Tourist boats remain impounded in Mexico

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Mexico has released fewer than 10 percent of the more than 300 tourist boats it impounded for lack of proper documentation, thwarting many potential seafaring visitors.

According to reports in The Log newspaper and the Orange County Register, only about 30 of the 338 impounded vessels have been released because of confusion around the newly enforced rules, leaving boaters worrying when, or whether, their boats will be released.

“It's a public relations nightmare down here,” Richard Spindler of San Francisco told The Log after his 58-foot catamaran was impounded.

Recreational boaters are canceling slip reservations south of the border, sailboat race organizers are altering their course to avoid Mexican waters and others are postponing Mexico-bound regattas because of a lack of interest from participants, according to the Register report.

The fears have reportedly affected boat entries in the Corona del Mar to Cabo sailboat race. Organizer Gary Davidson said the 800-nautical-mile race, which is scheduled to start March 14, will be postponed until more interest is drummed up.

Although 25 boats had expressed interest, only four signed up.

Even the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race appears to be feeling the crunch. Only 90 boats have entered the 125-nautical-mile race into Mexican waters this April, about 50 fewer than at this time in the 2012 campaign.

“Mexico wants the nautical tourism and, in the past, they've made it easy for boaters,” Spindler told the Register. “But this is suicide.”

A major point of confusion has been the temporary importation permit application form, which asks for a vehicle registration number rather than a hull identification number, according to The Log.

Mexican officials mistake the VIN for the HIN, which American vessels are required to display in domestic waters on the right cab rail of their vessel. When Mexican officials see that the number does not match the official number on the boater’s form, agents infer that the boat lacks proper registration.

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