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  #1  
Old 09-12-2009
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BVI to USVI Customs question

Hey all,

In Dec. a group of friends and I will be chartering down in the BVI. This will be my 7th time sailing in the BVI and I wanted to try St. Johns out for the first time. We are starting out of Road Town on a 10 day trip. So I'm thinking maybe a couple days exploring St. Johns would be new and fun. My question is what are the procedures and costs for checking in and out. Do you think it is worth it? We are all U.S. citizen's and would of course head back and finish the trip in the BVI. Any input would be appreciated.

Roger
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Old 09-13-2009
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The procedures and time involved for your group, particularly as all are US citizens, is not too great; particularly when offset against a 10 day cruise. I will assume that your charter company will allow a trip across to the USVI. You will need your boat papers from them and then will need to clear out in BVI; Road harbour is a bit of a hassle as you need to get to the Ferry Terminal and they don't have a dinghy dock. The West End, being within sight of the USVI is the logical choice but you can also check out of Jost Van Dyke or Virgin Gorda. I would recommend checking in to the USA on St. John, there is a draft restricted temporary anchoring area in Cruz Bay (too shallow for my deep draft) or you can take a mooring ball somewhat north of Cruz Bay in Caneel Bay and dinghy in to Customs & Immigration from there.
I would guesstimate about 30-60 minutes to check out at the West End (assuming you time it well and don't check out when a ferry arrives) and about the same time in the US. I normally need to ask for checkout papers in the USVI (they aren't issued as a matter of course) but when travelling to BVI they will let you check in without checkout papers. I am not sure what the checkout procedure for you would be, as a non US-citizen I need to go into the offices but in your case a telephone call might suffice. Checkin into the BVI will take about 60 minutes.

I went to St. Johns the first time to pick up and later to drop off a friend. After dropping her off I had intended on sailing back the BVI but ended up spending a week in and around St. Johns, mostly moored in Caneel Bay, and loved it. The food at the campsite is worth the 200+ steps that you have to surmount and those steps help to work up an appetite as well.
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Old 09-13-2009
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Word of warning.

Do not get caught fishing in BVI's waters! Several cruisers have reported really bad experiences this year with overzealous government fisheries officers.
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Old 09-13-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanBrown View Post
Word of warning.

Do not get caught fishing in BVI's waters...
without purchasing a fishing permit beforehand, that is.
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Last edited by Zanshin; 09-13-2009 at 12:52 PM. Reason: addendum
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Old 09-13-2009
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Last time I checked in to the US at Cruz Bay from the BVI, everyone on board had to present themselves at US customs before the boat was cleared in. May have changed, I don't know......???? Re outbound clearance, it's typically not done from US waters, so when you're ready to leave -- go and then check in in the BVI.

All that said, it's definitely worth checking w/ your charter company on the latest requirements.....

Have fun. St John is definetly worth visiting. Maho Bay is very nice and don't miss the bays on the south side of the island.
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Old 09-14-2009
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Zan,

Thank you for fininishing my sentence as I should have!
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Old 09-14-2009
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I just didn't want to frighten the OP away from fishing. I do think that the stories I heard weren't charter boats with guests not having paid for fishing permits but private vessel where the BVI authorities had (previous) issues with. And the one story from early this year, where the boat was at first impounded and then levied with thousands of dollars of fees and fines, seems to be a lot more involved than the initial reports of some poor US boater having his boat confiscated because he hung out a fishing line - meaning there are certainly always 2 sides to a news story.

Back to customs - I know that US customs & immigration requires all people on board to present themselves when a "furriner" is on board, but wasn't sure if that applied to boats with only US citizens aboard as well.

I've checked into and out of the BVI many times, and have never had significant delays but have heard of cases where the process can take excessively long - perhaps I've just been lucky. Immigration in St. Johns and St. Thomas was always fast, efficient and exceedingly polite or even downright friendly (note I never said the same about the BVI ).
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Old 09-14-2009
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Zanshin,
Did you mean you were moored around Maho or Francis Bays? Maho Eco Camps has a decent restaurant that is a bunch of steps up from the beach. Caneel is near Cruz Bay and a very long dinghy ride from Maho.

Must agree US Customs are quite decent to deal with.
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Old 09-14-2009
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Caneel is the point to dink into Cruz Bay as FarCry indicates... it would be a really long and in December probably a very wet and hard ride!

As far as places to visit in St. John, after you finish your business and do a walk around to Cruz Bay, heading back to Waterlemon Cay is a good place to consider it has great snorkeling with almost an assured chance for an up close and personal encounter with a large sea turtle and it has nice reefs on the Eastern end. Hiking trails to ruins and even over to Coral Bay are great trips. If it is your first time to St. John you may want to consider looping back around the Southern side of the island and heading toward Lampshier Bay and snorkel and hike those trails then head around to Coral Bay for a looksee. Head to Waterlemon at that point and stay overnight then return to BVI either to West End or Jost Van Dyke. If you have not hiked the trails on Norman Island they are well worth it.

St. John is a very nice place that should not be missed after multi visits to BVI. One other location you may want to consider as an overnight stop or a lunch stop is St. James Island (Greater) and Christmas Cove. Great little spot for snorkeling and free anchorage. In most of USVI you will have to moor at the National Park Mooring fields. In December you will probably have a Bay Host come by your boat in the afternoon about 5 to pass out maps and other literature including your pay envelopes you will have to deliver to the pay stations, generally by dink... they can not accept payments but have lots of local info and are very nice people!
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Old 09-15-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarCry View Post
Zanshin,
Did you mean you were moored around Maho or Francis Bays? Maho Eco Camps has a decent restaurant that is a bunch of steps up from the beach. Caneel is near Cruz Bay and a very long dinghy ride from Maho.

Must agree US Customs are quite decent to deal with.
I just checked my first post - I did write it correctly, that for customs checkin a mooring ball in Caneel is just a short ride, but that I loved mooring in Maho Bay (afterwards )
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