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I do ask myself why a country like Antigua, which depends on tourism would in the first place pass a law with such draconian fines. Then in the second you wonder whether the customs officers realize without yachts most of their jobs would be gone.
I'm not familiar with attitudes in the Caribbean but in my experience most countries do not view yachties as tourists - more as opportunists who come to enjoy the fruits and contribute as little as possible. And I think you'll find very few places in the world that depend on yachts for their fiscal survival. We're viewed as a blight, not a source of revenue.

And I agree that this Antigua account isn't really that onerous or unfriendly. Visualise someone arriving at an airport and being confronted by a long customs/immigration queue - an attempt to "Let's go through that door to the other side and have a meal and come back later" will get you arrested, let alone a fine.

Do it by the rules and you're OK. A visit to will pretty much tell you what level of efficacy to expect. The problem with cruisers is that because we're relaxed we expect everybody to be the same - they're not - they're protecting their borders.

When approaching New Zealand (or Australia), you don't just turn up. You will have notified them of your ETA 5 days before. If you didn't, you'll get a really chilly reception and may be fined or even asked to leave. You'll go directly to a foreign-arrivals dock and you will stay there, flying a Q flag until the customs/immigration officials arrive. If you step ashore, you have every right to expect to be arrested.

When I arrived at Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) at 19:00 I was met a mile off by a navy RIB and 6 heavily armed personnel, told not to step ashore until they had been aboard, the following morning they swabbed every surface of the boat for drug traces, searched every locker, checked my papers in fine detail, checked my visa in an on-line data base before signing me in and allowing me ashore.

In Seychelles, they do an offshore boarding of your arrival, they search your boat, spray a sanitiser into everything below, make your stay as uncomfortable and controlled as possible, hold your passport until you leave, allow you out of the main port for a max of three days on a renewable permit which stipulates where you're allowed to stop. Violation of the permit in any way gets you your passport back and a terse invitation to leave immediately.

So really, Antigua is quite relaxed, friendly and inviting, provided you sign in before going visiting.

At the other end of the scale - we arrived at Rarotonga at 18:00 on a Friday and were told that the "customs guy" had gone home for the weekend. We spent the weekend wandering around the island doing what we needed to do and cleared in on Monday morning.

As long as you know . . . .
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