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Old 08-09-2010
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Question about dropping anchor in another country

Hey folks,

First post. Sailing has been on the list for quite some time and I'm going to get started soon.

I had a question about dropping anchor in a foreign country. Last week we were in Grand Cayman for a dive vacation. We saw several boats anchored off shore.

When you do this are you obliged by law (or courtesy) to check in with local authorities when you arrive? If you don't, will you get a visit from someone? Do you usually have to pay fees?

Thanks,

Beck
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Old 08-09-2010
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I would say you have to check in ever place

As a matter of fact during a recent race when we were in Block Island Sound the CG was giving a foreign boat a LOT of Flack about not clearing customs in the allowed time
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Old 08-09-2010
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If you don't check in, expect problems if the authorities end up boarding your boat. As a general rule, if you're going to be staying in foreign waters long enough to anchor, you need to check in with the customs office.
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Old 08-09-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by outdoors4me View Post
Hey folks,

First post. Sailing has been on the list for quite some time and I'm going to get started soon.

I had a question about dropping anchor in a foreign country. Last week we were in Grand Cayman for a dive vacation. We saw several boats anchored off shore.

When you do this are you obliged by law (or courtesy) to check in with local authorities when you arrive? If you don't, will you get a visit from someone? Do you usually have to pay fees?

Thanks,

Beck

beck I am curious about this as well, do you mean check in with local authorities after clearing customs or do you mean should you check in with customs if you have no intention of "landing"?
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Old 08-09-2010
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A while back you were only required to clear Customs before you went ashore but I was chewed out by the US Customs in 2006 when I anchored after returning from Canada and went in the next day to clear. I was told it was a $5000 fine but they would let me go "for now". You are expected to clear as soon as reasonably possible when you enter US waters. I don't know about other countries but I expect they are all pretty much the same.
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Thanks for the replies. To be specific, my question was in the context of staying a while and definitely coming ashore.

Thanks, Beck
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Old 08-09-2010
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I understand that setting anchor within a country's territorial waters is typically considered landing in that country.
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It is a good idea to fly the host (your visiting) country flag on the starboard spreader. The Q (yellow) beneath this flag signals pratique (I would like to stay her, clear customs, etc,).

If you do not go ashore, they most likely will come to you to check out visas. Don't just assume that you can drop an anchor anywhere,

Hand made flags are easy to make out of your sailmakers scraps - offer them 10 - 15 bucks for the colors. They don't have to be perfect (like the eagle eating a snake on the Mexico flag,) just make green, white and red panels. Even canvas can be sewn by hand.

A grommet kit is invaluable as the flags flog in the wind. Also helpful is muslim to make the flying flag edge stiffer and accept the grommets.
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Old 08-10-2010
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Typically, when you enter a foreign country and go to check in with their customs, ONLY the captain is allowed to go ashore for that purpose and the rest of the crew/passengers must stay aboard. (That is, if there isn't a designated wharf with a customs station, or they don't come out in a boat to meet you when you radio in or show your yellow Q flag, or if they don't have things set up so you can clear in at designated marinas.)

In general you'll really need your passport... especially to get back in the USA. And some countries won't let you in if your passport is close to expiration. Some countries also require visas. Sometimes you have to get these visas way ahead of time. Sometimes you need a typed crew list, perhaps in the language of the country you're visiting. Sometimes you have to pay cruising fees. Sometimes countries have so much paperwork that it's worth hiring brokers / agents / fixers / couriers. Sometimes the paperwork and requirements for people coming by boat are very different than for coming by commercial airplane, cruise ship, etc. In some situations you may need to show proof of some basic boating competency.

Bulletin boards, yacht clubs near foreign borders, cruising guides, travel books, etc. are loaded with good info.

Last edited by rgscpat; 08-10-2010 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 08-10-2010
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I guess the simplest explanation is to ask how any country would control drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, illegal immigrants and the list goes on, if they were happy to allow vessels to just turn up on their coast and put down and anchor.

Logic says that the above scenario would not be allowed by any government outside of Somalia.

Many places in the world would be downright unhappy if a foreign vessel anchored without clearing in first. Many would simply put you in jail. Some would confiscate your boat, sell it and use some of the proceeds to fly you back home.

Any of these reactions is something that no clear thinking sailor would want to test.

The other aspect to think on is that when you are moving from one sovereign country to another, your boat papers have to show an auditable trail. The first question any custom/immigration office is going to ask is "Where have you just come from" and they're going to want your papers to prove it. If it took you six months to sail the last 500nm, they're going to start asking some uncomfortable questions. So wandering from one island group to the next without clearing in AND out will eventually get you bogged down in discussions most of us would rather avoid.

So to repeat what an earlier post said, fly a courtesy flag of the country you have arrived at as well as a plain yellow Q flag and things will be easier for your there and from there-on in. Just anchoring and hoping not to be spotted is the worst of all the choices at your disposal.
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Last edited by Omatako; 08-10-2010 at 01:08 AM.
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