Sunday, January 27, 2013

RV and Jeep to Mazatlan

Posted by SuGar Shack on RV Net

When we decided to take the ferry with our 40ft allegro bus, towing a jeep, from Baja to the mainland of Mexico I found very little information on the 'how to's". I am posting our experience and hope it helps others.

I had previously gotten our vehicle permits, for the Allegro Bus and the jeep, through the mail. We attached the stickers to the car and RV once we had crossed the border. I had heard that they had to attach them, but the agent said, "you put them on", like no big deal. So we did.

I had made my reservations over the phone with Baja Ferries. The La Paz /Mazatlan ferry is scheduled for T, Th and Sat. We paid 18K pesos for a cabin for ourselves, the 40 ft long Rv and the jeep. I was unable to make the reservations online but sent an email to the office and someone called me to get the CC number. Then I was emailed a confirmation.

The confirmation said to be at the ferry 3 hours before it left. It was scheduled to leave at 5 and we got there around 1pm, driving from Los Barriles. It leaves from Pichilingue, about 15 miles NE of La Paz. I used a yahoo group, LaPaz Gringos which was most helpful for information.

As we arrived at the port we saw before us this huge, beautiful ferry, The California Star. Cool, I thought! We drove past the main port building (mostly because we couldn’t find a place to park) and ended up at a small building that said VENTE BOLLETOS. Gary dropped me off and I took all my paperwork in. He found a place to park and unhooked the jeep.

There was a one woman who spoke very good English. She looked up my confirmation # and told me we already had tickets but would need to have the RV and the jeep measured and obtain these slips of paper which showed their length. She sent me next door to an even smaller building and the man measured the RV and the jeep and gave me the two necessary slips of paper. I returned to the VENTE BOLLETOS office and she told us to now go to the main terminal office and get our tickets. (this second stop at the VENTE BOLLETOS ended up being unnecessary)...but it was worth speaking to someone in ENGLISH. This woman also told us that we could take the RV and jeep, once we had the tickets and get in line at 3pm. (the confirmation had said 2pm)...Mexico.

There was a very nice hotel just beyond the VENTE BOLLETOS office and we decided to have lunch, then drive the jeep to the main terminal and get the tickets. Great lunch!

After lunch we drove the jeep to the main terminal. We parked for 200 pesos. (we are figuring pesos to dollars at 10/1, but the exchange is actually better than that) It looked deserted but Gary found a window with a woman who spoke decent English. She confirmed that “one vehicle, one driver”, made a copy of Gary’s passport and had him sign the receipt for the tickets. She also had me show her my passport. We each got a ticket. Mine had the cabin ticket. We walked back to the car and I realized she had not given me back my passport. I returned to retrieve it and it ended up being Gary’s passport. No problemo.

I got in the jeep and Gary got in the RV and we headed for the Aduano. Customs, (next to the main terminal). I got there first and she asked to see my vehicle permit. I pointed to the sticker on my car and she said, no, she needed the rest of it. (this was all in spanish, but I certainly got the gist of it). So I backed out and in the process hit something, I had taken down a post. They didn’t seem to mind. And neither did the jeep.

I was a little worried because earlier as I was going through our paperwork I realized I had the rest of it for the RV but not the jeep. By “the rest of it”, when you get the blue vehicle sticker permit, you tear off the sticker in the middle but the rest of it is what shows your name and the VIN number. Then I realized I am SO organized, I MIGHT have put it in the jeep glove compartment. I had. Whew! So I gave that to her and she checked the vin number and had me get out of the car and press a button and a green light came on and she said, “pase!” Then it was on to the weigh station. They charged me about 30 pesos and I told them I was also paying for the RV behind me (because I wasn’t sure if Gary had enough pesos). I think the RV was about 120 pesos. I am not sure of these prices but I know they weren’t outrageous.

Gary was behind and went through the same process with the sticker. When I went through they only checked the VIN, but he said the customs officer came into the RV and opened every cupboard. Then he passed through, was weighed and we got in line to board the ferry. Me in the passenger car line and Gary in the semi truck line.

Gary drove on first and then I did. I was the last car on. Gary was waiting for me when I got there. I had the cabin ticket. We were given the key to the cabin and were quite pleased with the cabin. Two single beds, with crisp, clean sheets, a private bathroom with shower, and a window (that was sealed shut). However, the window was blocked and we could not see out. The air conditioning in the room was great. We noticed that some of the cabins were inside cabins, with no window. I think we just lucked out getting an outside cabin.

Our ferry was the Mazatlan Star. It was not the one advertised on the baja ferry site, which was the one we saw when we drove up to port, the California star. The rooms and public places were very clean but I can’t say much for the outside area. As Gary said, “This is a cargo ferry carrying passengers, not a passenger ferry carrying cargo.” Everyone was extremely nice and helpful.

Dinner was served cafeteria style. They had a beef dish, a pork dish, rice and beans. (The fish was gone by the time we got there!)

We, as usual, woke up very early. About 5. We had been told coffee would be available at 6. But hey, this is Mexico, so about 7 we went to the lounge area, got our coffee and went to the back of the ship and watched the sunrise over the Sea of Cortez. Beautiful.

We arrived in Mazatlan about 9:30am. Gary’s level was called first and mine last, however, I got off the ship before him. Go figure. I sailed right through customs (don’t know why they have customs between the states of Mexico) but Gary once again, had 3 curious agents who checked his passport, and the cupboards! I had also read that they “spray” the vehicles, like they did in Guerro Negro, but that didn’t happen either.

We had Verizon service in Mazatlan so communicated with our iphones. (the batteries were out in the hand held radios...and there were no plugs to charge anything on the ferry). We met up, hooked up set our gps for SMA and we were off

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Ferry Story - La Paz - Mazatlan

About the Mazatlan Star. She is 29 years old and was built in Marseille, France. She is about 230 meters long. Kind of a strange layout, but she is really a truck and semi hauler.

Cost: 1078 Pesos per person each way. This includes dinner from 5 to 7pm and breakfast from 8 to 9am. 

Meals included - Not gourment, but not un-edibile, either.
Dinner: meat, fish or chicken. With rice, beans and tortillas.
Breakfast: eggs with salchichas or machaca. With chilaquiles, beans and tortillas.
They sell fruit plates, juice, pop, beer, muffins and rolls, fruit, sabritas, etc.
Take your ticket with you to the meals to be scanned.

Cabins with windows and bathrooms: 770 Pesos The cabins are on the 6th deck and most look out onto life boats or air vents. Don't count on a view. The sheets are clean, there are reading lights, lots of hot water in the shower, shampoo and soap with towels provided. Don't plan on charging your cell phone, kindle, computer or camera while on the ferry. No plug ins. The carpet might not have been vacuumed recently, but better than I expected - cleanliness wise.

To take the truck: 2303 Pesos each way. Note: if you have a kayak rack or any type of rack on your truck, that is classified as a cargo carrier and has a different cost.

Depart LaPaz 5pm and arrive in Mazatlan about 10:30am.
Depart Mazatlan 4pm and arrive in LaPaz about 9 or so am.
Took us 3 hours to get through the Military Inspection XRay point!

Also the LaPaz ferry dock has some sort of longshoremen's union or something called API and they get you for 150 Pesos going and returning for using their facilities.

Also after the military inspection on the return to LaPaz, there is a 30 Pesos Agricultural spray - like the one in Guerrero Negro.

Mazatlan is easy to depart the ship and to board the ship and no extra costs. LaPaz is a nightmare.

Also, if for some reason you need to change your reservations, they will do that, but it is 180 Pesos per ticket. We had 3 tickets: Passenger, Auto and Operator and Cabin. So to change the reservations was 540 Pesos.

Also, cabins sell out fast. The non windowed cabins also have no bathrooms and have bunk beds.
There are big TV's in the salon and cafeteria going all the time. Beethoven, Toy Story - a big variety of viewing pleasure. Reception also rents DVD's.

Pets: the first pet is free. The second costs 105 Pesos each way. They do have a pet area now. You take your pet from the car and car deck, or if a walk on passenger - take to the reception area on the 5th deck. There is an elevator from the 3rd floor car deck (where walk on passengers arrive) to the 5th deck reception. From reception someone will guide you down the hall, through the salon and out on to the back deck. You go through a locked gate, down a flight and 1/2 of steep stairs, hang a short left. You are now back down on the 4th deck. There is a big open door, with 4 huge plastic installed, permanent crates with stainless steel bar doors. You can leave water with the pet in the crate, but no food. The door is left open all the time, so there is fresh air. At the end of the trip, do the same in reverse.

Also if you buy you ticket the day before you can get your auto permit the day before.

From the BajaNomad forums

Baja Ferries sails from La Paz to Topolobampo and from La Paz to Mazatlan. They took over the Mazatlan run from Sematur as of April 2005.

You can always try for current prices and schedule at the Baja Ferries Web Site

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Baja California 1949