We woke up Wednesday morning, December 4, and contacted Bob Pratt, owner of Southside Marina. Southside Marina was highly recommended to us by fellow cruisers Alex and Carol Lopez aboard s/v Nepenthe who had docked here a year ago on their return from the BVI on their way to the Bahamas. Our plan was to come to the dock, check in with customs, take on fuel, and dock for a few days so that we could rent a car and explore the island.
Southside Marina has a shallow approach. Genesis has a 6ft. draft (depth) so we had to come to the marina at high tide to avoid running aground. High tide was 12:30 p.m. so we waited to weigh anchor at Sapodilla Bay until 11:30 a.m.
The view as we approached the entrance to the marina was beautiful. Although the water was indeed shallow, the channel was well marked. To get in the marina, head toward the orange house on the hill, get near the shore, then take a left. Head straight in to the fuel dock and you're there!
Sounds kinda ominous, doesn't it? You're in quarantine... sounds like you have some sort of disease!
You can't take on fuel or do anything until you get the proper documentation completed. Well, I am all about proper documentation. Now, if anyone knows me, they know that I am organized and that I LOVE how-to manuals... after all, that was one of the things that I was known for in my previous work life. Make it simple; keep things organized. I have our own little manual to keep everything together for customs and immigration.
What's in the notebook... everything you wanted to know about checking in to the country but were afraid to ask... I've even got a reminder to make sure you have your OWN papers. In Mexico, we were checking in at a harbor master's office and a guy checking at the same time as us was given OUR customs and immigration papers by the official and the guy walked out the door. We realized the error when I started reviewing our papers and realized they weren't ours! Oops! LA had to run down the street and chase the guy down.
|LuLu, the Contraband Kitty|
Next up... the customs official. He is the "man" for getting our boat checked in. This, my friends, is a bit more serious business. Officer Samuel arrived with a young man in tow who handled the receipts and money. We offered them beers. Officer Samuels took the beer but did not open it. The young man refused the beer and chose orange juice. We sat out in the cockpit and had pleasant conversation in the cockpit before getting down to business. Officer Samuel asked us what it took to stay married 34 years (friends... be good friends) and how were we able to be on a boat together 24/7 (patience, patience, and more patience). Then, the business of paperwork began.
Note the word "temporary" in the title. If you are a vessel just passing through, you are allowed a "temporary" import permit that allows the vessel to stay 7 days. Isn't it interesting that you, as a person, can stay for 30 days, but your boat can only stay 7 days without applying for a longer permit. The temporary permit costs $50 if you arrive on a weekday and $65 if you arrive on a weekend. A 3 month import permit costs $300. Our plans were to visit the island for about a week and move on so we did the $50 option. However, if you are delayed leaving the island due to weather or mechanical difficulties, it is up to the discretion of the customs official to grant you an extension at no additional fee.
Southside is a neat marina... very quaint and just how I pictured a small marina located in a tropical paradise.