November 11 – 23, 2015 – Ensenada, BC Mexico

Mexico is a different country. This sounds self-evident, of course it is! My point is that the seventy mile hop between San Diego and Ensenada is geographically small, but culturally quite significant. The trip to Ensenada takes only an hour and a half by car, ten to twelve hours by sailboat. Compared to San Diego, the weather is the same, the ocean is the same, even the landscape is pretty much the same. But the the government, the language, the culture, and the rules are very different.


Checking into Mexico by boat is somewhat complicated and helps to underscore the differences in language and culture. We wanted to be as prepared as possible, so we tried to do most of the permitting work ahead of time. This was frustrating, and not really successful. We found that the best way to check into Ensenada by boat is simply to come here with all your original documents and a boat-load of patience. Check-in involves showing proof of Mexican liability insurance (not your standard policy) and getting FMM tourist cards, Fishing licenses, and a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for the vessel. We tried to do each of these things in advance with lots of frustration and limited or no success. Fortunately, we knew in advance that we’d have problems with the TIP, so we were able to be proactive about it when we arrived and enlist the help of an agent. We found that the only thing you really must do in advance is to purchase Mexican liability insurance, which we did by phone & email the day we departed the US.

There is a lot of discussion amongst cruisers about problems with Temporary Import Permits. The Mexican government is extremely generous in extending a “free pass” for foreigners to bring their vessels to Mexico without paying duty. This brings a lot of extra tourist money into the economy, but there are problems with the process for cancelling an import permit. When leaving the country, visiting boaters typically leave the TIP in place since it’s good for ten years. But years later, when selling the boat, the TIP appears irrelevant, and may easily be discarded or forgotten. When the new owner brings the boat to Mexico she may find that there is already a TIP on her vessel. Without the original certificate, which goes with the vessel, an old permit can only be cancelled in person. This was the problem we had. After numerous phone calls and emails, and with the help of an agent, we found it necessary to go to the police station in Ensenada and report the original TIP certificate lost. The subsequent process was long and bureaucratic, but eventually we were able to cancel the previous TIP and obtain a new one. The entire saga took the better part of two days, but might have been done in one day if we had known exactly what steps to take before hand. Nonetheless, the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo is part of checking in by boat. Now that we’re officially in Mexico, we are loving it.


One interesting aspect about cruising is the element of uncertainty. Perhaps the most significant lifestyle change for us is dealing with far less certainty in our lives. Ashore, things are fairly predictable; meals, activities, bedtimes, even the cast of characters all go more-or-less according to plan. Now, our lives are in constant flux, shifting in response to ever-changing variables that emerge to divert, thwart or simply alter our plans. In general, we try take things day-by-day, and not have too many expectations. But still, I notice the strain of being constantly prepared for change, and of keeping our family safe in an uncertain environment.  I feel alive, but it is a lot of work! By nightfall, I am usually exhausted. Whether or not I’ll have time to sleep is also uncertain.



After pushing hard to get South, we realized that the weather was not suitable for us to make a fast passage to Puerto Vallarta to meet our friends Chuck and Cathy as planned. South of Ensenada, options for hauling out become increasingly limited and far more costly. We decided to stay in Ensenada for an extra week to haul out at Baja Naval, a well-respected yard near the downtown district. This decision gave us time to stabilize the kid’s homeschooling, which had become a bit haphazard as we pushed the schedule along. It also allowed us to catch the Baja1000 off-road race which starts and ends in Ensenada. It was incredible to see insanely powerful off-road vehicles blaze past us (sideways) at ninety mph, and even more interesting to see the Mexican people rally around this event as if it were a national holiday. Uncertainty leads to surprises, some pleasant, others not. Interesting nuggets like this are what we are searching for, and I am thankful to dig for them out here in the world.

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30 thoughts on “November 11 – 23, 2015 – Ensenada, BC Mexico”

  1. Hi to All!!! I just finished reading up on all your posts and it brought tears to my eyes!!! I had absolutely no idea what you all have been through and had to do to get this life journey a reality ! I am so awed by what I have read. It’s so beautiful and your descriptions of nighttime with the stars and the luminescence in the trailing waters is a sight to behold. Sean and Sarah are incredibly fortunate to experience this!!! I hope Thanksgiving dinner resembled a tinny bit like America!!! haha Or did you have tacos?? Believe it or not I am reading Moby Dick! So having you see whales out in the blue was awesome!
    I applaud you in turning away from materialistic stuff – it’s something my sister and I are trying to embrace. So looking forward to your next update and to know what Sean, Sarah and Karen thoughts are !!! Love you all! Cindy

    1. Thanks Cindy!!

      Miss you guys! Hope all is well. Things here are great. Thanksgiving involved turkey cranberry panini and fresh baked apple pie, not exactly traditional, but not a bad way to go! Love, PT, K, S and S

    1. Dear Shared Pleasure,

      Awesome, glad you got to the site. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that emailing several hundred of your friends & family is not that easy, so please spread the word on C-dock when you’re out there chipping ice off the boat.

      All the best!
      The Batu crew

  2. Hi Peter and the crew!

    Just now received first email from Karen. it’s a great idea to keep a digital journal so “we” can all follow your story. Please keep it updated. Wish you guys safe travels!



  3. Sooooo glad to see these posts and catch up on what you’re doing…. many thanks to Karen for sharing on FB. Totally jealous, twin cuz, but you know I don’t have an adventure/risk gene in me, so I’ll have to live vicariously through you. Beautiful pics, great stories. Sending you lots and lots of love and hopes for smooth sailing.


    1. Sib,

      It’s great to hear from you! Glad you you made it to the site. BTW, I always thought of you more as a closet risk-taker who hadn’t yet come out of the closet; sort of a glass half-full perspective. There’s always potential! Come for a visit? 😉



      1. You always saw the best in me. A visit is not out of the realm of possibility, as long as you promise to not dump me overboard like when we were kids. 😉

  4. Yay! I saw your link on facebook and came here and read everything so far from the bottom up. I have been thinking a lot about you, believe it or not, and wondering how you were doing. After my last phone call with you, Peter, hearing all your frustrations, it is so good to feel the calm and wonder in your online “voice.” I’m so glad you guys are doing this! I can’t wait for more stories of your experiences. Much love to you, Karen, Sean and Sarah.

    PS. I hope Sean is writing about all this. 😉

    1. Hi Caroline,

      Thanks! Hoping things are going well with various projects. Glad you got the word on the site. We’re hoping to add sections for each crew member, but need to generate some content to support that. In the meantime, we’re having a blast learning Spanish together as a family.

      Warm regards,

      P, K, S&S

  5. Holy cow Sean, this sounds amazing. Please keep us all posted on your adventures because we all want to see what your doing. Say hi to everyone and your lucky that your in Mexico. It’s was 27 degrees lasts Saturday.

  6. Very excited to see your posting, Sat down & binged the whole thing! I’ve been fluctuating between envy & what are you nuts! Probably spent way too much time living with a family of five on a 40′ boat as a kid, & we weren’t even on the ocean.

    Be well, stay safe & keep posting.

    ps: the weather here has just turned to sh*t

    1. Hi Susan,

      Wow, a family of five on a 40 foot boat? That must have been tight. Although we regularly invite visitors to stay with us, to-date they all begin to backpedal when we mention that the boat is like a 325sq ft appartment for 4. Go figure….

      PT, K S&S

  7. Hi PT, K, S & S,

    What an awesome adventure, great photos, and terrific writing!

    It’s wonderful to see your posts and keep up with your travels. Kyle Miller has been taking his sail boat ‪#‎sailrenegade‬ and crew down the East Coast of the US and is currently off the Florida coast. It would be great if the two of you met up somewhere South this winter.

    Grandmother Miller is no doubt looking over you all :-).

    All my best,

    1. Thanks Rick,

      I have no doubt that she is looking over us, and my Dad as well. “Ach, Pete…go easy man!” Thanks for sharing Kyle’s info, we’ll look him up.


  8. Just read through to date… wow! You guys are organized, brave and inspirational. Just emptying the house is baffling to me. It is so great that you are keeping this journal for us to know how it is for you all and for you to reflect now and remember later. We have been thinking about you all. Hoped to see you in San Francisco but heading south sounded like the thing to do. Enjoy! Looking forward to reading more. xoxo, Arlene and the guys

    1. Dear Arlene, JJ, W & N,

      Thanks for the kind comments. That was a really tough “fork in the road”, as we circled in the night, 50 miles off the Bay. We really wanted to come see you – it would have been so fun – but I knew it wouldn’t be the best path for us in terms of weather and time. Hugs all around!

      PT, K, S & S

  9. Just linked to your site from another one I follow; I remember your posts from WWS. I hope you have a great trip down the Baja. We were in Turtle Bay this time last year, and I do remember the feelings of dislocation. They do diminish over time, but this life is still a grand challenge. Good luck to the crew of Batu.

    1. Hi again Mary,

      We found you on your new site on the web svslappey dot wordpress dot com. Hope you’re now back in the water where boats belong!

      The Batu Crew

  10. Just caught up on your trip to date. What an awesome job documenting your journey! It sounds fun and very adventurous. Best to you and the family. Looking forward to the next installment. BG

    1. Thanks BG,

      Great to hear from you! Hoping all is well with you and the people of NS. This is right about the time we usually start having snowblower discussions. What do you think…is this the year?


  11. Thank you so much for filling us in on your fantastic adventure. I’ve got the site bookmarked and plan to live vicariously through your lives while we adjust to being back. We love having joint custody of Rio, we get to have fun with her while home and she gets to spend quality time with Grams while we are consumed with work and school during the week. She’s doing great but I can tell she misses you. She seems to have made a treaty with the cats so they tolerate one another.
    Good luck as you continue your adventure. Know that we are thinking of you and wishing you safe travels.

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