This from Richard Spindler - Latitude 38
338 FOREIGN YACHTS IMPOUNDED IN MEXICO. A sub-agency of Hacienda (Mexico's IRS) has decided they will take 45 days to four months to decide whether to fine, confiscate or 'liberate" the 338 foreign boats from 12 marinas, including our catamaran Profligate, that they have impounded for the most ridiculous — misspellings or typos — or non-existent reasons. While the boats aren't chained to the docks, they are not to leave their berths until the decisions have been rendered, and if they do leave, the marina must report them to the government agency. Think how wonderful this is for a couple who has worked and dreamed and saved for 10 years for such a cruise, and are now stuck in one marina. As you might expect, the marinas, Mexico Tourism, and others are horrified. Please spread the word as far as you can. For more details, read today's 'Lectronic Latitude. And we hate to tell you, Kevin and Marcie, but your cat is one of them. I wish this was a joke, but it's not.
FLEE MEXICO ON YOUR BOAT? In response to our report that 338 foreign yachts worth tens of million of dollars have been impounded in Mexico, and their owners will have to wait anywhere from 45 to 120 days to learn if they will be fined or if their boats will be "liberated" or confiscated, we've been getting asked a lot of questions. Mainly, how to keep one's boat from getting on the list. First, we want to clarify what we mean by "impounded". The 338 boats we've been told are being held are in what's called "precautionary embargo", which so far hasn't meant any boats chained to the dock. But it does mean that boats can't legally leave the marina, and if they do, the harbormaster must report them to AGACE, the Mexican agency causing all the problem. That would mean big trouble. In addition, the port captains have the list, and if your boat's name is on that list, you can't clear out. So how do you stay off the list? 1) Don't have your boat in Mexico. We're not joking, because having all your paperwork in order doesn't mean your boat won't get on the list. We have the same paperwork and documents for Profligate being in Mexico that we've had for 17 years and all are current. But it's made no difference. Our only 'crime' is that we weren't around when the AGACE people came by asking for papers the first time. It made no difference that we presented all the necessary papers when AGACE came around again a week later. They smiled very nicely, said everything was good — and still kept our name on the list. We are far from alone in this status. Blue, the big J/Boat, and many, many boats are in the same situation. 2) The second strategy is to stay out of marinas, particularly ones that haven't been checked by AGACE yet. Why? Because based on what's already happened, if you're not on your boat 24 hours a day with all the proper paperwork, and everything spelled correctly and no numbers transposed, your boat is likely to be put on the impound list. To our knowledge, no boats at anchor have been checked, nor do we believe AGACE has the boats to check boats at anchor. 3) If your boat hasn't been impounded, should you leave Mexico immediately? It's hard to say. We like to think that this is a horrible blunder of the part of a sub agency of Hacienda that will quickly be reigned in once the greater part of government realizes the terrible damage they are doing the image of Mexico as a safe and secure place for foreigners. But you never know, as government agencies in Mexico often have a lot of autonomy. Let's put it this way, if Profligate was in Turtle Bay and wasn't on the list, we'd be back in California by Christmas. This may sound alarmist to some, but when one of your biggest assets has been taken from your control for absolutely no good reason for perhaps four months or longer, you get religion quick. 4) What if your boat is in a marina and you're up in the States and weren't planning to come down for a few months? Oh man, we don't know what we'd do. It would cost a fortune to move her, and where would you move her to? What makes this situation all the more vexing is that we've never received any formal notice that our boat is on the list, and there is absolutely nobody at a local AGACE office to appeal to. Indeed, AGACE people who checked boats in Banderas Bay came all the way from Guadalajara. The best Christmas present anyone with a boat in Mexico can hope for is that this nightmare ends quickly. After all, think of all the people who planned to spend the winter and then cross to the South Pacific. They have to live in constant fear if they stay in Mexico — assuming their boat isn't already on the list, in which case they could be in limbo until late April — that their boat will end up on the list. We love Mexico, but we'd be lying if we didn't admit that love is quickly waning. We hope Mexican officials come to their senses quickly before any additional damage is done to their country. Please, please, please spread the word about this situation, as it needs to see the light of day.