Originally Posted by ausaviator
I suspect the people that you have read about have done the wrong thing and tried to import
items that they shouldn't have and were likely ignorant of the rules and regulations
or simply ignored them.
Originally Posted by Dragon Lady
people's who have not done their homework and turn up with a timber boat from a high risk area which needs to be inspected by a termite dog.
Its nice you Australians are so proud of your country. And it is a great cruising ground. And I would not and have not avoided it because of the official.
But I have to comment in response to the above two quotes. We in fact try very hard to be aware of and follow all rules of the countries we visit. We don't have a timber boat (in fact its all aluminum
and there is almost no wood on board at all), we don't have any animals, and we know full well to eat up all troublesome food
before we enter NZ or OZ.
Let me just give a quick summary of our check in in Fremantle.
We arrived at 3am at Fremantle harbour after a 59 day non-stop passage
from Cape Horn. We were given very clear direction from harbour control where to dock
and to wait for customs to come to the boat and we did so. We had given the proper prior e-mail notice and we had proper and valid visas.
The officials arrived at about 8am and right away aggressively told us we had entered and docked illegally - as we were apparently about 50m from the official customs dock
. I very politely told them we had simply followed harbour control directions. They said I must be lying. SO I called harbour control on the radio
and after some time when they tracked down the night shift, they confirmed we were exactly where they said we should go.
They asked us where we had come from and seemed not to believe we had come from Chile
and wanted us to 'prove' that, and that we had not stopped anywhere along the coast. Its pretty hard to prove one has not stopped, but I showed them the track on the chart plotter, the noon marks on our ocean paper chart and our Chilean exit stamps. They still acted as if they thought we had probably stopped in Indonesia
but realized there was not much else they could do to try to prove that suspicion.
They gave me some papers to read and sign, which I did and then said they were going to search the boat and that we could not be on board while they did it and had to stand on the dock. I might note this is the only time in our 15 years of cruising that our boat has been searched in this way. So, we are standing on the dock and I see one official place a pvc pipe inside our boom and asked what he was doing. He replied he was placing a pipe of heron as part of their dog search procedure. I asked that they remove the drugs immediately and said that if I had been asked I would never have given them permission to bring drugs on my boat as I could not be sure it would not leave some tiny trace that would later be found and pinned on us. They refused saying it was part of their procedure.
Sometime in the search they decided to try to remove several ceiling panels
. They did not ask for any advice from me on how to do that and damaged them.
In one of our drawers they found an expired pencil mace spray and immediately accused me of signing a false statement about not having such on board, and 'threatened' me with jail time and fines. I told them if they read the document I had signed more closely they would see that it asked and I had only stated that we had no fire arms on board. It said nothing about mace. And in fact they later confirmed that it was allowed to enter with mace but they had to take it off the boat and ship it to our destination
harbour. I asked them to just destroy it rather than go to that compilation.
Somewhere several hours into the search I asked what they did with all the big ships entering the harbour if it took them this long with a small yacht. The reply was 'they are so big we can't effectively search them so we don't'. I don't know if that was true or a flippant reply but it did not make me feel any more positive about our experience.
Sometime later in the search they asked us to lay out all our sails
on the dock and to raise our mainsail
(while we were beam to 25-30kts). We went to a great deal of effort to bring out and unroll and then reroll all our extra headsails but I told them raising the mainsail
at the dock would likely cause damage but that I would be delighted to motor
off the dock with them on board and then raise it. They decided not to.
This goes on for about 5 hours. At that point they seem to get bored and stop. They were rather less aggressive and more pleasant and respectful at this point. We were given a clean bill and told to come in the office in a day when they would have our cruising permit
I should note that I was polite and respectful thru-out. In fact we were pretty fired and tired from the long passage and late night entry and so pretty much just sitting back and watching them do their thing.
I have no problem if officials want to search our boat. We have nothing at all to hide and I understand its their job. I have always been a bit surprised that it has never been done other than this experience. In Chile
we were asked after we were cleaned in if they could search the boat as a training exercise. We said sure and they brought a search team on board and they completed the exercise in the professional manor I would have expected and after they were completed one of their procedure was to give us an opportunity to provide feedback both verbally and in writing about the experience.
I don't know how common or frequent our experience with Australia was/is. But it was definitely NOT because we were ignorant or intentionally breaking their rules.