Sunday, April 21, 2013

Checking Into Mexico



 Yes, I know I said that I would post this yesterday, but really, did you think that I would spend my first full day in Mexico sitting at the computer?
Mexican courtesy flag flying on La Volante after check-in
 I guess the best advice I could offer for any cruiser coming to Mexico is: Don’t believe everything you read and don’t believe most of what you hear. The rules seem to change every day here. And not just the rules, but facilities (like fuel docks) seem to come and go, and navigation markers move or disappear altogether. Even a marina we were told about by other cruisers who had stayed there, has now been abandoned and is filled with sand. Make certain that your information is current and be prepared for the unexpected.
On the other hand, everything about our arrival went much more smoothly than we thought it would. 

There has been a new cruise ship every day of our stay


Experienced mariners told us not to attempt entering this harbor at night; good advice for entering any unfamiliar harbor, but apparently the lights of Ensenada are especially distracting and confusing. Also be aware that you are supposed to notify traffic control on VHF 14 when entering or exiting the port of Ensenada. The large cruise ships dock here and when they are moving the port is closed to other traffic.




Cruiseport Village Marina offices


There is no anchorage here but several marinas to choose from and each is very different from the other. We chose Cruiseport Village Marina. Enclosed by their own breakwater inside the port breakwater, they are the least subject to surges. They are priced mid-way between the others and have good access to town. It is clean, modern and secure but with no pump-out or fuel facilities.





 Our check-in with the Mexican authorities took just over 2 hours and was expedited by marina staff at no additional charge to us. Enrique began our paperwork in the marina office and then drove us to the government offices which are all located in one building. He stayed with us throughout the process, guiding us from window to window, and translating when necessary. All that we needed were: passports, vessel documentation and proof of insurance, and engine serial numbers including dinghy outboard. Oh, and money – American dollars, Mexican pesos, or credit card. Enrique made out our crew list which has to be presented to the authorities in Spanish. The inventory list for the Temporary Import Permit is provided as a check list and is not something that you have to compile in advance. After all of your other paperwork is complete, the last stop is Customs where Mike, as captain, had to push the button on a large “traffic light”. Fortunately he got a green light. In a random selection process, you could get a red light which means a trip back to your boat with Customs officials who take a photo of your boat and may or may not have a look around inside. With Enrique’s assistance it was a relatively quick and easy process and we were off exploring the city before lunchtime.




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