|19 May 2012||Posted by Alex from Lagoon under Travel & Cruising world|
Nowadays, when sailing around the world, the passage from one country to another is not as simple as in the times of Vasco da Gama! Indeed, any boat arriving in a foreign country must go through a “clearance” procedure! But what is it exactly?
This administrative act is requested from any pleasure vessel arriving from abroad by sea and whose skipper wishes to landfall. Therefore, the port into which you want to call should have an office of the local authority in order to accomplish this formality. This must be done also when the boat is leaving the country for another foreign country where you can be asked to show your last clearance. Although the temptation can be great to avoid following this administrative procedure, heavy fines and the possible confiscation of your catamaran can be the consequence of such a behaviour, depending on local legislation. Although this process is compulsory and is a part of sailors every day life in the Caribbean, it is not applicable in Europe for vessels flying Schengen agreement countries flags.
The passports of all crew, the boat’s documents, filling out a form and finally the payment of a fee represent the elements necessary to obtain a clearance. However some specific local laws do exist, so check before you cast off for a foreign country. Indeed, the regulations on goods like alcohol, cigarettes, weapons, animals etc. vary from one country to another even if, as in the Caribbean, some of them are only separated by a few dozen miles! Tip: introduce yourself to the authorities as “dignified” as possible: shaved, pants, shirt, no swimsuit or naked body… as if you were the commander on a commercial ship, showing respect for the authority in front of you . It can only help!
Jean-Sébastien, currently sailing around the world with his family on his Lagoon 450 (and hopefully with some windsurf boards!) is in trouble when he has to fill in a clearance form. Indeed, and apart from the classics: length, width, height of mast … Clearance documents often require the tonnage of the boat.
This figure, which measures the total interior volume of a vessel (gross register tonnage) or the effective loading capacity volume (net register tonnage) was originally intended for the merchant ship. Today this gauge is used less and less in favour of the UMS tonnage (Universal Measurement System, for vessels over 24 meters long). For French ships, this measure is no longer applicable since the Finance Act of 2005 whereby boats under 24 meters are exempted. The only current gauge measurement is therefore based on boat length only.
Here are examples of gross register tonnage for some older Lagoon catamarans (unfortunately I have found only these):
Lagoon 380: 28.26
Lagoon 410: 27, 15
Lagoon 440: 39.15
There are two places in the world where a special certificate of tonnage is required that should be dear to Ferdinand de Lesseps,: the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. So for these passages, plan ahead and apply for a certificate before you arrive on the spot to avoid wasting time.