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Old 25-08-2009, 11:29   #1
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Sailing South: Liveaboard Migrancy?

Hey folks,

I live aboard my Searunner 37 trimaran in Vancouver, British Columbia. I work as a network administrator, and all I really need to do my day job is a laptop, electricity and a connection to the internet.

I'm curious about the logistics behind heading off and cruising internationally - has anyone here done much cross-border travel? I somehow doubt that the USA welcomes "vagrants" with open arms - how do you go about crossing the borders when your intent is to slowly make your way down the coast to Central America? What if that intent were something like "sail hard for a week, then anchor for a week or two and work on day-job stuff" - is this legal?

To me the idea seems pretty reasonable, but even crossing the border by car has gotten *much* stricter the past few years. How *do* you travel internationally by sailboat these days? Is it just a matter of not stopping?

What about work visas? I will technically be working from my boat, for a company in Canada, who have contracts with companies in the States. How does that factor in?

I'm not thinking immediately, but the Vancouver winter is slowly creeping closer, and I'm not looking forward to six months of cold rain - I can probably get through one winter here, but I would like to be gone for the winter of 2010/2011. I lived for a few years in Costa Rica and I'd like to make my way down that way again perhaps, and I have a lot of friends in the Bay Area - what's the legalities of spending some time there?

Anything helps!
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Old 25-08-2009, 12:00   #2
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Drew,
with a canadian boat you will need to get a cruising permit at your first port of call in the USA, other than that thwere is very little in the way of paperwork, the cruising permit will allow you t ostay one year in the USA. Each time you move to a new customs district you need to check in with the local customs officer, but its no hassle, you will be given a list of every customs office in the US with your permit, and you just chekc in by phone. THe USA has been a tremodously wonderful cruising destination... although the security thing can get a bit tedious after a while, its no worse than anywhere else- ( been boarded a couple of times in the last month, at all times offciers were polite and friendly, being the only non-US flagged vessel in an anchorage allows, as one officer put it " for us to do a bit of training, you dont mind do you Sir?"
you will really like sailing in the US, take yer time and enjoy
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Old 25-08-2009, 16:11   #3
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vagrancy vs transiency
vagrancy is homelessness without source of any income nor money in pocket. is not legal. usa puts vagrants in jails.
transiency is relocation on a frequent basis.
transiency is not illegal . yet. if you own your boat you are not a vagrant, you are transient if you move along regularly.
vagrants are not welcome anywhere. they are undesirable.
hobos were vagrants and proud of it.
cruisers are transients and proud of it.
transients even have their own docks. is not an illegal activity nor an unlawful condition.
cruisers do not consider themselves as vagrant.
cruisers are transient.
is an important semantic difference.
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Old 07-09-2009, 22:41   #4
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If the USA puts vagrants in jail, then they are missing a few million at last count.
I think the salient point is that some vagrants are put in jail for their actions, not their status as vagrants, i.e., disturbing the peace, assault, theft, etc.
I also fail to see any government agency checking vagrants or transients bank accounts, assets, 401ks, etc.
Also, there are many vagrants that owe their status to the current recession and the misdeeds of some in power, i.e., Credit-Default Swaps, Sub-Prime loans, etc. Last time I checked, ponzi schemes such as Bernie Madoff's were a crime, not vagrancy.
I don't mean to nit-pick, but fraud is a crime, vagrancy is not.
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Old 08-09-2009, 07:33   #5
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Vagancy laws in the USA were declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme court a decade or more ago. That is why there are homeless living on the streets and living in the parks. However, as JankHinks pointed out, do a crime and you can go to jail. It is very easy for local police to "invent" all sort of crimes to hassle the homeless into "moving on" just as they pass all kinds of ordinances to try to get live-aboards to move somewhere else. For instance, there was world-wide TV coverage of the "new" homeless from the financial collapse living in tent-cities in California because they lost their homes. The local police were slashing and trashing their tents to try to get these "new" homeless for move-on as it was illegal for the police to "make" the actual people move-on.
- - As to the original questions by Drew23, this is a new world, not your grandfathers world. You cannot wander around the world without significant financial resources anymore. Nor can you work legally in any foreign countries without complicated and expensive "work permits." World over-population and the scarcity of jobs for the local citizens has made allowing foreigners to work a hot-button item for local politicians. However, that said, it has been fairly universally accepted for live-aboard cruisers that if you work and earn money totally within the physical confines of your anchored boat (e.g., via the internet) you are not working "on land" and therefore not violating the work permit laws. Bottom line, most countries want you to stay and spend money making jobs for the locals, but do not want you to take a job away from a local.
- - Traveling by boat or anyother way is not free anymore. You need to get visas, pay entry/exit fees, watch out for length of stay restrictions that may trigger taxes on your boat, show at least liability insurance in some countries (Mexico, Italy, Health in French countries if you need a visa) and a myriad of other rules and regulations. The joke is that if the American Native Indians only knew about these things they could have kept the Europeans out and sent Chris Columbus, et.al. back to Spain.
- - Bottom line, if you keep moving (as other posters have cited) within a reasonable length of time (i.e., months not years) you have much less hassles and things to worry about. Besides, the whole purpose of the boat is to use it to go places and see and experience other cultures and environments. I find it the most idyll form of traveling as you get to take your bedroom, bathroom, and living room, kitchen, etc. with you to a new country/place versus having to pack and unpack suitcases from hotel to hotel.
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Old 08-09-2009, 07:53   #6
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Get yourself a cellular air card (much better than wifi IMHO, at least in the US), go below and do your thing. Don't advertise where you are and don't go seeking new business while in a host country, and you'll be fine.

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Old 09-09-2009, 08:28   #7
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terchnical vagrancy was defined to me as being without 2 dollars in your POCKET. migrant/transient cruisers usually have a bit more than 2 dollars in pocket.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:34   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhosyn Mor View Post
Drew,
with a canadian boat you will need to get a cruising permit at your first port of call in the USA, other than that thwere is very little in the way of paperwork, the cruising permit will allow you t ostay one year in the USA.
The cruising permit allows the boat to stay in the US for a year. Canadians are only allowed to stay in the US for six months in a year.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:40   #9
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ps--in many places, homelessness is a crime as well---try it in lost angeles....
Quote:
Originally Posted by JackHinks View Post
If the USA puts vagrants in jail, then they are missing a few million at last count.
I think the salient point is that some vagrants are put in jail for their actions, not their status as vagrants, i.e., disturbing the peace, assault, theft, etc.
I also fail to see any government agency checking vagrants or transients bank accounts, assets, 401ks, etc.
Also, there are many vagrants that owe their status to the current recession and the misdeeds of some in power, i.e., Credit-Default Swaps, Sub-Prime loans, etc. Last time I checked, ponzi schemes such as Bernie Madoff's were a crime, not vagrancy.
I don't mean to nit-pick, but fraud is a crime, vagrancy is not.
\
\last i heard, yes, vagrancy is a crime. one must have mopre than 2 dollars in pocket or is able to become arrested LOL....in some countries, you MUST have price of a return trip ticket in pocket or that ticket in pocket or not be there.....vagrancy is a crime. transiency and migrancy are not crimes. ....in many places homelessness is a crime also---try it in lost angeles.......
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Old 09-09-2009, 21:34   #10
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After more research especially on the California situation (which is dismal when it comes to constitutional rights) - vagrancy laws are still on the books in about 30 states. They are unconstitutional - but - they are very useful for local police to control many social disorder situations. The courts use a unique system to avoid getting the laws voided - they don't allow anybody to be convicted under one. You get arrested for vagrancy and then after so many days in jail you go to court where the judge throws out the case. Since you were not convicted you cannot appeal up the court system to get the vagrancy law thrown out. Very clever. So much for "constitutional rights" - and there are worse examples of other minor laws that trample the constitution into the mud - especially in California - and very little or nothing can be done as stated above, if there is no conviction there is no appeal.
- - This same tactic (arrest then dismissal) was used very successfully in south Florida to effectively ban anchoring in many localities. It was only direct political actions at the State legislature level that got a new law/regulation to stop the use of the tactic at the local level.
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Old 10-09-2009, 01:22   #11
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Land of the free eh?. If vagrancy was illegal in the uk, all football stadiums would be needed as prisons.
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:03   #12
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Back to the original question of "migrancy" not vagrancy - traveling and working are not mutually exclusive primarily due to the blessing of the world wide web and "WiFi". Be sure to get a "powered amplified WiFi antenna" for your boat. The one I use (now have two, one for me, one for the wife) is the "WaveRV Marine" from Radio Labs. Here is the link to their newest version" ¤RadioLabs || WaveRV Marine - Wireless antenna
- - I have the old version without the built in wifi card. In any case you want an "amplified" wifi antenna that is waterproof. The problem with WiFi and lapbook computers is not "receiving" a signal, but getting your return (transmitted) signal back to the land based system. The average lapbook/notebook/whatever computer only has a few milliwatts of transmitting power. So your signal cannot reach all the way back to the land-based antenna. The "amplified" antennas boost your transmitted signal to a much higher power level.
- - The simple WaveRV Marine has a 1" marine antenna threaded hole in the bottom for mounting just like a standard marine/boat antenna. But the cable is only 15feet long from antenna to computer. I purchased a USB "amplified" extension cable of 20 feet. Now I have 35 feet of cable so I can mount or hang the antenna from a flag halyard and hoist it up the mast until I get a clear signal. The USB amplified cable has a small "bulb" at the female end that has a transistorized "amplifier" in it. This boosts the USB signal inside the cable so it can reach the computer.
- - There are other varieties of amplified WiFI antennas up to and included high wattage systems that match the antenna system on land. But you need to look for one that is 1 - waterproof and 2- omni-directional as boats at anchor swing all around the compass. I built a home parabolic WiFi antenna that was good for more than a mile but I had to constantly re-aim the antenna so much that it was not practical.
- - So long as you never set foot or computer "on land" you will not get into trouble with conducting business from your boat. But be wary, if you have an onshore postal box or place to receive or send "business mail" that might constitute "working on land." Basically you need to be a totally WiFi / Internet operation.
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