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August, 2004:

Back to the USA… and the trouble with customs…

Ah yes, the joys of cruising, go where you want, when you want, without a care in the world… yeah right!!

There is this funny little thing about bureaucracy that exists in “emerging” nations like Mexico, and other Latin American Nations, though not so much as Mexico. They LOVE it. So much so that they have decided to turn the process of checking in to their country with your boat into the equivalent of tooth extraction without the anesthesia. How fun is it, you ask?

Well, for one thing, we have been here now more than four days and still are not completely checked into the country. Apparently, you cannot check in yourself. You have to go through what is politely called an “agent”. They collect your papers and process everything with Customs, Immigration, the Port Captain, and so on. Supposedly they are supposed to know the procedure and handle everything expediently and properly. All for the low fee of about $100 (that by the way is only for checking IN).

Now, while the price is a bit steep, it may be worth it if the agent saves you time and headache in doing the paperwork dance. But they do not.

The problem started when we went ahead and checked ourselves in at three of the stops we were supposed to go to, with nary a problem. According to Mike, our crewmember for the trip from Key West, checking in should have been a piece of cake, since he had done it before many times with no difficulty. When we got to the Port Captain office, however, he told us that we could not check in directly with him, but only through an agent (he did not seem to like the idea either). So he directed us to go and talk to the agent that he knew of, but not until Monday (so we would not have to pay overtime fees because of the weekend). Once we got to the agent, we explained that we had already checked in with Immigration and Sanitation, and at this point only needed to deal with Customs and the Port Captain.


Some of the visitors we had in Miami (Archive photos)

We had some friends visit us while we were in Miami, here are just a few of the shots we took while they were over. They made for some very interesting times…


Repairs to Andiamo after the dreaded “DOCK COLLISION” incident… (Archive photos)

Andiamo had to go through an arduous healing process to get her bow repaired after we slammed the dock. Thanks to the great work from Dave and Kevin, our Pier 5 neighbors, she was brought back to her glorious splendor, and for a fraction of the cost of a boatyard’s estimate! 😉


Our official “start” of the cruise, July 5th 2004. (Archive Photos)

After we gave up our slip at Dinner Key, we hung out in the anchorage off Coconut Grove for a couple of days before we decided we were ready to head off to Key West. Dave and Shauna, our neighbors from Zia Lucia, talked us into staying over for 4th, and since we heard boat traffic was kinda kooky during the holiday weekend around the Keys, we figured what the heck. So before pulling up our hook on July 5th for Key West, Mahi and I held a small informal maritime ceremony (for lack of a better word) to give Andiamo a seafarer’s blessing and prepare her for all of the adventures that were to come. All it took was a bottle of relatively cheap champagne, a little attitude, and a complete lack of knowledge of what the actual ritual was supposed to be…


Andiamo’s maiden test sail, prior to leaving Miami (Archive photos)

Shortly before giving up our slip at Coconut Grove, we decided that it was high time we take Andiamo out for a mini “shakedown” sail to make sure that everything checked out ok before we were to head out into the open waters. Especially since we had not sailed her since our first sea trial, which happened before we even BOUGHT her! So, it was a nice Saturday, with a brisk wind blowing about 15 knots, so this was as good a time as any to get her out on Biscayne Bay and see what she can do. We were not disappointed…


Take a picture, it’ll last longer…

Ok, we’ve been getting ALOT of grief over the fact that we have not posted enough pics on the site. So in an effort to quell the whining, I just posted a bunch of photos in the photo section of the blog. We hope you enjoy them. We have a few more batches of pics to put up, and should get them up within the next day or so. And no, whining about it will not get them up any faster.

Once we get these remaining pics edited and up, it should be pretty easy for us to stay current. Thanks for bearing with us in the meantime!

Bienvenidos a Isla Mujeres!!!

That’s right, all you naysayers. We made it so there! 😛

We actually arrived late last night, and anchored out in the bay here. We spent most of the morning checking in, and finding out just how “honest” the Mexican government is.

As much as we want to kick back and have fun, and don’t worry, WE WILL, we need to first get our fridge up and running again. We’re going to try to get the boat into the marina so we can at least work on it in air conditioned comfort.

One thing that saddens us is that it looks like we will not be cruising Mexican waters very much beyond Isla. We found out today that there is a new “rule” with all the port captains that requires us to pay a “shipping agent” each time we check in and out of a port so the shipping agent can be so kind as to go and get us checked in with the port captain. So, on TOP of the actual port tax that we’re supposed to pay the port captains, we’re supposed to pay as much as $100 (that’s dollars, not pesos!) to a private shipping agent each time we check in AND out of a port. Needless to say, this is extortion and we think we’ll keep the boat in Isla, do our local mexican siteseeing from here, and then head on out to Belize.

Aside from all that, Isla Mujeres is a charming place, a little touristy, but that’s ok.

But anyway, we’re here. Yippee!!