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San Juan del Sur Updates

By James Knutson of SV Jem / Jan Klintegaard of SY Anaconda — last modified Dec 20, 2012 02:34 PM

Published: 2012-12-18 00:25:00
Countries: Nicaragua

Clearing into and out of San Juan del Sur - December 2012

We cleared into Nicaragua in San Juan del Sur. Despite all the scary stories about Nicaragua, we met a very friendly Port Captain and staff in the Capitania, though they only spoke Spanish. They did the paperwork fast and called the Immigration, so everything was done at the Capitania.

The Immigration fee was 59 USD for three people, with receipt, even though it was a Saturday and a National holiday. Another boat paid 49 USD for two people on a normal working day. We did not have to see any other authorities, so there were no other fees.

Same thing with the clearing out of the country. An International Zarpe was 25 USD, issued in 10 minutes and off we went without an Immigration departure stamp in the passport. Not necessary, the port captain said. We were not charged for anchoring or a "Cruising permit". We docked the dinghy on the side/end of the Barge, that they use, when the Cruise Ships arrive.

Nicaragua was a very nice experience (we stayed a week) and seemed very safe and with cheap food.

Jan Klintegaard
s/y Anaconda

Update November 4, 2012

Immigration and water taxi services are the same price.
Placing your boat on the hard is now $400 month, not $100. The crane is broken down and no date as to if repairs will start. 
Transporte Acuatico will charge anything from $20 to $50  for navigating in Nica waters for up to a month, does not matter if you are a working boat or a private cruiser passing through. Price seems to vary depending on the day.

Also there is a new law as of August 13th that states the right to charge 40 cents per foot per day for anchorage, (which has not been charged to date).

It was also decided that boats were to be allowed 30 days in the country, just like a car, then would be forced to leave or pay import duties. One boat was purchased on the hard by an Austrian, he was not allowed to move it to a private spot for further work as Customs said it was being imported, but would not tell him what the duty would be.  An expat who owns a hotel and properties, has been here with his Cal 34 for 15 years. When he asked Customs for his duty, they said since his boat was 45 feet long and had a 1500 ton cargo capacity, duty would be 40% of the new value of the vessel (decided to be $7000!). This has become a catch 22 as you require a cedula (Nica green card, for $1500) to import a boat.  That the situation is confusing is putting it mildly.

For now you can visit the country up to 30 days paying Immigration, Port Captain and Transporte Acuatico - a total of about $100.

The Caribbean side is in a worse state of confusion, see the update on noonsite 12 June 2012.  For my first 6 years here I have been charged taxes comparable to a local business, the last year has been chaos. Combine this with one quarter of the normal business and many people are closing up shop.  Cruisers rarely stay for more than a few days.

Update December 16, 2011

The Transporte Acuatico in San Juan del Sur now charges $50 per month for permission to navigate in Nicaraguan waters. It does not matter if you are in the water or on the hard, or only in port for one day. If you do not pay the Port Captain will not allow you a zarpe for exit.

National zarpes are $10 and international $30, with immigration $12, no customs duties as yet.

As usual there are no marine parts available, nor experienced labor. There is a crane that can put you in and out the yard area for $450, but only enough water for a 6 foot draft about once a month. It is $150 for wood to make a stand, power is $5 per day, water is available at a fee, but both are between 150 to 300 feet away.

There is no dinghy dock, water taxi is from 0700 to 1800 at $2.50 per trip, putting your dinghy on the beach is a guarantee that it will be stolen.

Do not anchor in the harbor in October as the storms are dangerous then. Bahia Toro is about 2.5 miles north and can anchor 2 or 3 boats with some protection. Prices are cheap for most things, but selection is minimal. There are a number of hostels for the surfing crowd starting at $8 for a dorm room. Anchor near the other sailboats as there are numerous wrecks on the bottom near the fishing boat moorings. Most locals are nice, just try to stay away from any officials as corruption is a problem.

James Knutson
SV Jem

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