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Page 54 •
• December, 2012
LETTERS Based on my experience, cruisers who own pets need to fully research the requirements — both for the U.S. and Mexico — before taking their pet south. This especially applies to cruisers with exotic pets, such as my African grey parrot. My bird is stuck in Mexico until I can finesse the permits needed to get him to the San Diego quarantine facility for 30 days, where he must prove to be free of infections. Getting the permits for exotic pets is a road loaded with bureaucratic hurdles and lots of delays. Having the initial permit to exit the United States would make re-entry a little easier. The biggest problem is that four agencies — two U.S. and two Mexican — are involved in the process, none of them formally connected. Plus there are potential language barriers. This issue needs to be more fully disclosed within the cruising community to prevent a boatload of heartache. David Tamblyn Quest, Morgan 33 San Diego / San Carlos David — We don't cruise with a dog or cat, but it seems as if every other boat in Mexico has one, so apparently that's not a problem. Dogs in the South Pacific are another issue entirely. When it comes to exotic pets, there are so many variables that it's up to each pet owner to do the research. But you're right, it can be difficult if not impossible. We once had a parrot named Lola on our Ocean 71 Big O in the Caribbean, and even featured her on a Latitude cover. Having that bird was a lot of trouble, but not because of permits and quarantines. The problem was that some previous owner had taught Lola all kinds of racial insults. And trust us, when officials walk by your Med-tied boat at some island in the West Indies, the last thing you want is a loquacious, racist parrot. ⇑⇓MYSTERY PANGA AT SEA We read with interest your article discussing David Vann's writings about the death of John Long of Alameda a few years back and the possibility of pirates transporting drugs up the Pacific Coast to California in pangas powered by 115-hp outboards. Several years ago, we were passengers returning to Los Angeles from Mazatlan on a cruise ship that was rerouted offshore to avoid a hurricane near Cabo San Lucas. Our new course took us about 150 miles farther out to sea than the usual shipping track. Having left the storm to starboard, we were enjoying a pleasant day at sea when an announcement from the bridge advised all passengers that we were altering course to assist a vessel apparently in distress. The boat came into view as she bobbed in the 6- to 8-ft seas in light winds. As the ship slowly coasted up to her, we could see that she was about 40 feet long, had no cabin or deck of any kind, and was powered by two very large outboards. Her totally exposed cargo consisted of many rectangular plastic bags filled with brown material that were neatly stacked inside the hull. One of the outboards was tilted out of the water, had its cover removed, and was being worked on by two intense young men who did not notice our arrival. Suddenly one looked up at the behemoth ship looming alongside and was clearly taken aback, as most of the 1,500+ passengers were hanging over the port side frantically snapping pictures. The other waved up at us, as he responded to the ship's crew, who had opened a large hatch near the waterline and were standing on the associated pilot-access deck.
The December 2012 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.