Mexico Made Easier

Boaters heading south of the border can take advantage of new charts, a new marina and streamlined paperwork.

Hundreds of newly updated GPS charts for Mexico are available at Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts in San Diego, which so far is the single source in the U.S. Store owner Capt. Ann Kinner helps cruising boaters and sportfishers pick the right Mexico charts for their needs.

Hundreds of newly updated GPS charts for Mexico are available at Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts in San Diego, which so far is the single source in the U.S. Store owner Capt. Ann Kinner helps cruising boaters and sportfishers pick the right Mexico charts for their needs.

It’s a bright new year in 2017, so U.S. and Canadian boaters heading south to Mexican waters should be pleased with three particular bits of good news: new charts, a new marina and new relief from a paperwork glitch.

GPS Charts

Recreational boaters in the U.S. can easily stock up on all the GPS-accurate navigational charts they might need for Mexico — starting with GPS paper charts, then electronic charts.

Until now, getting GPS-accurate charts for Mexico has been impossible, with a few big commercial ports being the exception. The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA) quit updating navigation charts for Mexican waters, unfortunately, before the Mexican Secretary of the Marines started in 2006 to update a few of the SM charts for GPS accuracy.

Mexico’s big petro ports with vast commercial importance have had good GPS charts since 2006, but sleepy tourist stops weren’t updated for GPS until recently. Much data was copied from the U.S.S. Tuscarora’s cartographic expeditions prior to 1880. Boaters had to discover the hard way that Puerto Vallarta’s shoreline, for example, actually lies two and a half nautical miles east-northeast of what the old charts (and chartplotter maps) said. Only radar and depth sounders could be trusted.

That’s why boating guidebooks (including mine, “Mexico Boating Guide”) had to create and publish small but GPS-accurate charts that detail the little anchorages and marina harbors.

Where to Get Charts

In San Diego, boaters heading to Mexico in 2017 can order and pick up the latest GPS navigation charts at Seabreeze Nautical Books (, which, so far, is the only U.S. source. By flipping through the Coast Guard-style “Catalogo de Cartas,” either in person or online, boaters can determine which charts they want and place an order. Store owner Capt. Ann Kinner can help get the correct charts.

Just like with U.S. charts, they come in scale levels. Large-scale, small-area charts cover harbors such as Ensenada, Turtle Bay, Mag Bay and Cabo San Lucas. Regionals cover larger areas, such as SM 200 and SM 300, charting the entire upper and lower Sea of Cortez in two charts, including Mazatlan.

“The best news is that the Mexican Navy has again published and updated chart SM 010, which covers the entire Baja California peninsula and Sea of Cortez in one chart,” Kinner said. That regional chart is especially practical for West Coast boaters but had been out of print for nearly 10 years, according to Kinner.

New Marina

Fonatur’s sprawling marina property at Puerto Escondido was purchased by California developer Jeff Hamann, president of the Hamann Group. This popular but historically stalled development has encompassed two small marinas in separate spots, 100 moorings set in the main bay, several multistory buildings, residential canals, and the region’s fuel dock, boatyard and dry storage lot.

Enrique Salcedo Fava, owner of a 20-boat marina that’s part of the Hamann purchase, explained the changes in conjunction with Hamann.


Marina Puerto Escondido and Marina Fonatur Puerto Escondido are now combined and expanding under the ownership of the Hamann Group.

“First, we are dredging the nine-foot entrance channel, so it will be 13.1 feet deep at mid-tide,” Salcedo said, so boaters can expect the deepened channel by January 2017. “Next, we’re building a new 100-slip marina (for boats 30 to 150 feet LOA) in front of the green glass buildings, where a 15-slip dock has been in use. The new marina docks will be protected inside new floating breakwaters [that employ environmental technologies used in La Paz].”

The 100 new slips should be available by fall 2017. The 20-slip Marina Puerto Escondido in an enclosed basin will remain in operation. Additional side-tie docks are already constructed in a series of residential canals, and more docks with slips are planned for inside the Ellipse area, which lies between the Waiting Room and the main bay.

“Third, we’re expanding the boatyard’s dry storage area and adding shade bodegas for smaller boats or on trailers.” He said the concrete floor of the existing boatyard will be expanded for safer boat repairs and dry storage.

The 100 moorings will stay in operation, but they now include access to a dinghy dock, showers, a laundry room and dock water. Plus, marina staff are being trained to provide better service to the boaters. Sixteen canal-front properties west of the bay may sprout 6,000-square-foot homes, and around the Ellipse, boaters may see new restaurants, shops and condos.

Cancel the Old TIP

If you purchased a boat that had previously visited Mexico and had the required 10-year Temporary Import Permit (TIP), it’s likely the seller forgot to cancel the old TIP even though it was still valid in his name. Or perhaps you lost your own old TIP before it expired, and now you need a new one. Tracking down old TIPs to cancel them has been a hassle.

To help U.S. boaters comply with TIP rules, Enrique Salcedo Fava, president of the Mexican Association of Tourist Marinas, somehow twisted arms at the federal Customs (Aduana) and Immigration (Migra) departments and got them to work with Mexican Consulates in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Sacramento in order to cut through the red tape to cancel old TIPs that are problematic.

Boaters in this quandary need to make an appointment with one of the consulates, bring their original vessel documentation or registration and their passport, in order to prove current ownership of that boat. The TIPs are registered in the boat owner’s name, not in the boat name.

Temporary Import Permits (about $50) are a great deal for boat owners. They allow owners to keep their boat in Mexican waters for up to 10 years without paying duty — which otherwise could be 100 percent. The TIP also allows owners to import boat parts from anywhere in the world — again, duty free. All the marinas require boaters to have a TIP on file, so the owner can legally leave that boat in the safety of a marina slips while they exit the country.

Tip Help

At a few Mexican Consulates in the U.S. Southwest, Customs and Immigration officials are working to cancel problematic TIPs for U.S. boaters.

Mexican Consulate Los Angeles, 2401 West 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057

Mexican Consulate Sacramento, 2093 Arena Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834

Mexican Consulate Phoenix, 320 E McDowell Rd. #105, Phoenix, AZ 85004

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