test post with photo

We are trying to make it possible to send pictures to the blog via email – it looked like this one worked, but we’ll have to see if it still works via the winlink setup.

This photo was taken by friends Lark and Lyle aboard their boat “Aleydabeth”.

Zarping in LaPaz

A ‘zarpe’ is an ‘exit permit’. A zarpe is required by many national authorities before given ‘clearance’ to leave the country. This is really a foreign concept to Canadians and perhaps several other nationalities. When your bags are packed or your boat is ready , you just leave. No problem.

One could just leave from places like Mexico without acquiring a zarpe. A problem would likely arise soon after arrival in another country that also requires a zarpe. I can understand from the point of view of an official that is checking entering yachts or perhaps even non-marine travellers why they might like to see a zarpe. It some way it might reassure the official that his colleagues in the previous country decided that this yacht’s crew consists of ‘good people’ who have left no debts or ill-will. Quite small reassurance, probably.

I decided that if one gets a zarpe , then one could be considered as ‘zarping’. Never realising until this morning when I looked in the Oxford Colour Spanish Dictionary Plus that ‘zarpar’ IS an irregular verb meaning ‘to set sail or weigh anchor’. Of course ; there are verbs in the Spanish language for activities that could take a book to describe in English.

So we are zarping.

It is a little more complex in LaPaz as the Capitania de Puerto requires a ‘health inspection’ prior to issuing the exit permit. This is unusual as most or perhaps all other Mexican ports do not require this inspection.

Not many people will be interested in the details of the process. The sheer complexity of the process I think is interesting.

I wonder if someone visiting Canada by yacht might find it very complex and internally contradictory as we find it in Mexico. I think it may be quite as equally complex.

Here goes:

I thought I would try to establish the preferable sequence of office visits to efficiently acquire our zarpe. An inquiry at the marina office (we are anchored about 200 meters away from the marina entrance) sent me across the parking lot to an entrepreneurial agent who would have liked us to pay her $140 (dollars) for the service as well as $170 in fees. We decided to try on our own.

A 30 minute walk brought us to the Capitania de Puerto office. No actual paperwork done there but directions to go to several other offices before returning at the end for the permit.

We walked 20 minutes to the API office on the Malecon. API is a government corporation , separate from the Port Captain’s Office, that runs the Mexican port facilities , I think. There we eventually were permitted to pay an ‘entry fee’ of 80 pesos (about $5) for the harbour where we are anchored, along with $1 per day while we are in the harbour. We left that office bearing a receipt , paid up until next Monday.

A short walk brought us to the visitors info centre. She telephoned around to find out where we should go to arrange a ‘sanitary inspection’. With that information we walked 30 minutes west to the IMSS hospital which looked closed , shuttered. I spied a man behind glass in a hallway , who responded and directed us farther into the apparently defunct building. We met a very pleasant director who spent quite a long time explaining to us that the health inspection seemed quite bizarre to him as well as to us. The Port Captain requires it and all of us don’t know why. He issued us a bill and we made an appointment for one of his inspectors to meet us at the marina office on Thursday morning at 10am when I will ferry him to the boat to look for rats , I guess. Meredith is a little worried about the laundry situation on board. I think we’ll pass OK. This particular Public Health supervisor had spent 30 years in the Mexican military , had trained at West Point, and is a lay preacher in an Alliance Christian Church in LaPaz. Officials are so pleased to be dealing with someone like Meredith who smiles pleasantly and can speak very good and polite Spanish that it can be difficult to tear ourselves away from the office and the riveting conversations therein.

Actually Barb and I did this same process 10 years ago , but I have very little memory of it. Suppressed ,I suppose. It must have been MUCH more difficult with our extremely crude spanglish then.

Off we went 6 blocks to the State government finance office to actually pay the $140. We had discussion with four staff persons in the finance office. A gentleman in the entry kiosk. A young woman just inside the door. A man who processed the bill into the computer and the 4th man who graciously accepted Meredith’s credit card for payment.

We returned to the Sanitary Inspector’s office to present the ‘paid’ receipt. He confirmed our appointment for the next day and issued another receipt. All Smiles.

Well , we had had enough for that day. As we walked the 40 minutes back towards the boat we both spied a Dulceria across the street. Ha! a sweet shop. Perfect. Dashing across we proceeded to spend $45 on Mexican sweets. Good and inexpensive. So now we are loaded up for months of nightwatches.

What is left to do in the official process ? Lots. 1. the actual health inspection this morning.

2. visit to the Immigration Office to surrender our Visitors Permits

3. a final (hopefully) visit to the oficina del Capitania de Puerto to present – paid harbour fee receipt – proof of successful health inspection – new crew list with myself and Meredith.

Then we will have 48 hrs to get out of town.

I really hope that the Ecuadorian authorities in Galapagos care about our Zarpe. I will insist that they care.

As mentioned, we could have paid someone to do this whole thing for us. $140 and lots of walking. Tough call. No regrets though so far.

The other thing we did was to pick up some colorful fabric : red , yellow , blue, and white, mostly for courtesy flags for Ecuador and Chile , but also for clothes repair. The Singer 306k zig-zag 1953 hand-crank machine has been hauled out and is ready for action on the cabin table.

I downloaded a 2011 Nautical Almanac onto a memory stick. We have the Sight Reduction Work sheets and a sextant. Along with 4 GPS’s. I shall dig out the Ocean Charts , NE and SE Pacific ,and perhaps just some plotting sheets.

We plan to check into the Pacific Seafarer’s Net in the evenings at 0330 Z, 2030 MST (1930 pst) on 14300 Khz USB, for fun and social reasons.

Meredith has downloaded lots and lots of music and radio podcasts from BBC , NPR etc for the ipod. We have a bunk full of TV novels for “watching book” on the passage. I find it difficult to read hard stuff unless the conditions are very smooth. I have a new e-reader that so far only has 2 dictionaries on it.

That’s it from here for now. But we are trying a radical experiment. To send a small photo via radio direct to the website blog ! Here goes. It is a picture of Meredith clutching a small Skipjack Tuna that we caught last week. Conversion to Tacos Pescado.

Steve