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.