Those TIPS: Temporary Import Permits

This will be a test post from the land of slow interweb connections. Yes, we’re in Mexico. Didn’t see that coming, did you? We took the plunge and decided to leave early Thursday evening so we could get to Ensenada early in the day today and get cleared in before the weekend. We are starting to feel a little rushed as we have a plane to catch to Ecuador on December 7 and we would like some time to get the boat buttoned up. So here we are in Cruiseport Marina, and you won’t have any photos in this post because: slow and unreliable internet. What an interesting place this is already.

Let me be honest here: I’m having a number of what I’m going to call ‘American Moments’.  I’ve decided that term aptly describes the assumptions that I, as an American, make about how things will go when, in fact, my assumptions will cause me to not ask the right questions or even know what questions to ask!  The marina is not what I expected it to be in some ways, but it’s more than I ever dreamed in other ways.

For instance, I have been looking forward since September 26 to doing my laundry. That is the last day we did laundry in an actual laundry machine.  We have a lot of laundry to do and this marina was supposed to sport a nice laundry facility where for $1.25 American per load I could walk away with freshly cleaned and folded clothes. (I prefer to do my own laundry, not turn it over to strangers.)  The true part of this statement is that yes, there is a laundry room and it’s very nice and that’s the correct price. After that, things start to get dicey. The laundry room, and the rest rooms and showers, will be closing December 4 for renovations and to enlarge them. Ok, now I have 3 days to get all my laundry done. It would have been very nice for someone to have alerted me to this at the time of my reservation, since these are amenities that people are looking for in a marina. Added to my list of questions for future marinas: “Do you have a laundry room, do the machines work, and will you be closing them in the near future? ”

So we take two loads of salty sheets and blankets down to the facility, which, by the way, is about 1/2 mile away. We arrive to find only 1 washing machine that works. The other two have ‘out of order’ signs on them. Mike could probably fix them if we knew what was wrong; alas it’s a mystery. The entire marina has 3 days to get  laundry done. Also, do not use the second dryer. It does not get hot and will eat your money. After sailing all night to get here, checking into the marina, then being whisked through immigration, customs, etc,  I felt a bit like a wilted flower taking my semi-moist blankets out of the drier to hang over the safety lines on Galapagos.

Now. Another thing. There are no pump out facilities for holding tanks here at Cruiseport Marina. (Holding tanks hold your poo until you dispose of it properly.)  I mean, how American of me to simply assume that there would be! I know better than that and yet I didn’t even realize I was assuming it! That’s how assuming works. You don’t see it until you’ve made an ‘ass out of u and me’, as they say. No. Pump Out. You know what that means? Surely it means that people take their boats down to the newer Marina Coral down the water way and use their pump out? Or they take the boat out to sea and pump overboard? No, it does not mean that. It means I better look first before putting my hands in the water around here. I know, I know. I will have to get used to that. We have a clean holding tank right now and I wanted to keep it that way so we could leave with it empty, but darn it if those bathrooms are not closing December 4.

So those are the irritations, but the good thing is this: if you come stay here to check into Mexico, the marina will have a staff member drive you to the one-stop immigration processing office and in less than an hour you will be cleared into the country.  No muss, no fuss. This is part of their service.  I mean it, this marina guy was amazing. Considering that clearing in to Mexico by boat is a multi-step process involving several different offices and we don’t speak Spanish yet, this was a huge relief to us. We were in and out while other cruisers who arrived before us were still waiting. I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but I also didn’t ask questions about it. Marina man pointed and said ‘sign here’ and ‘pay this amount’ and we did. And it was done.

The biggest relief was when they issued us our Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for the boat. These are good for 10 years. Here’s the hitch: the permit goes with the boat. When you check out of Mexico you are supposed to cancel that TIP but lots of boat owners don’t bother. Then they sell the boat and the new owner inherits a head ache when they apply for a TIP to go to Mexico and are told that the old one still exists and must be cancelled first, preferably by the previous boat owner. I’ve literally read that you have to hunt down the previous owner and get them to have some kind of document notarized…blah blah, no way.  Our boat had a TIP issued as recently as 2008. It’s not 2018 yet, and they are good for ten years. You do the math.  I figured we’d have a problem and the previous owner wasn’t forthcoming with any information. (This was two or three owners back.) We’d kind of hit a wall.

When you research how to cancel a TIP there is no definitive answer to be found. It’s all very wishy washy. There have been days where the Mexican government, knowing this is a problem, has sent representatives to some of the consulates to cancel TIPS for people. They have been surprised by the number of people who show up. We never showed up because I never heard about any of these special events until after the fact. Also I just didn’t see why I should have to spend time and money traveling to another city, like Phoenix or Sacramento, to cancel something the previous owner should have done.

So we threw caution to the wind and just went to Mexico believing it would work out. I mean, we certainly wouldn’t be the only people to show up with an old TIP still attached in the system to their boat. I imagine that happens all the time. Surely the good Mexican people had a way of dealing with that. Our plan was to deny knowing anything about it and throw ourselves on their mercy if necessary. In the end, it never even came up! I spent months stressing about this, emailing the Port of Ensenada, contacting people at the marina who never returned my message, talking on the phone to the people at the Mexican Consulate in San Fransisco (who told me I would have to go to Sacramento to deal with it), hitting dead end after dead end. That’s why we just threw up our hands and rolled with it. In the end, no one even asked.  I’m not sure they even checked in their system to see if one existed for our hull number. They just took our documentation, processed our fee, and gave us our beautiful, holographed permit! Yippee! We’re imported!

So it’s been a long day and night but so many people are confused about this TIP thing I wanted to get this information out there. Just stay in the Cruiseport Marina when you check in. Wash your clothes before you come and look the other way when your neighbor pumps out overboard. Maybe you’ll get lucky on that Temporary Import Permit, too.

Oh, and about that furler, Mike fixed it in less than 2 days. I do have a post on it but can’t get it to load because of the photos. I’ll get to it.

S/V Galapagos, Out.

25 thoughts on “Those TIPS: Temporary Import Permits

  1. GREAT news about the TIP! Congratulations!

    Your experience with the GREAT help by Cruiseport staff with checkin is exactly our experience.

    Really sorry to hear about laundry and showers (Cruiseport’s showers were easily the nicest/cleanest we saw in Mexico marinas).

    Laundry: have you considered taking laundry to a laundry service in town? At ebd you everything folded etc.

    Bienvenidos a Mexico.

    • We were very relieved, to be sure. i know people Love mexico for getting their laundry done, but I don’t like giving my laundry over to someone else. It’s just a little weird thing about me. I might get over that, but no time soon. What I REALLY want is a washer on board, but that’s unlikely to happen.

  2. PS Forget about HT pumpouts in Mexico. Few and very far between (IF they work).

    (However, normally in the marinas everyone uses the land-based toilets for #2….)

  3. Glad you made it safely! In my research before Darrin left, we found out about the no pumpouts, it’s why we ended up at Coral. I’m sure he would love to meet up with you if you have time – you’ll hear him on the cruisers net in the morning. Corals machines all work btw 😉

    • Well, Marina Coral is a resort, so I bet they have very nice facilities. We are leaving our boat, so didn’t want to pay resort prices for the two months we’ll be gone. Would love to meet Darrin but we’ll see how it goes. We have a lot of things to get done in the next few days getting the boat ready to leave. It’s making me nervous! I think Mike will be at the one machine that works early tomorrow morning with another few loads of laundry.

      • Of course, makes perfect sense! We’ll be back in Ensenada mid January and are planning to stay until end of February-ish, so perhaps we’ll catch up then. In the meantime, safe travels!

  4. Congrats on making it to Mexico! So glad all went well with the government regs.

    Get use to the slow internet thing. This is usually our biggest issue when cruising. We have had a couple of places with rocking wi-fi. It just makes it that much more special.

    BTW there is often a coin laundry near the marinas or within a short bus ride if the marina doesn’t work out.

    Looking forward to reading about you adventures there

  5. Fish (or shrimp) tacos Baja style. Ensenada has the best (and supposedly is where the “Baja style” was invented)!

    And Hussong’s Cantina has the best margaritas (go on 2-for-1 night, if it still exists).

    For when you return to Ensenada from Ecuador:
    Soriana and Costco good for food shopping (as is “City Club”, which is like Costco but you can get a “day membership”)
    Propane real close to Cruiseport (unlike elsewhere in Baja)… about 5-10 min walk from docks.

    • Finally had my longed-for fish tacos today at a little mom and pop comida. They were everything I remembered they’d be! Lots of people have recommended Hussong’s. We’ll have to look for it.

  6. Good to hear you’ve made it to Mexico! If you haven’t been immersed in Mexican culture previously, you’ll be experiencing a learning curve. For the most part it is conducive to cruising under sail, where time isn’t as important as the experience. It’s the small things that are both the most satisfying and the most frustrating. The hospitality of strangers is one of those attributes which we cherished about our experiences in Mexico. However, even this, we found, could be taken to an extreme. We can’t remember an instance when asking for directions, we were ever told by the person we queried, they didn’t know the place we were asking about and without fail would give detailed directions. More often than not, the directions were accurate, but occasionally it became clear our source hadn’t a clue what we were looking for and rather than being inhospitable by not offering help, a sincere attempt was made to offer assistance. Laundry is another chore we found could be done more efficiently by shopping it out to people in the community. Once the price of machine time and detergent were calculated, the price of having it done was competitive and saved the time we would have spent doing it (it also obviated the occasional frustration of paying for machines which didn’t function properly). The icing on the cake was the laundry was folded and packed. Pump out facilities, as you have already found, are not a universal service provided by all marinas. It’s also one that, unfortunately, is largely ignored by many of the folks who you will find will be anchoring out for extended periods living on a shoe-string budget. However, most of the major marinas in the more popular cruising areas will have pump out facilities available. It will just take a bit more planning to make sure your plans include timely stops at those facilities or plan to be far enough off-shore to pump out when the facilities are not available. It’s exciting to hear you’ve made your way into what will be many new adventures in living and sailing! Fair winds and following seas…go gently and enjoy every minute!

    • This is our second time in Mexico but I’m still going to experience some culture shock. We got the laundry done today by getting up early and snagging the one washing machine that works. All the laundry done! I’m not yet ready to turn that over to anyone else, but I’m sure that day will come. We had so much to do that carting it to someone else would have been more trouble than doing it myself. I think the biggest difference we’ve noticed is that you cannot drink the water at the marina. The facilities here are very nice – beautiful bathrooms and showers but you can’t drink the water. And there are a lot of dead animals in the water, especially birds. I don’t know what’s causing that. This trip we’ve generally been able to get well beyond the offshore limit so we can pump overboard. But if there’s a pumpout facility, we’ll use that.

      • Yes, the water is too salty to drink, only reverse osmosis deals with it (when we were there, a liveaboard had setup a RO home unit from Home Depot on top of his deck… not too expensive if one were staying several months there).

        Buying 19-litre bottles, many bottles (I think we had 42), is what’s done. The guys organize it, bring bottles, and empty them into your tanks. All you do is pay… 😉

  7. How great! You are in Mexico! Congratulations! All that time spent on what seemednever ending projects has paid off!

    I’m trying not to feel bummed because I’m not somewhere warm as well. Next year for sure!
    -My two broken knees will be repaired
    -My son will be done with his chemo, and healed
    -Ed will have taken a bluewater sailing course to get his confidence back after he ran Windcat aground.

    All of your tips as you travelled down the coast are great and useful. Not sure if we will be selling Windcat and buying something bigger here, or leaving Windcat here and buying something bigger someplace where it’s warmer.

    In the meantime God Speed in your travels.

    • Tell Ed it’s hard to run aground in deep water! Sorry he ran Windccat aground, but that happens to everyone at some point and now it’s out of the way for Ed. Best wishes to your son for his complete healing, and for your knees.

  8. Oh, yeah. Laundry. So here is another option when shore facilities are too expensive and/ or too much hassle or non-existant. You will save time and money, and you will never lose anything. You can use this machine on deck or on a dock ( re-fuelling at 1litre/ minute in Santa Rosalia, what else are you going to do!). You can dinghy it all ashore to the nearest public tap. You can hang it to dry on the nearest tree or in the rigging.
    Off-shore washing machine: 2 clean buckets, 2 new toilet plungers, biodegradable soap, 4 strong arms, and a sense of humour. Maybe a couple beers.
    But I do admit it – good shore facilities are golden! Best regards and congratulations on your Mexico landfall!

    • Oh yes! The 5 gallon bucket laundry. I wonder if it was your old toilet plunger we found stashed in the far reaches of the lazarette and finally threw away? Have to say, on our previous boat I went the 5 gallon bucket laundry routine. No plunger, just my hands and arms and Mike’s arms to help me wring out the clothes. On Galapaos i’ve upgraded to an actual laundry tub and a small but handy washboard. I’m able to keep up with underwear and thin shirts, but Mike will insist on wearing his heavy canvas Carhartt’s and I’m not even going to attempt those. In the end, we got all the laundry done to my satisfaction. Nice to have you along for the ride! And we sure enjoyed your logs from the Sea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.