Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sint Maarten Coast Guard Boarding SXM

This morning we had a visit from the St Maarten (SXM) Coast Guard. We were finishing up breakfast in the cockpit and I was splicing a new line on our chain hook.

Sure, come aboard. Two officers came on and asked to see our boat papers, clearance form, and passports, and how long we planned to stay.

Willow popped out and I told the guy that she's a St. Maarten cat that we adopted. He seemed to like cats which was nice. It was good that she met someone that was not a veterinarian :)

On the Cruiser's Net (VHF CH.14 at 07:30am) we heard a recent report that the Coast Guard had been boarding boats and collecting Harbor Fees. I thought this was completely false and, like so many things on the net, was a 14th-hand account of something... Perhaps it was the St Maarten Lagoon Authority, who makes the rounds of the Lagoon and outside in Simpson Bay making sure that boats are up-to-date in their fees.

Anyway, I asked the Coastie if it was true that they collected fees and he told me that they didn't. We also told him that we heard that the Coast Guard was requiring dinghies to have a life jacket for each person, a light, an anchor and an oar. The life jacket and light is correct and you can be fined for not complying, but even though having an anchor and oar is prudent to have aboard, it is not a requirement.

He also warned us to be careful during the Heineken Regatta because there will be a lot more boats around resulting in an increase of thefts. Actually, some of the dinghy thefts are just inconsiderate people who "borrows" anyone's dinghy (or one that looks sort of like theirs) that is still on the dock when the bar closes and they want to go back to their boat.

We have never had a problem with the SXM Coast Guard officers, the St Maarten Lagoon Authority, and the people in the Check In/ Out office near the bridge. Treat them decently and with respect (you are in their country) and you shouldn't get any attitude from them. Hopefully, you will not be after a cruiser who gave the authorities a bit of bad attitude as that may color their visit for those who come after.

Be nice!