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All boats must go to Chalong For Clearance

By doina — last modified May 02, 2006 10:36 AM

Published: 2006-05-02 10:36:10
Countries: Thailand

By Gategaeo Phetsawang

Chalong Bay may be about to become the most important marine centre on the island, following an announcement by the Phuket Marine Office that all foreign boats coming to the island must first berth at Chalong Pier before they can travel anywhere else around Phuket. However members of the marine community expressed concerns that cruising yacht skippers would see this as yet another stumbling block to using Phuket as a base, and instead opt for the more convenient Langkawi anchorages.

Surin Theerakulpisit, chief of Phuket Marine Office told Phuket Post that the governor has signed a provincial order to ensure that the new regulation is in effect within the next month. "One reason is that there are security concerns. It will be much easier for my officers to control and enforce the law from Chalong. Some boats come to the one-stop service centre [in Chalong] first, but others go to other marinas. This is a gap for them to do something illegal and it is difficult for my officers to find out if that has happened.”

According to the Marine Office chief about 100 boats arrive in Phuket each day during the high season, and Chalong Bay will have 200 buoys in place to support the new arrivals. The Customs Department is also considering exempting Chalong Pier from over-time working fees, however this would require a Ministerial Order before they could set this up, K Surin told the Post. “Chalong council will need to set suitable rates for yacht owners. I think the current rate is a bit low, as the checkpoint fees will later be used to improve services here and develop the pier,” he said.

Gareth Twist of Yacht Solutions told the Post that he thought the one-stop centre at Chalong would work, “if it’s a 24-hour service. If skippers just need to tie up for a short time to check in when they arrive, that will be fine. It will be more convenient than driving across the island from one of the marinas to Chalong. But if it means having to tie up for the night and wait for the office to open, then a lot of yachties will see it as an inconvenience and may prefer not to come here because of it.”

While the bay is already a popular anchorage, the additional loading of boats is unlikely to spur a growth in marine businesses in the area as most require the convenience of a marina and hard stand to facilitate their services.

Singapore attempted to impose the same type of regulation on its yacht arrivals some years ago – creating a single area in the port where all new arrivals had to check in and citing security issues as its reason. The system was soon deemed unworkable by the Singapore authorities and scrapped after three months. Meanwhile Langkawi’s “open waters” policy, quickly developing marine and leisure infrastructure and duty free status is attracting growing interest from international sailors looking for an convenient and easy tropical port of call.

article from the Phuket Post