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Old 03-07-2014, 05:18   #16
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Re: Consider avoiding St Kitts...

I lived on Nevis, in the nation of St Kitts and Nevis, for six years. Not "turd world" at all Kenomac. Pretty nice, actually, and some of the friendliest, kindest people I've met anywhere.

My advice would be to sail past St Kitts and clear in in Nevis. Then pick up one of the cheap moorings available there. St Kitts is worth a day trip and taxi tour around the island (Brimstone Hill is a spectacular fortress). You can catch a ferry over to St Kitts from Charlestown on Nevis. If you want to visit any of the bays on the SE peninsula of St Kitts, have them listed on your cruising permit.

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Old 03-07-2014, 05:45   #17

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Re: Consider avoiding St Kitts...

Our experience throughout the Caribbean was that customs was a huge time consumer, no matter where you're going. If you've only got a week or two of vacation time I'd keep the check-in/ check-out process as minimal as possible by staying on one or two islands. Full-time cruisers can afford to spend time at customs, as we did. However, when we go back out full time I'll plan on more time on each island so it doesn't feel like we're living in customs offices.

A photo of our last sail in St. Kitts and our location map.


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Old 03-07-2014, 06:07   #18
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pirate Re: Consider avoiding St Kitts...

Maybe I'm weird but.. I kinda enjoy the clearing in routine.. swapping tall stories and generally getting a bit of a lowdown on the local scene and what's where.. best locals rib shack, local market info and stuff.. only place I've ever had trouble was at the bridge in Kharis, Greece.. when a 'by the book guy' was not to impressed with a scanned insurance certificate on my laptop rather than on a bit of paper he could hold.. that was hilarious.

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Old 15-07-2014, 11:01   #19
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Re: Consider avoiding St Kitts...

Originally Posted by CarZin View Post
We chartered out of St Martin last week. A LOT of sailing. In 8 days, we went from St Kitts, to Antigua, to St Barths, then back to St Martin. We were new to the customs procedures in the area. We even had a professional skipper with us, but he had never traveled down to the areas we traveled, as most people just stick to the Anguilla, St Martin, St Barths area. I had left my cruisers guide at home, because I figured the professional skipper would know all. Originally, my brother was going, and was the skipper, but bailed on the entire trip at the last minute, causing me to find a replacement (I don't sail).

So, our itinerary was to go to St Kitts on the first day, just as a stop over en route to Antigua. We arrived too late for customs, so we anchored, and waited for the morning to clear-in. I've never seen such a rude bunch of people in Basseterre. The port authority office was not helpful. We went in, paid our money, and then they said we had to go to immigration at the cruise dock. Well, guess what, the cruise dock isn't open this time of the year. So we headed back to the port, and were then told we would have to go to the airport. Mind you, we didn't even want to visit St Kitts. We were just staying there the night. So, we load up in a taxi and head to the airport. Eventually we find the immigrations office, and were greeted by the rudest civil servant I've ever encountered. Officer 517. Literally snatching the passports out of our hands. And guess what? She couldn't find a passport stamp. Where she really screwed up, and we didn't realize this until we were in Antigua, is that she had KEPT our clear-out sheet. All we had in our procession was the receipt of payment and charges. This is something our skipper should have noticed, but did not.

So, we finally get out of the airport, with no stamps, essentially having wasted an hour, and get on the boat to motor for 10 hours to Antigua. We come in really late, and decide to use Deep Water Harbour since it was so well marked. We found out when we attempted to clear in the next morning that we did not have a clear-out sheet. The simply would not allow us in, and said we would have to go back to St Kitts. We decided that wasn't an option. We went south to Jolly Habour, were they are much more accustomed to small yacht issues. Had the same problem this time, but I ended up begging (the skipper just shut up this time and let me do the talking, partially because he was French and his English wasn't 100%, and partially because he realized he was so angry at the situation, he would make it worse). Thankfully, the begging worked, and they allowed us to clear into Antigua without having the clear-out sheet from St Kitts.

It amazes me that there is not a system that all the islands can use to verify these things, and make the actual sheet of paper not of 100% importance.

I know you aren't supposed to do this, but having experienced what I did, if I were to do this all over again, I would check out of St Martin with the destination port of Antigua. I would stop over in a harbor in St Kitts for the night, ignore checking into customs (essentially pretending I never went there), and then sail onto Antigua the next morning. When I check into Antigua, I'd just tell them I had been sailing non-stop. I know its illegal, but St Kitts was so bad, I think I'd take the risk.

So, in short, if you go to St Kitts, especially checking into Basseterre, expect some aggravation, and make darned sure you have a proper clear-out sheet before you leave. If you have to go to the airport, expect more difficultly.
This goes to show that experiences can vary greatly.

First off, we also chartered from St. Martin within the last few weeks. We left on June 20th, returning June 30th. We were in St Kitts about the third day (Port Zante).

Our experience was the exact opposite: Yellow building for Customs, and they were very helpful and efficient (kinda sucked that I showed up about 4 minutes behind the guy clearing in with 15 passports... but oh well)

Immigration at the cruise port WAS open. They appear to leave at 4, however. In my case, I got there at 4:05, and she was still processing the guy with the 15 passports. Not only was she pleasant, but she stayed late to take care of our immigration needs after she completed his.

I'm not certain why the cruise ship port immigration office wasn't available to you. It made my experience very pleasant.

like you, I had never done the "Customs" thing (all my previous sailing experience being in the BVI). The charter briefing guy was pretty adamant about making sure we hade the "Clearance out" documentation each time, so that's not something we missed. I imagine that could add a bid damper to the vacation!

Cleared out of St. Martin at the Charter desk prior to leaving, in/out of Statia our 2nd morning, in/out of Kitts our 3rd morning, in to St. Barth's the 6th morning or so, out on the 8th morning, that was about it.

Statia seemed to be the "longest" process filling out two different forms by hand (took about 70 minutes). St Barth's and their electronic check-in (with all the boat information already from previous charterers) the quickest (15 minutes max). St. Kitts would have been in the middle, but for the guy in front of me.

All I can say is generalizing from a single trip may not be the "fairest" way to evaluate these places. Sounds like experiences differ dramatically.

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Old 19-07-2014, 09:00   #20
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Re: Consider avoiding St Kitts...

I think I cleared in at Sandy Point. Wanted to go to Brimstone, so just anchored off the town and went to the police station. Great people. It does help being English and you get into a conversation about the cricket team! Not sure we paid customs much down there once we started talking about Viv Richards and Garfield Sobers!

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