Log #62a Into Mexico

January 14, 2017 in Log Series 60-69, Logs by Series, Series 62, The Logs

 

Log #62a Into Mexico

Aqua Verde, BCS, Mexico

Jan. 16, 2017

 

Hi Folks,

 

This log finally gets us into Mexico. Note that it is the first log of my next series Logs #62 Mexico. In this log I talk about the entry procedures into Mexico, the cost of living in Mexico, and describe a few insurance problems we have. Bureaucracy is the bane of itinerant cruisers as we are.

It takes us from Ensenada where we checked into Mexico and down a couple of long overnight passages,

almost 300 miles down the Baja to Turtle Bay.

Log #62a Map 3

 

I hope to be able to get this off tomorrow or the next day as we will be in a marina near a small town where hopefully we will have access to the internet. We probably will have a Boston Whaler in tow, as we helped this chap who was stranded with engine problems today, towing him a couple of miles into this anchorage. However he does not seem to have solved his problem, and we have offered to tow him 22 miles up to the next town where I believe he has his vehicle and trailer stored and will be able to take care of his large 90 horsepower outboard.

All the best,

Aubrey

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Log #62a Into Mexico

Evaristo, BCS, Mexico,

Jan. 14, 2017

 

Log #62a Flag Veleda arrived in Mexican waters shortly after midnight November 24 after leaving San Diego early evening the previous day, calculated to give us a morning arrival in Ensenada, so we could complete our formalities to enter Mexico. We arrived at Cruiseport Village in downtown Ensenada (31° 51.326′ N, 116° 37.295′ W) at 0944 after a 68 mile,14 hour passage.  The other marina is Marina Coral, an expensive marina ($90.00 a night for our 32 foot boat) about three miles from town. In registering at the marina we had to download our new insurance policy which we had just arranged a few days before leaving San Diego. Our Canadian company could not insure us for Mexico.

 

The marina provided a driver and vehicle to take us over town to get our Mexican visas ($19.50 each), and our entry fee for the boat ($13.05). We had our temporary import permit good for ten years from when we were in the Yucatan in 2013, and had our fishing licences obtained on line a few weeks earlier. Such licences are necessary for each person aboard if there is any fishing gear carried, whether fishing or not. We did not want to be spot checked without ALL our documentation. No health documents were required and no on- board inspection for any purpose was made. The driver assisted in the processing of the documents and took us to a bank machine for pesos, and to a phone company to purchase a Mexican cell phone. The process was quite painless and only took a few hours.

 

Insurance complications, boat, car, and health

 

The boat insurance we arranged in San Diago was contingent on an in-water survey and a diver’s assessment. No surveyors were available in Ensenada, and we may have to wait until we get to Cabo San Lucas or further to get one. We then started to reconsider the expense of full coverage. The cost for such was about $2400, with a $2000 deductible, plus the expense of a survey and diver, at a cost of about $1000 plus, and repairing any defects found. It was not worth it. We decided to forgo the survey and just put liability on the boat. That meets the requirements for all marinas, in that any accident caused by our boat will cover any damages done to other boats or facilities. However, Veleda herself will not be covered. It is a risk we will have to live with.

 

Similarly we had a difficult time insuring our Yukon in storage in New Mexico. The company we were with would not cover it since it was out of Canada for more than six months. Thus it had no coverage. The licence was due to be renewed by January 19, 2017, and we could renew it on line, except that it could not be renewed unless insured. An interesting Catch 22!

 

However our company suggested we go to a direct insurer rather than a broker, and suggested State Farm Insurance. This we did on line and had a contact in Canada to do so. However, after several days of phone calls resulting in “leave a message” voice mail, and several attempts to contact the Canadian agency on line, we were referred to another State Farm agent, Randy. After playing telephone tag with his number for several days, we finally contacted him. The delays were caused by the fact that the original agent we were trying to contact recently died!

 

Anyways, Randy was quite co-operative and after a number of questions that we thought might have resulted in not being able to insure us, was able to obtain a policy for us. When I said potentially embarrassing questions, I was concerned about the Yukon being outside of Canada for over a year, and stored with lapsed insurance. I was also concerned with the question as to why my driver’s licence was under the address in Wahnapitae, a small town just east of Sudbury, Ontario, and Judy’s is at our Toronto address on Wellington Street East. The reason is that Northern Ontario, where my foster son lives, has no emissions test for vehicle licences. One year I had to drive 3000 miles from Victoria to Toronto just to have a 20 minute emissions test to renew the licence! I then changed the address to avoid further emissions test requirements. Randy accepted that explanation with no problem. I provided him with the previous insurance policy and agency; again no problem.

 

However, since the Yukon is 11 years old the car itself could not be insured, but liability could. This also will satisfy the Ontario Driver’s Licence requirements, and is much cheaper than full coverage was previously. Thus only a few days ago I finally was able to access the on-line drivers licence renewal in Ontario, and renewed the licence for the Yukon. I will now be able to drive the Yukon and our trailer from New Mexico to Ontario legally and insured in March. I just hope I don’t have an accident as any damage to the Yukon, I will have to pay in full. This is another risk I will have to live with.

 

Then, I will have to wait three months before my health insurance can be re-established. That is why we are going back to Ontario for the summer. I will have to spend five months a year in Ontario to maintain my coverage. I will not be covered for the next six months. I just hope I don’t have an accident and that my health remains good. Yet another risk I have to live with.

 

As one can see, bureaucracy is the bane of an itinerant lifestyle. However, I could not have seen so much of the world without taking these risks.

 

Ensenada is a city of about 280,000 population, the first major community south of San Diego, where many yatistas can clear into or out of the country. It has an efficient CIS (Centro Integral de Servicios) office where all the clearance and port authorities are in one location. In other Mexican cities one has to go to several different locations to get all the paperwork done. Cruiseport Marina is still in development as a marina and cruise ship port, and commercial terminal. A couple of cruise ships were in port while we were there. It is right down town within walking distance of good grocery stores, chandleries, restaurants, museums and other offices such as tourist, phone, car rentals, hardware stores and other conveniences of a good size city. We found a good meat store across the street from a large grocery store. We particularly enjoyed the Cultural and History Museum across the road from the marina.  I enjoyed also the Spanish architecture of the building and the history wall accounting for the contributions of Christopher Columbus and other Spanish explorers and missionaries up to the present time.

 Log #62a Cultiral Museum

 

Judy was pleased to find an automotive shop that was able to order a few non- standard size belts for our water pump, and delivered in an hour. When in San Diego she tramped through several chandleries and repair shops unsuccessfully for these belts. They are not a standard Yanmar belt, as our water pump was replaced a few years ago with one that was available and worked, even though it was not a Yanmar. This is one of the problems that one has to buy whatever is available when it is needed; thus the non-standard water pump and the non- standard belt. Nothing is ever simple! We had the same problem when we replaced the standard 50 amp alternator with a larger 100 amp alternator, and the belt is again a non-standard size that can be found only in certain automotive or motorcycle shops.

 

We are able to get pesos from the bank machines and ATMs. We use the conversion of 20 pesos to the US dollar, although at present it is 21 or 22 pesos to the dollar as the Mexican peso has declined recently. I use a cheat sheet in my pocket to help in conversions to US dollars 20 pesos = $1.00; 50 pesos = $2.50; 200 pesos = $10.00; 1000 pesos = $50.00; and 2000 pesos = $100.00. The cost of living in Mexico is much less than in Canada or the US. Grocery bills that would have been $250 to $300 every two weeks in the US would be less than 2000 pesos, including meat and liquor. Booze is quite cheap down here. A large 1.75 litre bottle of Bacardi is less than 150 pesos or $7.50 US. Meats and vegetables are similarly less expensive than in the US. Unfortunately gas prices recently went up 20% and there were riots and demonstrations throughout the country because of it. Now the gas costs 16 pesos a litre or about $0.65 US a litre or less than $2.47 a gallon. Of course, people working in Mexico earn far less than workers in Canada, so these prices benefit those of us from elsewhere.

 

In Canada one needs a prescription from a physician to get prescribed drugs. Since I am no longer covered, I cannot order my prescriptions from Canada. But, I can buy them down here at reasonable prices, and without a prescription. I just show my prescription bottles at La Farmacia and they can find the Mexican equivalent for me. Thus I am able to keep my prescriptions up to date. Many Mexican border towns cater to Americans who cross the border for economical medications, physicians, dentists, and optometrists, including surgical procedures. Most providers were trained in the US and use modern equipment and facilities. I can see how many Canadians and Americans can live down here and not worry too much about health care.

 

Our next couple of passages were long overnight ones. We left Ensenada at 1230 on the 26th to arrive at anchor in Bahia San Quintin (pronounced Keen TEEN)at 30° 22.368′ N, 115° 58.845′ W, 23 hours later after a 110 mile passage. We are now going in a southeasterly direction so winds from NE to SW will help us. However we sailed only a few hours of those 23, and motor sailed for the rest of the time in order to keep our speed up. Just before sunset the first day we were visited by a large pod of white-sided dolphins. When we arrived we did not go ashore or try to dinghy into the large estuary which winds up into a small settlement. Ths shallows and breakers foaming along much of the shoreline deterred us. The pilot book suggests that even in a dinghy, one would be wise to engage a local panga guide to lead between the shifting shoals. Instead we stayed aboard and did an oil change on the engine.

 

We left at noon next day for a 185 mile passage to Turtle Bay. We had calculated doing 4.5 knots for a 42 hour passage, getting us in early morning two days later. However, we had strong winds between 17 to 25 knots, giving us speeds of 6 to 7 knots overnight, wing on wing heading SE with winds from the NW. We started our watermaker for the first time in several years, and it worked well, pumping a gallon of fresh water every hour into our tank. We had sent it away for repairs and had it delivered to us in Berkley while we were in San Francisco Bay. Until now we have used municipal water to fill our water tanks, but in Mexico, one has to be careful of all non-bottled water.

 

During the first afternoon we were visited by another large pod of white sided dolphins. The coastline has dry barren mountains, with few bays or anchorages for long stretches on this northern part of the Baja.

Log #62a Coastal scenery

Heavy winds started late afternoon and kept up most of the night, creating a certain amount of anxiety pounding through heavy seas, wing on wing in the dark, the conditions too heavy to try to take down the pole holding out the genoa. However our GPS indicated our ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) as 1530 (3:30 pm) next day, if we kept up 6 to 7 knots. However the wind dropped shortly after midnight and our speed was reduced to 5 knots in sloppy seas. It was still too dangerous to go up to the bow to take down the whiskerpole, and besides the genoa wung out still gave us more speed than without it wung out.

 

At 0558, shortly before sunrise (which was at 0616) I engaged the engine, gybed the main and furled the genoa. I can furl the genoa with the whisker pole still up. The pole is carried forward as the genoa furls up around the forestay, and the pole is then held pointing forward held next to the forestay until I take it down. This is safer than going forward to detach the pole in heavy seas. We motor sailed the rest of the way to keep our speed up. As it was we still arrived to anchor in the dark at Turtle Bay (27° 14.151′ N, 114° 52.978′ W) at 2202 (sunset was at 1645) the second night.

 

There were some lights on shore and on several boats at anchor. We motored past an outer boat, and had a good sleep. In the morning we felt we were too close to the other boat and so relocated further into the bay. We spent two nights inTurtle Bay, and enjoyed the small town and got fuel and resupplied, as I will describe in my next log.

  Log #62a Map 3