About Me

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I first crossed the Atlantic in 1975 aboard 'Stormalong', a 28ft Wharram-designed catamaran. Back in the UK, Pete and I bought an ex 6-metre racing yacht, 'Sheila', living on her for 4 years. Wanting to do more and go further with a boat we could completely trust, we built 'Badger' - the best boat in the world - sailing her 110,000 miles, into the Arctic and the Antarctic, around the Atlantics North and South and into the Baltic. She had junk rig - the only rig I ever want to cruise with. Pete wanted to build again - a 38 ft junk-rigged catamaran, 'China Moon' - which he designed. But before the project was finished, we went our separate ways. A year later I joined Trevor Robertson aboard his 35ft 'Iron Bark'. We explored the Canadian Maritimes, crossed the Atlantic twice, wintered in Greenland and crossed the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand. I fell in love with NZ and jumping ship, bought my own boat while Trevor carried on voyaging. I put a junk rig onto ‘Fantail’ and, having decided that N Island offered better cruising opportunities than S Island, sailed up there in 2012. Looking for a boat to see me out, I am now building a 26ft, wood/epoxy junk in Whangarei.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Rules concerning Prior Notice of Yacht Arrivals in Australia

There have been stories and rumours in the yachting press and amongst voyagers as to the rules for new arrivals in Australia. The implication was that a vessel had to
make contact with the Customs 96 hours before arrival, an obvious impossibility
for the many yachts not equipped with SSB radio.

Trevor decided to seek clarification of the matter and the following is the text of the correspondence between Iron Bark and the Australian Customs. As you can see, all the Customs really require is prior notification of your intentions. They gave no mailing address and the implication is that a conventional letter would not be acceptable. However, for those who have neither mobile phone nor an e-mail address, it is still possible to communicate your intentions by way of fax.

From: Iron Bark
Sent: Friday, 27 April 2007 13:00

To: Customs Information
Subject: Prior notice of yacht arrivals CID # 00131878

According to the information on the Customs site, yachts are now required to give 96 hours notice of arrival in an Australian port. Many smaller vessels, mine included, are not fitted with SSB or sat phones, so cannot transmit this information while at sea. Can we send Australian Customs the required information by mail or email prior to departure from our last port, with ETA etc?

Obviously any such ETA for a small sailing vessel can only be approximate, but this is the case whether given 14 days or 4 days in advance.

Yours sincerely

Trevor Robertson
Yacht Iron Bark
Bay of Islands,
New Zealand

From: information@customs.gov.au
To: trevor.robertson@ironbark.org
Subject: RE: Prior notice of yacht arrivals CID # 00131878 [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED ED]
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2007 13:39:10 +1000

Dear Trevor,

Thank you for your enquiry.

If you don't have the appropriate communication equipment, than it is okay to give us notice by emailing yachtreport@customs.gov.au: or phone number +61 3 9244 8973 or by faxing to +612 6275 6331 prior to departure from the last port. It is suggested that if you carry a mobile, to contact Customs as soon as you are within mobile range to notify us of your impending arrival.

You probably are aware of the following requirements but I'll remind you anyway.

  • When entering Australian waters you are required to clearly display the International Pratique Q-flag (yellow). A further requirement is that the craft travels directly to an appointed boarding station.
  • Customs, Quarantine and Immigration clearance must be completed prior to going ashore.
  • Please stay on board.
  • No persons other than a Quarantine or Customs officer is allowed to board your craft, nor can any person, animal or article leave the craft until you have been given full clearance;
  • Depending on your arrival time, Customs and Quarantine may require all persons to remain on board overnight before clearing you the following day;
  • Don't throw any waste or foodstuffs overboard while you're in Australian waters or while you are moored.
  • Use designated quarantine disposal points;
  • Keep all food and animals secure until your vessel has been inspected by Quarantine officers;
  • Don't trade foodstuffs with other overseas vessels;
  • Keep your vessel free of insects.
  • To go ashore without prior clearance is an offence.
  • Contact with other vessels in port prior to clearance is also prohibited
Other information is also available on our website www.customs.gov.au then "Travellers" and then "yachts travelling to and departing from Australia".

Floreen Parras
Senior Information Officer
Customs Information & Support Centre
Ph. 1300 363263
Fax. (02) 8339 6714

For more information on Customs refer to: www.customs.gov.au

By way of further clarification, here is a quote from our friend Nick Skeates aboard Wylo II. He arrived in Australia around the middle of June 2007:

"The Customs here are well aware of their evil reputation and are keen to change it. … As long as you e-mail, phone or fax them at least 4 days before arrival, they’re happy.The 10 day maximum in advance, they don’t bother with as much now. … Fresh antifoul and clean bottom went down well, along with empty tin of antifouling, through the receipt was not asked for. They do still watch for the Q flag, so I need not have used my mobile phone to contact them."

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