The Ins and Outs of Cruising
06 April 2017
Port Captain's office in Barra de Navidad
There is a whole other set of rules when traveling in another country. We have to get a visa, of course. For those of us who don't have temporary or permanent resident status in Mexico, our stay is limited to a six-month stint. When entering the country for the first time with a boat, you have to apply for a Temporary Import Permit (TIP). We must provide our documentation for the boat, as well as Mexican Insurance and pay a fee. The TIP allows us to keep our boat in Mexico for ten years.
When sailing from port to port, we must check in and check out with the Port Captain. (Not every anchorage, but mostly the larger ports that have marinas.) This requires us to physically go to the Port Captain's office with a copy of our boat documentation, our passports, and a crew list. They take photo copies for their files, give us two copies of the crew list that they have stamped and signed - one for us and one for the marina - and we are on our way. The first few times we went through this ritual, I was intimidated. (See blog entry dated, 11/9/13, "We're not in Kansas Anymore.") Now, it has become routine.
Getting in and out of marinas and anchorages can be tricky. With unknown anchorages, we have to always be on the alert for rocks and jetties and reefs. With marinas, each one brings its own set of problems. Usually, the fairways are very tight and maneuvering a 50' boat can be difficult.
Upon arriving at Marina Puerto de la Navidad, I got on the radio and called the marina office, asking for a slip assignment. We requested a starboard tie for a 45' boat. (We are 50 feet overall, but since the marinas charge by the foot, we stick with what is on our documentation papers.) Isabel told us to pick any slip on G-Dock and she would have someone there to meet us to handle our lines.
As we entered the marina, G-Dock sat on our right, vertically, while all the other docks were to our left and laid out in a horizontal manner. The fairway is already narrow, but on the end of each dock, on our left, at the end tie, were big power boats, making the fairway tighter. Jay headed along G-Dock, while I tried to scout out a slip. Not only were there no starboard ties, the pangas had taken all the good slips; the ones that are easier to get in and out of because of their location being opposite to an open fairway. To my left and in front of us, I spotted D-17. It would have been so easy to dock the boat there as it required little maneuvering, just a left and a slight right. Before I could get Jay's attention, we were at the end of G-Dock where it runs into F-Dock on the left. (Imagine an upside-down L. We were stuck in the northeast corner of it.) Now, Jay had to turn a 50' boat in a space that might have been, literally, only sixty feet, at best. To top it off, there was no one on G-Dock to help us out.
Against all these odds, Jay was trying his best to maneuver Cadenza in a three-point turn. There was wind. Not much wind, but enough to send us toward the pilings. "No! No! No!" I yelled. CRUNCH. The bow sprit rubbed against a piling and broke the port light. "Shit!" Now, I am really mad. I got back on the radio and called Isabel. She sends us to D-7. We go out of the marina, turn around, and make our entrance again. Meanwhile, I am still eying D-17 which would be a better fit for us. "Just go in that one." I say to Jay, my patience wearing thin.
Isabel radios us and says, "Someone just took D-7."
"Can we please go to D-17?" I ask. After a minute, she agrees. Jay turns into the slip and Israel comes over to take our lines. Geez, you would think they would understand the limitations of boat maneuverability.
Leaving the marina wasn't so graceful, either. We had several friends to help us out and all went smoothly - at first. Once out in the fairway, Jay was turning the wheel, but nothing was happening. The wind got hold of us again. (We have a very high freeboard.) and we were headed for a big powerboat. "No! No! No!" I yelled, again. I looked to Jay, not understanding what was happening. I was on the bow and he wasn't answering my questions.
Just then, a panga with a load of people came beside us and our friend, Ben, tossed a book aboard for Jay. "No! No! No! What is he doing?!" I ask no one in particular. We nearly hit the panga. The passengers fended us off and they escaped without injury. "Whew!"
Now the boat was clear of the power boat and panga, but we were drifting into yet another boat, across the fairway. "No! No! No!" I tried to fend off, but it looked like we were going to hit when two people on the dock pulled back the boat while I pushed away. Finally, Jay got the steering back and we were on our way. "What happened?" I asked.
"The auto-pilot was on." Jay answered, sheepishly.
Usually, this would never have happened, but he had been working on it the day before. Evidently, he had left it in the on position. When he turned on the boat, Cadenza was heading for a fixed waypoint somewhere, just not where we wanted to go. Ah, boats, you just never know what the day will bring.
P.S. Alison and Allan! No more Moaning Myrtle! She just squeaks and peeps now and again. Jay fixed her.