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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everybody,
This is my first message. (I already try FIND before post it)
I’m italian, and i’m sailing on a ten meter stell yacht.
Right now i’m in Trinidad and I would like to go to the usa est coast next year.
I plan to sail to Miami and from there by sea to Charleston or Morehead and then continue north via the icw to reach Washington and New York.
I will post on the other section other questions about the best guide for the icw and best season to do this.
But first I would like to know what about customs and laws to sail on the usa water,
Wich document are required and what about obligatory safety equipment, antipollution…??? Do you have any informations about that ?
thanks in advance.

243 Posts
Check in with US Customs when you arrive. You must do this within 48 hours of arrival and you and your passengers can not go ashore until you do it. If you arrive in Miami there is a US Customs Office there. You will need a crusing permit. You get that from Customs. You will need your boats papers/documents and a passport. Other people on board will need a passport too. You will need a manifest (a List of all the stuff on your boat), and a list of all the people on the boat. Here is a link to US Customs web site for arrival in Miami. US Customs arrival requirements on private yachts. US and foreign flag entry requirements

Bombay Explorer 44
3,619 Posts
Unless things have changed arriving in Miami and trying to anchor out somewhere then dinghy in to check in is a major pain.

West Palm Beach is easier but you still need to get a taxi to the relevent offices. I think this is the address

1 E 11th St Ste 323, West Palm Beach, FL 33404-6921
Phone: (561) 844-1703

Phone in as soon as you arrive and if late they usually will let you come in next day!

Here is an extract of the rules I think this is up to date but they change them EVERY YEAR!

FOREIGN-FLAG PLEASURE BOATS. The master of a foreign-flag or undocumented foreign pleasure boat must report its arrival to U.S. Customs immediately and must make formal vessel entry (see section that follows on cruising licenses) on a CF 1300 within 48 hours. In the absence of a cruising license, vessels in this category must obtain a permit before proceeding to each subsequent U.S. port.

Navigation fees will be charged for the formal entry, the permit to proceed, and for the clearance of foreign-flag pleasure boats. It is not necessary for foreign-flag vessels making formal entry and operating under a cruising license to acquire a $25 user fee decal.

The master of every foreign-flagged vessel arriving in the U.S. and required to make entry must have a complete legible manifest consisting of Customs Forms (CF) 1300 through 1304 and a passenger list.[1]

Pleasure boats from foreign countries must obtain clearance before leaving a port or place in the U.S. and proceeding to a foreign port or place or for another port or place in the U.S."

[1]19 CFR 4.7

Cruising licenses exempt pleasure boats of certain countries from having to undergo formal entry and clearance procedures, such as filing manifests and obtaining permits, to proceed as well as from the payment of tonnage tax and entry and clearance fees at all but the first port of entry. These licenses can be obtained from the US Customs port director at the first port of arrival in the US. Normally valid for one year, a cruising license has no bearing on the dutiability of a pleasure boat. Under Customs policy, when a foreign flag vessel's cruising license expires, that vessel may not be issued another license until the following three conditions have been met: (1) the vessel leaves the US for a foreign port or place, and (2) it returns from that foreign port or place, and (3) at least 15 days have elapsed since the previous license expired. (Customs Directive 3100-06, November 7, 1988.)

Every person entering the US must be seen in person by an immigration officer. US citizens should carry proof of citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate. If your boat has anchored or tied up, you are considered to have entered the US. No one shall board or leave the boat without first completing customs processing, unless permission to do so is granted by the Customs officer in charge. The only exception to this requirement is to report arrival. If it is necessary for someone to leave the boat to report arrival to US Customs, he or she must return to the boat after reporting and remain on board. No one who arrived on that boat may leave until the Customs officer grants permission to go ashore. Violations may result in substantial penalties and forfeiture of the boat.

I think Italy is OK for the Cruising license - without it you have to check in and out everywhere not just when you change state. This is a major hassle and VERY EXPENSIVE.

For the ICW you need

WATERWAY GUIDE 2009 Atlantic ICW edition is the indispensable cruising companion for boaters exploring the Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk, VA to the Florida border. The guide features mile-by-mile navigation information, aerial photography with marked routes, marina listings and locater charts, anchorage information, and expanded "Goin' Ashore" articles on ports along the way. Helpful cruising data like GPS waypoints, detailed planning maps, distance charts, and bridge tables help get cruisers there safely. Flexible spiral binding and heavy laminated covers with bookmarker flaps ensure durability and easy use in the cockpit and at the helm.

and this

The Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook provides a complete set of navigational charts (a $350 value) for the 1,090-mile ICW from Norfolk to Miami, as well as major Atlantic inlets, in a single, easy-to-use $70 package. Proven over 16 years and four prior editions, the Chartbook includes a complete listing of waterway bridge and lock characteristics, anchorages and waterway facilities; also pilotage notes, mileage charts, and charts for a picturesque alternate route.

Mast height is critical but if you are a 10 metre it is unlikely that your mast exceeds 64 feet. Draft matters too 4 feet no problem 5 foot you will ground a couple of times if you are careful. 6 foot will needs lots of care and a good towing company. 7 foot ?? maybe

I took a 5 foot draft from Miami to Norfolk VA then up the Chesapeake and the Potomac river to Washington DC.

The USA do not make it easy for foreign flagged cruisers.
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