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Central America Primarily West Coast, Including Mexico

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  Topic Review (Newest First)
11-05-2011 02:49 AM
Tulsasailor I sailed a 44' Catalina Morgan to Belize City in 2010 we arrived and the port authority told us they would call immigration and customs. They arrived in about an hour (which was impressive) until they both wanted paid $100 US as a bribe because we arrived on Belize Independence day (May 1st). After they left we were just about to catch a taxi into town when the agriculture department showed up and we had to pay him a hundred dollars US because of the holiday. We hurried and grabbed a taxi before the department of Arts and Entertainment showed up.
After two days at Cucumber Marina we went to town to the Port Authority and they informed me I violated Belize law by not having a pilot board the vessel on entry into the port and the fine was $1000.00 US dollars (the law is for heavy tonnage ships not a vessel that weighs less than 50 tons). After telling them I did not have a thousand cash but could put it on a credit card they settled for a little over $600 US and gave me change out of a personal purse.
I then went the Immigration and Customs office where I paid another $100.00 US in bribes, I then went and paid the bill at the Marina (which by the way my understanding is the marina is owned by the same guy that runs the local prison, true story) I paid the bill tipped the marina guys (they were nice and I have no complaints with them) then I got the crew on the boat and we got out of Dodge.
My original intentions were to go to Ambrigis Key but we were in winds in excess of 35 knots and seas in excess of 30 feet. The cruising guide told us not to attempt to get through the reef at Ambrigis in heavy seas or rough weather.
What I later found was Ambrigis Key's custom and immigration guys do not shake you down and it is fairly easy to check in and out of the office at Ambrigis. I will tell you there is absolutely no reason to stop in Belize City there is nothing there except for the trip we took to Altan Ha a neat Mayan ruin site, other than that Belize City was horrible.
The cruising grounds for Belize are in the southern part of the country and the SCUBA diving is best in the northern part (Ambrigis Key). So if you go in your own boat I would check in and out of Ambrigis and hope you don't arrive in rough seas.
I will tell you, on the way out of Belize City I saw some sailboats just at the breakwaters of the bay at Belize City. The boats were anchored off of a small island with beautiful white sand beaches and it was just outside of the green water and in the blue water. It was very pleasant looking and I wished I had anchored there for the two days.
10-16-2011 07:28 PM
re: boatcams!

And here I thought I was sacrificing evry penny and possession I owned to get AWAY from the notion of needed ANY kind of CAM (sigh) but very good idea, point well made
10-16-2011 03:52 PM
hellosailor Sooner or later boates are going to discover minicams aka "dashcams" and start documenting things. No "he said she said" or receipts needed. Pass the video on and upwards,and someone will get spanked and someone else will return your money.

Best to plan on never returning to the place where the pix are taken, but that's ok too.
10-15-2011 03:33 PM
Interaxions Let me know when you find out...I'm considering heading that way...
03-16-2011 02:33 PM
Boat check in fees in Belize

Just got back from a couple months in Belize, sailing and diving the atolls aboard a friend's beneteau 48 and found the check-in at Belize City, Cucumber Marina, one of the more excruciating. Criminally insane lazy immigration officials made us wait for a full day before showing up, even though their office would tell us they had left in the morning...
Showed up at 4:30, a couple stamps, paid fees, and then requested $15 for the return cab. Locals pay $5. Rip offs from the first official that stepped aboard. No receipts for some, and just the most dysfunctional I have seen recently, especially coming from a country where billions in U$ has come (& gone) through greedy officials hands.
We were given fees that seemed totally made up, and often were told by other boaters that they had encountered a wide range of prices when paying their entry & exit fees.
Can anyone tell us what $ fees were paid and where, such as San Pedro, Belize City, Caye Caulker, Dangriga, Placencia, Big Creek, etc ??
We plan on returning taking our own boat. Also interested in how long they permit you & boat to stay in their waters. Couldn't find anything online.
Many thanks

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