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Old 05-08-2011, 15:10   #16
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

We always tried to get a feel for the next port/country etc. via HAM radio nets and/or friends we had made along the way. We intended our cruising to be pleasant, so we avoided places known to be unpleasant.

We enjoyed three years in the Caribbean and always cleared St Vincent at least 5 miles offshore due to the current information. On a delivery we made on a 83' Berger, we stayed over five miles offshore, but a panga trailed us, getting closer as it began to get dark. Walking to the fantail and displaying an appropriate device changed their minds.

Of course we are talking about 1988 to 1995 and things may have changed. In 1993 Venezuela was so great, we stayed a year, (before chavez). We enjoyed 1988 & 1989 on the west coast of Mexico and never felt threatened, however, "when in Rome...", I always took a small satchel when I went to check in. It had a 1/2 pint of wheeesky and a box of chocolates, the male got the booze. I was always in and out fast with many smiles. That is what was expected. It is their country.

I always tried to be positive, appear happy to be in their country and had a little gift "from my heart". Even the Cuban officials accepted chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven.

The most BS we suffered was checking back into the USA when we were delivering a 44' sailboat for a Venezuelan owner, flying a Dutch flag, with papers in Dutch. I had spent two weeks before leaving VZ assuring there was no contraband, etc. I was not happy with our arrogant Alpha Hotel customs and immigration officials, not about what they were doing, just their sh_tty attitudes.

This process is such a minor and short term irritation, we got over it and loved our nine years cruising.

Tom & Bobbie, aboard Satori
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Old 05-08-2011, 21:24   #17
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

I don't do lots of countries, only the Philippines - and I arrived by air and had my boat built here so I haven't cleared in. But I have dealt with the Bureau of Immigration officials - your first three weeks is free and then you extend to 59 days for a fee, and then every two months you extend for a fee (perhaps around fifty dollars per head) up to a maximum of two years - but I believe the boat can stay for a year (not really a problem as Borneo in Malaysia and Thailand are relatively close). English is widely understood in the PI so communication is not too bad - I have a local gf who speaks several languages and handles all of the interactions with locals and understands the customs. You should not offer bribes, first they are not really needed for normal processing - but one can respond to an offer of expedited processing. The other method is to use a 'fixer' - these guys have special knowledge and personal contacts which they will exercise on your behalf for a fee. I do not feel that this is bribery as first world countries have the same business models operating, only there these people are called 'lawyers' and are really expensive (fixers are usually very reasonable and often charge between five and ten dollars). I think that most of the problems come from being in urban (where the water quality sucks) or tourist areas where the locals have been trained to be greedy when they see foreigners.

In more rural areas the people are typically more friendly, honest, and the water quality is much better. On the other hand there are only a handfull of 'marinas' in the country so specialized sailing equipment is rare and expensive - basic stuff is relative cheap though, but one has to live at anchor. There are resorts all over the PI - almost anyplace that has some sand will have some resorts around - often financed by a foreign expat but actually owned by his local (citizen) wife. Most of these resorts - especially the more isolated will have a restaurant for the guests, and depending on the country of origin of the expat one can get cuisine from all over the world - Europe being popular. All one would have to do is anchor for lunch and take the dink into the secure beach - check out the rates (often quite reasonable) and one could stay for a while if things look good.

Many smaller towns have a pier of some kind where one sees local boats tied up. If one has a catamaran, one might also be able to tie to the pier (local boats are very shallow draft and use bamboo outriggers for stability so one needs to be careful about water depth near a pier). Often the town's local wet market is just off the pier along with other small shopping outlets - handy. Larger towns will have bigger shopping areas - malls with grocery, restaurants, ATMs, and 'pension houses' where you can get a motel type of room with aircon, hot water, cable TV, free WiFi, and often a small refigerator for less than twenty dollars a night for two (and often a 10% discount for a 'long stay' of a week). Having looked into doing some coastal cruising while living in California, I would say that the Philippines is much easier and cheaper. YMMV
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:01   #18
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

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Originally Posted by ChrisnCate View Post
Then what... ? Dink to the beach/marina, walk around town? Go shopping? What the heck happens next? Do I just pick coconuts up off the beach and eat them and check out the wildlife.. ? Go play pool in some dive.... ?


This is one of the best questions ever posed on Cruisers Forum and I thank the member for it.

You have visited the Boat Show, got the money together, quit work, sold the house and now floating somewhere.

Now what happens?

There's basically 2 types of cruising: Hard cruising and soft cruising.

The Hard is in Third World countries, or remote areas with few facilities and fewer other cruisers. You are out there by yourself in every way.

Soft Cruising is what I am doing now in the Caribbean where a toss of a stone will hit 3 Chandleries and a fuel wharf next to the Cruising Ladies Mexican Dominos Every Thursday 1PM.

Normally there is a Soft area somewhere near the Hard area:
Indonesia has Singapore, (and Bali is a respite)
Thailand's 3Rd World coasts also have Phuket
The Pacific has Papete, Neafu, and more.
The Cote D'Azur has Villefranche free anchorage
Australians Great Barrier Reef has Cairns
The Aussie Crocodile coast in the north west has Darwin
Venezuela has Grenada
Columbia has Carthenia,
The USA has Cuba


So you do a few months in a hard area and then go have respite in a soft area for a few months.




To make the best of the hard area use the soft area to properly research where you are going.
We had such a busy time before we got to Rome that we hadn't time to read up. So walking the city it was: JAFF! Just Another F#$%& Fountain. And which one is the really famous one?

Researching what you are going to see will make it vastly more worthwhile!

If history is of no interest to you, then study the geography. Or the Biology. Whatever interests you, put your brain into gear and get the books out.


What Dat Fish Name? Me Eat Him?

What value is snorkeling if you know not what you see?


I'm hanging onto these girls. But can I talk to them? Do I know what makes them tick? Do I care?



Funily enough the coconuts on the beach are not there to be picked up! They are owned by some poor, impoverished family that owes their survival to them. So you leave them on the beach to rot.

Cruising isn't what you thought it would be.

Better think about it now: What do I wan't to do out there in the world that's my oyster?



Mark
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Old 06-08-2011, 12:47   #19
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

I'm a poor cruser on a so called "costal cruser" and could'nt afford any bribes paid out to 3rd world countries officials and most are in hotter climates anyway. We'll stick to the Pacific North West, Washington, Canada and Alaskia for our crusing grounds. We have enough fun Soft Crusing if you think sailing the north Pacific is for softies: like the 600 miles to the San Juan Islands from our home port and if we want to cruse around Vancouver Island in the summer months that'll be a great adventure. I flunked spanish in school so going south of San Diego is probably out for us, as we bought our cat in San Diego and if my buddy Gabby who speeks spanish because of his hearitage had not been with me I could not have comunicated to the taxie driver form Africa.
It's great to hear of other folks traveling to distant shores but in our little world Alaskia would do for that adventure .
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Old 06-08-2011, 14:18   #20
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

No one has mentioned the really satisfying thump when a third world functionary stamps his documents. Worth the trouble.
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Old 06-08-2011, 23:34   #21
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

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Guys, seriously, if you REALLY have to ask this question, I worry about your future as cruisers. You must have some reason for going cruising, and whatever that reason is, when you "get there" you exercise that reason -- snorkeling, hanging with the locals, shopping, schmoozing with the other yotties, whatever seems like fun at the time. If none of these things seem attractive to you, why are you cruising? Why not stay in your home port and do day sailing (if you like sailing at all) or do your travelling on a cruise ship with organized activities.

And for what it is worth, Ann and I have been cruising for a quarter of a century, been in lots of 3rd world ports, and have NEVER been solicited for a bribe by an official. There have been some who were difficult to understand, who had obscure procedures to follow, who delighted in sending us around town seeking other officials, who had a brother around the corner with a fotocopia machine that we needed to visit and so on. We outwaited them all with a smile on our faces, and made friends with a few as well.

There are cultures that seem to breed officials who solicit bribes, and they do exact their "fees" on cruisers who come their way. But, if that is unacceptable to you, you just don't go to those places. A little research will reveal where they are. There are far more destinations than there are minutes left in our lives. One can choose which ones to voyage towards.

I hope that you can resolve these issues for yourselves and enjoy the wonderful experiences that await you. If not, well, as we have told countless aspirants, cruising isn't for everyone!

Cheers,

Jim
Hmm.. interesting post.

How on earth did you take from my questions about third world cruising (spawned by another, now closed thread as I mentioned in my op), that we don't/may not have our own clear reasons for going cruising? I find it really odd that you would take that away from what I wrote... Also, I took your statement "if you like sailing at all" as insulting.

Anyway, other than the post above, I find the responses in this thread to be helpful and thoughtful, thank you!

We set out soon (fall) as permanent cruisers with the goal of seeing many parts of the world where "gringos" like us typically don't go, and I often wonder about the nuts and bolts of dealing with other countries and especially the third world areas. I realize that every experience is your own, and you can only get general info at best, but hearing about it on the forum at least helps out. Thanks again everyone!

C
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Old 07-08-2011, 07:02   #22
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

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Originally Posted by ChrisnCate View Post
. . . We set out soon (fall) as permanent cruisers with the goal of seeing many parts of the world where "gringos" like us typically don't go, and I often wonder about the nuts and bolts of dealing with other countries and especially the third world areas. I realize that every experience is your own, and you can only get general info at best, but hearing about it on the forum at least helps out. Thanks again everyone!
C
More power to you as the saying goes . . . but please be sure to thoroughly research each of the "many parts of the world where "gringos" like us typically don't go. . ." Not doing so could be quickly fatal. Even in this hemisphere places like Suriname have a reputation for not letting "gringos" out alive. Even the bulk of the northern and eastern coast of Brazil is extremely hazardous to your wallet if not your health. Although the extreme southern end is reputed to be very safe, friendly and beautiful. And the western coastline of Columbia and the Gulfo del Darien have significant warnings out for "gringo" cruisers to avoid those areas.
- - It takes an extreme amount of "world savvy" and a specific attitude to be able to survive some of the less than popular stops frequented by the majority of long term cruisers. But if you have those abilities, go for it.
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Old 07-08-2011, 07:34   #23
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

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Originally Posted by ChrisnCate View Post
Hmm.. interesting post.

How on earth did you take from my questions about third world cruising (spawned by another, now closed thread as I mentioned in my op), that we don't/may not have our own clear reasons for going cruising? I find it really odd that you would take that away from what I wrote... Also, I took your statement "if you like sailing at all" as insulting.

Anyway, other than the post above, I find the responses in this thread to be helpful and thoughtful, thank you!

We set out soon (fall) as permanent cruisers with the goal of seeing many parts of the world where "gringos" like us typically don't go, and I often wonder about the nuts and bolts of dealing with other countries and especially the third world areas. I realize that every experience is your own, and you can only get general info at best, but hearing about it on the forum at least helps out. Thanks again everyone!

C
I think the reply from Jim was based on the tone of your original post. To summarize, you described your mental picture of arriving in a third world port pretty negatively, mostly graft and boarding parties and then asked what there was to do besides playing pool in a dive. To be honest, my impression of your ideas about cruising was pretty much the same as Jims.
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:13   #24
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

As others have mentioned, usually the return to the USA is the worst hassle. Last time for us it was Key West and they wouldn't let me into the office until I had jettisoned all electronic devices, including my cell phone and my camera. If my wife hadn't been there to watch our stuff we couldn't have cleared in! Then they insisted on taking each of us, including my two teenage children, into a private room with the door shut so we could each be interrogated and then presumably our stories compared for any inconsistencies. Sheesh! Welcome home. Arriving in Panama was a bit of a pain. We made port in Bocas del Toro about 11 AM, and the numerous officials insisted they had to come out to our boat instead of us going ashore, which is the usual. They managed to delay their arrival until just after 5PM, which meant overtime for everyone. However, my wife made everyone feel really badly for treating us so poorly--she served them tea and fresh-baked cookies, and everyone hung around chatting and sharing stories. Cost a few bucks extra, but not so bad. Colon, Panama, is a nasty city and you have to go downtown to get your paperwork done, so bring someone to watch your back. I found a Panamanian friend from a fishing boat to act as my guide, but I found out he was totally illiterate so he wasn't much help on the reams of forms! In Cartagena, Colombia, you need to pay an agent, but if you get the right one he takes care of everything very easily and you don't have to do all the work. We used David, and he was great. In Honduras we were warned about this particular official who was ripping people off, etc. For some reason I was delayed in getting to his office and by the time I got there my wife and daughter were in this gentleman's office laughing and talking about what it was like in the USA. I don't think we exchanged more than a word or two about the paperwork--he just kept stamping as we chatted about other things. He escorted us to the door and shook hands all around then waved goodbye. Same thing happened to us in the BVIs. Also in the Bahamas. So, in my experience, a lot of what you hear about awful officialdom is overblown, and/or is the result of folks trying to get away with something or treating the officials badly. A little respect and courtesy can go a long way.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:23   #25
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

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As others have mentioned, usually the return to the USA is the worst hassle. Last time for us it was Key West and they wouldn't let me into the office until I had jettisoned all electronic devices, including my cell phone and my camera. If my wife hadn't been there to watch our stuff we couldn't have cleared in! Then they insisted on taking each of us, including my two teenage children, into a private room with the door shut so we could each be interrogated and then presumably our stories compared for any inconsistencies. Sheesh! Welcome home.
That sounds totally insane. Where were you coming from; North Korea, Libya?

Admittedly I haven't been out of the country on a sailboat much recently, but the last trip back from the Bahamas in 2003, the only reason we couldn't clear by phone was because I had friends from Denmark, France, Brazil and Belgium on the boat. When I called customs they said we had to appear in person but they had a temporary desk set up right at the marina to clear in a fleet of sport fishermen coming back from a tournament in the Bahamas. The whole thing was pretty painless.

US Customs must have looked you up in the database and found out you're a member of Cruiser's Forum.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:04   #26
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

1) make your plan to arrive in the am. If not, do what you said, or have radar.
2) your crusing neighbors will know here you need to go to check in.
You'll see them heading into town for veggies in their dinks.
3) There may be things like where you check in is only open from 10 am to 1 pm etc. You'll learn to deal with it. Again the other boats will know.
4) The process is often easy once you get there, maybe 5 minutes, maybe 30 minutes, or you may have to go 3 places. It's an adventure... go with the flow! Be prepared, respectful. I suppose in places where they rarely get cruisers it might be harder... but where in the world is that anymore exactly? :>)
5) I would avoid any attempt at bribing. But if there is a "problem" and if an expediting fee would help... well you be the judge. There have been a couple of times I suspected I was being slowed down for a bribe, but I played the dumb tourist act.. I've never had to pay one, but not been to some of the lesser traveled world either...
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:41   #27
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I've also noticed that if my vessel was in ship shape as opposed to a filthy mess, things tend to go smoother with officials that come out to the boat. I know that after long and/or rough passages this is sometimes hard. I can remember a few times where it took everything I had to raise the Q flag before dropping off into a deep sleep on top of whatever it was I landed on.
Shave, bathe, clean & deoderize, pick up, coil up, clean up. It goes a long way believe it or not. Even though it's your boat, for a brief time it's the officials workplace. Everyone likes to feel clean & comfortable, free from rubbish and the smell of dirty clothes & arm pits.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:45   #28
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

I've rarely had them come to the boat, but once in the DR they did come out to my catamaran. There were 4 of them and one was a drug specialist I think. It was a a hot morning, and in broken english he asked if I had any coke on board. I said yes, and all mouths dropped. I said "here I'll show you" and it was a case of Coca Cola. We had a great laugh.... I also showed him my medical kit with a lot of prescription drugs in it including some heavy duty pain killers. He didnt have any problem with that.
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:04   #29
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

I always keep small denomonations of currancey in a certain pocket to pay such "fees". unless you stay on your boat and only go to the same places day after day, you will in the long run pay bribes.Of course im very interested in what is away from the water and over the mountains.Ive been shook down by cops in bali,jamaica,mexico,PI,CZ,Poland etc., and if you get off the road most traveled be ready to experiance the same ...if all you do is get drunk in the same place every night maybe its not a problem.If you have a since of adventure then the bribes are part of the fun, as they are small fees to pay to see some of the more interesting parts of a developing country and if you ever need help the recipent of such "fees" is then there to help...for a little more grease that is.Thats from my experiance and i've been told I know and have been to more places than most locals in a given country(Mexico and Jamaica come to mind)good luck and stay safe DVC
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Old 07-08-2011, 17:14   #30
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Re: Dealing with the Not-So-Pretty Side of Sailing Off to Distant Ports in Search of.

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That sounds totally insane. Where were you coming from; North Korea, Libya?
Mexico. I suppose with Cuba so close to Key West they are a bit paranoid down there. My kids said they kept asking over and over in different ways if we had been to Cuba.
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