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Old 09-09-2015, 16:02   #1
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Transit, Without checking in.

Is it legal to transit a country enroute to another country without checking in. No going ashore. Maybe anchoring a little to get some sleep. Q flag flown?
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Old 09-09-2015, 17:18   #2
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

It depends on the country. Territorial waters reach out 12 miles, and can be measured from outlying islands. So, if you are anchoring within sight of land, you are in their legal jurisdiction, even if you don't go ashore.
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Old 09-09-2015, 17:27   #3
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

Yes....freedom of navigation act allows ships free transit through another countries territorial waters

Loose guidelines re anchor is that you should have a good reason to temporary stop (affect repairs, storm conditions,)

As long as you, do not go ashore, have no direct interaction with other boats at anchor and your stop is short....you will be OK.

One added consideration about the Q flag..... It can be interpreted differently by various official coast watchers..

Some see it as a signal that you are "requesting clearance".

For that reason...if in transit... I don't fly it.
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Old 09-09-2015, 17:30   #4
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

It's common along the north coast of Cuba. It's understood that you don't go ashore.
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Old 09-09-2015, 17:39   #5
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

My understanding is that you can transit through territorial waters, but you cannot stop, except for reasons of safety. This means no anchoring.

Just read Pelagic's comments ... I know Canada (and I believe the US) treats anchoring as the equivalent of being affixed to shore. I know this b/c of the berating I received when transiting from American waters to Canada. I anchored without clearing, and was threatened with the confiscation of my boat. A friend did the same thing going other way (Canada to US) and had the same results.

Not sure if this applies to all countries, but it seems Canada and the US allow transiting, but no anchoring, without properly clearing in.
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Old 09-09-2015, 17:42   #6
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

Some island countries such as the Bahamas distiguish between their ouside and internal waters. Transit is ok along the exterior, for example 3 miles west of bimini to 3 miles off of west end but continuing north, but not crossing the Great Bahamas Bank, though the Exumas and out at Long Island. Those are considered internal waters. I have been boarded by the Bahamas Defence Force checking to make sure we were checked in. In Cuba, you are probably ok if you stay ouside of the off shore islands, but I would not try cutting between those islands and the mainland.
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Old 09-09-2015, 17:52   #7
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

We got a tongue lashing from US Homeland Security in Ponce, Puerto Rico for anchoring overnight due to fatigue even flying Q flag and having no contact with anyone.
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Old 09-09-2015, 18:04   #8
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

The US and Canada patrol and monitor traffic very well, so not good countries to stop and anchor in if you are still in transit.

Unfortunately they don't consider "fatigue" as 'force majeure' justification to stop before completing entry formalities
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Old 09-09-2015, 21:02   #9
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

I would not do it without contacting the legal authorities of the country you were going to seek shelter in. If they agree then you are okay.
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Old 10-09-2015, 00:02   #10
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

The "Q" flag means "I am infrection free and wish to be allowed to come ashore" So flying menas you want to go ashore.

The right of innocent passage means you can passsage a country within its territorial boundries without clearance - if you do not stop (force majeur excepted).

Most countries view anchoring as being tied to and and therefore clearance is needed.

Short answer? No don't do it.
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Old 10-09-2015, 00:35   #11
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

Let me add a "however" to this.

If you have to stop for repairs (rest won't cut it, you're supposed to be able to keep your watch schedule in such a way that you don't have to rest under normal conditions), document your efforts to contact the local authorities.

For example, entering some Australian ports, given that you've given proper prior notification of intent to enter, and at such and such a port, then, if you have to stop, before actual arrival [broken fan belt; nav lights quit working, etc.], then you send them an e-mail to notify them what you are doing--in our case, dropping the hook, flying the "Q" flag (to warn others we're in quarantine from them). In Oz, they're cool with this. But if you try and sneak around, expect to get the book thrown at you. If you violate the rules of any sovereign nation, they have rights relative to you and your boat that can equate loss of boat and you in jail. Lesser consequences than that are a kindness to you.

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Old 10-09-2015, 06:58   #12
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

Quill, Accepting advice from an internet forum regarding legalities is a serious gamble. Those that say, "sure you can", won't be there when your boarded. Some countries allow it and some don't. You need to check in advance with THOSE COUNTRIES and comply with their laws. Otherwise you may be subject to large fines or worse. Chuck
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Old 10-09-2015, 07:09   #13
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

Just to further empahsize what AnchorageGuy said... Internet legal advice is worth exactly what you pay for it -- NOTHING!

And none of the people posting responses here (including me) will be there to stand behind you if you get into trouble by taking their advice.

Think about that.

That said, my own experience is like others. Most places, if you anchor, they consider that you have landed in their country and had better check in. Checking in is always the safe way to go.

Some will tell you that UNCLOS allows "innocent passage," and it does. But there are two important caveats. First off, not all countries are signatories to UNCLOS (including the United States), so it is far from universal. Second, it only allows "innocent passage" in cases of "force majeure," which basically means when you're in distress. What exactly constitutes distress is up to each country to decide for themselves. Some are more flexible about that than others. Poor planning, which results in you being too tired to go on, is not likely to be accepted as "force majeure" in most places.

Good luck.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:18   #14
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quill View Post
Is it legal to transit a country enroute to another country without checking in. No going ashore. Maybe anchoring a little to get some sleep. Q flag flown?
Many of the Caribbean countries have a similar, widely adopted and copied customs law, which is a little severe potentially. The legislation is on-line when I read it. (Found the link: CCLEC - Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council look for the countries law links there). If you screw up on clearing/out then acting by the book they have the power under their laws to throw you in jail and seize your boat. Like all good laws the penalty is proportionate and reflects the seriousness of the crime. Also it might worry you that the penalty can also be applied without a trial, i.e. at the discretion of the officials in charge. It's a bit less severe than it was in my great great grandparent's day and you might be OK with it . Hanging for horse thieves was a maximum penalty then for example.

Luckily the presence of large numbers of cruising boats creates an industry they don't want to harm. It is in practice very rare to suffer severe penalties or even severe fines.

A lot of people stretch the rules, going ashore to party before clearing in the next day. I for one rarely take risks with this issue and in some countries I would be more careful than others.

If your risk tolerance is high you could have an emergency repair as others have suggested. You could also, due to bad weather arrive at dusk after customs have closed and explain if you had to, that you would be at the office first thing. Flying the Q flag would help support your story. You could also contact them for permission and get it in writing. Good luck with that .
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:18   #15
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Re: Transit, Without checking in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quill View Post
Is it legal to transit a country enroute to another country without checking in. No going ashore. Maybe anchoring a little to get some sleep. Q flag flown?
Is this a serious question? You need to ask?

Take a moment to ponder what the consequences would be if a foreign yacht anchored up in your own counties territorial waters for a bit of a rest whilst transiting.

Sometimes the questions on this forum are just so stupid.

Hereís a link to Webb Chiles article about his somewhat unpleasant experience when he stopped without permission. He was very lucky that after a month he was let out of jail.

And I really donít need to ask what the consequences would be to anchor off say Governors Island, with the Q flag up, to catch a few zedís, as I sail from Bermuda to Spain. How long would that get me free board and lodging from Uncle Sam?
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