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Is It Possible To Sail To Fatu Hiva Before Checking In At Hiva Oa?

By doina — last modified Jun 14, 2008 02:34 PM

Published: 2008-06-14 14:34:29
Countries: French Polynesia

QUESTION - 13 July 2004: Several yachts have left Puerto Villamil, Galapagos over the last few days with a desire to sail to Fatu Hiva first then going on to check in at Hiva Oa. There is some debate about how this will be viewed by officials. What are your views?

Luc Callebaut, Noonsite Regional Editor, South Pacific: Officially, you cannot stop in Fatu Hiva first as it is not a port of entry. Depending on the local gendarme in Fatu Hiva, you could stay a few days until you are rested, or things that broken are fixed, before continuing to Hiva Oa next to officially clear in.

Please, do not abuse this courtesy as it may no longer be offered in the future. If you take the chance to stop there first (which we did ourselves in 99) be ready graciously to leave the next day if asked to. Locals are very friendly and helpful but do not like the attitude of foreigners coming like they own the place (who does anywhere?).

If you go to Fatu Hiva first, please do check in next in one of the 3 ports of entry in Marquesas. Be aware that because of some boats in the past having failed to check in properly for weeks or having smuggled alcool, drugs and guns, the customs are very suspicious of cruisers and will not hesitate to seize a boat and levy heavy fines.

As of this writing (June 2008), DEFINITELY NOT! We and several other yachts were boarded by French Customs and all fined US$200 each for being there before clearing in at Hiva Oa.

The latest editions of the guides state that the rules have been relaxed, but this is not so. They also have seen and heard all of the excuses by the way. One yacht raised anchor as Customs arrived, who waited an hour or so before launching their boat and going out five miles to write him up.

Customs told us they patrol constantly between the islands. Whenever you see a Customs boat, expect to be boarded and searched. We have been boarded and searched by the same boat with the same crew twice.