nuevo Vallarta, as they won’t issue me one on the spot and then I would be on Customs’ and Immigrations’ Radar for not having one. Thus, I might have to stay there and go through the process of obtaining one, which can take a while in Nuevo Vallarta. Velma and the Port Captain made it clear; it would be best to go north to Mazatlan 160 miles and east 100 miles (wrong direction for Hawaii) and check out there. Apparently, Mazatlan will give you a TIP on the spot. This advice took me by surprise. So, of course, I thanked the Port Captain, checked out of Nuevo Vallarta with the Port Captain with exit papers to go to Mazatlan. The Port Captain made a point to stress the importance of checking out of the country and obtaining a TIP. I was now on his radar. Darn. I had every intention of blowing off Mexico and their clearance papers and going straight to Hawaii. What are they going to do in Hawaii? I’m a citizen; they won’t kick me out. I assumed they would search the boat extra thoroughly for contraband because I avoided customs and immigration in Mexico. All I had to do was sail into international waters and what could Mexico do? Unfortunately, Mexico’s international waters extend pretty far west at this latitude thanks to a group of islands 300 miles due west of Nuevo Vallarta, mainly Isla Revillagigedo and Isla Socorro. These islands, unfortunately for me, have a Mexican Navy Base and are known for confiscating vessels who fish in their waters illegally. No matter, I would sail north of them by 50-100 miles and be clear. 200 miles west of Nuevo Vallarta and 75 miles north of these islands I heard what I had been keeping an ear out for on the VHF. It was around 3 am. My Spanish is adequate, but my understanding of it is fairly good. Loosely translated, I heard a radio call informing the Mexican Navy to keep an eye out, if not perform a light search for, a ” Yachtista sail nombre Camanoe ” (Sailboat named Camanoe). I was assumed to be heading for the general vicinity of San Benedicto, which is one of the islands between Hawaii and the mainland. With 36 mile wide radar, I don’t think the Mexican Navy would have had a difficult time finding me. Damn, the Port Captain must have contacted the Mazatlan Port Captain checking up on me. At that point, Camanoe and I tacked over onto the other tack straight for Cabo San Lucas 150 miles north. A little out of my way, but better than a huge fine. As it was made clear to me by Velma, that’s what would happen. It would have been a great sail, except there was a tropical cyclone which was dying out above Cabo. Which meant I had some very strong wind and large seas. In the end, nothing broke, Camanoe did excellent, all the way down to a double reefed main and tiny storm staysail. However, sadly, I lost my spinnaker. I will say it again. I lost my spinnaker. I was in disbelief for a good five minutes.

The spinnaker was securely tied on deck where I always keep it. Thinking back, Camanoe was hit by one particular wave which completely engulfed the boat and even put a fair amount of water in cockpit. Which really means something as Camanoe has a center cockpit. In hindsight, that might have been the wave which freed the spinnaker from the deck. All that was left of it were a few pieces of the bag and the lines I had tied over the top of the bag as an extra precaution. This will be at least a $3500 replacement. Especially, when you include an ATN spinnaker sock, spinnaker sheets, bag, and an ATN tacker. New rule: If I’m not using it, it goes down below! Unfortunately, this is really going to slow down my trip to Hawaii. Especially in light winds. But, If I don’t go now, I will never go. I loaded up extra fuel in Cabo and will have to motor in the light stuff in search of wind. There is a lot of food on board and unlimited water thanks to a watermaker and backup hand-pump watermaker.

Cabo; what a trip. I pulled in, grabbed a slip, which only cost me $62 for two nights, hired an agent to clear me out and obtain a Zarpe for me. The agent assured me Cabo wouldn’t care if I had a T.I.P. or not. All he needed from me was a passport, visa and crew list. Later that day my paperwork was in hand. I washed the boat, topped off fuel and obtained a few supplies. The agent cost me $80, but saved me a day of marina fees and riding buses. The next morning I would be off to Hawaii.

In total, I had 93 pesos ($7 USD) in change I had to get rid of that night before I left. Deep into the local part of town, about a one mile walk inland, I found a local taco restaurant where I gorged on tacos and beer for 86 pesos. Not as cheap as ‘Tacos in the Backyard’ in La Cruz, but in Cabo that’s pretty good. So what do you do with 9 pesos? Less then a buck. In the Tienda (little corner store) across the street from the taco joint I placed my 9 pesos on the counter in front of the lady and said, “Mas cerveza por favor, yo tengo nuevo pesos” (“More beer please, I have nine pesos”). This didn’t phase her for a second. She pointed to the cooler with the cheapest beer and said, “Uno” (one). It was a brand I’d never heard of before or care to give recognition to. It was crap. But it was 9 pesos, so I departed quickly with my prize and cruised around Cabo for awhile walking through the markets and tourist shops. All in all, a good farewell to Cabo.


3 thoughts on “The Mexican Navy is No Longer Searching For Me!

  1. I guess the Port Captain in Nuevo didn’t think you were cute enough or you were so smooth you actually appeared slippery! Honesty is the best policy and they were going to ensure you followed the rules. Sorry to hear about the lost spinnaker 😦 Be careful out there David! Hugs! Your other mother! 🙂

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