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Old 05-02-2016, 11:35   #1
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pirate Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Hey all, another long post here,

I'm an avid reader of Cruising World Mag and I read an article by Cap'n Fatty Goodlander in one of their most recent issues about customs corruption.

In the article he included a story about how he sailed to a port one time and was met by an official in a powerboat halfway to anchor.

The official informed him that preventative measures were required to anchor there because there was a rat problem in the area.

He also said that his brother was on his way to fill the boat with a barrel of poison that would essentially make it uninhabitable, but he was willing to waive the official requirements for a $25 convenience fee both ways. ($50 total)

After reading the entire article, (Which included a couple other stories about very greedy officials in various ports), it made me wonder about how pervasive corruption is.

Cap'n Fatty seemed to suggest that many cultures see cruisers as people who are very rich and therefore can afford to pay up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars in ludicrous fees or give away their stuff to officials to earn the privilege of dropping anchor in their country.

Here's an article that he posted on his website about the same topic: Corruption and Bribery in the Suez Canal

Blackbeard was a notorious pirate considered by many to be responsible for setting the modern day perception of what pirates were like during the Golden Age of Piracy. Somewhat unexpectedly, he was known for relying more on his presence and intimidation to rob people than murderous force.

I feel this sounds a lot like what cruisers get from customs officials and "guides" in other countries. (Hopefully you aren't one of those unfortunate few who've completely run out of supplies, so you have no choice but to do whatever they want to be able to drop anchor and stock up for lack of a better option.)

I know there are a few threads about thieves and being robbed while asleep at-anchor, but this is not quite the same. Corrupt officials are a completely different species of scum and twice as slimy, imo.

Care to share a story or two about corrupt officials or the most corrupt ports you've been to?
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:42   #2
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Every other week government officials skim money off the top of my paycheck for the privilege of anchoring at my desk.
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:45   #3
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Originally Posted by NOLA_sailing View Post
Every other week government officials skim money off the top of my paycheck for the privilege of anchoring at my desk.
I've got the same problem! More pervasive than I thought it would seem...
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Old 05-02-2016, 13:54   #4
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

I only have second hand news from Dominkana Republikana Banana Mañana and one attempted corruption case by Aduaneros in Spain. Nobody's perfecto, hombre!

But they to not have to be corrupt to give you goose bumps - I have checked in and out of ANTIGUA and man they do hate the white man there. Worst experience ever comparable only to our Union stunt (back in 2003) and a loco customs manager who wanted to shoot us down then eat us alive (RSA, Cape Town). But I must say in both STV and RSA the check in people were cool, educated and nice!

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Old 05-02-2016, 21:13   #5
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Antigua is well known for its clearing formality, I can only comment on the leeward islands but I think most of the problem is attitude on both sides and understanding the old saying of when in Rome.
I cleared in and out of Nevis last week and the customs could not be more helpful as we had to swop master and crew, immigration was very serious but a polite smile and addressing the officer as 'mam' worked wonders.

The fees and regulations are published for most islands in the Caribbean, the problem comes when they are not enforced until you upset them or show the wrong attitude, then you get the rule book thrown at you! But I have yet to experience individual officers demanding fees for factious reasons to line their own pockets.



Sent from my iPad.......i apologise for the auto corrects !!!
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Old 05-02-2016, 22:46   #6
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Antigua is well known for its clearing formality
===

Antigua requires a sense of humor in my experience, especially at English Harbour. As I recall they are one of the places that require 3 or 4 copies of an identical form to be completely filled out, apparently having never heard of carbon paper or copying machines. Then you are confronted with something like four service desks - customs, immigration, harbour master, and what ever. Each window has it's own set of questions, protocols, rubber stamps, etc. Sometimes one of the desks will be unmanned and you must wait for them to return. If you're really lucky one of the officers from another window will do double duty and move down but you can't count on it. The whole ordeal is just an amazing example of old world bureaucracy and inefficiency. For some reason Jolly Harbour did not seem as bad three years ago when we were there. We did have to wait for them to return from an extended lunch however.
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Old 05-02-2016, 22:47   #7
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

LAX is probably the most unpleasant I've been through...
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Old 05-02-2016, 22:59   #8
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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.
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Old 06-02-2016, 00:00   #9
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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LAX is probably the most unpleasant I've been through...

Ain't that so!

Several years ago, just after the US decided to fingerprint anyone over the age of 14 on arrival, my 14 year old son, apparently had a 3 point match for some person on a watch list.

He was taken from us, without concent. We were told in no uncertain terms to shut up and wait. When I protested that he was a minor and should be permitted the company of a parent, I was told as an alien, I had no rights. He was released 30 minutes later, without comment nor did we receive any intervening reassurance as to his status, or his state of mind. All it would had taken was a small hint of a smile and a nod of reassurance to both he and us the parents, so as to ease expected and obvious parental concern. Just arogance and ignorance combined....High anxiety for him, each time he enters the US since.
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Old 06-02-2016, 00:40   #10
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

Over the past 8 years we have sailed been checking in and out of a host of countries from Mexico down to Colombia, Jamaica down to Trinidad back to Antigua, then across the Atltanic to the Azores and most countries in the Med including Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Tunisia.

We had one issue in Panama and everyone was complaining about the port captain and he was fired but the government, there was suppose to be a small issue in Belize but we figured out how to get around it, in Tunisia the customs guys hung around a bit and we knew they would and had a carton of cigarettes on board for that purpose and the 2nd year we had a couple of fresh caught tuna that we did not want and boy were they thrilled with those, in Montenegro we had to get additional insurance and they gave me a real hassle over not having a captains license and that is it.
Albania was the easiest as you have to use an agent there and check in and out of each port but they make it incredibly easy.

We have not seen what you describe.
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Old 06-02-2016, 02:09   #11
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

I've checked in over 100 times into over 60 countries, and 95 % of the experiences were favorable. However, I still remember the bad experiences--Nevis, Saba, Galapagos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Tobago (edit--add Croatia). Sometimes its just a matter of whether the officials are having a bad day.
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Old 06-02-2016, 02:38   #12
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

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Sometimes its just a matter of whether the officials are having a bad day.
Or if some grumpy self important prick of a cruiser has just been in

I find showing an interest in the local football/cricket teams works wonders
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:33   #13
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

In the case of the lady in Nevis, she ignored me for 30 minutes while she had two personal telephone calls and filed her nails--reverse racism, and I never got a chance to talk cricket.

In the Galapagos, the problem was a French cruiser who left just before we arrived who never checked in. We bore the brunt of the Port Captain's wrath, but by the time we left we were on pretty good terms. Of course, there were a few charges we never got receipts for...

In Tobago, the self important prick was the customs guy in Man of War Bay, who screamed that he was going to confiscate my boat and put me in jail because I waited to check in the next morning and didn't come in after dark. He didn't care that I had already checked in in Scarborough and had only come 20 miles around the island. The customs guy in Scarborough had told me I didn't need to check in again while I was in Tobago.

Memories are coming back--I got the same treatment in Jost Van Dyke when I went to customs during office hours and no one was there. I went back to the boat after an hour, and got abused when the guy finally showed up that afternoon.
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:56   #14
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Re: Customs Nightmares: Modern Day Blackbeards?

I have to think hard to remember any incidents - Got ignored for a while in Suriname. The big guy in Dakar, Senegal threatened me with prison cos I was a day late checking in. Except he didn't, we both knew it was a little game so I took it said nothing then coughed up the few dollars for a "new" tax and we left as best of friends. Customs guy in Morocco left with a few yogurts from the fridge - para los ninos.
No trouble in Man O War bay. No big deal anywhere around the Atlantic.

LAX - now they are scary and very unpleasant!
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Old 06-02-2016, 04:04   #15
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NJ, Charlotte, Heathrow (DHS) and Kharis..
They say the UK is a Sovereign Nation... yet French Customs stop you in Ashford, Kent.. and Yanks stop you at Heathrow...
Getting out of the UK is getting to be like leaving Wandsworth Prison on a day pass with the frickin EU on one side and Bludi DHS on the other
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