Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 29 Old 02-24-2019 Thread Starter
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Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

I have a question for the forum. I just purchased a sailboat in Georgia and wish to visit the Bahamas and islands south. I currently only have the USCG bill of sale. What ship documents are necessary when entering other countries? I would hate to have to wait for Coast Guard documents to depart on a two month trip due to hurricane season. Thanks for any info and advise.
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post #2 of 29 Old 02-24-2019
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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

I've heard one can travel internationally on a state registration, however, I'd check with a documentation service and see if they can't expedite a document for you.

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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
I've heard one can travel internationally on a state registration, however, I'd check with a documentation service and see if they can't expedite a document for you.
One issue we've encountered is that some state registrations do not mention the boat's name. That seems to be a major obstacle for checking in (at least in the eastern med). The Delaware registration does mention the name of the boat and is more easily accepted. So if you decide to use state registration, you may want to look into this.
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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

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Originally Posted by jvlassak View Post
One issue we've encountered is that some state registrations do not mention the boat's name. That seems to be a major obstacle for checking in (at least in the eastern med). The Delaware registration does mention the name of the boat and is more easily accepted. So if you decide to use state registration, you may want to look into this.
Not having owned any vessel state registered but an 18' Mako (on which I did not do too much international traveling), I hadn't thought of that fact, but it makes sense.
I stand corrected.
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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

We are doing just this right now. What we have is the CG bill of sale, the current boat document with the previous owners names on it, and a notarized letter from the previous owners stating that we have their authority to operate the boat (even though it is our boat now).

So far from Antigua, to St. Thomas, to the Bahamas, we have gone into customs/immigration and handed them the boat documentation only - no bill of sale or owner letter - and have been checked in with no questions asked. We fill out all forms with our names as owners of the boat. Strange because our names are not on the documentation, but that's the way it has been going so far.

YMMV.

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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

We have travelled down as far as Grenada and have never been asked for anything more than the USCG registration and passports. I would bring a fistful of good color photo copies of the registration. Some places don’t have copiers, in the DR pencils and carbon paper seem precious. We have never been approached for a bribe.

My guess is it would be good to have USCG registration as that is most common. The rare official is suspicious and/or unsure of messing with his good government job. Make it as normal as possible to avoid mishaps.

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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

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We fill out all forms with our names as owners of the boat. Strange because our names are not on the documentation, but that's the way it has been going so far. Mark
I was in line @ customs in Bequia when the customs officer saw this discrepancy between the forms and the document on the forms of the guy in front of me. He had entered his name as owner, but the document said it was someone else as owner (his son). It cost him a huge fine (lying on the form) and he had to redo the paperwork.
On the other hand, I once checked out of Bequia, which means dealing with both a customs [B]and[B] immigration officer, then checked into St. Lucia, again a customs and immigration officer, plus a port authority official, and I had accidentally put the wrong month on the form. None noticed and neither did I until I got back to the boat!
As they say, 'you pays your money and takes your chances'.
I always wear a collared, buttoned shirt, real shorts (except Trinidad where shorts are not allowed in customs or immigration, for men or women), and real shoes when clearing in or out, as I believe it shows a level of respect that a T-shirt, swim trunks/board shorts and flip flops do not. I have made a few mistakes, like forgetting an outbound clearance (I left it on the port authority officer's desk in St Lucia) and they cleared me into Bequia w/o any problems, and I believe that perhaps the lack of hassles was because of how I always dressed up for them. I think they notice.
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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

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I was in line @ customs in Bequia when the customs officer saw this discrepancy between the forms and the document on the forms of the guy in front of me. He had entered his name as owner, but the document said it was someone else as owner (his son). It cost him a huge fine (lying on the form) and he had to redo the paperwork.
In our case, we ARE the owners of the boat. Backed up with a notarized CG bill of sale, and a notarized letter from the previous owners describing the situation (and insurance certificates in our name, if they needed more). The documentation was current for the boat. Putting our names on the forms as owners was truthful and legal. Doing otherwise would have been illegal.

It isn't really possible/practical to get new CG documentation in the Caribe during a US government shutdown. Even during normal operations, it often isn't possible to Fedex the required documents to the CG and get the new documentation back before one's cruising permit expires and they need to leave the country with the boat. This was our case - the boat's cruising permit was expiring in a week, and it had already used up its extensions.

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Re: Cruising from US to Bahamas and south Boat Documents needed?

When I cleared into the Bahamas a few weeks ago the customs agent didn’t even glance at my state registration.....just checked that I had filled out their forms completely, stamped my passport, and collected my $150 fee.

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