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• May, 2014
LETTERS doing some spring cleaning, our captain Rod and crew sailed our Dashew 64 FPB motoryacht Avatar 70 miles south to Ensenada for a bottom job. That project went well, and in a few days Avatar was ready to return to San Diego to prepare for our next cruising adventure. That's when things literally went south. On November 26, AGACE, a Mexican federal taxation agency equivalent to our IRS, raided eight marinas across Mexico, including Marina Coral, where Avatar was at the time. The inspectors were accompanied by three truckloads of heavily armed Marines. They seized 47 boats in our marina, Avatar included, and a total of 338 across Mexico. They placed them under 'precautionary embargo' while they supposedly investigated whether the boats had the appropriate documentation to be in Mexico, and whether the claimed owners were the real owners. All that's required are the normal boat documents and a $50 Temporary Import Permit that is good for 10 years. Avatar's 'problem' was that the AGACE inspectors could not Avatar find her HIN (hull identification number). Please take a look at the accompanying photo, and you'll see that Avatar Avatar's HIN number was engraved in the hull, right where it's supposed to be on the transom. We also had our boat documentation number — correct size and location — engraved in the inside of the boat. Not only could the inspectors not find the HIN number, they didn’t bother to ask to be shown it. Avatar's Avatar captain was present and available to show it to them. Marina Coral management 'Avatar's HIN was exactly where it and attorneys spent months was supposed to be. hustling between Ensenada, Tijuana, and Mexico City trying to sort out our situation, but to no avail. Their own businesses were also suffering from the negative publicity. On our behalf, I started contacting Arizona’s senators, the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, our insurance company, and attorneys on both sides of the border. Meanwhile, our cruising plans came to a grinding halt. Not only would we not enjoy an idyllic February trip down the coast of Baja this year, visiting the gray whales en route to Panama, now we never will. Because of what became a four-month nightmare, we will never consider cruising — or spend any money — in Mexico again. In February, word started trickling in that some boats were being "liberated." But somehow Avatar and the other embargoed boats in Ensenada wound up at the bottom of the list, and remained embargoed. We were told AGACE was simply following a "procedure." A better description might be called 'saving face'. Finally, almost four months to the day after our boat was impounded, we received documents affirming that we: 1) Had entered Mexico legally. 2) Had been in Mexico legally the whole time. And, 3) Were the legitimate owners of our own boat! The release document, releasing not only Avatar, but almost all the other boats still impounded in Ensenada, is more than 100 pages long. We’re on page 95! Our original cruising plans for 2014 were to head to the East Coast from San Diego via the Canal. My husband Mike and I planned a spring/summer of leisurely cruising up the Intracoastal Waterway from Florida to the Chesapeake, with
- NEW - USED - REFINANCE
The May 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.