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Old 14-11-2003, 08:24   #1
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Affordable Cruising / Caribbean

Where has the affordable cruising gone?

My wife and I are headed for the Caribbean, after the next hurricane season subsides, on our 40' Endeavour. We would like to cruise for a few years. Were trying to figure out where to spend most of our time. Were limited by a budget, nothing spectacular or with lots of zeros, just a normal retirement budget.

The Bahamas has jumped to $ 300.00 per entry. Yikes.

I'm reading up on the BVI. They want $ 4.00 per person per day, plus the entry fee, plus the $ 5.00 per person departure tax, plus the undisclosed pet fee, (our Parrot), another permit and fee to use the National Parks Trust moorings, plus a $ 10.00 temporary driving permit if I want to drive something, and an undisclosed amount for a recreational fishing permit if I want to eat or remove something from the sea. I have not seen yet how much they charge to clear in.

-Side note- According to page 4 of the B.V.I. Tourism Directory 2003/04, and I quote, " According to the BVI Immigration and Passport Order , 1980, the classes of persons commonly known as Rastafarians, and as hippies are required to seek special approval for entry..... ".

All the fees might be necessary to keep me safe from the Rasta's and Hippies I 'spose...

The BVI's have NO nude beaches...... and being British they use the U.S. Dollar as the official (main) currency????

Everywhere I look we find some one / some government trying to alleviate me of any and all cash on hand via one method or another. Paying all the fees won't leave us much money to spend on the islands once we get there.

Is it just me or is all of this getting cost prohibitive? Where is a reasonable cruising area? I dont' mind paying something reasonable. $ 300.00 per entry in the Bahamas?


S/V AbbyGale
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Old 14-11-2003, 09:42   #2
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Not What it Used to Be

I do share your dismay at the decline in Cruising - it sure ain’t what it used to be.


1. Unfortunately, it’s been going downhill forever. I’ve read accounts from the Fifty’s, which decry the decline of the Islands, then again I’ve read the same laments penned in the Sixties & Seventies...

2. We sometimes forget that it is a privilege to enter & cruise a foreign country - not a right. Yes, there are good & plenty reasons for these ‘dang’ foreigners to WANT us to visit their countries (all monetary ?).

High Cruising (& other) fees? You bet there are!

We load up our boats with all manner of provisions, so that we don’t have to spend any money in their economy. We avoid marinas like the plague. We “trade” amongst ourselves. We do all sorts of things to avoid contributing to the local economies.

Other than our money - what is it about us (Cruisers) that the locals should find attractive?

I’m not trying to be a smart ass - I really do loathe the increases in various fees and bureaucracy that we encounter (everywhere, including @ home) - but there is that other side to the coin.

For what it's worth,

Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 15-09-2006, 08:55   #3
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Look past the entry costs to the economic ways to eat, be entertained, and to provision. If you do what the locals do, you save $.

Down island, only the tourists eat supper. The lunches are big and they are economical, if you will only step off the path. Suppers are sandwiches or sardine pate with the sundowner. Up island, there are great bulk food places to provision. Some islands have 24 beer for $15, others have great wine at 2 euros per litre. If you wear lots of clothes, and intend to have others wash them, if you expect to run around like a spoiled tourist, if you don't make a fun game out of going native, it can be expensive - but it doesn't have to be that way - there are choices.

Don't take offense; there are days to be a spoiled tourist too!
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Old 15-09-2006, 09:09   #4
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I feel your pain, and sympathize with the situation :-)

However, I think there are some good alternatives. For example, I believe it's still true that you can IMPORT your boat into the BVI for a $200 per year fee. There are, then, no other costs per day, per passenger, etc. Clearance charges in and out are very reasonable. My boat was there for 11 years and there's no finer cruising ground in this hemisphere, IMHO.

You can also bypass the Bahamas getting there: go via Bermuda, then down I-65 :-)

From the BVI, you can also visit the USVI and the Spanish Virgins with ease, and it's not far across the Anegada Passage to the Leewards and Windwards.

In short, the whole of the Eastern Caribbean is doable without MAJOR unreasonable costs.

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Old 15-10-2006, 05:28   #5
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This is all very interesting for someone like myself who is contemplating what to do in retirement. Of course my dream is to buy a cruising boat and disapear for awhile.
I do find it ironic that this site, devoted to cruising, with an apparently frugile cast of members, is chock full of advertising. Even in this thread some trigger words are highlighted as links to all sorts of advertisers!
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Old 15-10-2006, 05:52   #6
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B Miller - Yes. It is what pays for the computer/servers & registration of the web site. Oh, and I'll bet that the owner makes some money too. This allows us frugal cruisers/ex cruisers/wanna be cruisers to log in all the time and read or contribute without paying anything.

This site is very very good with keeping the ads in the top area of the pages. Many sites have full blown ads with animation strewn about the sides and such. Yes - there are automatic hyperlinks to topic germane advertisers. Not interested in them? Don't click on them. Otherwise they are very unobtrusive.
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Old 15-10-2006, 06:12   #7
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Please don't take anything in my previous post to imply I'm bitching. Just the opposite, I find this site very informative, insightful and helpful. Information gathered here helps keep my goals realistic.
I fully realize without advertising sites like this can not exist, maybe I should have re-read my post before submitting. Then I may have caught my spelling errors.
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Old 15-10-2006, 09:50   #8
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I'm not sure there is such a thing as affordable cruising in the Caribbean, that's why we're on the West Coast of Mexico! We bareboat chartered several weeks in the Caribbean and finally came to the decision that we couldn't afford to be liveaboards down there and started doing some research and found Mexico!

Mexico wants our business! They recently changed the rules and you now obtain a 10 year permit for the entire country. All we do is check in and out of the various ports with either a marina or the port captain -- no more 'greasing palms'!

Our only control over governments is through their pocket . . "refuse to participates". If enough people stop going, they'll get the message. Many years ago Mexico changed the requirements to fly small planes into the country and it was costing pilots a small fortune. When the ramps at the airports were empty, they got the message and changed the rules.

"You may not be able to control the wind, but you can certainly adjust your sails"
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Old 15-10-2006, 10:12   #9
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B Miller - No problem. I am, however, unsure of the hyperlink Ads, and I've kicked that upstairs to one of the Admin types - we will continue that discussion at the hyperlink below so we don't hyjack this thread. Thanks
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Old 15-10-2006, 10:28   #10
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To keep cruising costs down...


"Honestly, Officer, we were on our way to check in but our engine started overheating and I had to stop here to let it cool down and figgure-out what's wrong with it - I believe it may be the impeller. I promise we'll come by and check in tomorrow - Please Forgive Us, Sir. Do you know of any marine stores nearby?"

In Malaysia a uniformed official said "don't bother".

In Greece a uniformed official said "dont ask".

In Spain a uniformed official said "don't worry about it, Senor.

We yachties are mere flys on their cake and most officials look at us as an annoyance so long as we fly under the radar, don't do anything immoral and don't cause any trouble.

Beg Forgiveness - Not Permission.

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Old 15-10-2006, 10:49   #11
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Go west young man. We just returned from 18 months in the Western Caribbean and found the cruising wonderful, the cost relatively cheap for the most part and the friendliest people we have met in our 15 years of living aboard and cruising. We have done the northern islands. Go now before it changes.
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

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Old 15-10-2006, 13:35   #12
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We found many great places that were very inexpensive and some at no cost(becuase there was nothing to buy).

1 Dominica-Portsmouth, great anchoring, beautiful, very in-expensive fruits and veggies(they sell most of the their produce around the islands). Low check in fee, no exit fees.

2 Curacao no check in fees, reasonable food cost on somethings, no charge for anchoring

3 Venezuela, Check in fee was around $30-40, but fuel was 7 cent gallon diesel. Most food was cheap, the outislands are some the best in the Caribe and beat the windwards hands down( IMO, and the crime in the outislands is almost non existant, unlike the OTHER islands in the windwards and leewards).

4 Columbia/Belieze- We didn't make it there but many of friends have headed over there because of the influx of charters in the Windwards and the raising prices. My understanding it is a very spetacualr place and prices good.

I could go one. We traveled down there for almost 3 years and as long as you were carefull even places like St Kitt and Nevis were not bad.

We spent a great amount of time in the Ven outislands without spending anything and still enjoyed ourselves. The touristy places are where many cruisers go and the prices are high, though st martin was not bad, We like the Dutch side, but to avoiad the fees many cleared in the French side and just traveled back and forth.

We Built up a large invertory of freeze dried vacuum packed foods and supplemented where inexpensive and avoided where expensive. Though getting harder, the Caribe is not an unreasonable place if you plan a little.

Captain Bil formerly of sv Makai -- KI4TMM
The hunt for the next boat begins.
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