Friday, April 12, 2013

Customs at US Virgin Islands

Today we got to St Thomas USVI. We cleared out of the BVI earlier today. Both Rocky and I have a visa for 10 years that we applied for while still in Australia. We had to get this because we only had a one way ticket because we would leave on our boat. Australians do not have to get s visa but can get an online visa waiver. Gail and Grant, our friends travelling with us have such a thing which states 'valid till 2014 sometime. So we thought we were all good. After Rocky had filled out numerous forms for the boat and I filled out personal forms for us we were told that we had to wait and someone would interview us all together.
In the mean time Gail and Grant did not have to do anything yet theirs was different Ok so finally we were ushered in. Rocky had to go to a counter and Gail Grant and I had to stay on this red carpet exactly on this line. Gail had to go to another counter where she was told that her visa waiver was only valid for 90 days and as they had come into the country in January their time was up. The visa waiver is valid for 2 years and within that 2 years only 90 days from entering the country
Rocky and I had finished our clearing in by then and taken somewhere else. The official explained to Rocky that as the captain of the vessel he was responsible for his crew. Fair enough we thought. We had to leave and take them back to the BVI The only other option would be for Gail and Grant to pay $585 each to get another waiver only for Puerto Rico. That being ridiculous Rocky said ok we will sail back but can we please stay on our boat on anchor till the morning.
No said the official you need to leave now.
Rocky got angry because by then it was late and we would have had to sail in the dark which he did not want to do in the dark. So he said to the guy 'the US government is putting our lives at risk'.
Well he did not take kindly to that and said rocky was offending the government. He asked if anything was wrong with our boat. Then a lady official came and told the other official to step back. He and Rocky were standing quite close. IThe man started talking again and Rocky said 'I must stop you there' where the guy said that Rocky was not allowed to stop him rocky did not listen to him and told him that he as the captain was responsible for his crew. I dont think the guy heard this so I sort of stepped in front of Rocky because I was afraid that they would put him in jail that is how angry that guy got. Anyway I said I was sorry he got offended and that it was not meant that way. He started pointing at me with his blue plastic gloved hands but did calm down.
At this point we asked to discuss the options with our friends so they went and got them. Although we told them we would go back with them Gail and Grant opted for paying. Then they let us wait some more and started the paperwork.finger printing and taking photos. We had to pay cash and since we did not have that much the official escorted Grant and Rocky to an ATM. Grant could only get $ 300 from the machine and when Rocky tried it had run out of money.
We scraped the money together with a few dollars short that they took from their kitty.
They had been told that if they wanted another waiver they would have to go back to Australia to do it. This is where they did something nice because Gail said that she was so disappointed that she could not go to America. They gave them a different kind of visa till October that they can use to go to US mainland as long as they stay in US. So now they can actually fly from Puerto Rico to US mainland and tour there till October. So now it looks like they will leave us in Puerto Rico when we head from there to CuraƧao.
What a day this was

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