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China: Clearing into Sanya, Hainan Island

By Margie Guthrie of SY Jade — last modified Dec 08, 2015 10:23 AM
This is an extract from a longer report by Margie Guthrie of S/Y JADE.

Published: 2015-12-07 00:00:00

Realising that more motoring might be a necessity, we made arrangements for permission to enter Sanya (on the Chinese island of Hainan) en route to Singapore.  And just as well too because otherwise we wouldn’t have been allowed in ­ the Chinese bureaucracy has to be experienced to be believed and we did need to refuel.

Left Hong Kong and motored all the way to Sanya, 3 days away. But not done with military yet, as we approached Sanya we were hailed on the radio by a very menacing Chinese warship with serious weaponry on board who came up right behind us (and I do mean, right behind).  “Sailing yacht ahead of us, this is Chinese Warship.  You have entered restricted waters.  State your intentions.”  Explained we were on the way to the marina at Sanya. “Sailing yacht, this is Chinese Warship.  You are in restricted waters. Turn 90 degrees away from present course and leave immediately.” Patiently explained that 90 degrees took us right out to sea again and was at right angles to the course to the marina.  Finally they told us to go 2 miles out to sea and then to resume our course.  One interesting thing, even at point blank range, their warship didn’t show up on our radar ­ adds new meaning to ‘Clever these Chinese’.

Clearance at Sanya Port (Hainan)

We were able to conclude all marine and immigration procedures at Serenity Marina. Location: lat N18° 12'.879 / long E109° 28'.7.  Note our MaxSea charts did not show the marina though Navionics did.  You are only allowed to arrive in Sanya (Serenity Marina) during working hours. (Mon-Fri 8:00-11:30 am; 15:00-17:30 pm).

Sanya agent/officials don’t work on weekends and they need the boat’s documents before departure from Hong Kong. The agent also needed to know an hour prior to arrival to prepare for on-board inspection by officials. The agent had to be paid in cash and accepted either RMB or US$.

Documents needed:

  1. Original yacht registration
  2. CE Certificate
  3. Builder’s Certificate
  4. Survey Report (Seaworthiness)
  5. Certificate of Insurance
  6. Captain Book
  7. Crew list and passport copies

We obtained the Seaworthiness Certificate in Hong Kong before departing for Sanya. The Seaworthiness Certificate had to be issued by a registered marine surveyor to confirm the yacht was inspected and found sufficiently seaworthy to undertake the proposed passage with all safety gear provided, maintenance up to date, and an adequately equipped and experienced crew.  This was a lengthy affair, which took a whole morning.

In Sanya we encountered a problem, as the officials required a second safety inspection report to cover our Sanya-Singapore leg.   Absent a second report, they deemed it was not safe for us to sail from Sanya to Singapore and we were informed that they could not allow us to sail for Singapore.  Our certificate only mentioned Hong Kong and Hainan.  So the agent suggested we apply for departure clearance showing Hong Kong as our next stop.    Then when out of Chinese territorial waters, we could sail to Singapore as planned.  We followed this advice, but would recommend yachts entering Sanya have a safety report showing 2 voyages - Hong Kong to Hainan, and Hainan to Singapore.  Safety reports must record validity, which can only be 1 to 2 months.

Most of the crew had multiple entry Chinese visas but we had a crew change in Hong Kong and the new crewman did not have a Chinese Visa.  According to the Internet, one can get a tourist visa on arrival Sanya.   Alex, our Hong Kong agent did not recommend it, but advised if we simply had to go in to refuel or hide from a typhoon, it might be do-able.  He further advised that one might apply in Hong Kong, however for some countries, first time application had to be done in their country of residence.

We spoke to Heidi at Serenity Marina by phone who advised it would take 2-3 days, and that only certain nationalities were eligible.   Our Sanya agent also confirmed the latter, but said he would go to the visa office in town with the crew member who was on a Portuguese passport.  In the event, the entry visa only took 6 hours at the visa office, cost US$100 and the agent required a small gratuity.

After checking out with Customs, Immigration and Marine Officials the following day at Sanya, we were told we had only one hour to depart the marina. We quickly went to fill up with diesel while the marina officials jumped up and down excitedly on the dock telling us to hurry up and get out before we got into trouble with the officials.

Sanya Agent

We required a safety inspection report in addition to our boat papers to enter Sanya which we had done in Hong Kong before leaving.  Mr Yip spoke good English and guided us through the tedious customs and immigration requirements.

China Ocean Shipping Agency Sanya Co., Ltd.
Contact: Mr. Yip
Mobile: +86 15298991917
Fee US$ 1,700

Marine Safety Report

Marine Surveys & Engineering Services Ltd
Contact:  Richard Lamble
Email:   mses@fastmail.fm
Safety survey fee US$ 480

For the full report from SY Jade, see Noonsite report - China: Xiamen to Phuket Thailand

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