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Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico
Yesterday, I visited the Port Captain’s office in Hualtulco to inquire about the procedure to depart the country on Monday. It was as if the question had never been asked before even though this is an official Port of Entry (and exit, I assume). The man behind the counter consulted with his colleague which became a prolonged dialogue in which they were obviously in disagreement. The second man then went into an office designated “Capitan de Puerto”. He emerged several minutes later and said “No es posible”. He then returned to his desk where he was frantically stamping papers. He seemed much too busy to bother with additional inquiries.
Departing Mexico from Huatulco is proving difficult. I have gleaned the information below from fellow boaters stuck here in Hualtulco.
All documents are in Spanish only, and nobody involved speaks English.
Monday departures are “no posible” because departure must occur within one day of completing the paperwork and offices are closed on Sunday.
Boat and crew documents need to be presented to the Port Captain for stamps and signatures. The stamped, signed documents then need to be delivered to the Customs and Immigration office for additional stamps and signatures. The documents then must be returned again to the Port Captain for another round of stamps and signatures. Fortunately, these offices are less than one block from each other and there is a taco stand with cold beer close by.
Since neither the Port Captain nor Customs and Immigration are permitted to receive payments (for obvious reasons) the next step is to visit a nearby bank where the $15 can be paid and a receipt obtained proving payment. The receipt must then be delivered to the Port Captain’s office. At this point, the Port Captain provides another document to be delivered to Customs and Immigration.
Then, and only then, will the Customs and Immigration office schedule an inspection of the boat before granting permission to depart the country. Once permission is granted the boat must depart within one hour.
It sounds simple, but I am told it can be filled with pitfalls, diversions, and peril at every turn.
This process will be started tomorrow with the hope that a Tuesday departure will be granted to Matilda and her crew.
Speaking of crew, I am being joined for the 700nm passage to Costa Rica by three sailors whom I met over the past couple of years in Mexico. Two are from California and one from Canada. Fiona and Pippa will be flying to Costa Rica to meet us.