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Today marked my last day at sea. The winds had died to under 5 knots so I motored from the middle of the night until landfall. I bumbled along using just 3 liters per hour to conserve fuel as I was down to a quarter-tank, until I realized that I would be coming in somewhat late and then I gave gas. Even so, I had forgotten that the BVI are at UTC -4 rather than my boat's clocks which were still at UTC -5 hours. It is a wonderful feeling to look ahead and see land for the first time in days; in this case I had been napping and my first view was of Jost van Dyke with Sage Mountain in the background when they were already far above the horizon.
I passed from the north side of Jost van Dyke and made straight for Soper's Hole. My friend on the island had arranged with the minister for Customs, Mr. Lettesome, that I would be allowed to dock and go to the clinic prior to clearing in and I was very grateful for that. I used the calm seas to crawl forward and prepare dock lines on both sides of the boat and had my fenders in the cockpit ready to deploy on whatever side they directed me to. I came into Soper's Hole and tried calling on the VHF but there was nobody answering. I came to the docks and there was nobody there. My US cellphone could accept calls but I couldn't call out, so I wasn't sure how to proceed and despite the calm conditions I wasn't going to try to dock alone. After a while I got a call on the phone from my friend, who then said he'd call around to get someone to come out and help me. True to his word, within a couple of minutes some people showed up on the docks and helped me dock.
After securing the boat, I got my papers together and went ashore. I opted to go to Customs & Immigration first and got a ride to the new terminal building across the way, only 300 yards away by line of sight but much further on foot. When I went into the clearance area I was reminded of why the C&I folks in the BVI have a bad reputation. When they asked me where the boat was I explained that I'd gone right to the dock, whereupon they stated "We saw you come in with the yellow flag and go to the dock. We were about to call the police who would have shown up with drawn guns to arrest you.". Since I knew that would not have been the case I just remained polite and silent while they vented their spleen. Upon informing them that I'd had previous permission from the Minister they once again interjected "That's not enough, you also need permission from the minister for Immigration. We can arrest you, impound the boat...". Then one of the officers noticed that I was leaning crookedly against the wall and sweating despite the cool air and asked me if I was OK. That prompted me to lose composure and tell them that of course I wasn't OK, my rib hurt and my back was out of place and all I wanted to do was get this over with so I could go to the hospital ER or clinic. Upon hearing that the officers changed tone, and my clearance was soon processed.
The BVI has instituted new "Harbor Fees" and entry fees. I paid close to $120 to clear in while normally I paid less than 20 with my temporary import permit. I understand that the BVI is looking for new revenue, but believe that by milking their cash cow this way is counterproductive.
Once cleared in, I was told that there were no taxis left. So I resigned to walk the 2 kilometers back to the docks. It took me an hour, and I wasn't feeling too good by the time I made it back. My mood wasn't helped when I saw two nice new shiny government vehicles zip by me with the off-duty officers watching me hobble down the side of road.
By now it was late and then clinic would be closed and I'd been warned off going to the ER at the public hospital, so I took some NSAID and joined Malcolm and Candace for dinner at Omar's Café just 100 yards from my boat. I have to admit that I don't remember much of the meal or how I made it to bed.