Sri Lanka, Trincomalee: Cruisers report on Fees and Services

Two cruisers offer extensive details fo the fees and services for Trincomalee.

Published 5 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Traffic in Trincomalee

A report from SV Brick House who visited Trincomalee in April 2018:

It’s a bit of a moving target for clearance fees in Trincomalee, but here is what we paid. Some boats were charged a bit more until they nicely argued it and it was brought down. At least 2 boats went to both harbours…paying full fees for each harbour. One even cleared out of the country in Trinco, and then cleared back in with new visas 4 days later in Galle for the same $220 again. So it’s definitely possible if you don’t mind paying twice.

Sandeep, from GAC, makes the clearance simple and quick. Make sure to call on 16 to Trincomalee Port Control for permission to enter the harbour, and expect at least one military boat to greet you on the way in confirming details. Port control will also confirm your details and give you permission to enter as long as your agent has given them a heads up that you will be arriving. If your boat name is not clearly seen on your boat, or if any other lettering, like the brand of your boat, is anywhere on the boat, this may cause further questioning to be sure it’s really you. The Port Controller is courteous and professional and is simply making sure you are not a threat to this port that has had its share of problems in decades past.

The officials and agent prefer you to come to the pier for clearance, which is fine if the wind is out of the easterly quadrant, but when the wind is blowing from the west, some boats have been allowed to anchor out and go ashore with their Dingy for clearance.

Also, some boats were asked for medical records, immunization cards. Others were not asked for this. That we had expired vaccines did not seem to be a problem. The boat was not entered or searched. No vegetables were confiscated. One form does ask about pets, but when we wrote that we had a cat, quarantine just made me aware that it was illegal to bring it ashore, which was not a problem. Customs may have had an issue with it if they had seen it, but we had her locked in the bathroom so she wouldn’t jump ship. We don’t want her ashore either!!

This seems to be what most boats this year have paid (2018) in Trincomalee:

$35 pp for a visa/ETA prior to arrival online

$100 per month or partial month for agent fee (this includes check in, check out, and anything you need help with while in port…but what exactly this includes is a mystery)

$100 per month or partial month for harbour fees

$20 one time customs fee

So $220 first month, $200 each month thereafter.

There was a bank fee that they may try to charge ($50) but most boats negotiated out of this by paying cash, as well as trash disposal charges of $10 per week if you want to drop your trash in a boat at the pier. Some boats, including us, took care of trash disposal themselves and avoided this fee.

One boat arrived with no clearance due to a mix up in the Andamans, and he had to pay somewhere around a $200 fee in addition to the normal fees for not having clearance and it took several days of agent wrangling with officials to make it happen.

There doesn’t seem to be any overtime or other such charges, but nobody arrived during a holiday.

Water can be had from a truck for $8 for as much as you need up to about 1000 litres. It is unclear right now as to whether they will allow the sharing of the water. It is $2 per hour to tie to the pier to get the water from the truck. The truck will have a hose, but it’s unclear as to how fast the water will come out how big the hose will be, and how good the water will be. It rained a fair bit in February, but by March and April, there was very little rain for collecting.

Laundry can be done most cheaply at Dykes Rest which is on the ocean side, down on Dyke Street. It ranges from 30-60 rupees per piece depending on size. (18 cents to 42 cents USD). There is another location closer, but it’s more than twice the price and some cruisers complained of a bad smell in the clothes.

One boat tried to come in at night and Trinco is strictly a day time port since there are no navigational lights. The boat had to heave to until daylight before he was permitted to enter the harbour. It is unclear if he was allowed to anchor outside or not. We heaved to 10 miles out to sea among other anchored or heaving to ships. Nobody bothered us. We saw no nets. But another boat did become entangled in nets before AND after leaving the harbour. So keep a sharp lookout. And do not try to enter at night.

Tying to the pier is free off the back of one of the agent’s boats. Don’t lock it…they cut the chains when they need to move your boat though they ingeniously put it back together again somehow with no damage. Boats were left often for a week at a time at the pier with no problems. Big boats are left at anchor for weeks at a time with no problems…there was even a week when there wasn’t a single soul on all 6 anchored boats. Security seems to be very good here. One boat left to go ashore in the middle of the day and left the hatch open. The military was calling the agent and the agent calling the cruisers before they got very far at all.

Trincomalee is a dream as far as anchorages go. There is rarely any movement from the once a day passing boat or from the wind and waves. The holding is great when it does blow a stink. There is maybe one mosquito every 5th night Feb, March and April. And boats are being left safely while cruisers go to enjoy Sri Lanka.

The agent, Sandeep from GAC, seems to be a good guy and handles the clearance and other peculiarities of this port well. The security on the pier is a little quirky with peculiarities regarding bringing fuel in jerry cans, and water jugs, and even beer. One case a day of beer per person is allowed, and even at that, you may have to donate a can for admission!


Sv Brick House

A report from  SY Elonnisa who visited Trincomalee in February 2016 and were very pleasantly surprised by a reduction in the fees now being charged:

We had been in Trincomalee in February for 3 weeks arriving from Phuket /Thailand. After a very pleasant sailing through the Andaman Sea, where we caught 2 quite big yellowfin tunas, we dropped the anchor in the huge and very sheltered anchorage in Trinco. The water there is quite clear, the holding excellent and it is not too much traffic in the harbour.

At this time there had been only 3 other cruisers anchored.

Our Agent was GAC and we gave them notice per email in advance and also obtained visas per internet, which was very easy and paid 35 USD per person.

Landing the Dinghy here is quite easy, there is a red fishing boat permanently moored on the town pier and you can just go there and fix your dinghy and access land over this boat.




We met our local agent, Ravi, and went with his help quick and untroubled through the formalities.

GAC gave us some weeks ago per email an estimate of the navigation charges which had been 420 USD for Elonnisa, which is an 54 feet Beneteau Oceanis, monohull sloop with two persons on board.

At our departure, when we had been due to pay we had a nice surprise : Ravi told us, that the fees are reduced and so we only had to pay 290 USD.

Port charges :         USD 100

Garbage                          50       now USD 20

Custom services              20

Agency                          200       now        100

Bank charges                   50

So GAC  reduced the fees.

Our stay in Trincomalee was very pleasant, the prices are low and the fresh products in the daily market are very good. We also want to mention our driver, Kumara, who did a very good job to show us the historical places around Trinco and was also very helpful in our needs regarding cooking gas or best meat etc. He is a very decent guy and is charging also very reasonable prices for his service . His tel no.  771008369

Elisabeth and Onni Johannsson

S/Y Elonnisa

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