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Old 20-05-2014, 11:55   #1
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San Diego - Coronado Islands

I have been reading about the need for a Visa now to sail in Mexican waters and the need to get a Mexican Fishing license just to carry fishing gear, even if you don't fish.

I would like to take a day trip out to the Coronado's with some friends, drop a hook for lunch and maybe scuba dive. Then sail back home to San Diego. What do I need to do these days to be in compliance with the laws?
Will I need to stop at the Customs dock when returning too?
Do I need my passport?
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Old 20-05-2014, 20:43   #2
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Re: San Diego - Coronado Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wind River View Post
I have been reading about the need for a Visa now to sail in Mexican waters and the need to get a Mexican Fishing license just to carry fishing gear, even if you don't fish.

I would like to take a day trip out to the Coronado's with some friends, drop a hook for lunch and maybe scuba dive. Then sail back home to San Diego. What do I need to do these days to be in compliance with the laws?
Will I need to stop at the Customs dock when returning too?
Do I need my passport?
I listened to 3 fisherman/boat owners talk about what each one thought were the requirements these days and it seem pretty confusing.

I would suggest Downwind Marine as place to start for the current requirements.

But...
If you have fishing gear on the boat to be in complete compliance you would want a fishing permit for the boat and each individual on the boat. If you carry fishing gear on the dinghy you would want a fishing permit for the dinghy as well. This has been true for years.

You need the individual visas that are now required for every day spent in Mexican waters - should be available at Fishermen's Landing or other similiar locations.

You need your passports to legally cross into Mexico and to return.

Legally you need to stop at the Customs dock when returning to the US.
How many fishing boats actually do this after crossing south of the border is a question and how many they could actually handle if every boat stopped would be another question.

Regards
Marc Hall
Crazy Fish - Maintaining, Upgrading and Sailing a Crealock 37
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Old 20-05-2014, 23:43   #3
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Re: San Diego - Coronado Islands

Yup you need a visa. We know all if the illegal americans just moving to mexico and living off the system is a big problem

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Old 21-05-2014, 10:13   #4
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Re: San Diego - Coronado Islands

Thanks Marc, I will give the nice folks at Downwind Marine a call and see if they have any updates.
I suspected that what you said (and what I have read) is true but it just seemed so ridiculous. A second opinion was in order in case there was some local knowledge like "Yea you are supposed to do that, but it's not enforced" kind of thing.
Since I don't fish very often, I guess unloading the fishing gear once in a while wouldn't be a big deal. Much cheaper and easier than making all my guests get fishing licenses to come with me.

Captainbri - I always appreciate appropriate sarcasm.
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Old 21-05-2014, 11:13   #5
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Re: San Diego - Coronado Islands

The LOG (SoCal Maritime Newspaper) had a recent article and letters to the editor that listed the requirements for visiting Mexico. The Log Newspaper | California Boating & Fishing News - Letter-to-the-editor-FMM

"All boats boarded in Mexican waters are required to have a VHF radio license and VHF radio operator on board. the VHF boat license, which is good for 10 years, is $160 and a lifetime operatorís license is $60. These licenses are only available online and not required in U.S. waters. The FMM Permits, the captainís manifesto, the VHS licenses and fishing licenses MUST be on board and in perfect order. "

One of the unusual ones that seemed to offend folks was

- Mexican VHF license
- at least one individual onboard must hold a Mexican VHF radio operators license

There were many questions about the operators license
- required only for commercial vessel
- required only if there is a licensed captain onboard
- what if there is no VHF onboard

Letters to the editor from several fisherman said that they had been checked for those licenses while fishing, found to not have them, and then escorted to Ensenanda to purchase said licenses.

Then of course you'd have to check back into the US at Shelter Island and pay that $27 fee.

It may also all just be rumours and stories.
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Old 21-05-2014, 23:49   #6
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Re: San Diego - Coronado Islands

Summary of My Experiences and Thoughts....

If you aren't going to fish and don't already have Mexican Fishing Licenses for every person aboard then don't bring any fishing gear. Solves that problem.

There isn't a fishing license for the vessel anymore. But there is the Visa thing for operating a vessel in Mexican Waters that is kind of new. I've never bought one....

The last time I anchored off of the east side of the South Island the current was coming down fairly decently. It was enough for me to not want to jump in for a swim and I almost always jump in for a little waterline scrubbing when I drop a hook.

On my slow boat (i don't motor too often) its a full day just getting down there and back. I only drop the anchor down there when I plan to stay the night.

I'm pretty sure if you don't stop at a port or "step foot on the land" you don't have to check in at the customs dock. Ive sailed down around the islands and back several times. The only time I checked in at Customs was when I came back from spending a week in Ensenada for a bottom job.

I've never had a visit form the Armada when I'm down there in my sail boat. I've never seen or heard of people in sailboats getting stopped/boarded. I have seen and heard of people in fishing boats getting stopped/boarded often. However the Armada seems kind of "off and on". They go out one week and stop/board everybody and their brother and then the next week nothing happens and nobody gets stopped/boarded.

I have no "radio operators license" from anywhere. I've never been asked to show one when I've check in at Ensenada or the customs dock.

Of course I'm propbably breaking all sorts of American and Mexican laws but so far there hasn't been any issues.
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Old 22-05-2014, 09:42   #7
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Re: San Diego - Coronado Islands

This is why I posed the question.

The link TacomaSailor posted makes me say, screw it, I just won't go there. It's not worth the hassle. On the other hand, Yeti's experience is what I think is probably really happening. People are just going and not seeing any real consequence as long as they are not fishing, but what are those real consequences if the Mexican Navy pushes the issue?

I also read that I don't need a visa for "Innocent passage" through Mexican waters. What constitutes innocent passage? The intent to head to international waters?
I suppose I could argue that point if I don't stop at the islands, but not if I am anchored with dive gear.

If I start seeing 10:1 of people just ignoring the visa and VHF license issue I might do the same. Until then I will just ignore the islands calling my name until I can find some more definitive info on the subject.

Please post your experiences. Thanks
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Old 22-05-2014, 10:22   #8
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Re: San Diego - Coronado Islands

We live in a San Diego marina with a lot of fisherman who spend a lot of time fishing "in the waters South of Pt Loma" - most report the same as Yeti - no hassles - no problems

But, a couple have been boarded, questioned, and lectured by Mexican officials. I have not heard from anyone who has been escorted to Ensenada but it is Mexico so everything depends on how the local officials feel on the day you interact with them.

A friend here is a very busy Captain who manages five large pleasure boats that frequent the Coronado Island and does a lot of deliveries to and from Mexico. He always carries his passport, seldom worries about the visa, and was not aware of the VHF license requirement.

On my last trip to Ensenada to pickup a boat to bring back to San Diego the Tijuana border crossing refused to issue me visa because "you do not need a visa to drive to Ensenada and pickup a boat to bring back to the states."

The Port Captain in Ensenada did want to see the Visa but we left early in the AM when there was less urgency to show the visa.

That is the big problem with "south of the border" - it all depends on the local circumstances
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