Monday, September 26, 2022

Pups in Paradise

Updated post our Arrival and Successful Importation of our Pups. 

We made it, 24 days.  Our appointment with the Vet was set for March 26, 2023.  We were able to complete the process and the Vet paid us a great complement by saying we executed the process perfectly and he almost never issues the importation certificate as of the day of arrival, but we got ours.  Everything contained in here is accurate but we did learn a couples things during our conversation.

1. The chip expectation was not really clear to me in the documentation but after our chat it is now. The chip is like the dogs offical birth certificate, their offical identitiy.  Nothing below can happen till the proper chip is installed and it must be threre for at least 1 month.  Nothing you do before that will count.  As a result you must have the proper chip AND the certificate of authenticiity.  They did bring a wand and scanned each dogs for the chip to verify the actually chip versus the docuemntation.  Many people are starting the testing, titre and such, without the proper chip in place.  The be clear the order is Chip, wait 1 month, Rabbies vaccination, wait another month at least for the titre.

2.  Everything you do with your animal should be documented on a record that has the chip info on it.  This seemed like a libility issue.  In our case, the vet the adminstired the last Rabbies vaccine did not include the lot sticker for the medicine he used.  We had to get a letter for the vet stating this information and that he did in fact inject our dogs.  Seemed like a like a liability issue.  Be very vigilent in docuementing.

3.  Do not wait till the last mintue to starte this.  We started in August of 2022 for an arrival of March 2023.  Many people arrive with an acceptable result for the rabbies titire but they arrival before 3 months of the test.  They will not issue the importation certificate.  The titre test can be done between 3 and 12 months of your arrival.  The vet told me he has seen case of rabbies up to 6 months after the vaccination.  Better to get this done early.

You've decided to sail the majestic waters of the South Pacific, but what about your fur babies?  A quick Facebook or google search will yield tons of information.  Did you find what you need?  Can they come?  It was an emotional roller coaster; we even went so far as to cancel our dream of the South Pacific - changed our entire plan.  It was heart breaking.  But...with a little effort and some local input we found that it is possible, so we will try and help, especially for those shoving off from Mexico.

Please remember you are in Mexico and your destination is on island time, so plan accordingly!

The first thing you should do is contact the local Bio Security authority and obtain all the information you can.  There is a Bio Security agent on Nuka Hiva, Yann TEIKITEETINI .  Yann's contact information is; email -  telephone - +689 87 7444 156.  The offical veternarian on Tahiti is Thibaut Langlois.  His contact information is telephone +689 40 54 01 13.

When we contacted Yann he sent us this OFFICAL IMPORT FORM.  This form also includes the list of requirements to import your animal in French Polynesia.  For simplicity, let's apply this list to Mexico, as this is our and many others departure location.

  1. Official Document stating the date your pet left country.  This is accomplished with your International Zarpe.  This document will be issues to you by the Mexican government when you check out of the country.
  2. The official date of entry in French Polynesia.  This will be your arrival date.  Although you should send, electronically, all of your documentation before you leave, this will be filled in upon arrival.
  3. ISO 11784 microchip or has an official tattoo. 
    Certification Letter 

    Our dogs have an ISO 11784 microchip, some refer to it as an international microchip.  Be aware there are different chips, particularly in the US.  We had our dogs chipped in La Paz. The clinic is located HERE.  The chip cost about $50 USD and comes with all the official registration and medical card.  Moving forward, we recommend, all medications being administered be documented on the medical card,
    Chip Medical Card
    including standard over the counter items like flea and tick meds.  We did not choose the tattoo route so we should not comment on that option.
    Parasite Medication

  4. Veterinary certificate of the first internal and external antiparasitic treatment carried out in the 4 days before departure from the last country visited, and a proof of administration of the 2nd antiparasitic treatment in the month preceding the day of disembarkation of the animal.  We started this process earlier by having the local vet administer the over-the-counter pill and fill out the dog's medical card.  As of the writing we have not come to our 4-day requirement, however we did purchase enough parasite medication for the rest of the process - 4 days before we leave and when we arrive.  UPDATE - The official vet has confirmed the requirement for vet administered treatment 4 days before departure.
  5. Copy of the identification card of the animal.  As indicated above we received all this documentation as part of the installation of the chip, while in La Paz.
  6.  Copy of the vaccination record book or european passport.  As mentioned above, in 3, we received this medical card as part of the chip process.  We also asked the vet to transcribe the original vaccinations on to the new card.
    Medical Card

  7.  Leishmaniasis test within 30 days of departure.  The approved lab for Mexico, CENASA, doesn't provide this test.  Many vets will carry a rapid test kit.  Through research and communication with a local contact it seems this test will be repeated upon arrival when you have your visit with the authorized vet.  In my opinion, the test 30 days before departure is only for your own peace of mind.  UPDATED - The official veterinarian in Tahiti has confirmed that a serology Leishmaniasis test must be completed within 30 days of departure. The method used for the test must be ELISA or indirect immunofluorescence method. We were able to find a lab facility in Puerto Vallarta via Dr Dunia, more on Dr. Dunia shortly.
  8. Certificate of registration in a studbook recognized by the International Cynological Federation (FCI) for a dog from the following list: Rottweiler, American Staffordshire terrier, Argentine Mastiff, Fila Brasileiro, Broholmer, German Mastiff, Mallorcan Mastiff, Mastiff Bordeaux, English Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Mastiff, Neapolitan Morning, Italian Cane Corso, Tosa.  Our dogs are both rescue dogs of mixed breeds, so we are not required to produce the certification.
  9.  The animal is > 9 months and 21days.  The date of birth should be included on the CHIP medical card when you have the chip installed.
  10. The animals have been vaccinated against rabies for more than 6 months and 21 days in the event of primary vaccination. In the event of a recall, the injection must have been carried out within the time limits recommended by the manufacturer. Vaccination is carried out on animals at least 3 months old.  The chip medical card should show a history of rabies vaccinations.  It is very important each vaccination is fully documented on the chip medical card, and the vet initials the entry.
  11. Titration of more than 3 months and less than a year before the disembarkation date.  There is only one approved lab in Mexico, CENASA.
    Approved Mexican Lab

      The test in spanish is called, "Titulación de anticuerpos de rabia."  This is not a trivial task.  There are very strict requirements for submitting blood to the lab for test.  The result will take 10 business, days and cost roughly $3600 pesos not including the vet via for drawing the blood, preparing the serum and shipping to the lab facility in Pachuca, Mexico.  You will be required to go to the bank to provide payment to the lab, this is normal.  The vet has to include the original copy of the receipt with the blood serum.  I will include photos of the documentation that is required.  Our vet in Chiapas did all this paperwork and was very meticulous to insure all the requirements.  His name is Rony Aguilar What's App +52 1 962 135 9719. UPDATE - If you are in Puerto Vallarta contact Dr Dunia, Whats App +52 1 322 103 0233.  She can complete the requirements for the Titer Test at CENASA.  She also has the contacts for the correct lab to perform the Leishmaniasis test.  Additionally, she can administer the final parasite dose and provide you with the health certificate for departing Mexico.  Do yourself a favor and go to the person that knows how to guide you through the requirements.

    Both Rony and Dr Dunia are not good English speakers, a translator app if required.  Rony's wife speaks very good English and can help translate if she is available. They provide a really good service, came to our boat to draw the blood, drive me to the office for the paperwork, then to the bank and back to the marina.  If you are coming through Chiapas, I highly recommend contacting him if you are in Chiapas.  Rony is very busy, so I recommend reach out early to get started.  Remember that the test has to be run more than 3 months and less than 1 year before the animal will step on French Polynesian soil.
    Bank Receipt

    Deposit form for the Lab

    Lab Required Data Sheet

It is recommended that you submit all this paperwork before you leave Mexico for your crossing.  This way you can receive some feedback as to the completeness of packet.  I have found Yann to be very responsive.  BTW, I always send my messages to him in French.

The work is not over!  Once you arrive in French Polynesia you have to contact Bio Security.  In Nuka Hiva this is Yann.  There is also a requirement for an authorized local vet to inspect the animal.  As of this writing the local vet is spending 6 months in New Caldonia and expects to return to Nuka Hiva mid-April 2023.  UPDATE - The local Nuka Hiva vet is not able to return and may not return in the future. I am in direct contact with the vet and feel free to reach out to me if you have question for him.  In the event he doesn't return, or you arrive before he does, please know that the next place there is an authorized vet is in Tahiti.  This means the animals will not be able to disembark the yacht until they are fully checked in, in Tahiti.

Some helpful link:  FYI we were never able to open this from Mexico, but friends in the US had no problem.

Test results

Monday, September 12, 2022

What's the plan?????

This is the million dollar question for most cruisers.  This can be a very difficult question to answer looking forward 24 hours let alone several months or years.  On one hand, schedules in a world that is dominated by weather is a dangerous concept.  On yet another, you can go just about anywhere your heart desires.   So what's it going to be?  I believe every cruiser starts with a big dream, something that drives them from land life to sea life.  Something so powerful you are willing to change everything for a shot at achieving your goal.  For me that started with a promise I made many many years ago and resurface with an idea that could quite possibly fulfill that promise - how could so much come from just one promise?

This promise, as I said, came many years ago.  Our family was young.  As a couple we were just getting started.  For me, at 23, I was having the time of my life, traveling all over the world, with our nations leader (aka the President of the United States), seeing the most incredible things.  However it was this job that led to the promise I made to Tami.  As I traveled to all these wonderful places and had all these wonderful experiences, Tami was home raising the big man Tyler.  So I said to her "some day I will take you to all these places and more."  Classic Scott with his big mouth making even bigger promises.  In the moment, I was probably just selling her on staying with me a little longer, but in my heart I really meant it.

Fast forward several decades sitting on a bench overlooking the harbor in Monterey California Tami says "look at that, there is nothing more beautiful than a sailboat gliding through the water."  Then she said, "why don't we live on one of those?"  At first, very selfishly, this idea meant I could quite possible retire early or take an extended break to reset things as bit.  As we started to research this we quickly found out this was not an original idea, go figure.   There was tons of YouTube sailing channels documenting this exact thing - things changed quickly.  I remembered the promise I made.  We were both very excited for different reasons, yet heading in the same direction.

Time goes on, we learned a ton and our vision starts to become reality.  We buy said sailing vessel, prepare it and ourselves to travel the world.  More specifically, we will start with cutting our teeth with the Sea of Cortez and then cross the Pacific Ocean and begin this new chapter of travel, adventure, cultural experiences, living simply and secretly fulfilling my promise.  So much excitement!  Murphy's law shows up and this was quickly dashed when we learned that not only do we need to immigrate ourselves and the boat, but we have our four legged family which is way more difficult, near impossible in most island nations.  So although we achieved the life style, the big idea was gone and we had to come to terms with that - not cool

Or is it?  Recently our good friends, @WESail aka Warren and Erica, crossed to the South Pacific.  They contacted Tami and I with much excitement as they encountered many boats with DOGS!  WTF?  How could this be?  Short story is they felt we needed to investigate this further before we totally change course, so we did...

Turns out there is a new process for animal immigration into French Polynesia.  👀What. What.  The government has placed a Bio Security officer on Nuka Hive, in the Marquises Islands, where we will check into the French Polynesia.  This is great news. We also learned that there is now an "authorized vet", on Nuka Hiva, to sign the dogs off per the Bio Security policies .  Why is this a big deal?  Well the crossing takes 30 days, more or less.  In the old system the dogs would have to remain on the boat until Tahiti, which could be months later.  Now the dogs can be fully checked in the same time we are!  This is a game changer...

To be fair, we should not hang all our decisions squarely on whether or not the dogs can disembark the boat, there is much more.  Since we bought the boat we have upgraded or replaced every system on the boat.  There is no better time to undertake a long and difficult voyage for the boat.  There is a long list of those upgrades we can share later.  Also, equally important, is we have almost 4 years of sailing under our belt.  We have learned a great deal and there is always more but we enjoy it and are not afraid to take on new things.  We also know our limitations and when to ask for advice and we have great resources for that as well.  So we are ready.

As you have probably figured out, we have made a slight course correction back to the original plan.      WE ARE GOING TO CROSS TO THE SOUTH PACFIC IN MARCH/APRIL 2023.  The other half of that news is we decided to launch from Puerto Vallerta, yep we heading back to the north.