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Old 27-12-2014, 08:39   #1
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Anchoring without visa?

When not having correct visa for entering Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands (only one of us entered by plane so only one of us has an ESTA that will work), will we still be able to anchor and if so how close to land?

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Old 27-12-2014, 08:53   #2
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

A good way to get into a lot of trouble these days.
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Old 27-12-2014, 09:13   #3
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

12 miles.
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Old 27-12-2014, 09:19   #4
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

... Where did you fly to under ESTA? You 'normally' need a B1/B2 visa if you want to enter US territories by own boat/plane.

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Old 27-12-2014, 09:22   #5
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

One of us flew to Miami the other one not via USA at all so the ESTA won't work. That is why I would like to know if we will be able to still anchor up for rest etc.

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Old 27-12-2014, 09:26   #6
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

While nominally you can invoke your "right of innocent passage" to anchor, the Coast Guard won't let you get away with it. You'll be stopped and held and get in trouble even if you can prove that you had no other options.


But the BVI isn't far from the USVI and you most likely don't need a visa for that country. In the past, it has been possible to take the ferry from the BVI to the USVI and get your entry into the USA, then return to the BVI on a return ferry to thereupon clear into the USVI as non-visa non-Americans; but MarkJ recently mentioned that this workaround is no longer viable and I'd check up with US Customs in any case.


While Marinduque's post mentioned the limit of U.S. waters, it might be best if I were to mention that the deepest waters in the Atlantic, and second deepest in the world, are just north of Puerto Rico. There's nowhere 12nm offshore from Puerto Rico or the USVI (that isn't part of another country) where you could anchor with less than a couple of thousand feet of rode.
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Old 27-12-2014, 09:27   #7
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

... I second Phil's view ...

Without a visa "A good way to get into a lot of trouble these days.".

Carsten
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Old 27-12-2014, 09:38   #8
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

Hi
if you are citizen of a country who's citizens are allowed by the US authorities to enter with public transport e.g. flights or ship's under the VISA Waiver Program, there is a possibility to enter the USVI without having a Visa. Sail to West End Tortala, anchor your boat and take the Ferry to St. John. In St. John your passport will be stamped by homeland security. Nöw you may enter the US for 90 days as often you like to do. So go back with the Ferry to West End Tortola and sail your boat to the Spanish Virgins.
Do not forget to clear out in the BVI's and clear in in the USVI. Depending of registration of your boat you receive a cruising licence or you have to clear in and out in every Port in the US Territories.
Do not enter US Territories without VISA or a previous stamp in your passport as then you are paroled to depart and a heavy fine will be collected.
Fair winds and good luck.
James
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Old 27-12-2014, 10:06   #9
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

Thank you all for your answers. We will anchor up in bvi and take the ferry. Happy sailing everyone.

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Old 27-12-2014, 10:56   #10
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
While nominally you can invoke your "right of innocent passage" to anchor,.....
That's a right to passage, not a right to anchorage.
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Old 27-12-2014, 11:23   #11
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
. . .
But the BVI isn't far from the USVI and you most likely don't need a visa for that country. In the past, it has been possible to take the ferry from the BVI to the USVI and get your entry into the USA, then return to the BVI on a return ferry to thereupon clear into the USVI as non-visa non-Americans; but MarkJ recently mentioned that this workaround is no longer viable and I'd check up with US Customs in any case. . . .
That should still work IF you clear in upon entry via public transport as Zanshin suggests AND then wait for the other crew to clear the boat in without you. Double check with US immigration before trying this, but if you have a passport from a visa waiver country AND if you have crew with US visas or who are US citizens, then this ought to work.
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Old 27-12-2014, 11:35   #12
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
That should still work IF you clear in upon entry via public transport as Zanshin suggests AND then wait for the other crew to clear the boat in without you. Double check with US immigration before trying this, but if you have a passport from a visa waiver country AND if you have crew with US visas or who are US citizens, then this ought to work.

If you're going to do that, what's the advantage of paying a ferry to transport any of you?
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Old 27-12-2014, 11:40   #13
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
That's a right to passage, not a right to anchorage.
I beg to disagree. Innocent passage specifically includes anchoring, if it is incidental to ordinary navigation, or caused by necessity, etc. See below.

Now that's the letter of the law. However, the Convention leaves a wide range of possible interpretation of what might be "prejudicial to the peace, security" etc. of the state, and the U.S. Coast Guard, since going over to Homeland Security, is not known for its delicate respect for international agreements, so the letter of the law does not guaranty you won't be harassed.

What I would do is call the local Coast Guard station and simply discuss it with them. Tell them that you intend to anchor out at such and such a position at such and such a time on your way between x and y, and you would like to exercise right of innocent passage, won't go ashore, etc., and do they have a problem with that.

It never hurts to ask, and those guys much prefer to be asked before hand, than to be faced with a fait accomplis, and unless they have a specific policy to deny such requests, they may well agree to it. If they do, be sure to call them on VHF when you cross into US waters and inform them who you are and what your intentions are.


Article19

Meaning of innocent passage

1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.

2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

(a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

(b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

(c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

(e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;

(f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;

(g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

(h) any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

(i) any fishing activities;

(j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

(k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

(l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA



And this:

Article18

Meaning of passage

1. Passage means navigation through the territorial sea for the purpose of:

(a) traversing that sea without entering internal waters or calling at a roadstead or port facility outside internal waters; or

(b) proceeding to or from internal waters or a call at such roadstead or port facility.

2. Passage shall be continuous and expeditious. However, passage includes stopping and anchoring, but only in so far as the same are incidental to ordinary navigation or are rendered necessary by force majeure or distress or for the purpose of rendering assistance to persons, ships or aircraft in danger or distress.
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Old 27-12-2014, 11:44   #14
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by letsgetsailing3 View Post
If you're going to do that, what's the advantage of paying a ferry to transport any of you?
Because visa waiver citizens have the right to enter the U.S. by public transportation without a visa, but not by their own boats or planes.

So if it's not convenient to get the visa, it's possible to avoid the problem by entering separately from your boat.
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Old 27-12-2014, 11:47   #15
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Re: Anchoring without visa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onavegador View Post
Hi
if you are citizen of a country who's citizens are allowed by the US authorities to enter with public transport e.g. flights or ship's under the VISA Waiver Program, there is a possibility to enter the USVI without having a Visa. Sail to West End Tortala, anchor your boat and take the Ferry to St. John. In St. John your passport will be stamped by homeland security. Nöw you may enter the US for 90 days as often you like to do. So go back with the Ferry to West End Tortola and sail your boat to the Spanish Virgins.
Do not forget to clear out in the BVI's and clear in in the USVI. Depending of registration of your boat you receive a cruising licence or you have to clear in and out in every Port in the US Territories.
Do not enter US Territories without VISA or a previous stamp in your passport as then you are paroled to depart and a heavy fine will be collected.
Fair winds and good luck.
James
This is all true and good advice, but be careful about whether or not they allow you to bring your boat in without a separate exit/entry of yourself. If you exit the U.S., then you have to re-enter, and that's a separate entry which may make you subject to the rule again. Check to be sure.

I've heard that formerly they didn't care but now don't like this practice.
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