I thought I would clear up some issues which 'remained GREY' to me about sailing into the USA as a foreigner on a foreign vessel.
We had been told by many that you may not enter the USA on an ESTA visa.
After huge efforts we eventually sailed to Nassau
for an interview with the US Embassy to get B1/B2 visas which are the correct visas to have when entering US waters.
I took the matter up with the authorities in the USA and was advised that it would have been perfectly fine to sail into the USA on our ESTA visas as long as we had already made ONE entry by commercial
So ... if one has an ESTA visa, enters the USA once on that visa by commercial
transportation, then thereafter one is free on that ESAT visa to enter and re-enter on a PRIVATE VESSEL as many times as one wants to.
On another note ... I am totally gob smacked at how cheap
the cruising permits are for the USA, at how friendly and efficient the authorities have been and how easy it is to 'arrive here'.
into US waters and arrives at ANY dock
of choice (Marina or private), has to call 1-800-432-1216 or 1-800-451-0393 to report arrival and then after receiving a pin number has 24 hours to report to customs
and immigration. The process is EASY and extremely WELCOMING!
So much for all the sailors who told us the US is unfriendly and one has HUGE difficulty with bureaucratic officials ... this place is EASY to enter and is FANTASTIC as are its people!