Please select your home edition
Edition
Harken AUS Reflex 728

How to ruin a yachting destination. Mexico keeps yachts impounded

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 11 Jan 2014
It looks peaceful enough, but some of these yachts, owned by cruising retirees from the USA and Canada, have been impounded by authorities for more than a month, and can’t get information on how to get ’un-impounded’ .. .
How to ruin a yachting destination - and it's still going on! A month ago, we published a story about how Mexican government tax agents had made unannounced visits to a number of marinas and, unbelievably to the foreign cruisers, mostly American and Canadian retirees, IMPOUNDED their yachts, because 'their papers were not in order'. It was apparently 'some kind of mistake' but a full month later, the boats are still impounded.

The boat owners involved, whose holiday plans have been rudely disrupted, cannot leave Mexico, and, worse, are left without any idea of how to remedy the situation.

According to one of the boat owners, Richard Spindler, editor of sailing magazine Latitude 38, 'Officials from various Mexican agencies, such as Tourism, were hoping that AGACE, a subdivision of Hacienda (the Mexican IRS) which mistakenly created the fiasco, would be able to resolve the situation by Christmas or at least the beginning of the New Year. They didn’t succeed.'

After inspecting more than 1,600 vessels in late November, the Mexican government's Treasury Department announced it had initiated seizure orders against 338 boats it accused of lacking a $70 permit. The office says it has four months to decide whether to release the boards or sell them at auction.

Many of the boat owners were not even present when the authorities came by. Undaunted, the officials impounded their boats anyway. Others say minor numerical errors in paperwork were used as grounds for seizure.

Apparently, it is all part of a new effort by President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration to increase government revenues in a country with one of the worst tax-collection rates among the world's large economies. The push has drawn howls of protest from Mexicans upset about new sales taxes and levies on home sales. But few of the new measures were as unexpected or toughly enforced as what foreign pleasure boat owners call a heavy-handed crackdown over a minor permit, and they say it threatens a tourism sector Mexico has long sought to promote.

'They brought all these marines, with machine guns and stuff, and they kind of descended on the marina and everybody's going, 'Wow, there's a big narco thing going down here,' said Spindler, whose catamaran Profligate was impounded near Puerto Vallarta. 'These are just retired people, 50-, 60-year-old retired people, mellow people. It was way over the top.'

The document in question, known as a Temporary Import Permit, can be obtained from a Mexican government website and proves holders own their boats and promise not to leave them in Mexico or sell them here.

One boater said marina operators warned that anyone who tried to leave would be hunted down. The owner, who expressed fear that speaking out by name could bring reprisals, said officials had given no written notice of seizure on their boat, and they had learned of it second hand from marina workers.

'This is killing nautical tourism in a worse way than drug trafficking, because it's the government itself that is taking the yachts,' said Enrique Fernandez, a member of Mexico's Association of Marinas.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mark C. Johnson, said in an email that U.S. officials are holding discussions on the issue with the Mexican government. Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said it knows of three Canadians whose boats were seized.

Spindler, who has been sailing to Mexico for 36 years and publishes the sailing magazine Latitude 38, estimated that about 45 of the 53 boats at the marina where his boat was seized are owned by Americans or Canadians.

'Mexico wants and greatly supports nautical tourism,' he said, but warned that the heavy-handed approach could put the sailing sector at risk.

'The bottom line is that a lot of boat owners, boat businesses, boat workers, and a wonderful destination country are suffering for the blundering of one new sub-agency of the Mexican IRS.'
Harken AUS Reflex 660x82T Clewring AC72upffront 660x82

Related Articles

Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Bavaria STYLE 46 Australian Premiere at Sydney International Boat Show
For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. Making the most of your time on board, be it with family or friends, is becoming more important. Yacht owners want certain levels of comfort and an onboard living experience coupled with versatility.
Posted on 26 Jul
What to look for when buying a modern lifejacket
There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably. There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably and one of the biggest drivers of this change has been due to personal ownership. Rather than crew relying on lifejackets being on-board a boat, they want to own their own lifejacket as part of their kit bag.
Posted on 25 Jul
The New Bavaria Cruiser 34 - you won't believe this is a 34' yacht!
The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World and Australian Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The new Cruiser 34 offers more space and more comfort than ever before with a bigger cockpit, dual helms and ergonomically designed seating. This is the first time the entry level Bavaria cruiser has been offered in twin helm!
Posted on 19 Jul
Navathome Australia brings RYA Theory to your door
The RYA Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. The Royal Yachting Association Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. Split into a theory and practical syllabus the training modules take you in steps from a Start Yachting orientation through to Yachtmaster for either power or sail.
Posted on 5 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
Platino recovery operation well underway as crew arrive in Auckland
An ocean-going tug has left Whangarei to locate and attempt to salvage the luxury yacht Platino An ocean-going tug left Whangarei late on Tuesday night to locate and attempt to salvage the luxury yacht Platino which has been abandoned 550km NE of New Zealand. Weather dependent, we could reach Platino by Saturday and have the yacht and body of the person on board back in New Zealand early next week,” says Inspector Graham of the NZ Police.
Posted on 16 Jun