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Re: US/CDN boats Seized - Update from Lat 38

Posted by Ron Smith on January 8, 2014, 7:59 pm, in reply to "US/CDN boats Seized"

Latitude / Andy
© 2014 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC

A month after 338 foreign boats were illegally impounded in various marinas around Mexico, the poop is really starting to hit the fan. 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.
There are three kinds of poop currently hitting the fan.
First, Cleve Hardaker, Staff Commodore of the Pacific Coast Yachting Association, reports that "a good many racers are already canceling plans to sail to Mexico." During a phone conversation, Hardaker said that "hardly anybody is signing up for the Ensenada Race," which is historically the biggest race to Mexico. This certainly doesn't bode well either for MEXORC, the every-other-year major sailing regatta on Banderas Bay. The Mexican government regularly invests several million dollars in that event. Hardaker also reported that one San Diego yacht club that had regularly held races into Mexican waters — i.e. the Coronado Islands — has now revised the courses to keep boats out of Mexican waters.
The second poop is that a Mexican television producer has been filming and interviewing boat owners, marina staff, and officials in Ensenada — where a large number of boats have been impounded — for a segment intended for American television. That's not good for Mexico or the rest of the West Coast sailing industry.
The biggest bomb of all, however, is that Associated Press, which provides stories for every major newspaper and television in the United States, is planning to run a big story on the problem late this week or early next week. Our understanding is that the impetus for this story was the impounding of a multimillion-dollar boat in Ensenada, a boat that had gone to Ensenada for a few days for boat work, and a boat that was in full compliance with all Mexican regulations. The owner and captain were aboard when AGACE auditors came around. The auditors told them that everything was fine, but nonetheless put the boat on the impound list, later saying they didn't observe a HIN (hull identification number) on the boat. The HIN is clearly imprinted in the hull exactly where it should be. (This experience roughly matches that of ours and our catamaran Profligate.)
Our plan at Latitude had been to begin a petition campaign to only officials in Mexico, the United States and Canada. We didn't want to go to the mainstream media just yet, as the story is going to create massive negative publicity for Mexico and a lot more innocent victims. But with the AP story a fait accompli, we agreed to be interviewed extensively by the AP. We tried to make it clear that our belief is that this is all a giant mistake, and that when President Pena Nieto and others in his Administration learn what has happened, they aren't going to be very happy, especially since AGACE, having impounded 338 boats, hasn't been able to figure out the process for un-impounding them. Few, if any, want their names associated with any part of this drama, but that's not our way. So we suppose if things go south and AGACE needs a boat owner's head to use as a piñata, it will be ours.
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. We implore all of you to take a few minutes to copy and send a petition — see next item — to as many officials and media outlets as possible. Then get on your Facebook page and encourage all your friends to do so also. For while on the surface it may appear to only affect boat owners in Mexico and nautical tourism in Mexico, it actually has major negative ramifications for the whole West Coast sailing industry.
- latitude / richard

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