South Africa: Stranded Yachts can now Enter South Africa Thanks to The Humanitarian Relief Project

After much hard work behind the scenes, South Africa has been declared a safe corridor, and boats/cruisers can now clear into the country for a limited period enabling any yachts planning to come to South Africa this year to get there in time. This is the story of how those working behind the scenes made it all happen.

Published 3 years ago

The first foreign cruisers being stamped in by Immigration in Richards Bay since March 2020.

From when the initial lockdown period was announced for South Africa back in March, a team of land-based cruisers in South Africa have been working behind the scenes to get permission for foreign yachts – making the now traditional crossing from Asia and Australasia across the Indian Ocean – to be cleared into South Africa.

Purely done on their own time, with no payment or financial gain, Peter Sherlock of the Royal Cape Yacht Club, John Franklin (past Commodore OCC) and Jenny Crickmore-Thompson (past Rear Commodore OCC) have been lobbying flat out to educate the government that blue water sailors need refuge prior to cyclone season and pose no risk.

International borders were closed for several months, but the team knew that once the country moved to Level 1 borders would open up. So, they spent the time making the essential personal contacts in various government departments to clear the path.

Jenny told Noonsite; “Our efforts started with port control and harbours, went up the chain until eventually we were talking face to face with the “Big Guns” in both Home Affairs and the Department of Transport, responsible for Immigration and for the movement of vessels on the South African coast.

“It has been both an interesting and an exhausting time! We realised quickly that the players in government knew very little about “yachties” and their lifestyles, and understood even less about crossing oceans in small boats. However, in-depth meetings, both formal and informal, showed us that these people wanted to understand! They wanted to be able to reach out, within the legal guidelines set down, to make it as simple as possible for cruisers to reach safety while still retaining control of what they perceived could be potential problems.”

So what was the outcome?

The Humanitarian Relief Project

This is the first – short term – way forward, and will enable all yachts on passage to South Africa to clear into the country from November 9th until December 15th.

This means that all those boats caught between the Indian Ocean islands with an approaching cyclone season, will be able to reach the safe harbours of South Africa (boats have to be cleared in by December 15th) and passage onwards into the Atlantic in 2021.

Ocean Sailing of Southern Africa (OSASA)

The long term way forward is OSASA, a body which has been established to liaise between the relevant government authorities both in Ports and Home Affairs, on behalf both of incoming foreign yachts and the coastal clubs welcoming them to clear the way onwards, both in the immediate situation and into the future.

This will make the authorities comfortable knowing who, what and when boats may arrive, and the cruisers coming to South Africa more confident knowing they will be well-received.

Many cruisers have been patiently waiting in Richards Bay to clear into the country, however at last the doors have fully opened to this friendly country.

A win-win for everyone.

See South Africa Biosecurity for full details of the new protocols for arriving yachts.


The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of or World Cruising Club.

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