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Port Of Colombo Update 2005

By doina — last modified Mar 08, 2005 02:00 PM

Published: 2005-03-08 14:00:02
Countries: Sri Lanka

Early January 2005 we called at the port of Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was in sorts an "emergency" stop as we had not planned to call there. Our initial plan was to call at Galle in the south, but due to the tsunami we had to change our plans. When the tsunami occurred we were at sea, slightly north of the epicentre, and apart from trembling and shuddering of the boat did not feel any further effect.

We thus had to decide on skipping Galle as a lay-over as the port (and the town in general) had been severely affected by the tsunami. Due to a crew situation on board we were though still forced to seek first landfall, and this would then be Colombo. Through contacts we were given the name of Barwil Meridian Navigation Limited as an Agent that would be able to help us. We contacted them by email, explaining our situation and the necessity to call at Colombo.

It was apparent from the start that all treatment in this port is as if you are a commercial vessel. Even though we stated our details 12m 18.74 GT 3 times they came back with quotations for a 1874 GT vessel. Even to the point when they ask for invoicing details they repeatedly requested our company stance, and we repeatedly replied that we were non-commercial, private, no-business interest.

We arrived at the harbour in a strong northerly, and it took us much of the night to approach the harbour. We did time our approach to be at pilot station at 8 am local time. We contacted Port control 2 hours before arrival, and then again when close to the pilot station. They advised us to hold position about a mile south of the pilot station until a navy team came to inspect our boat. By regulations any vessel arriving at Colombo must have a ISPS clearance, this is a commercial certificate to the security procedures aboard a commercial vessel. If any vessel does not have this, a delay of entry of 1 day minimum is expected. Our Agent did manage for the authority to waive this, and to have the navy personnel come out to inspect us upon arrival. We waited approximately 3 hours before they actually came.

The inspection was very routine, they came alongside with their barge (damaging our stern railing) and transferred 3 persons. They in turn had a quick look inside, but nothing intrusive. They handed a form for me to sign that the propeller was not turning, the rudder would remain still and some other small details. Once I agreed this one of their men in overalls and a traditional snorkeling mask went for a dip under the boat. After this we were cleared to enter the harbour.

We entered the harbour in the southern entrance, there a small work boat met us and guided us to the berth where we were to come alongside. The pilot upon berthing came over for us to sign his paper, and to ask for a small gift.

Soon after the agent turned up with the various authorities for clearance. Customs, Immigration and Health. Immigration did not board the vessel but the others did. I did not let them inside and had them seated in the sun on the outside table. They were very unaccustomed to being on a yacht and had much difficulty boarding and leaving the boat. Each also demanded a small gift, we declined.

We discharged 2 crew members, and the agent arranged for all the paperwork there. We required fuel, and a little cement. This was supplied by a fuel barge. The fuel we had them fill into cannisters, as filling into our tank directly seemed a little dangerous for me.

Upon departure the agent brought us the clearance certificate and we then advised the harbour control that we were ready to leave. They had to send a pilot over, who stamped our clearance document, and then with their launch led the way out. The harbour is a fully operational commercial harbour and thus one had to take much care for the traffic within.

For general information this was the final cost of our visit. Do note we had an urgent personal requirement to stop, and thus I would be sure if one did this without the Agent one would find it is somewhat cheaper, but certainly not easier!










TOTAL: USD 663.50

From the general situation of the port, I would not recommend calling here. Galle when it is operational seems a much better choice, as well as more accustomed for calling yachts.

Tim Gorter.

S/Y J'Arrive