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Old 06-02-2016, 12:22   #31
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

US Customs and immigration in Ft. Lauderdale tops my list of worst, followed closely by Charlotte North Carolina and Boston Mass. Sadly we all know Boston's track record of performance.

I always dread trying to get back into the US. Frustrating and scary at the same time.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:52   #32
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

The CPB guys at Friday Harbor in the PNW have a rotten reputation, too.

This "new" Canadian check-in stuff has been covered quite well on this forum in at least two threads.
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Old 06-02-2016, 13:17   #33
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Originally Posted by marlin driver View Post
Fatty has to fill a page with stories every month. If he runs out of true stories he still fills the page. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet or in a cruising magazine.
It really annoys me when anonymous peanuts like you denigrate people who know what they are talking about.

The story of Egyptian rip off of a person with a heart attack was true. I was in Egypt at the time with Fatty.

So don't denigrate people as you may find they have friends and will call you out.


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Old 06-02-2016, 14:17   #34
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

When we cleared in to Australia, there was a guy of a foreign boat wandering around whinging about how badly Australian customs had treated him.


We were a bit surprised, since our experience with them had been very good.


Finally able to ask him what it was all about, it turned out he had a cylinder of CFC based refrigerant aboard, and it had been confiscated. CFC's have been banned for decades here.


Then he complained to customs that he needed the Freon to keep his fridge working, since it was leaking... and was shocked when he was told he'd need to have the refrigerant removed.


So he became another "victim" of the terrible ACS, when in reality all they did was their job.
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Old 06-02-2016, 14:34   #35
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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HUMMM -- I checked in to Turkey at Kusadasi last Oct and did not have to use an agent. I did to a bit of walking but no big issue as we walk a lot anyway and it cost us only the cruising paper we need to carry.
I know you did from another thread. It isn't impossible, just difficult and in general I wouldn't think worth a persons time. At least not to me.

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It really annoys me when anonymous peanuts like you denigrate people who know what they are talking about.

The story of Egyptian rip off of a person with a heart attack was true. I was in Egypt at the time with Fatty.

So don't denigrate people as you may find they have friends and will call you out.


Mark
Thanks Mark, I drives me nuts when people dis on Captain Fatty. He may not be everyones cup of tea but I like him - a lot.
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Old 06-02-2016, 15:12   #36
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

I have passed through Papua New Guinea customs numerous times over the last ten years. Around 2009 the authorities allowed Customs officers to charge for "out of office hours activity"
The result on most occasions has been the officers involved have been busy elsewhere until the out of hours payment can be levied.
In 2010 at Port Moresby an outward clearance request at 08:00 on a Friday was performed at 19:30 with a (rejected) request for overtime payment for the two attending officers and a driver. About $150 Au.
Monday 30th May 2011 Alotau $30 Au Standby fee.
Monday 9th July 2012 Alotau $30 Au Lunch break overtime fee.
Friday 14th Nov 2012 Alotau $28 Au attendance fee.
Friday 13th June 2014 Alotau attended during office hours when the customs officer was paid $50 Au for "not confiscating surplus to ships stores" Harbour master demanded $100 for anchoring fee but was not paid.
A dodgy receipt was offered only when demanded.
The payments made were in Kina cash. No credit card or cheques accepted.
Quarantine and immigration charges applied in all incoming clearances but were documented and receipted officially.
On other occasions the Alotau town branch of Customs attended and were very professional and friendly with no shake downs.
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Old 06-02-2016, 15:23   #37
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

I bet in some countries the position of a customs agent is a prized one, but in some it is kind a job for the losers. I bet the check-in in experience follows which you are at.

Just my guess.
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Old 06-02-2016, 16:04   #38
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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I've checked in over 100 times into over 60 countries, and 95 % of the experiences were favorable. ....
Ditto, just different venues.

I think trying to cast Capn Fatty's single venue experience as somehow representative of a bigger picture is invalid...more about feeding xenophobia than an accurate presentation of reality. An article about corrupt officials will obviously sell better than...nope, no problems here.

Ive almost never had issues with officials afloat or ashore. Ive cruised and lived in Central America since 2005. There is indeed plenty of corruption, but has rarely negatively effected me.

Some minor graft here and there, but usually in my favor...handy to have options when resolving paper work issues. Just the way things work in this part of the world. Have been hit up for a little "propina" (tip) from time to time, mostly in Belize, but that just helps to grease the skids. Otherwise, nothing would ever happen.

Lived and worked in Belize for many years. Officials there are predominately a'holes, been hassled by them a number of times, but its mostly just annoying noise...nothing signficant ever came from it. My favorite was one hassling me about paperwork on a charter boat I was moving. There were no actual problems. I finally told him "do what you need to do, not my boat". When he realized he was not going to get anything out of me he shut up and did his job.

Have had many Central American officials, excluding Belize, go out of their way to be helpful with no expectation of anything. Especially in Guatemala.

As others have stated, a lot bears on the individual. We charter captains in Belize used to keep each other informed about who was working which port of entry and change our plans accordingly.

Ive also noticed that some cruisers tend to have a lot more of this sort of issue than others. Could have something to do with their attitude. Being polite and respectful, no matter what, goes a long way.
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Old 06-02-2016, 16:40   #39
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Could well be true........

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Originally Posted by BobFord View Post
In my experience it is cheaper to visit a corrupt country than to pay legal fees in say , UK, USA , Aussie. Stock up on Marlboro' ,Johnny Walker and US bills in duty free places and have a smooth passage. Especially thro' the Suez !
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Old 06-02-2016, 17:15   #40
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
I bet in some countries the position of a customs agent is a prized one, but in some it is kind a job for the losers. I bet the check-in in experience follows which you are at.

Just my guess.
Prized position in Belize. As a Belizean friend used to say of his Customs agent brother..."its like going to a rich man's house"...lots of nice confiscated stuff.
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Old 06-02-2016, 19:00   #41
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

We want to add our voice to the many positive and encouraging replies for those sailors about to set off. In twenty years of cruising, now half way around, we need to really scratch our noggins for unpleasant experiences. We try to never lie, to be respectful, to follow the SSCA's motto of leaving a clean wake for others to follow etc and have seldom encountered 'blackbeards' and then only in a minor way.

One recent example was three years ago on the west coast of Sumatra where on clearing from Sibolga an official after all was done dropped his voice to a whisper to hide his question from the others in the office and asked for a 'donation'.

Another time a medical quarantine doctor in Cuba asked for a bar of soap! Her fellow officers another time when alone asked for reading material.

In Malaysia despite dozens of entries and exits never a hint of corruption or problems re security either for that matter.

India? Very bureaucratic but also very professional and when we did have a medical problem right after already checking out very helpful.

We agree very much with others on this thread. Visiting different countries is like visiting strangers in their homes. It would not occur to anyone to be rude or demanding. To be inconsiderate of their situation. To outright lie! And if we where should we be surprised at their reaction? Have anyone of us ever had bad days at work? Particularly when work requires dealing with privileged people that do not work and are demanding?

For so called 'newbies' to worry about this is sad and the many positive posts here will help assuage their concern. Perhaps the delightful and amusing Fatty Goodlander whom we met years ago in Tonga along with his equally delightful wife will use some of this and follow up with an equally positive article. Referring to this thread on CF will also interest a lot of cruisers both those starting out and those out there.

Jim and Helen on sv GAIA
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Old 06-02-2016, 20:23   #42
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

To date, my experience with customs officers has been mostly North American: US, Canada, and Mexico. US and Canada: kinda scary. Mexico: so laid back I have trouble finding the immigration office.

Recent experience, not directly customs related but possibly germane:
Left my debit card in an ATM in Mexico. Realized it ten minutes later and went back to check if anyone had turned it in. My Spanish is actually abysmal. I got in the line for the "desks," saw how slowly that was moving, got in line for the tellers. The teller said, you need to talk to the subdirector. OK, back to the first line. At the rate it was moving, I calculated about two hours in line, and I had an important (to me) boat-related appointment in an hour. But, a lost debit card is important, too, so I just stood in line and tried to look pleasant. I watched a couple of people in line ahead of me snag passing functionaries to try to advance their case, but decided against that course.

Long story short: After about twenty minutes, a young woman popped up in front of me with my debit card and asked if it was my card. Si! Now, everyone in that bank knew that some gringo had left his card in the ATM, and everyone knew where the card was and knew the procedure for returning said card. After all, it's a bank, and a bank is a bank. And I had no right to come in and insist that they talk to me first because I'd lost my debit card, but that's what they expected me to do. After they got bored waiting for the fireworks to start, they took pity on me and put me out of my misery and I was on my way. And were extremely polite and friendly about it, too. I don't blame them for taking a sidelong glance at any gringo that comes through the door, because there are always a few pendejos that spoil it for everyone else. Smile, be friendly and sincerely respectful, and you'll be very pleasantly surprised about how friendly the world is in return. (Actually, that even works in North America.)
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Old 07-02-2016, 04:39   #43
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Fiera.
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Old 07-02-2016, 08:58   #44
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

I have enjoyed reading these posts and can identify with what has been said.
I have had my own experiences which most because of redundancy do not need to be repeated.
However a bit of humility, kindness and a smile can go a long way.
In my travels I think of all the "ripoffs" I have endured and flying out of JFK on many occasions has been the worse. When on numerous occasions arriving at my destination only to find dive gear and various tools stolen out of my checked baggage was painful.
I also recall clearing in and out of Cuba on several occasions which gave me great memories. On one occasion I had told Customs and Immigration that I wanted to leave at first light and unfortunately we were still all asleep when 5 officers arrived at the the boat and had to wake us. I was very apologetic and they remained very professional. I invited them aboard for a cup of coffee and some chocolate chip cookies when their eyes lit up like I had offered them some significant monetary award. We had a very cordial conversation and we were on our way.
On another trip when leaving one of the female officers was eyeing a bag of apples hanging in my galley. She humbly asked for one and when I handed her the whole bag she actually teared up and started crying.
So despite the inconveniences endured with my travels I will continue to visit new places and hope that the good part of human nature will prevail.
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Old 07-02-2016, 14:56   #45
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

We watched a presentation by SSCA a couple of night ago regarding Cuba. It seems there is still a bit of legal red-tape and US permits before leaving and after arriving back in the US. Also, it was noted you could only stay 2 weeks. That seems like a very short time particularly if you thought you would like to visit several ports or the south coast. The presenter's talk was based on direct to or from the US and did not address a visit in which the entry & exit would not involve the US.
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