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EvanstonJohn 04-13-2010 11:24 PM

USCG National Vessel Movement Center requirements
I am sailing from Tortola to USVI/St. in a month on a bareboat Sunsail charter with one other person, and I am a US resident. I want to spend several days in St. John before sailing back to the BVI.

If I understand correctly, in addition to the in-person entry requirements at Immigration and Customs in Cruz Bay, I also need to file a USCG NVMC Notice of Arrival/Departure no more than 96 hours before I arrive, and I also must specify my ports of call.

My first question is - Is this correct?

Also, assuming that it is right, if I want to hop around St. John for several days, do I really need to list different "ports" on the notice or can I just list Cruz Bay or Caneel Bay or whatever as my one port? ( I read the regulations as actually requiring me to list every single place I intend to anchor or moor - agh.)


Freesail99 04-14-2010 12:43 AM

Shouldn't Sunsail have all that information about customs available if you are bareboating with them? I would ask them.

Zanshin 04-14-2010 03:21 AM

I've done the BVI - USVI and back trip several times and have never heard of the NVMC notice of arrival/departure being applied. Many charter boats do this trip daily.
Note that all people aboard must be U.S. citizens or have a valid visa, the normal visa-waiver program does not apply to entry via sailboat - if your crew member doesn't have a visa, then he/she could take the ferry from the BVI and you could clear in solo and then take the passenger aboard (departing the US on a sailboat is no problem)

I find that the U.S. customs/immigration on St. John is particularly friendly, helpful, polite and efficient. The 'parking' area for clearing in is quite small and shallow, I uasually end up going way out into the channel past the reef and anchor in deep water in order to clear in and out, or one can take a mooring at Caneel bay and dinghy over.

EvanstonJohn 04-14-2010 07:35 AM

In my experience with Sunsail in 2008, it didn't want to get involved in border crossing requirements. Basically told me I had to deal with it myself. I will check back with the company again.

I also had called US customs office at Cruz Bay a couple of weeks ago - they were the ones that told me about the NVMC requirement and gave me the website URL. But it seemed so strange for such stringent requirements for a personal charter -- as opposed to a larger charter-for-hire. Hence my question.

I sailed from Jost to Cruz Bay two years ago, did everything wrong - didn't check out of the BVI first, tried to anchor in Cruz Bay, didn't have the boat's registration papers. Surprised they didn't arrest me (of course, I didn't know any of this at the time - St. John was just so tempting from Jost.) However, because one of the agents (a local from St. Thomas) was so nice, they gave me a mulligan and sent me on my way without too much trouble other than having Sunsail fax the boat's reg papers over. Needless to say, I'd like to do things right this time, and intend to anchor at Caneel and dinghy over.

Thanks for the replies!

Zanshin 04-14-2010 08:12 AM

I just took a gander at USCG National Vessel Movement Center (NVMC) since I'll be heading from the BVI to the USVI again in 3 weeks or so and found that current applicability is for vessels of over 300 gross tons - I don't think Sunsail has a vessel that big in their charter fleet!
The changes making all foreign vessels do a NOA report are only proposed rule changes, at least in one document that I read on that site.

I just checked on noonsite:

Noonsite previously reported that non-US flagged yachts had to submit an Advance Notice Of Arrival (ANOA) 96 hours before arrival. However, the National Vessel Movement Center (NVMC) have confirmed that non-commercial pleasure vessels, under 300 gross tons, are exempted from this regulation.

EvanstonJohn 04-14-2010 09:16 AM

Zanshin, I justed looked at the NVMC Newsletter and it appears to say that the 300 ton exemption does not apply to foreign-flagged vessels entering the USCG's Seventh District, which includes St. John and other US territory in the Carribean:


Foreign Recreational Vessels
Foreign flagged recreational vessels arriving in the
Coast Guardís Seventh District (South Carolina,
Georgia, most of Florida, Caribbean), must submit
NOAs regardless of tonnage. This is in accordance
with 33 CFR 160.203 (b)(1).
Foreign flagged recreational vessels arriving in any
other area of the United States must submit NOAs if
they are above 300 gt, in accordance with 33 CFR
(I am assuming that the Sunsail sailboat is a British-flagged vessel.)

And 33 CFR 160.203(b)(1) seems to confirm that position:




160.203 - Exemptions.

(a) Except for reporting notice of hazardous conditions, the following vessels are exempt from requirements in this subpart: (1) Passenger and supply vessels when they are employed in the exploration for or in the removal of oil, gas, or mineral resources on the continental shelf.

(2) Oil Spill Recovery Vessels (OSRVs) when engaged in actual spill response operations or during spill response exercises.

(3) Vessels operating upon the following waters: (i) Mississippi River between its sources and mile 235, Above Head of Passes; (ii) Tributaries emptying into the Mississippi River above mile 235; (iii) Atchafalaya River above its junction with the Plaquemine-Morgan City alternate waterway and the Red River; and (iv) The Tennessee River from its confluence with the Ohio River to mile zero on the Mobile River and all other tributaries between those two points.

(b) If not carrying certain dangerous cargo or controlling another vessel carrying certain dangerous cargo, the following vessels are exempt from NOA requirements in this subpart: (1) Vessels 300 gross tons or less, except for foreign vessels entering any port or place in the Seventh Coast Guard District as described in 33 CFR 3.351(b).
So, if you're a US vessel, you don't need to file. But if you're a non-US vessel, it seems like you need to file, regardless of tonnage, if you are visiting the USVI.

What do you think?

Zanshin 04-15-2010 03:28 AM

I checked CBP yesterday and found Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands -

but no mention is made of eNOA; but I did see that differentiation was made if entering the US from overseas or a CARICOM country. I'm a bit worried now since I'll be doing that trip in 2 weeks.... Your references are pretty conclusive, but perhaps, hidden somewhere else in the CFRs, there is an exception to the exception. I've posted the contents of this thread on another forum which has plenty of BVI-USVI cross border traffic boaters on it and hope to find someone who has done this trip in the past few weeks to see what the actual procedures are. If one really needs to file an eNOA for this short hop then it is worth updating NOONSITE.COM as well.

Zanshin 04-19-2010 01:54 AM

even though I couldn't find a reference that exempts private boats from the 33 CFR 160.203(b)(1) stipulations, I have gotten confirmation from cruisers on another forum that they've been merrily crossing twixt the USVI and BVI in recent weeks on foreign-flagged vessels with nary an eNOA.

EvanstonJohn 04-19-2010 09:24 AM

I'm not surprised - even if the eNOA is a requirement, personal bareboat charters must be at the very bottom of the priority list for enforcement of this nebulous rule - especially in these particular waters.

CGMojo 04-19-2010 11:47 AM

Ask Them
Try calling LT Anderson, Ports, Waterways & Coastal Security, 7th Coast Guard District, Miami at (305) 415-7041. I doubt if there's much of a problem with the regulation where you're headed---just don't show up in Florida unannounced.

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