26 December 2007 | Scarborough
We cleared in to Tobago today. It is a bit of a hop from Store Bay over to Scarborough. We didn't really have a plan for getting there when we left the big boat on the dinghy. As we were hauling our dinghy up the beach a German couple arrived on their dingy. We helped each other get our respective dinghies up the beach and they told us they were headed for customs. They were nice enough to give us a ride in their rental car.
Konrad and Maria are a fun couple cruising the Caribbean on KataMaria, their Leopard 42. Our ordeal gave us a lot of time to get to know each other.
We started off at immigration. Konrad had tried to clear out yesterday but was told to come back after the holiday and to see immigration first. You can not clear yachts at the airport (it is too close to Store Bay the principal yacht anchorage...), though you will often be told to go there, to no avail as Konrad had also discovered. The immigration folks at the port in Scarborough were not home when we arrived. Our next stop was customs. We rang the bell as instructed by the sign on the door. No answer. We decided that persistence might be in order. After about 15 minutes an officer finally came to the door. He was drying his hair because he had just taken a shower. He was going on 30 hours straight because the last two relief officers had no showed on him. We felt bad for him sitting in that office for the holiday.
He stamped our clearance doc and told us we were done. I asked him if we needed to check back in to visit other anchorages (as I had heard we would have to do) and he said no you are all set. Good enough for me. He did say that we would have to see immigration and customs before returning to Trinidad.
Konrad did not get so lucky. He was told that he had to see Immigration first. The customs guy called the immigration officer, who said he would meet us at the port in one hour. We thanked the customs officer and walked around Scarborough for a bit. Almost nothing was open but we found a place to get a soda and the girls bought some fresh produce from a street vender.
We waited at immigration for a half hour past the designated meeting time and the officer did not show up. Frustrated Konrad returned to the customs office and they called immigration again. The answer this time was that the immigration officer's car wouldn't start so another officer was going to go to the airport, get the keys from the guy with the bad car and then meet us at immigration in 30 minutes. So we waited at immigration for another hour. A German single hander and a British couple, both just arrived in Charlottville from across the Atlantic, walked up at that point. Chrlotteville is on the other side of the island and they have customs there but you have to come to Scarborough for immigration.
As we waited I noted how quiet the town was, it was a holiday of course. A pack of five dogs trotted down the middle of the street with an apparent agenda. A while later they came back the other direction. The immigration officer finally arrived and Konrad wrapped up his business in about 20 minutes. Then we had to go back to customs for the third time.
Scarborough is not a place you want to bring your boat if you can avoid it. Cruise ships come in there but there are no services for small boats. I have seen people anchor up behind the new break water for short periods but I don't think that Scarborough would be a preferred spot for anything other than a short stop.
After our five hour customs and immigration session we treated ourselves to lunch at Latitude 11. Konrad and Maria enjoyed the restaurant as much as we did and had made a connection with the German chef. After lunch we dinghied back to the big boat for a relaxing afternoon and waved goodbye to Konrad and Maria who were on there way to the next island.