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  #1  
Old 04-20-2007
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Need advice.....

I will be sailing the BVI and VI for the first time next week. I will be on a 40' Island Packet. I just do not understand the process of checking in with each country when I enter the harbors! Can anyone or evryone help me with this?
Thanks in advance
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Old 04-20-2007
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Checking into the BVI is easy and painless. You only need to check in once upon arrival, then are free to roam all of the islands and locations / harbors to your heart's content.

I haven't checked into the USVI yet, so cannot answer to that - but since it is the "US" I doubt that it is particularly difficult if your boat is a US one.

The best resource I have found on the web (apart from this forum, of course) is Noonsite which lists the relevant information for just about every country and port that I could think of (well, a notable exception is Switzerland).
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Old 04-20-2007
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I'd second the recommendation for Noonsite. However, be aware that what it says isn't always completely current, and that if you have any doubts, you should check with the country in question directly.
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Old 04-20-2007
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OK...so you'll be flying into the BVI's and will be checked in there when the plane lands so no worries.
If you decide to visit St. John or St. Thomas then you will want to anchor in CRUZ Bay or just around the corner in Caneel...and take the dinghy in with your crew to the customs place at the head of the harbor. Have your passport, ships papers and cash. No need to check OUT of the USVI.
Check back in to the BVI at White Sound Jost van Dyke which is the EASIEST and nicest place to do so following the same procedures.
Alternatively you can check in at Sopers Hole on the west End of Tortola but time your trip in to avoid crowds from the ferries.
You can also check in in Road town or up in Virgin Gorda but they are more of a pain.
Have fun!
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Old 04-23-2007
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White BAY on Jost has no immigration facility for check-in. You'll have to go next door (east) to Great Harbor. US customs in Cruz Bay is relatively painless, but they've got a real attitude, so suck it up and be humble if you don't want to spend all day.
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Old 04-23-2007
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I suspect you may be unsure about the general principles, rather than the specifics in those places.
The basis of checking in covers customs, immigration control, health, and environmental controls.
Originally a vessel arriving from overseas requested clearance to enter or pratique. This was shown by flying a yellow flag on the port shrouds, anchoring or going to a quarantine berth and was for medical clearance that plague or suchlike was not aboard. Customs and immigration followed once the vessel was found safe.
The yellow flag and pratique still apply.
Advance notice given by by radio is also required often by VHF on entering territorial waters.
However some countries now require 10 days notice by fax or email and a schedule of details eg crew and passport numbers so it pays to check directly with the country's site.
You cannot land other than at an authorised port of entry, for obvious reasons like dropping off drugs or illegal aliens first. Nor can you strictly have physical contact with another craft.
In some places Customs, immigration, and Agricultural people will come to you or you will be told where to berth.
In many only the skipper is allowed ashore to initiate the formalities. He should have the ship's papers and all passports. The fine details vary with the formality of each country. In most all wait aboard.
Clearance out of the prior country is required. One it shows where you came from, and accounts for none of the crew being left behind.
Clearance is not required for a US boat leaving the USA but is required on arrival from a foreign port.
Visas may be required. In the US they are not required for non work visits for people from some countries, but it seems they are if they arrive by private yacht. This is why it pays to check the small print direct.
Conventionally the host country's flag is flown on the starboard shroud above that of one's own country.
It maybe that in the Caribbean because of numbers some less formality may apply, however generally with greater security consciousness and strict regulations it pays to get the formalities right and tug one's forelock.
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Old 04-23-2007
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In the BVI the ports of entry that I have been to (Soper's, Road Town, Great Harbor and Spanish Town) all have mooring balls in the general area that you can use [Great Harbor you need to anchor], then dinghy over to the customs building. Bring your passport and ship's papers and clearance papers from the previous port (if applicable) and you will usually have 2 stops - customs and then immigration. The BVI has new forms now that even the immigration people still have trouble figuring out.
No advance notice is required. Last time I checked in I moored 1/4 mile out in Road town and waited for over an hour for someone to flag down for a ride in (my dinghy had disappeared) to no avail. I radioed in to customs and asked if I could motor several miles away to a marina and take a cab in to clear and they immediately responded "no problem".
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Old 04-23-2007
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I stand corrected...Great Harbor on Jost is absolutely right.
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