Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Clearing into Bocas Del Toro

For those of you who are unfamiliar with clearing boats into countries, it is a far different experience from any other border crossing. So far we have only had a few crossings, the longest (face time wise) was the US border, and in retrospect we had to get a cruising permit a month later that took us a few hours of driving around. So when I hear americans complain about how long it takes to clear into a foreign port, I get a laugh out of it.

I digress, our clearance into the previous two ports were very easy and straight forward. We never felt like criminals, nor were we exposed to firearms. In Jamaica we pulled up to a dock and over a couple hours the three officials from health, customs, and immigration came and politely cleared us in. Welcome to Jamaica included. With Panama, we cleared in within two hours. We arrived in the morning, put up our Q-flag and started cleaning the boat. It seemed to be a while, as we heard the officials come out to you, so I asked a neighbor and they affirmed they would show up. And as promised, a panga full of 6 officials showed up and climbed into Cypraea's cabin It was hot, humid, and smelly, poor folks. We had a few weeks of dirty laundry and hadn't had a good shower except for the squall shower half way through our passage. The were good, expecting 4 copies of things we didn't have, and we tried our best with camera and printer to achieve.  After half an hour and everyone soaking wet from perspiration, they all climbed out. We had to go into town to get money, and pay. Two blocks to the bank, and back to the port captains office. No fuss, no issues, polite, and patient with our lack of spanish. Easy.

We always hear horror stories about clearing into countries, but in reality, when on a boat it isn't bad at all.  Even the US will tell you to come in on Monday if the office is closed for the weekend.

Now to explore Bocas Del Toro, and learn a little Spanish.

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