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Old 01-05-2006, 06:03   #16
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I learned the answer!

I got back to my home port a week ago from my planned 6 month cruise to Central America and while in Belize learned the/an answer to the question I posed to the forum back in October. I was surprised this thread was still somewhat active.
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Old 01-05-2006, 06:11   #17
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Care to share "...the/an answer to the question ..." ?
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Old 01-05-2006, 06:15   #18
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I spoke (well skyped) with a friend yesterday who just returned to the Rio Dulce from Belize. He spent most of his time south of Belize City, did not eperience any problems. He also mentioned that the Belizean Park Officials generally did not go out of their way to collect fees from boats anchored in remote areas.
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:23   #19
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We just returned from a charter in Belize. Mostly good but some not-so -good. We spent the first few days playing around inland near Belize City. Highly recommend the Crooked Tree Bird Sanctuary. Look it up via Google. It is near Altun Ha, a Mayan ruin. OK as ruins go but you could certainly skip if you have seen similar in Mexico or Guatemala. Baboon Sanctuary was highly overrated and not a good place to stay overnight. We did see howler monkeys, iguanas, etc but no reason not to day trip it.
We found Belize City to be dirty, uninteresting, and perhaps not dangerous but lots of shady people trying to rip us off. Next we went to San Pedro on Ambergris Cay via water taxi. Cheap and a fun ride. Leaves from downtown Belize City. San Pedro is touristy but fun. We chartered w/ TMM and stayed in a fun, inexpensive place just up the beach (Holliday hotel). We self provisioned via Island Grocery which is just 2 blocks from TMM dock. VERY expensive food but you do not really have much choice. They delivered to the TMM office and 1 box was stolen before we got it all to the dock.
TMM is the only major charter company in San Pedro. They also go out of Placencia as does Moorings. You must hire a local captain if you want to go out beyond the barrier reef to Lighthouse Reef (which I strongly recommend). As soon as I arrived I found out from the local grapevine that TMM is hurting for good locals who can also dive. They had assigned us a guy who is a chain smoker and may be ill. I had to go to the mats w/ the TMM office but got a different guy named Horace. He is the guy mentioned in the 2001 Cruising World article about a TMM charter in Belize. If you go w/ TMM you really need to call the office in San Pedro to make sure you get what you want. The office in Wisconsin is just for booking.
You really want a cat in Belize. Water is shallow. Our cat was ok. Most instruments did not work but all you need is a depth meter and a GPS and they were working. Great sail out to Lighthouse Reef and Half Moon Cay. Good anchorages, nice snorkel and scuba areas. Blue Hole was ok but more spectacular from the air. then back across to the barrier reef and St George Cay and Cay Caulker. Both were fun.
Final note: The underwater parks rangers are now very strict about collecting their fees and for some you need a ticket before you go out. Check w/ TMM as they know what is happening.
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Old 02-05-2006, 06:00   #20
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Checking in at San Pedro

Hi Gord,
Yes, be happy to share my experience. I checked into San Pedro on Mornday morning, Jan. 2. I arrived on Dec. 31, late int the afternoon. Specifically, regarding the inventory of items list that I was concerned about when I originated this thread: I provided the Immigration Officer with a complete list of all items that I carry on the boat plus an update of general ships stores and provisions. He did not ask for such a complete list but he was asking me questions regarding what I had on board from a check list he was going through and when I asked him if this complete inventory would suffice, he appeared to be quite happy and asked if I had a copy to spare so he could attach it to my files. I said that he could have the copy he was looking at. That covers that particular issue, but I will add more. Belize was an easier check in by far that Mexico and althought the check in to Guatamala was very pleasant, it was more complicated than Belize and required more paperwork and to visit more officials. If anyone is interested into more of the particulars regarding checking into or out of Belize or for that matter Mexico at Isla Mujeres or Guatamala at Livingston I would be glad to provide details of my experience last winter. When entering the country Belize basically wants a crew list, a zarpe from your last port (unless you come directly from the USA), passports of captain and crew, a list of equipment on board including the dingy and outboard motor. You will have to visit Immigration and Customs and may have a visit to your boat by an agricultural officer but we did not. Check in at San Pedro would have cost me nothing but I checked in on a holiday and they have a policy of charging $20 US per boat at both Immigrations and Customs for holiday check in. They also want you to check in immediately. They did not particularly like the fact that I delayed my check in for over 24 hours but seemed satisfied when I told them that I had a very tiring 2 night and 3 day passage from Isla Mujeres and that I was flying my quarantine flag at anchor and was resting on my boat and had never left. They did not press that issue with me. Just like in the USA, these officials have a good bit of discretion in deciding what they want to do.They seem to be most concerned about bringing fresh food into their country. Belize exports very little but is an exporter of tropical fruits and are trying to protect a growing agricultural program from any diseases, etc.
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Old 02-05-2006, 06:43   #21
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Joe:
Thanks for your excellent report on checking into Belize.
Im certain that further reports on checking into Mexico at Isla Mujeres, or Guatemala at Livingston would also be very well received.
Best regards,
Gord May
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Old 02-05-2006, 10:01   #22
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Add to Belize Check In

I forgot to mention that the Belize officials want to see the boats official documentation papers and to get a copy. All check ins at every country want to see these papers.
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Old 02-05-2006, 10:43   #23
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Checking in to Guatamala at Livingston

Hi Gord,
I will be glad to provide you with my Guatamala check in experience at this time and may try to write up something about Mexico at Isla Mujeres on a separate posting after I have had some time to think about what to say. But here goes my Guatamala experience. I checked into Guatamala at the port of Livingston on January 30. I timed my arrival to arrive early in the morning so I could complete the process as early in the day as possible so I could be on the way up the Rio Dulce and into a good anchorage in El Golfete before dark. I arrived about 8:30 or 9am. There were other boats that went into port ahead of me and others after. Contact the Port Captains office on VHF channel 16, or if they see you (his office is located on a high hill overlooking the bay and can see every vessel that comes in) sailing in with a yellow Q flag, they are likely to contact you and instruct you to anchor off the town dock and await a boarding party of officials to start the process. On the morning of my arrival the Port Captains' office hailed the first foreign boat they saw coming in to the harbor and told them to anchor and wait. I overheard this conversation and I found a good place to anchor and wait. About an hour afther I arived a boat with the officials began boarding the boats that were waiting to be checked in. There was no particular order of checking in (i.e., the first boat in to Livingston was not necessarily the first to be boarded and checked). The boarding party consisted of the Port Captain, a Customs Officer, an Immigration Officer and a doctor who represented the Health Dept. The Customs Officer speaks very good English and served as the interpreter for the rest of the group who spoke no English and I speak Spanish poorly. They sat in the cockpit of the boat and after introductions all around asked me to produce my passport, ships papers (US Coast Guard documentation), crew list, and zarpe (exit papers) from my last port (in this case my Belize exit papers). They asked me a few general questions such as any fresh fruits or vegetables on board, pets on board, and firearms. They were very pleasant and made no attempt to physically inspect my boat. The Doctor just mostly looked at us to see if were were breathing and not outwardly appearing to be sick. No exam was given. They collected the papers I had (a copy of the documentation instead of the original) and told me I could go into town any time I wanted but to wait at least two hours before coming by their offices so they could prepare the paper work. A couple of hours later I went by Customs first, then Immigration and then the Port Captains to collect the passports, pay the required fees, get the visa papers and get a small sticker from Customs that was to be displayed on one of the windows/ports of the boat. The visa is good for three months. There was a bank in town with an ATM where I could use my VISA debit card to get the money to pay the fees to the three offices. They require the money to be paid in the local currency (Quetzales). I forgot what the fees were but they were not expensive-that much I do remember. Every office and the bank were within easy walking distance. The Customs officer gives explicit instructions on what to do when checking out of the country.
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Old 03-05-2006, 08:27   #24
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Checking into Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Hi Gord,
A follow up to your suggestion regarding your me writing about my experience checking into Mexico. I was visiting the SSCA site earlier this morning and decided to write a reply to a thread on that Forum that addresses this subject. So instead of duplicating that effort, I will invite those interested in the subject to visit the SSCA forum and look into the Destinations section and see my reply to the person who wrote up their Isla Mujeres check-in experience.
Cheers, Joe
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