I would like to make a few observations based on years of cruising in Mexico and Canada
spread over a number of trips on a number of boats.
Every January the state of California
checks all marinas
for registered boats and then sends them a tax bill. At the same time, every marina I have been in checks for proper boat registration
and insurance documentation
. It does not seem that Mexico is doing anything different that do the US and State authorities here.
HOW can a US boater in Mexico be unaware of a TIP? They had to either register their boat with a state authority or the USCG while in the US – do some people really think they can take a boat to a foreign country and not register it? Any problems boats have due to no TIP is their own ignorant fault.
and Immigration always treated us very fairly and respectfully. I made many customs
and immigration mistakes
while cruising back and forth to Mexico and never had a bit of trouble with any Mexican authority when I was open, honest, and respectful toward them.
Any web site, book, pamphlet, or article about Mexican cruising will certainly explain the importance of paperwork. The authorities in Mexico do enjoy their paperwork and this was common knowledge with every cruiser I met.
There are many confusing and disturbing aspects to Mexican rules, regulations
, and interpretations of those things. I have personally experienced or seen friends experience many of the strange things that can occur:
- Port Captain requiring me to pay checkin fee just to get fuel
despite the rule
clearly saying that was not necessary. His son owned the fuel dock
and refused to sell me fuel until I checked in.
- My wife had several of her plastic covered free weights cut open when they suspected drug smuggling.
- Saw two boats fined many dollars for improper display of the Mexican flag
- Port Captain requiring “rat inspection” at $100 per boat to leave the port
- Midnight traffic stop while driving a car – “you’ll have to spend the night and next day in jail if you can’t immediately pay the fine” Me – “How much is the fine” Him – “how much do you have?”
- Friend with a car cited for running an illegal taxi service
when they gave three cruiser friends a ride to the store. Local taxi company owned by the local PD chief’s brother (father? Uncle?)
- Border Immigracion refused to issue me a Visa as I entered the country. He kept telling me I did not need it. Finally convinced him I needed the Visa but he then refused to accept payment for it.
Now compare that to other experiences I have had.
– I was not allowed to check in because I did not know how many cigarettes were in the crew’s duffel bag. I don’t smoke and had no idea about fag’s in a box, boxes in a carton. I had to walk ½ mile back to boat and have my brother explain those things to me.
- Canada – could not check in because my wife had four boiled potatoes in the refrigerator
. No skins and well cooked. Couldn’t throw them out – had to go back across the straits to dump them.
- Canada – Customs official refused to come to the boat to stamp our passports as we needed for complicated reasons.
- US – could not check into San Diego
because we did not have $27 in cash to pay for customs inspection
- US – While my wife was driving city utility truck and in uniform and wearing a city ID around her neck she was assaulted by a undercover city cop who thought she was casing his alleyway for a robbery. He pulled her out of the clearly marked city truck, threw her against a fence, and frisked her.
- US – I walked out of a bar – there was a disturbance down the street and a cop told me to walk east on the street away from the disturbance. Half block later a cop knocked me down with a baton because he thought I was part of the disturbance and was trying to escape. The first cop just watched and laughed.
- US – A friend kept his boat registered in a state that did not have sales tax and very low property tax on boats. He kept the boat in a marina in the adjacent state that had high sales and property taxes
. One day, leaving his marina, a local sheriff stopped him and questioned the boat registration
. He tried to tell them he was just temporary. The sheriff mentioned the dates and times for the last three years the boat had been seen coming or going. Later, in the local tax office my friend watched video of his boat coming and going from the marina during the last two years. He did pay the taxes
and fines and laughed at his stupidity.
And so it goes.
The thing folks here seem to forget is that EVERY country has strange events
occur and interactions with police, customs, border patrol, etc. in every country can have unfortunate consequences. My brother, who spent 35 years alternating life in San Diego
and Baja California
Norte, and I who has spent 20+ years going back and forth to all of Baja
California find no difference in the rate of negative interactions with Mexican officials when compared to US and Canadian officials.