Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 14, 2010.

It was time for us to check back into the United States.

Our first attempt was to use our Local Boaters Option card and check in by telephone. I knew it was gonna be a long shot but I wanted to give it a try. The LBO card enables you to check back into the country by phone if you are making landfall in south Florida. I’ve asked at Customs & Immigration before and nobody is really sure what actually constitutes south Florida. I figured I’d give it a shot and see if Maryland fell into south Florida. I called the appropriate number and although the customs officer was mondo polite he was steadfast in his opinion that Maryland was not in fact ANY part of Florida. He did however give me a number to call.

After calling this new number I was able to confirm that Maryland is also NOT a part of Orlando, Florida. So it seems that the guy from south Florida referred me to Orlando, who had me call another office until finally on my 5th phone call they gave me a number that I had already previously dialed. I know a circle jerk when I see it so we decided to try something a little different.

The Annapolis port book has the Annapolis dockmasters office listed as a Customs & Immigration contact office. So we headed over to the dockmasters office where much to my chagrin we were handed another phone number to call. So we dialed this number which turned out to be the Customs & Border Patrol office at Baltimore-Washington Airport. They assured me that they were the right place but we’d have to come out to the airport to check in, in person. It’s not what I wanted but I was starting to get Carpal Tunnel from dialing the damn phone.

We had picked up a rental car for the weekend so it was off to the airport. After parking the car we wandered through the airport going from one unoccupied customs office to the next. Finally we found a staffed office and asked to be let back into the country.

The guy looked at us and said “Oh no, you have to go down to the Baltimore waterfront so they can board and inspect your vessel, you’re in the wrong place”. I countered with “Oh no, we just called on the phone and were directed to report here”. He was unsure and pretty soon every officer behind the bullet proof partition was involved.

It turned out that nobody there had ever checked in a private vessel before. There were questions about which forms to use, what papers we should have in our possession and if we still had to go down to Baltimore with the boat. After a good 20 minutes of filling out forms and a phone call to the Port of Baltimore we were welcomed back into the country. While on the phone with the woman from the Port of Baltimore I asked if the rumor I heard was true. That by next year we’ll be able to check back in online. She said to me “Haven’t you received our mailing yet?”. I looked at the phone for a moment and said to her “Remember me?, I’m the one who just got back to the US, we haven’t seen a mailbox yet”. She kinda laughed and said “Welcome back”.

It drives me a little bit nuts that in Florida you can just call in and whamo, you’re back. Yet 900 miles further north they’re still stuck in a paperwork quagmire. Incredibly, the list of questions never included anything about bringing in fruits or vegetables, Haitians, cocaine and or fissionable material. It was never brought up and the possibility that we might be smuggling a rare Yeti into the country didn’t seem to concern anyone. I just don’t get it.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

good thing you didn't try to re-enter the u.s. in washington d.c. we all know how screwy the place is...you may be looking at a superior court nomination!

TaylorMad1 said...

welcome back.

S/V Veranda said...

Being a supreme court justice would really cut into my leisure time.

Thank you for the welcome back. As much fun as we have in the Bahamas its really nice to be back in the US.

Mutulfun.. Day by Day said...

Ah I can only imagine what trouble we will endure next year with the check in and out,

S/V Veranda said...

If you get the Local Boaters Option card, the customs decal and take care of it in Florida its as simple as a phone call. It just gets more complicated the further north you go. Its just very frustrating for me that the rules aren't uniform all along the east coast.

Anonymous said...

It's government, too many people doing too many jobs with too little knowledge. And lots of laws.

Sapphire said...

Just so you know, Savage Son got to check in by phone in St. Augustine with no LBO. So much for us spending hours to fill out the paperwork!

S/V Veranda said...

I wouldn't really care what we had to do as long as the law was consistent from place to place...

Dennis said...

great read Bill, kinda sucks being back doesn't it. But reading you guy's blog gave me a bit of respit and memories of the Jumentos. ANd remember I still owe you a gallon of oil :)
Denny and Diane
Jusdreaming

Dennis said...

Hey Bill and Christy
Kinda suck sbeing back and working. But your blog has helped my attitude a bit. Are you guys going over again next year?

S/V Veranda said...

We're looking forward to seeing you again and as far as the oil goes....don't worry about it, we can stop in Florida on the way down and pick some up off the beaches.