Boca Chica: Yachts must leave immediately after Departure Clearance

Published 10 years ago, updated 5 years ago

We are traversing the DR going East, and until we were ready to depart Boca Chica our experience has been wonderful.

Clearing into Barahona was both easy and fun, introducing us to Fernando who was a great help.

Salinas was quiet but friendly with a nice hotel nearby.

Then I felt that we were back in civilization when we entered Marina Zarpar. They have every convenience, Rigo and the staff were helpful and the Wifi is great.

BUT, then it was time to leave.

We had a small window to sail East to Isla Samoa in order to make the even smaller window towards Puerto Rico and in short, the Customs officials in Boca Chica were awful.

First off, there is no way for you to arrange for an early morning departure. They seemed deliberately difficult and this had not been the case in either Barahona or Salinas where we were able to get a Despacho 24 hrs in advance.

Here’s what happened to us.

24 hours in advance we notified the marina staff that we would be leaving early on Thursday morning. That was impossible as the Customs and Immigration officers don’t arrive until 8 or 9 and can’t promise when they will get to the boat. So we ask for clearance on Wednesday evening. Ok, but then we have to leave immediately. We don’t like this but agree that we can go and anchor and leave the next morning.

Wednesday comes and the officials are supposed to meet us between 4 and 6 pm at the fuel dock. By 4 pm we are fueled up and ready to go. They don’t arrive until 7:30 pm – it is now squally and dark. Not good conditions to leave in. After a little arguing, they agree to come back by 8:30 am the next morning and change the date. We aren’t happy as already this was beginning to look like trouble.

On Thursday morning we are called to the office about 8:15 am and told we need to go back through the entire process including having the sniffer dog aboard. It was later than 9:30 am before the officials came back. This system of insisting that the Depacho or Zarpe be issued immediately before leaving seems to be the issue.

We can’t say enough good stuff about the marina staff who were extremely accommodating – even giving us a free dock on the night in question.

Dale Ross

S/V Wahoo

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