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Cruising Notes for Chaguaramas, Trinidad

By Sue Richards last modified Aug 30, 2010 06:40 PM

Published: 2010-08-30 18:40:32
Countries: Trinidad & Tobago

Chaguramas - Customs and Immigration

We arrived late in the afternoon on a Friday and tied up to the Customs Dock which is located next to Crew’s Inn Marina, at the eastern end of Chaguaramas Bay.

Look for the red striped lighthouse and the dock is located at its base. This is a “T” head about 90 feet long with a sign saying “Customs Dock.” Here the marina security guards walked by and “gave us a visual check.”

Customs and Immigration are located in two offices. You first proceed to Immigration with all crew and present passports; fill in crew lists, etc. There was an overtime fee of US $ 16.6 dollars, paid in US or TT dollars, because it was after 4 PM. The Immigration office is located upstairs and is open 24 hours a day. There are signs showing you where it is located, which is within Crew’s Inn Marina.

Customs is located very close to Immigration in a single story light green building that has a carved and varnished sign outside. Here you will complete the ship’s entry to Trinidad, and we paid a harbour master’s fee, as well as a boarding fee. The total was US $42.00 paid in TT dollars after changing money at the grocery store. Customs is open twenty-four hours a day.

I was leaving the boat in the marina and departing by air, therefore I was required to first fill out two forms (there are separate forms for both Customs and Immigration) provided by Crew’s Inn Marina, have it stamped and signed, and take three copies each to both Customs and Immigration, 24 hrs prior to my departure. After having them stamped and signed by Customs and Immigration I returned a copy to the marina office. I also kept a copy for myself which will be required to be shown when I return by air. Any crew departing, but returning by air, will require the same or similar. Immigration also asked to see my “E” ticket.

Note: I wore long trousers and a collared shirt as I always do. In addition, the first question I was asked in the Customs office was “where was the boat?” If I would have told them it was in our marina berth, then I would not be surprised if I would be told to move it to the Customs Dock. They want all visiting boats flying the “Q” flag to go directly to the Customs Dock, not to your reserved slip, even though it is within the same complex of docks. This was the same eleven years ago, and it still holds.

Crew’s Inn Marina/Hotel

We had a berth reserved at Crew’s Inn and the night duty Dockmaster met us at the Customs Dock, and told us to call him on VHF 77 when we were ready to move the boat. I walked over to the Marina Office, and checked us in to our slip.

The dockmaster on duty was very helpful on finding us our slip and making us secure. He also helped us change shore power plugs, and get our electricity hooked up. We have found all the dock staff at Crew’s Inn very friendly and helpful.

Crew’s Inn Marina has changed very little since my last visit 11 years ago. The prices are high and I understand the rate was recently raised. We are paying US 50 dollars a day on a monthly rate for a 60 foot boat. Plus electricity, which I have not paid yet, but expect it to be high, The pool is nice, although the pool bar, once a favorite place to gather, is closed and the exercise room only has exercise bikes and a Stairmaster. No free weights or exercise mats.

Security is good and very visible. I was originally moored on “D dock” the only floating dock. I later moved to “C dock” which is not floating, but has both a finger pier and pilings to secure to. “D dock” has a tendency to catch all the floating debris of Chaguaramas Bay, which during the rainy season can be quite heavy. “C dock” is also closer to the marina facilities, pool, dock masters office, security, etc. All in all I feel that the vessel and her crew are safe at Crew’s Inn Marina, enjoying the nice surroundings.

It is mid-August and the marina is only 40 percent full. You can tell they are hurting for business during this normal high season. Shore power and water are both good and they also have cable TV at each slip. Wi-Fi is available, but it is often not working for one reason or another. The laundry room at Crew’s Inn is excellent and you can do you own laundry. You buy tokens at the marina/hotel office. There is also a small grocery store located near the Customs Dock where you can buy soap, change money, etc.

Chaguramas Harbour:

In the Chaguramas Harbour area you will find every possible yacht repair and service facility available. Business seemed slow overall, and there were many boats on the hard. I understand that many have not been launched in several years. The abundant restaurants are quiet, the ship chandleries are quiet, and I have found no problem finding quick service for my watermaker, sails, battery system, varnish work, dinghy repair, etc. Everyone seems hungry for work and feeling the recession. I have a guy walk by everyday looking to wash the boat.

Security:

The papers are filled with murders everyday, and unfortunately desperation has seeped into Chaguaramas Bay. I understand that is has improved in recent years; however, one should be prudent and careful walking around. Most of the dinghies I saw were always locked up with a heavy chain, whether secured to your own boat, or secured to a visiting dinghy dock, day or night. Security is visible everywhere, especially at the entrance to the various repair yards. I don’t want it to sound like it is a war zone; however, one needs to be careful and keep stuff locked up.

To the east of Crew’s Inn is a very rough section of fishing boats, etc. I was warned to not walk in this area, day or night. I was also warned to not walk down the main road behind the repair yards (where the restaurants are located) at night. During the day the main road, and the road to Crew’s Inn, seemed safe.

There is a water taxi service available; however, it does not run everyday and often you call the boat and he says he will be there in a few minutes, only later to be found sitting in the restaurant nearby talking to his mates. A neighbor of mine said he has been stranded at night twice. I tried calling him on VHF 68, but doubt if he can hear over the music. He will answer his cell phone, but not always. If you use this service, especially at night, I would make darn sure he is going to pick you up. I was going to try to not pay him until he brought me home, and see how that works. This is a shame, it is a great service; it avoids you having to use your own dinghy, and it is only US $1.60 per trip.

Note: I had dinner with several other cruisers one evening, and the comments were that the repair yards are charging equal if not more than the service yards at home. It might be prudent to compare prices before heading this way. I understand that Grenada, 100 miles to the north, has recovered well from the past hurricane, and is very anxious for the cruising yacht business. It is also located below the “hurricane belt,” and offers new and or improved repair facilities, marinas, etc. I plan on giving it a look for our hurricane season base and will report my findings.

Miles Thompson/LONE STAR
www.lonestarcapehorn.com
24 August 2010

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