Since our home is a moving Sailboat which is constantly changing locations and moving from one island country to another there are just a couple of things we need to do at each new island we stop.
1.) Make sure the Last Place we visit and the First Place we stop, is a town that has Customs and Immigration office. Before we depart an island we have to check out and tell them exactly where and when we are checking into the next island. We can not show up to a new country without the official paperwork from checking out of the last country we were in.
2.) Find an area where we are permitted to keep Sail Pending. We have to find a secure bay that is out of the prevailing weather and comfortable for Sail Pending to stay overnight. Some places you may anchor in sand and some areas you can only pick up a mooring ball. If we anchor in grass the anchor may not hold, and we would NEVER anchor on a coral reef. Once we are secured Rich jumps in the water with a mask and snorkel and checks the maintenance of the mooring ball or if we are anchored he makes sure the anchor is securely set.
2.) How do we get from Sail Pending onto land. Once we have Sail Pending secure, we now need to find a place that we are permitted to park our dingy on land. Some docks are only for ferry’s, others are only for the local fishermen, so we can not use just any dock we find. We have to drive our dingy around searching for the public dock or sometimes find the proper person to ask permission to tie our dingy up to one of the other private docks…and we have to lock our dingy to the dock and lock our engine to the dingy so both will be there when we return.
3.) Make sure we have the correct currency. We have to carry 3 different types of currency with us in the Eastern Caribbean and make sure that our wallets contain the correct currency of the island in which we are located. The French Islands only except Euro’s, others only accept EC (Eastern Caribbean Dollars), most islands will accept USD (United State Dollars) but the exchange rate given is horrible, so we only use USD if we are out of the official currency and find an ATM to get the official cash.
4.) Locate Customs and Immigration and check into the Country. We have to make sure we check into Customs and Immigration of the new country within 24 hours of our arrival. We not only have to check-in, but also have to prove that we’ve check out of the country we just left. (See #1) So, we check that we have 4 things before leaving Sail Pending and going to the customs office. We need to have; 1.) our passports, 2.) Boat documents 3.) local currency, and 4.) departure clearance from our last island.
5.) Watch to see which side of the Road they drive on. Sometimes we have to walk several blocks to find customs. One of the first things we do when we get off the dingy dock is to watch and see which side of the road the people drive on. Every island is different, and once you get use to looking right first, before you cross the street, you’ll come to an island where you have to first look left. We’ve also become ambidextrous drivers since we rent a car at each island we visit.
6.) What language is spoken and what is the courtesy greeting? In most islands it is polite to greet a person before asking any questions. It is considered very “rude” to walk up to a person to conduct business or ask a question with out properly greeting them. So, we must learn what the proper greeting is. Sometimes, it is “Good Morning/Afternoon/Night” (yes, Good Night is a greeting and not a way of saying Good Bye or have a good sleep). If we are at a French island it’s Bon Jour, or if it is after 6pm it is Bonsoir. If we are in a Spanish Speaking island it’s, Buenas Dias/Nochus.
7.) Locate the local markets for Fresh Fish and Local Produce. Sail Pending has a pretty large refrigerator and freezer compared to a lot of boats, but we prefer to use the space to make ice and keep our drinks cold which means we usually purchase fresh items daily. We do have some frozen and canned meats and veggies if we are at an uninhabited island, but we eat fresh local food as much as possible.
8.) What do we do with our garbage? Living a land based life you just take your garbage out for pick up once a week, but it’s not that easy when you live in a boat and go from one country to another. One of the other things we must learn is what do we do with our garbage at each stop. Sometimes it’s very convenient to the dingy dock, other times we have to walk blocks to find a public dumpster.
Being a constant traveler is pretty amazing!!! Each new place we anchor and explore is unique and has its own special characteristics. Each town has its own special “vibe” and the cultures on each island are as diverst as the islands themselves.