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Why Not a Single Clearance for Grenada and SVG?

by Angelika Grüner

I just overheard a conversation in Trinidad: “When I leave from here I will sail straight through till Bequia. I’m sick of all that clearing in and out. By the way, it is now also becoming expensive! Even here in Trinidad they charge now TT$75 per passport when checking out, plus the TT$50 per month when the boat is in the water!”

It is true that some of the fees mentioned in the overview of regional charges levied on visiting yachts that Compass ran back in February of 2002 have been eliminated or reduced, but others have been raised. Therefore cruisers still think carefully where to go. And it is not only the cost of checking into an island in the Caribbean, it is as well all the hassle of clearing in:
Anchoring as close as possible to Customs and Immigration, taking the dinghy down, bringing the outboard down. “Do we have paddles, do we have enough gasoline, where are the shoes?” Grabbing the ship’s papers, passports, documents from the last island. “Don’t forget the money! Do we have currency from this island?” Then it’s the same procedure when checking out, just a few miles farther on. All of us are really sick of all of that. I experienced it myself recently when we sailed north from Trinidad. We bypassed Grenada, and arrived for the night at Carriacou. Next morning the weather forecast was predicting strong winds and swells up to 15 feet from the north for the next few days. We had to decide whether to stay in Carriacou and check in to Grenada waters, or sail onward to Union Island, where there is better shelter, and just check into St. Vincent & the Grenadines. When I mentioned to my husband that if we checked in at Carriacou we’d have to return to Customs and Immigration again to check out, the decision was made: save the time, save the money, and sail immediately for Union. No business at all for Grenada. Same story the other way round. Cruisers cleared into St. Vincent & the Grenadines will often not visit Carriacou and Grenada just because of the time wasting and hassle involved in clearing in and out.

I ask if it is not possible to create just ONE check-in/out for Grenada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines so that cruisers could sail freely in ALL of the Grenadines. It would be an absolute bonus for everyone, and for the economy as well. It is already outstanding that in both SVG and Grenada, the paperwork for checkin/ out is easy with just ONE document to fill out. They are way ahead of many yachting destinations in that regard.

But there is still the time we waste for sailing to Hillsborough (or Clifton), anchoring there, taking a dinghy ride ashore, walking to the offices, usually standing in a queue, checking in or out, taking the dinghy ride back to the boat, bringing the outboard up, bringing the anchor up, then sailing up to Union Island (or down to Carriacou), anchoring there, taking a dinghy ride ashore, walking to the offices, usually standing in a queue, checking in or out… Is that boring to read? It is much more boring to do it!

That circus can take us a whole day. When tourists charter a yacht that means one whole wasted day of their holiday and the money they pay for a day of the charter. The governments of both, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada are asked to talk the matter over. We are sure you will come to a solution that will satisfy everybody.

Editor’s note: Last year, a proposal was made to create a “Single Yachting Space” of Grenada and SVG as a likely pilot module for the development of a larger OECS Single Yachting Space. Talks were held and the Grenada government has stated its support of the idea. We’ll keep you posted on developments.

Article from Caribbean Compass, March edition.