Originally Posted by smurphny
Can you give some examples of entry fees >$300? I've been planning some long distance cruising next year. My research, with piles of entry information, must be faulty because the Bahamas fee seems to be comparatively pretty steep. French Polynesia hasn expensive bond, but you get that back when you exit. Are there some surprises I'm not aware of? Would appreciate any specific info you have from your experiences.
We spent a season in the Eastern Caribbean and it was not too bad there with fees from zero (French Islands if you cleared at a government office, otherwise 3 or 5 euros) to the Bahamas. Only a few places were over $100. Some places have mandatory mooring use (which I can understand), Saint John and Nevis come to mind - I think they were something like $15 a night.
Heading west, the formerly Spanish countries are the worst. In Panama they knick you everything - entry, harbormaster's fees, quarantine charges, internal zarpes (to go between customs districts within the country), exit fees (external zarpe), health fees. We got a fine in Colon because the Port Captain in the San Blas signed our cruising permit rather than giving us the right form, although he did not charge us for his signature and the fine was less than the proper form would have cost. This reminded me of the cruising permit fee, the fee to the Kuna Indians and the fee to the five Kuna Indian municiplalities. All of these range from $5 to about $100, but in total it was probably $500 or so. Oops, forgot the mariner's visa which we did not pay but others who entered the country elsewhere did pay ($50/person). You get the idea.
In Ecuador you must have an agent. Also when you go to the Galapagos, which is part of Ecuador, you cannot get an internal zarpe, which you would need to go to Manta, Ecuador for example, but an external zarpe. When you get to the Galapagos (different agent) I (foolishly) thought he would do all the paperwork, like the guy in mainland Ecuador, but he just came onboard with seven (7!) officials and I did all the paperwork with them. The agent did get the external zarpe for us but to the Marquesas instead of Easter Island so we had to wait around for two days (including when the tsunami from Japan came) to get a new zarpe. This consisted of a new printout of the old zarpe on which they crossed out Marquesas and put in Isla Pascua, Chile. We asked them to do this with the orginal zarpe but they said they needed to print out a new one.
It is not only the Spanish places though. In Fiji they were starting to hit boats with a fumigation charge on top of all the others. We talked to a couple who had arrived directly from New Zealand and all their fees including the fumigation (a guy came on board with a little bug sprayer) was >$700. Even our friends in Aussie ding you. We paid for two one year, multi-entry visas ($105 each - no one can explain why Australia requires a visa for Canadians) and $330 for the quarantine charge - so there is $540 and that is Aussie bucks which are worth slightly more than the North American varieties.
If you go to On AiniA
you can see what we spent from Florida to French Polynesia in six months. To that point we had spent $1773 for government fees (not including the canal) and less than $600 for fuel. By the time we got settled in Oz, we were close to $3000 for government fees over 10 months; in contrast we spent probably $700 on fuel and propane and that is paying quite high prices for these.
Edit - I noticed you mentioned the bond in FP. We signed up to the Pacific Puddle Jumpers group (free) and they had an arrangment with an agent in Tahiti, (very nice and helpful lady) where you paid them a fee and did not have to put up the bond. She also did entry/exit and arranged for duty-free fuel. The latter two you could do yourself but we did not know that at the time. It was convenient to do it this way. The bond is a pain since you have to make sure that the bank in Bora Bora or wherever you are leaving from has enough of the currency you paid so that you can get it back - you don't want to get it back in French Polynesian Francs since you will get killed on exchange in Fiji or wherever you can exchange them. Don't see why you can't put it on a credit card and get it back that way, but you can't. Also you do not get all your bond back since there are various bank fees and foreign exchange fees involved (the bond is FPFs so if you pay in US dollars there are two foreign exchange charges). You can also avoid the bond if you buy a (refundable) air ticket from Papeete to somewhere in your own country for each person onboard. This can really be a lot of money to have tied up.
Hope this helps, I wish someone explained this to me before I went, would have saved a lot of hassle (but probably not much money).