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Old 20-08-2014, 17:32   #1
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2,000 Euro Fine for Anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - Any Suggestions?

This afternoon we received notice at anchor from the coastguard that we would be fined € 2,000 for anchoring in the port of Empedocle - Southern Silicy. Apparently it's a new law from 2013 (Ordinance 32 - well we're not sure as we refused to sign anything not in English - so we didn't get a copy of the fine)

Before anchoring I emailed the coast guard and did as much research as possible. I also checked the harbor masters website but as there are hundreds of ordinances in a scanned pdf format it's extremely difficult to translate to English - and the ordinances aren't easy to understand once translated.

Noonsite and the cruiserwiki also note this harbor as an anchorage - and I read several sailing blogs of people who anchored here so I did my research!

We have translated this "ordinance 32" and from what we can work out it refers to merchant ships anchored in the harbor - not specifically to pleasure boats.

Anyways - We're off to the harbor masters office tomorrow - to debate the point - any tips?
(1) Is there "a better way" of dealing with Sicilian officials? any suggestions? Although I guess they are pretty much above the law here what ever they feel like doing they will.

(2) If we have to pay - does anyone know how to pay for harbour master fines? As It's impossible for us to get more than 400 Euros out in a day from our bank we would be stuck in this hell hole for weeks

(3)Is it worthwhile employing a lawyer? how would we find one?

(4) Can the coast guard impound our boat until we pay the fine ?

Any other suggestions? Info would be very much appreciated -

Thanks
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Old 20-08-2014, 21:30   #2
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

My only thought is that you could declare an emergency. Engine trouble maybe? You can't be fined for finding a safe harbor in an emergency.
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Old 20-08-2014, 22:10   #3
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

Are you advocating declaring an emergency when one doesn't exist?
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Old 20-08-2014, 22:19   #4
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

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Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
Are you advocating declaring an emergency when one doesn't exist?
I'm not advocating calling the Coasties. Just explaining that maybe the engine was overheating, and didn't want to possibly hit someone.

Look, the cruiser took every precaution reasonably expected in trying to determine what to do. An innocent mistake was made. For that, he's to pay a 2,000 E fine? Seems somewhat unreasonable to me. 100 E? Maybe.
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Old 20-08-2014, 22:33   #5
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

Throw a temper tantrum. That's what an Italian would do. Walk around wave your arms, yell at the floor, door, window, and your wife.

Really, I don't think they will charge you the fine unless somehow you really irritated them in some other way. What we usually do when we somehow went afoul of the system is stand there and look dumb founded, sit around, ask for other people, and in general waste their time until they let us go. Now, only once did we do that due to a clear in problem that was totally my fault, but it worked.
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Old 20-08-2014, 22:44   #6
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

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Originally Posted by sailabroad View Post
We're off to the harbor masters office tomorrow - to debate the point - any tips?

(1) Is there "a better way" of dealing with Sicilian officials? any suggestions? Although I guess they are pretty much above the law here what ever they feel like doing they will.

(2) If we have to pay - does anyone know how to pay for harbour master fines? As It's impossible for us to get more than 400 Euros out in a day from our bank we would be stuck in this hell hole for weeks

(3)Is it worthwhile employing a lawyer? how would we find one?

(4) Can the coast guard impound our boat until we pay the fine ?

Any other suggestions? Info would be very much appreciated -

Thanks
We spent six months in Sicily several years ago, so I am reasonably familiar in dealing with officials.

Most importantly, just swallow any pride and indignation (it will only backfire badly) and be extremely polite. Don't try and debate, just present your case very meekly even if this goes against the grain.
Dress well (I know this sounds stupid, but they will consider it disrespectful if you don't and you will immediately start on the wrong foot).
Take a book to read and be prepared to patiently wait hours. Don't roll your eyes, make annoyed noises and keep looking at your watch.
Go in the morning, most offices will close for several hours in the afternoon and if you arrive close to lunch they will simply say 'come back tomorrow'. This case will probably fall in the "too hard basket", as they need to make sure they don't upset whoever fined you to start with. They will be keen to pass the problem onto someone else.
It helps to speak a few words of greeting in Italian.
Take all the paperwork you can think of with you, it saves coming back.
Above all, just don't do anything to annoy them, or they will dig in their heels. Apologise profusely.

Regarding money, the ATM is the only practical way. Just in case, prepare now and visit the ATM daily. It takes 24 hrs, not just a calendar day to be able to withdraw more. If you know a local you can trust, transferring any money into their account and getting cash from them is not an option. They will have questions to answer later re money laundering (and they will have tax issues if they have a business).

If you have more than one credit card then use internet banking to transfer funds to clear any debits and put the accounts in credit. That way you can withdraw cash from two cards without any penalty interest and it will halve the time taken.

I doubt employing a lawyer would do any good at all. It would then become an expensive, drawn out procedure and you really don't want to start getting courts involved. If it is currently a prohibited spot to anchor then you really don't have a leg to stand on, as technically ignorance of the rules is no excuse.

I suspect they can impound the boat. The problem may then take months to sort out. I would pay the fine before this stage is reached.

Good luck. Let us know how it resolves.

Edited to add : Be careful about declaring any emergencies. You may then be considered unseaworthy and prohibited to leave until a surveyor checks out the boat. This may involve a haul out at your expense, apart from surveyor's fee. You may end up paying more than the original fine.
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Old 21-08-2014, 01:11   #7
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

$2000 euros for dropping a pick somewhere is an outrageous fine. I would be inclined to sail away at night and leave Sicily to the Mafia.
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Old 21-08-2014, 02:27   #8
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

Sorry to hear of your problem. Meanwhile, I have updated the World Cruising Wiki entry for Porto Empedocle so that other cruisers are alerted.

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Old 21-08-2014, 04:55   #9
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

I can tell you from exporting aircraft and travelling through several countries, I've sometime run afoul of something or another and have a little experience with this sort of thing.
Seaworthy Lass's post is spot on, to the T. Be very apologetic, request forgiveness. They are expecting you to be an Ass, they have that response well rehearsed, they can and will hang you from the Yardarm, but an apologetic, softly spoken, well dressed person that shows respect? No, that disarms them and if you do it right, that official can become your ally.
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Old 21-08-2014, 06:02   #10
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

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Originally Posted by Cherp View Post
I would be inclined to sail away at night and leave Sicily to the Mafia.

Hmmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm???


So this is a local towns fine? Not national? So the harbour masters boat would have delivered it, not the national coast guard?

Sicily has a population of 5 million and this town has a population of 17,231. Not what you might call a substantial metropolis of the Western World or even this island...



I think I might disappear tonight....



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Old 21-08-2014, 06:26   #11
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

Update please? Which route did you take- polite and apoligetic or arm flailing?
Was it indeed the coast guard or was it the city that delivered the ticket?
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Old 21-08-2014, 06:28   #12
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

I too would just up an leave and if stopped would feign ignorance stating the document given was a warning and they told you, you had to leave. Or go to the Harbour master with your freshly removed fuel pump and ask for assistance in getting it repaired or replaced. Sometimes a smile and a hand shake can be worth more than money.

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Old 21-08-2014, 06:42   #13
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

Total disrespect for another country's authority is what generated lots of these onerous regs. being placed on us. Do the crime, do the time. Save the flames, living on a island, I've heard it all before.
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Old 21-08-2014, 07:17   #14
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

No disrespect "BlueStocking" But I did everything I could including emailing the coast guard ( Carefully using Google translate to Italian - Translating back and forth to make sure it makes sense) asking about anchoring - of course they didn't reply or make the information readily available - it's purely revenue gathering.

OK - so Hmm, we decided to talk to the guy who runs the marina, he's extremely helpful and took us to the coast guard.

Its a small place and he knows everyone here including a few of the people in the national coast guard( it seems it was a national fine but we still don't have a notification)

Here's where things got messy - My partner told them that we don't have a copy of the fine - because she refused to sign it as it was in Italian, and of course we didn't understand it. but this may have been confused for the ticket wasn't issued and it was only a check. We tried many times to get this point across, successfully ? not sure.

Anyway after a few phone calls and the visit to the coast guard.. Our marina mate is assuring us it's all OK that the fine has been forgotten and we can continue with our holiday!

This goes against everything that I felt about the situation - the coast guard took an hour to grill us when they issued the fine - and we have now found at least 2 other sailors - 2 Americans and 1 swedish boats that were fined and had to pay the 2046 Euros - and on top of that the coast guard have been issuing many fines to locals - Soo...

We're going to have to leave tomorrow - but not sure what will happen - another problem is we have a winter contract for our boat here in Italy great huh!?
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Old 21-08-2014, 07:29   #15
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Re: € 2,000 fine for anchoring in Porto di Empedocle, Silicy - any suggestions?

Thank you for the update. Hate you're dealing with this as you did your due diligence and still having issues. Living the dream can have "bad dreams" sometimes. Hope all goes well going forward.
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