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Old 29-05-2015, 06:15   #1
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What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

I am a Canadian and currently do not have a Nexus card. When sailing, time lines tend to go out the window. Suppose you arrive at a customs dock in need of clearing in but it is after hours. Since you can't anchor or tie to shore, what are you supposed to do? Do you just sort of float around all night without anchoring?
Suppose I have a Nexus card but either no cell or satelite phone. Can I use my HF radio and WLO to make a ship to shore call and check in that way? Have cell phones become mandatory for a traveler thes days ?
BTW, I do have a cell phoe but apparently it does not allow roaming and I can't use it to call the US customs office.
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Old 29-05-2015, 07:32   #2
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

It varies by country, but the general rule is to anchor or take a mooring and stay on board until the office opens up. Unfortunately, that doesn't work in some countries. I read about a captain that got in trouble for not clearing in after hours in Grenada, even though the entire crew stayed aboard until the office opened. He was told that he should have cleared in on "overtime".

Here's what Noonsite.com says about clearing into the US...

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The captain, and every other person on board, regardless of nationality, are required to report to the nearest INS Office after arriving in a port of entry. US nationals must take with them a valid passport. All non-US nationals must take passports with valid visas, and a Green Card if held. If you arrive after working hours, you must remain on board, and clear in the next morning. You must clear in within 24 hours of your arrival.
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Old 29-05-2015, 09:14   #3
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Thanks Hud. I guess this is one of those things that depend on the officer in charge because I was told in no uncertain terms last night that dropping the anchor is considered landing and is a no-no.
Unfortunately I screwed up last night (learned a valuable lesson though).
My biggest screw-up was that I assumed Port Towsend was a port of entry (could have sworn I read that someplace). It turns out it is a 'restricted' port of entry. I also ended up arriving after hours, mostly due to tides ... but it could have been a number of things and hence the question.

Anybody ever used WLO's phone patch service to call in an arrival ?
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Old 29-05-2015, 09:23   #4
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

I haven't, I did create some problems for myself when I arrived late in Trinidad and anchored for the night and called them the next morning, they expected to be called immediately. Back in the day it was the norm if you came in too late that you anchored out, hoist the "Q" flag and settled in for the night, no going ashore. Now everyone has their respective panties in a wad all the time.
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Old 29-05-2015, 09:44   #5
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Hi Jd1, we ran into the same situation a few years ago when we were sailing back across Lake Superior from the American side. In our case we did anchor out in Canadian waters before clearing in, and were roundly chastised when we finally were able to check in. In our case there was no way we could make the only port of entry, and I deemed it unsafe for us to simply sail around for 12 hours in the dark. Regardless, when I called in I was sternly informed this was a major breach of the law, and was threatened with boat seizure.

However, to answer your question, there was a central CBSA-Marine phone number that we were able to call with our cell phone. Even without a NEXUS card (we had none) I was able to call this number and get direction (and a threat). I don't think I could clear in, but I was able to alert them to our arrival.

When we did arrive the custom dock still wasn't open so we tied up. We staying on board and hoisted a yellow flag (a "Q" flag), but I don't think the customs people even noticed or understood it when they finally arrived. From there, no problem.
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Old 29-05-2015, 09:49   #6
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

When did just anchoring and raising the Q flag change? Skipper just go ashore and call customs.... realistically, what else could you do?
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Old 29-05-2015, 20:20   #7
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

For the future, before you leave Canada headed to the States, use Skype, e-mail, or a phone to alert US Customs and give them a conservative projected ETA. At that time, ask them also what procedures to follow if you are delayed by weather. The fact that you obtain this information in advance should make them more amenable. What drives them loco is anything that appears clandestine. There is probably information relative to your query on the US Customs web site.

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Old 29-05-2015, 21:13   #8
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Hi Jd1, we ran into the same situation a few years ago when we were sailing back across Lake Superior from the American side. In our case we did anchor out in Canadian waters before clearing in, and were roundly chastised when we finally were able to check in. In our case there was no way we could make the only port of entry, and I deemed it unsafe for us to simply sail around for 12 hours in the dark. Regardless, when I called in I was sternly informed this was a major breach of the law, and was threatened with boat seizure.

However, to answer your question, there was a central CBSA-Marine phone number that we were able to call with our cell phone. Even without a NEXUS card (we had none) I was able to call this number and get direction (and a threat). I don't think I could clear in, but I was able to alert them to our arrival.

When we did arrive the custom dock still wasn't open so we tied up. We staying on board and hoisted a yellow flag (a "Q" flag), but I don't think the customs people even noticed or understood it when they finally arrived. From there, no problem.

Mike,
Interesting. We had the anchored up in the St. Mary's a couple of times last summer near the Soo Locks. I was told by US authorities Canadian water was OK as long as you do not leave the boat and are in transit. Same applies to general transit on the St Mary's. We chose to stay US just to avoid any pin-headed agents with an attitude. I will never know.


We also have AIS class B so they all know who & where we are. Never been boarded.
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Old 29-05-2015, 21:35   #9
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
I am a Canadian and currently do not have a Nexus card. When sailing, time lines tend to go out the window. Suppose you arrive at a customs dock in need of clearing in but it is after hours. Since you can't anchor or tie to shore, what are you supposed to do? Do you just sort of float around all night without anchoring?
Suppose I have a Nexus card but either no cell or satelite phone. Can I use my HF radio and WLO to make a ship to shore call and check in that way? Have cell phones become mandatory for a traveler thes days ?
BTW, I do have a cell phoe but apparently it does not allow roaming and I can't use it to call the US customs office.
It varies by country, and in some cases in each country it varies by where you are clearing in! In all cases you should fly your Q flag when you enter their waters.

We have a hard and fast rule on our boat about not approaching a strange harbor after dark, so we will usually heave too off shore and/or slow the boat down to avoid arriving outside hours. Being hove-to also gives you some time to shower & shave and tidy up the boat before having officials aboard. This helps us avoid your quandary.

Many countries will clear you outside of hours but charge you over time, this can get quite expensive. Noonsite.com has a pretty accurate country by country breakdown.

Some countries will not clear you in outside of business hours, some insist that you notify them immediately when you arrive no matter the time. Some are very aggressive about monitoring arrivals, some don't care at all.

Some of our notes:

In the Marquesas they won't clear you on a weekend or a holiday. So if you arrive on a Sat like we did you drop the hook and hang out until Monday then go visit the Gendarmes. Only the Captain goes in.

Trinidad is very insistent on knowing exactly when you arrive and gets testy if you don't notify them. Everyone on board needs to go in to Immigration.

In the Galapagos we had a boatload of Gendarmes (Policia?) stop by the boat within 20 minutes of dropping the hook. The boatload of officials came by an hour or so later with our agent. You need to clear in and out of every port, they watch you like a hawk.

In Panama you should use an agent arriving in Colon if you are using one to go through the Canal. There is a little office in Shelter Bay marina where you can get your initial clearance when you arrive, that gives you three days to get everything else does. Call your agent before you call your family to let them know you are safe.

In the French Caribbean islands you arrive, then when they open you go clear into...wherever the clearing place is. In Guadelupe it was in the back of a gift shop, in Martinique it was in chandlery in town. They don't check, they don't even look at your passports or stamp you - you don't see any officials, you just fill out a form on the dedicated computer and pay the cashier.

In New Zealand you pull up to a Customs Dock and tell them you've arrived. You can stay on the dock over night, they will come in the morning and take all your meat. Everyone comes to you on the boat.

In the BVI's you are supposed to check in when you arrive, overtime can be charged. Only the Captain goes into the office.

Same for Grenada.

In Fiji you are supposed to let them know when you reach the harbor. Overtime checkins are available though they fees are outrageous. You are directed to a "Quarantine" area to wait for the boat load of officials, then have to run around doing more paperwork the next day.

Returning to the U.S. in the USVI's everyone must come in to clear.

In St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, and other Carib countries the skipper goes to the office when you arrive. In general you can wait until business hours as there will be no one in the office until at least the time they are supposed to open (or later...).

And so on...you can see that the clearing in process is VERY different from country to country, even when you can SEE the next country before you leave the last one.
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Old 30-05-2015, 06:08   #10
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
Mike,
Interesting. We had the anchored up in the St. Mary's a couple of times last summer near the Soo Locks. I was told by US authorities Canadian water was OK as long as you do not leave the boat and are in transit. Same applies to general transit on the St Mary's. We chose to stay US just to avoid any pin-headed agents with an attitude. I will never know.
Funny, we did the same last season when we came down the St. Mary's, except being Canadians we stuck to the Canadian side. When we ran into engine problems we purposely moved well over to the Canadian side just in case we needed to anchor.

I'm sure you can transit through Canadian and American waters (and all other countries, as far as I know) without an issue, but as soon as you drop an anchor you are considered "affixed to land", at least here in Canada. At this point you need to proceed to clear in.

A close friend of mine had the same situation happen to them a few years ago, but in reverse; Canadian going to America. He was headed to Mackinaw Island from Canada, and due to stormy weather he chose to anchor off Drummond Island (US) for a night before proceeding to the customs dock. He never left the boat, and went right to customs the next morning, but he says the American agents blew a stack, and nearly confiscated his boat.

The problem we face on the Great Lakes, and perhaps on the west coast as well, is that you might not be able to make it to a customs dock in time before they close for the night. Then what do you do? It's sometimes hard to be far enough off shore to safely heave-to overnight, and shoreline hazards make it dangerous to linger around for hours.
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Old 30-05-2015, 06:32   #11
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

I READ before we arrive.

Then I act accordingly: hoist the yellow (or none) and go to sleep + check in first thing in the morning (or not).

OR ELSE (where the country is known to have pita administration) I DO NOT arrive after hours. Stay out + sail in early morning and check in immediately.

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Old 30-05-2015, 06:40   #12
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
I am a Canadian and currently do not have a Nexus card. When sailing, time lines tend to go out the window. Suppose you arrive at a customs dock in need of clearing in but it is after hours. Since you can't anchor or tie to shore, what are you supposed to do? Do you just sort of float around all night without anchoring?
Suppose I have a Nexus card but either no cell or satelite phone. Can I use my HF radio and WLO to make a ship to shore call and check in that way? Have cell phones become mandatory for a traveler thes days ?
BTW, I do have a cell phoe but apparently it does not allow roaming and I can't use it to call the US customs office.
Are you just asking about clearing into the USA or other countries in general?

Specifics vary by country, but generally anchoring over night with Q flag displayed would be standard procedure.

Where did you get the impression that you can't anchor? That would be standard procedure: hoist Q flag and anchor. (EDIT: I saw in a later post that you tried to enter in a port that was not an official port of entry...yep, no country likes that).

What you can't legally do is go ashore, except for master of vessel to go to officies of officials.
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Old 30-05-2015, 07:30   #13
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

This discussion has prompted me to dig into the CBSA website. There appears to be a vagueness regarding the question of anchoring before clearing in.

"As owner/operator of the boat, it is your responsibility to report to the CBSA when you enter Canadian waters. While in most cases you will be required to report from a Telephone Reporting Site-Marine (TRS/M), in specific circumstances you can report from the water.

Go directly to a TRS/M and follow the instructions posted on location to contact the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) and request clearance to enter Canada. Only the owner/operator may leave the boat to place the call to the TRC. Everyone else must remain onboard until the CBSA gives authorization.

Or

Report directly in-person at one of ten Direct Reporting Sites for Marine Private Vessels (DRS/M), which are CBSA staffed marine ports of entry.

If you are visiting Canada, you can report to the TRC from your cellphone from the location at which you enter Canadian waters when you:

do not intend to land on Canadian soil, and
will not be leaving any people or goods in Canada.

If you are returning to Canada, you can report to the TRC from the location at which you enter Canadian waters when you:

have not landed on U.S. soil, and
you have not taken on any people or goods while in foreign waters."

I can't find any definition of what "land on Canadian soil" includes. Does it include anchoring, as was explained to me by our CBSA staff? I can find reference to anchoring as being equivalent to being "secured alongside a dock" in regards to alcohol consumption -- this is why I can drink on my boat while it is anchored; it is considered being affixed to shore so it's OK to drink.
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Old 30-05-2015, 07:53   #14
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
This discussion has prompted me to dig into the CBSA website. There appears to be a vagueness regarding the question of anchoring before clearing in.

"As owner/operator of the boat, it is your responsibility to report to the CBSA when you enter Canadian waters. While in most cases you will be required to report from a Telephone Reporting Site-Marine (TRS/M), in specific circumstances you can report from the water.

Go directly to a TRS/M and follow the instructions posted on location to contact the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) and request clearance to enter Canada. Only the owner/operator may leave the boat to place the call to the TRC. Everyone else must remain onboard until the CBSA gives authorization.

Or

Report directly in-person at one of ten Direct Reporting Sites for Marine Private Vessels (DRS/M), which are CBSA staffed marine ports of entry.

If you are visiting Canada, you can report to the TRC from your cellphone from the location at which you enter Canadian waters when you:

do not intend to land on Canadian soil, and
will not be leaving any people or goods in Canada.

If you are returning to Canada, you can report to the TRC from the location at which you enter Canadian waters when you:

have not landed on U.S. soil, and
you have not taken on any people or goods while in foreign waters."

I can't find any definition of what "land on Canadian soil" includes. Does it include anchoring, as was explained to me by our CBSA staff? I can find reference to anchoring as being equivalent to being "secured alongside a dock" in regards to alcohol consumption -- this is why I can drink on my boat while it is anchored; it is considered being affixed to shore so it's OK to drink.
Why not call them up and ask??
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Old 30-05-2015, 10:24   #15
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Mike - Does that mean that you cannot drink on a boat in Canada that is underway?
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