16 Nov 2015

14/11/2015 In trouble with the authorities

We went shopping early morning on the trolley bus to re-provision, and on our return found two officers from the Customs and Border Protection waiting by the boat.
"Is this your boat sir?"
"Have you reported your arrival here in Charleston?"
"No, I didn't know I had to. I have a cruising permit."
"You need to check in to every port you arrive at, why haven't you done that?"
"Sorry, I didn't know I had to."
That was the start of a lengthy dialogue. Apparently we should report our arrival at every port and anchorage we arrive at, and the penalty for not doing so is $5,000 for the first offence and $10,000 for the second, coupled with confiscation of the boat. Welcome to the US.

When we cleared into the US and obtained our cruising permit, there was no mention of regular reporting and we were not given any phone numbers to call. Therefore we couldn't know that it was a legal requirement.

It was a bit tense while our papers were checked and passport details taken. However, after a while we think that they decided we weren't trying to buck the system and that there had been a genuine breakdown in communication somewhere along the way and we were let off with an official caution, which means that if we transgress again, we will be fined.

Needless to say, armed with the list of contact numbers, we will be reporting in ad nauseum from now on. Phew! A lucky escape, not to be repeated.