Someone dropped a bomb on the morning net today. We were speeding right through our regularly scheduled broadcast when the voice of Marina La Cruz came on to inform us of a policy change. “The dinghy dock” (which had hitherto for been free) “will now be $5USD/day. We will also be issuing a day pass for the cruisers in the anchorage; $20 for use of the ‘services’ [VIP lounge, showers, etc.]” The net nearly imploded. For a few minutes all you could hear were boos and clicking as every boat that was listening echoed their dissent. $5/day is easily twice the most expensive dinghy dock fee in Mexico. We cleared out of Cabo (the former champion of excessive price) in just a few days, largely because of their API and dinghy dock fees. My mind was racing. Where could we go and still provision and get work done on our boat. Are the tacos in Punta de Mita anywhere near as good?
There were dozens of questions which Jeff of Casa Maru recorded and typed up for the meeting later that day. Some of the startling answers were:
Q: If we are visiting a friend on the docks will we have to pay?
A: Yes. People have already been asked to pay when visiting boats in the marina
Q: Is there any flexibility on price?
Q: Why are they doing this?
A: Some cleats were stolen off the dinghy docks; someone left used oil on the docks; people are dropping trash off; people are parking on other docks and their friends are letting them in/out; security; order; we want people to stop using our other services.
Everyone that I talked to about this seemed to be feeling yanked around. Sure, none of us in the anchorage have any right to the marina’s dinghy dock, but we are all here because of the accessibility of La Cruz and the generally laid back easy nature of it’s inhabitants. If we start having to consider cost in every trip to shore La Cruz (I suspect) will become more of a stop over and less of a seasonal destination for many cruisers. Another subtle detail that seemed to have slipped the management’s attention is the fact that almost all of us at anchor come into the marina once or twice a month. We are all paying customers with gobs of goodwill for the marina. That goodwill took a major hit today.
To it’s credit the owner and manager of the marina (Pedro and Rafa respectively) opened their doors to the cruisers this afternoon to discuss the situation. They listened, we listened, and with very little animosity we agreed on some more respectful terms. The cruisers noted that La Paz Marina charges $15 pesos for dinghy dock and trash, and another $15 pesos for showers. We asked that Marina La Cruz match this price and they (mostly) agreed. The new fee for day long dinghy access is $20 pesos. This does include trash (for now) but the marina was very reluctant to concede that and will reconsider a separate fee for that if the trash issue becomes a problem (though I admit I don’t know what sort of problem that might be). Showers are basically out of the question. The marina will still offer the $20USD “day pass” for “services” but a slip for our boat size is only $27USD/day, a fact the management openly acknowledged. They also confirmed my suspicion that they would just assume we come in with our boats if we want to shower.
So the day was a measured success for the cruisers. I personally don’t believe that this had anything to do with the stated grievances. There are rumors circulating that there may be a more personal reason for all this. Regardless, no one present at today’s meeting maintained that the marina didn’t have the right to charge for the dinghy dock, or that it shouldn’t exercise that right. I think we were all a little blown away by the ham handed way the decision was rolled out, and by how excessive the fee was initially. To this Pedro responded “We Mexican’s are not so comunicativo.” I have had the pleasure of knowing many Mexicans, both here and in the US and I had never noticed that before but I guess I will just have to pay closer attention.