Mexican Customs and Provisions

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 12:15 a.m.

Paradise Village sunrise (photo by Eric)
Paradise Village sunrise (photo by Eric)

We left Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta on Friday, May 1st just past noon. We had wanted to depart for five days, but we simply couldn’t get our VHF radio to work properly until we finally installed the extra antenna Uncle Bill had brought for us as a back up. We determined after much trial and error, and Eric working at the top of the mast for hours, that the cabling and connectors running up the mast was not properly receiving and sending signal. In any case, due to miscommunication with customs concerning our intended day of departure, we had to wait another two days for an official to be available.

Kandu berthed at Paradise Village Marina in Nueva Vallarta (photo by Eric)
Kandu berthed at Paradise Village Marina in Nueva Vallarta (photo by Eric)

Before allowed to depart, Mexican customs officials requested to board our boat. We were a bit nervous as we had never hosted officials aboard our boat and didn’t know what to expect. We were not quite sure why they needed to come aboard since we were planning on leaving their country, perhaps to see if we had any drugs or large purchases unaccounted for that we needed to pay duty? On the day of our departure, Mexican customs officers pulled up in their boat around 9:45 a.m. Three officers arrived at our slip, two boarded the boat. They were interested to note how many of us were on board as they only counted three. The officers didn’t see the boys initially as Bryce and Trent were quietly holed up in the fo’c’s’le, the forward part of the boat. Everything was conducted in Spanish. Eric did all the talking since we decided ahead of time not to engage in small talk to avoid giving the agents any extra information beyond what they needed. One agent handled the paperwork; another asked Eric to open a food cabinet, clothing drawers, and the large engine room. All was on the up and up with the exception of Uncle Bill’s customs entry papers. When Bill had passed through customs at the airport two weeks prior, the agents there required he open all the boxes of spare parts and special items that he had brought for us. In the confusion of identifying items (the chai tea bags looked like potential drugs and the green chlorella powder (algae) looked ‘suspicious’ even though it was sealed shut), his immigration permit paper was lost. Fortunately Bill’s passport was stamped with date of entry and we had the receipts for the duty we paid. Eventually an hour and 15 minutes later, after the agent had taken pictures of all the papers and receipts, and had called the office for approval to clear without an important document, they handed us our international clearance zarpe (document) and allowed Kandu to depart. We left within the next hour. Didn’t want to take any chances that the officials would come back!

Last sight of land, leaving Mexico for Galapagos (photo by Eric)
Last sight of land, leaving Mexico for Galapagos (photo by Eric)

We were more than ready. Having planned to leave several days prior, were it not for the VHF radio and customs officials’ schedules, we stayed days longer than intended. All the fresh provisions that I had bought the week earlier at Walmart and at the market were now getting old. The food was not yet rotting, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep the fresh fruit & vegetables longer than another 5-6 days during the passage. Good thing Kandu has a small freezer and the dry food lockers were loaded with lots of canned and dried-stored options like beans and rice. As it was, during the voyage, much food spoiled before it could be eaten and the last week of sailing, all the fresh fruit and vegetables were gone. Canned pineapple and frozen green beans sufficed. Ms. Kandu Chef was very happy to finally arrive in the Galapagos to restock with fresh choices: papaya, pineapple, apples, onions, broccoli, chicken, yogurt, and bread! I baked banana bread, cookies and a cake along the way, but couldn’t muster baking bread.

Leslie in the galley (photo by Eric)
Leslie in the galley (photo by Eric)

Leslie Dennis Rigney

6 thoughts on “Mexican Customs and Provisions”

  1. Goodness, what an education I am getting by reading your blogs! Nice accounting of what happened as you left MX. Nice picture of you , Leslie. 😉

    1. Paulette – so nice to hear from you and know that you’re following along. We are now anchored and stabilized in the Marquesas at Nuku Hiva in Taiohae Bay. It feels good to have slowed down a bit and to know that the boat handles extremely well at sea without major leaks. We have a few maintenance issues to address, but nothing serious. We just enrolled the boys in school here. They are enjoying the regular schedule already…and the mix with kids their age. Sending you are regards, Leslie

  2. We had a nice meeting of the Julian Yacht Club tonight. Weather was balmy as some weather from the south was trying to give us some rain. Fat chance. All send their best wishes. Still hard to believe what you are doing. Best to all, Bob Gibbs

    1. I carry around our Julien yacht club membership cards with pride. I pull them out every so often looking for things in my wallet and every time I see them, I remember fondly our fun time together at the bonfire. All is well – more posts coming! Give all my regards!

  3. Salut les copains, Hello Friends.

    Nothing to be worry but some health issues . I had such a pleasure to read your Mexican adventure …not too many surprises there ” If you know what I mean ”
    You should be able to provide us some interesting photos from the Galapagos hopefully …
    Be safe, cook some good fish, sleep well, have fun, share a lot with the kids, and more and more …
    We will have to talk about Tahiti.
    A bientôt

  4. Leslie,
    There are two Spanish word you must be aware of when approached by Latin American oficiales: ‘La mordida’. Works all the time, from Mexico to Chile. Cracking up here. Glad y’all got through customs unscathed.

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