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Old 08-02-2016, 00:27   #46
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Ditto, just different venues.
Same for us. Our customs experiences have ranged from quite fun to mildly unpleasant, nothing traumatic.
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Old 08-02-2016, 06:42   #47
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Based on these posts, I think we can declare paranoid delusions of pervasive "nightmares" and "black beards" thuroughly debunked. Bad experiences happen of course, but they are the exception.
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Old 08-02-2016, 07:14   #48
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Cuba. . . . . Also, it was noted you could only stay 2 weeks.
As an aside . . .that is not completely accurate. You can only stay 14 days if you do not want to get a BiS Permit. If you want to stay longer than 14 day syou must get a BiS Permit. (see #45 here: file:///C:/Users/Evans/Downloads/bis%20cuba%20consolidated%20faqs%20012616%20final. pdf)

Regarding our experiences with officials, they were 99% quite positive. But the few times they are not, are shocking and memorable . . . because the officials really do have quite a bit of power over you.

I remember our 'first time' with a difficult official, when he took our passports and ships papers and put them in a drawer in his desk, wrote a large $number on a piece of paper and indicated he would not give them back until we paid. We got better at handling such things as we went along. . . .not something you get much experience with in most of the western world.

I also would comment that Australia and US were high on our list of 'less pleasant' experiences. Both seem to have quite militaristic cultures in their border protection, and both have some inconsistency of interpretation among their various offices. That means you can think you have done everything right, and it would have been right at another office, but in this one you are treated like a probable criminal.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:34   #49
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Based on these posts, I think we can declare paranoid delusions of pervasive "nightmares" and "black beards" thuroughly debunked. Bad experiences happen of course, but they are the exception.
think so, back in the 80s, was returning from the Marshall Islands to HNL. Had a young kid in tow the parents entrusted to me to take back while they went off on some military mission. Get to the customs gate only to find out the kid did not have a passport nor really any official identification. Oh Bother! No problem. We jumped into the line for airline staff, explained the situation, and were waved through with a "thank you" from the customs folks. Now the customs folks at the old Leningrad(now St.Petes) airport were another issue entirely.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:15   #50
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Based on these posts, I think we can declare paranoid delusions of pervasive "nightmares" and "black beards" thuroughly debunked. Bad experiences happen of course, but they are the exception.
Well, I will strongly disagree with your warm wrap up.

I have seen Customs to be way less than professional in: Portugal (continental), Canary Islands, Antigua, STV, Panama, RSA and Brasil.

So while your experiences allow you to say everything is just fine, PLS do not assume other sailors suffer from 'paranoid delusions' ;-).

Simply, the world is not homogenous-ly nice. It may as well be nice on average (nicety is in the onlookers eye), but it seems like it is more a mixed batch of very fine and far less than perfect spots.

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Old 08-02-2016, 11:28   #51
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

It's amazing how often Antigua is mentioned.

You would think their government might realise and do something.

Beautiful island, lovely people spoiled by every clearance official.

That Jolly Harbour is a classic. 3 doors and behind one will be a total jerk. But you never know under which cup the bean is. They shuffle them daily...


Crackers.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:53   #52
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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That Jolly Harbour is a classic. 3 doors and behind one will be a total jerk. But you never know under which cup the bean is. They shuffle them daily...


Crackers.
Hahaha!

Yes. Well said!

Only one of the check in officers there (of which they were many) was unkind.

In the same office, there was also an Immigration guy, a very young lad, whose attitude, relax and good manners made up for the bitter pass with the Customs woman.

So Mark's spin on the matter is bang on, in our case.

Cheers,
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:26   #53
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

When I read the original message in this thread, I thought, "Gee, we've visited dozens of countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South and Central America and Mexico, and never had a problem with Customs." Then I read down and found myself thinking, when people related hard times with Customs, "Oh, yeah, I remember that." So I think the answer is, it pays to have a sense of humor, awareness that you're not in your own country, and maybe even a selective memory like mine!

We've never encountered any kind of corruption other than Egypt, where "baksheesh" is simply part of the culture. Oh, yeah, ditto the Dominican Republic, but in both cases we're talking tens of dollars, not hundreds.

By far the most amusing experience was in Antigua, where we there's a specific sequence of check-out procedures and we tried to clear through the Customs Office before going to Immigration (or vice-versa). The Customs guy refused to deal with us, telling us curtly that we had to check out of Immigration first. So we left his office, looking for Immigration. We didn't see any other official offices nearby, so we asked around and finally found a taxi driver who asserted that Immigration was in the office we'd just been to. So we went back in and realized that the Immigration official (who was wearing a different uniform from our Customs friend) was sitting at the desk six feet away from the Customs guy who had originally sent us away. We presented our papers, and he (and then the Customs official) calmly processed us, just as if nothing had happened.

All part of the cruising life. Dress up, be polite, be patient and keep your sanity, and you'll do OK. Oh, one other thing -- budget a full day to check in and another to check out. That way, you'll be pleased with how fast it went
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:37   #54
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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I remember our 'first time' with a difficult official, when he took our passports and ships papers and put them in a drawer in his desk, wrote a large $number on a piece of paper and indicated he would not give them back until we paid. We got better at handling such things as we went along. . . .not something you get much experience with in most of the western world.
For those of us that spend most of our time in the western world, how did you handle this situation and what was the outcome?
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:39   #55
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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All part of the cruising life. Dress up, be polite, be patient and keep your sanity, and you'll do OK. Oh, one other thing -- budget a full day to check in and another to check out. That way, you'll be pleased with how fast it went


The most dreadful experiences for some and the ones that were just fine for others all happened in the same offices with the same officials.
Perception is reality, days go by easier if you don't expect the world to treat you as being somehow special

(Don't remember jolly harbour being all that bad )
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Old 08-02-2016, 13:13   #56
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

The big problems only in the first world countries like the US and Australia. I remember cruisers being fined over $10,000 in Australia for not giving their 96 hour notice of arrival (essentially impossible to do if you do not have email on board). The rest of the problems seem like petty theft compared to that robbery.

Customs is one of the main reasons for taking a SSB and listening to the cruising nets. Reports of problems with customs spread rapidly on the nets. I remember hearing repeated reports of shakedowns when leaving Belize on the Southwest Caribbean Cruisers Net--one port captain in particular would demand $10 per night 'anchorage fee'' for every night spent in Belize. I emailed the Belize tourist bureau about it and never received a reply, so I decided to skip the country entirely.

Noonsite is also invaluable for reporting the procedures for each country. For instance, in some places only the captain is allowed to come ashore and check in, while in others the whole crew is required. Knowing the peculiarities of each place keeps you from getting off on the wrong foot with the officials.
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Old 08-02-2016, 13:40   #57
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Go into any deli or grocery store in NYC. You know, big city, GOTHAM, lots of prominent reform, big health department, big consumer affairs....


And everyplace that sells food by weight, is require to tare their scales. You buy a pound of bologna, they're required to put the paper on the scale, press the "tare" button, and have the weight of that paper subtracted from your purchase.


You buy a pint of coleslaw...oh, wait, you can't buy it by the pint anymore. Even though the containers are 1/2 pint, pint, and quart, clearly labeled on the bottom, you can only buy the contents by the pound. Although oddly enough, you can buy soup by the pint.


Now, failing to tare the scale is a health code and consumer affair violation. The health department sends inspectors around all the time to order food and watch how it is weighed and sold. And one morning, the guy in front of me flashes his badge and said "You didn't tare the scale. I'm gonna let you go with a $50 fine this time." and the counterman took a fifty out of the register, passed it over, and then just said "Next!".


Corruption? Really?


Or maybe in Southeast Florida, after hurricane Wilma, when they found out the roof trusses tied down with clips designed to hold up in Cat2 winds....somehow never had been installed, even though the inspection signed them off.


Speaking of which, North Miami found an ex-mayor had signed off on a new sewer system extension. Except, his replacement couldn't locate any sewer pipes, or manhole covers, or pretty much anything except the cashed checks for the job.


Corruption? Nah, not here in the US. That's just business as usual.
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Old 11-02-2016, 21:24   #58
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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I have checked in and out of ANTIGUA and man they do hate the white man there.
That's quite a strong statement.

While I would not go so far as to accuse Antiguans of systemic racism, in my experience many of them have no love for foreigners and are either indifferent or openly hostile. Perhaps there are good reasons for this attitude, but it does their country a disservice considering how vital tourism is to the economy. At any rate, sadly I can't agree with the brochure blurbs about "our warm and friendly people".

Like all generalizations there are always exceptions, and I have a couple of Antiguan friends who are lovely people.

As far as generally dealing with customs goes, I agree with the suggestions that a pleasant and cooperative (but firm when necessary) attitude will win out more often than not. Push people around and they usually push back. And at the end of the day, when visiting a foreign country you are a guest, so ...
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Old 12-02-2016, 00:02   #59
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

So true.
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:51   #60
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

I can't talk from a sailing perspective, as I haven't dealt with government officials from that perspective yet. However, I can mention my other experiences:

Eqypt - Eilat Border: Crossing from Egypt to , I developed film as I went also, so had a bunch of photos of my trip in Egypt, which fascinated Egyptian Customs so much that even their Supervisors came to look at them. They were especially interested in an old Israel bunker that the Eqgyptians rebuilt. Obviously I didn't give them lip over that or the time wasted, so eventually they let me go on my way.

Tel Aviv - Ben Gurion Int'l - Returning to South Africa after a year, Israeli Immigration were extremely interested in what I did in Israel in the year I was there, especially the last 3 months I was on a tourist visa and not volunteer visa (authorities refused to issue me any further volunteer visas as I had 3 already). The also just about stripsearched me and went through every slip of paper in my possession and questioned me about that. I guess they were on high alert after recent bombings in Tel Aviv (2001), and were singling out lone male travellers. The advantage was is that I got my pick of seats on the plane, as they said they would check me in before I miss the checkin closing, as they expected security checks were prolonged.

Third one was driving through Beit Bridge (between South Africa and Zimbabwe), masses of people and NO indication of where to go next. I do not plan on doing that ever again if I can help it, will rather fly or not go at all.

However, in all my dealings with security and government officials of any sort, is to keep my cool and treat them courteously. That way you get through any checks as smoothly (although not always as quickly) as possible.

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