Re: BVI Fines for sailing I n BVI waters

Thomas Peacock

I was curious about this incident, and wanted more details. It now seems that they have pled guilty, and each has been fined US $1,000. Still not pretty, but better than $20,000. Here’s the story.

It was reminiscent for me of April of this year during the height of the pandemic. We decided to leave the Caribbean, and make for home waters (USA). I procedured a slip in a marina in San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, our sailing time wold have gotten us into San Juan at night, so we anchored in the harbor of Culebra, and pushed onto San Juan in the morning. The marina insisted that we go through US Customs and Border Patrol, which we were able to do via videoconference. The US agent’s first question was whether I had been in Culebra the previous day. I told the truth. He spent the next several minutes reading me the riot act about not having checked in when arriving in Culebra (they apparently have a 24/7 phone service). There was a lot of “Yes, sir”, “I apologize, sir”, “Of course, Officer”) on my part. He informed me of the fines and penalties for what I had failed to do. Fortunately, it ended there. I can only assume that many governmental agencies monitor AIS in their waters, and compare vessel names against a list of “legal” vessels.

I have two take-aways from this:

1. COVID has pushed a lot of the these island countries into getting tough. I certainly can’t blame them.

2. Local coast guards have limited patrol capabilities. I would think that they rely mostly on radar, and, when being used, AIS. If you are in any waters where you might, just MIGHT, not supposed to be, it would be best to turn off your AIS transmitter. Better to be an unknown blip on the radar screen, than a known vessel illegally in their waters.

Tom Peacock
SM 240 Aletes
Chesapeake Bay

On Dec 2, 2020, at 11:54 AM, karkauai via <karkauai@...> wrote:

Here is the letter I sent to 9nfo at bvitourism dot com

I am a long time sailor and cruiser who has been to the BVI many times over the last 40 years, both as a charter boat bareboat cruiser and on my own boat. I have spent my vacation money there on charter boat rentals, marinas, boat repairs, supplies, restaurants, auto rentals, taxis, tours... I am compelled to write to you regarding BVI's draconian treatment of sailors straying into BVI waters.  I have spoken to several sailing friends who feel the same.
Until I hear that the BVI has apologized to cruisers in general and those treated so rudely specifically, charges have been dropped, and rules softened to include warning only for first offense of sailing in BVI waters, I will no longer be visiting your country or supporting your economy. I understand your concerns about Corona SARs 2 virus, but that doesn't excuse treating your life's blood so poorly. You are the dog biting the hand that feeds it.
Kent Robertson
SV Kristy
USCG Certificate 1073851
Kent & Iris

Tom Peacock
SM 240 Aletes
Chesapeake Bay

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