Day in port
Obviously, when we were in port our preferred activity (in fact our voyage's primary objective!) was to visit the area, and this could take many forms, from walking or cycling around to renting a car or a driver, or joining an organised trip, sometimes arranged by the Rally organisers and other times organised by the Rally crews on their own.
At last, anchored in a dream location (in this case, Tonga), there are still thousands of things to do before being free to enjoy the location!
- IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES: in Europe we have almost
forgotten frontier lines, but as soon as set sail from the Canary islands
immigration and customs procedures become a mandatory formality when entering or
leaving a Country, and in the Caribbean every island is a Country of its own!
There are no fixed rules, typically the Customs, Immigration and often also Port
Authority and Health offices must be visited, often in a specific (albeit
sometimes unknown) order, and the various offices are not necessarily close one
to the other! Sometimes, the procedure requires the crew to moor or anchor in a
specified place and then stay on board and wait, wait, wait for the officials to
Except in a couple of occasions, we were not subject to more-or-less explicit requests for "presents", and formalities were usually performed in a corteous - if perhaps unhurried - manner, but nevertheless the process may be very legthy and it is not uncommon to spend half a day for check in and just slightly less (we already knew the location of the offices!) at departure.
Being in a Rally sometimes helped, at least the organisers advised us on the procedure to be followed and in some cases were even able to organise a dedicated procedure to be arranged for the Rally crews, and sometimes an agent was hired to take care of all formalities in our stead.
- GETTING LOCAL MONEY: with the exception of the few
supermarkets and hotels, most transactions had to be settled in cash, preferably
local money, so the first job after having been cleared into the Country was
"finding a Bank" or preferably "finding an ATM"!
Occasionally, in the smaller places, we had to ask some shop or hotel to exchange small sums from Dollars (or Euro) into the local currency.
....and by this time, the first day in port was gone! Before being free to go sight-seeing though, there were many other tasks that needed to be done or at least arranged:
- if our stay in the Country was long enough, we usually purchased two local SIM-cards (or sometimes full telephones) which enabled us to call each-other at a very low cost and usually gave much better tarifs also for international calls, compared to the prices of our domestic operators. Furthermore, being pre-paid cards, we could easily keep our expenditure under control.
- we had to find out how to refuel the boat: sometimes
there was a fuel pump where we could go with the boat, in some other cases there
were locals offering to come to your boat with a tanker or coming to collect
your jerrycans and bringing them back refilled, but on other cases we had to
take care of that ourselves, perhaps taking the jerrycans to a faraway street
- also the refilling of gas bottles was something to investigate as it was normally not available in the vicinity: sometimes an entrepreneuring local was offering to take care of that, other times the Rally organisers took care of it themselves, but on a couple of occasions like in Oman in the middle of nowhere, we had to take care of it ourselves!
- another "classic" was laundry: if plenty of fresh water was available, we could perform washing ourselves, but normally it was possible to have our dirty stuff washed by a shore-based service, or do it ourselves with the washing-machines made available in some marinas.
A professional rigger at work repairing Shaula's crosstrees after our knockdown in the Caribbean
No surprise that all these activities could easily keep all
crewmembers busy for 2 or 3 days, if not more! In the meantime, we took
advantage of every spare moment to begin exploring the neighborhood and find out
Often we also rented a car, both for touring as well as for provisioning needs, and in some cases we kept the car throughout our whole stay.
....and then, reprovisioning! Victualling was a lengthy job, usually requiring several visits to local shops and markets (an un-missable experience!) and whenever possible one or more trips to larger shops or supermarkets for the hard-to-find stuff.
...and finally, with our conscience clean and our wallets dangerously empty, we could devote whatever time was left to visit the wonderful place we had come to see!...
Last Update: 11/11/2014
Shaula4 website (text and images) by Gianfranco Balducci is licensed under a