09 July 2021 | Celebrating our permission to stay
"Please be informed that your application for temporary importation has not been approved. Yacht Time Bandit is to depart from Seychelles within seven days from the date hereof."
What the #%€$. Thrown out a country with four working days notice. And at our age! Russian assassins get longer than that. (Or maybe they were really interested in the cathedral).
We were forewarned that Seychelles bureaucracy was a bit of a minefield, and obviously one we had singularly failed to negotiate despite Steel Sapphire* and others having laid the white tapes; so to speak.
To get through the first phase, we needed to appoint an agent, absolutely none of whom came recommended and supply....
- Bill of sale
- Insurance documents
- Certificate of registration
- Builders certificate
- Import permit
- Picture of vessel
- Copy of agreements for any work
- Approved temporary import permit.
We sent all this to both an agent, who, to this day has yet to respond to an email and the customs as a belt-and-braces. We even walked the four mile round trip and hand delivered hard copies to the customs office to add adult Pampers to the as belt and braces.
We're too depressed and discretion is probably the better part of good venting so I won't share more details here. Suffice to say that Anne is not someone to mess with when it comes to boat admin. And we had the evidence. We fought our corner and after a lot of stress, traipsing miles from office to office and escalations through the ranks of Seychellois customs officials, the notice of eviction was rescinded.
It took a lot of strain off, however, for thirty six hours we were frantically trying to sort things out. We had to prepare for imminent departure; food, fuel, charts, weather for 1,000 miles to Africa, recover antifoul pre-ordered and stored at the boatyard, all while building our "case". Didn't even have time for beer and skittles.
Anne set about provisioning for four months in Tanzania, as its well known there's no food there. I ploughed through six weeks of unanswered emails and exhausted some very expensive and rare-as-hens-teeth ink cartridges to build our case. We even went to the British consulate to solicit help. (Iain, a fellow Scot from Skye funnily enough).
Us Brits have left a number of legacies in the wake of our colonial past. All around the globe you'll find evidence of this; beautiful buildings, roads, trains, measles, small pox and the like. And of course administration and bureaucracy.
Some countries have taken the great British administrative model to astonishing heights, levels that Jim Hacker and his Department of Administrative Affairs would be proud of. (YouTube; Yes Minister).
Of the thirty or so jurisdictions we've passed through in the last ten years, including Panama, Galapagos and the USA, which does take some beating, Seychelles is a clear winner in the admin stakes.
To sail inter-island here, you have to apply for a special permit, walking another couple of miles. We'd started this prior to the bombshell. Thirty....THIRTY people are on the government copy list.
In the end, after being summoned to another meeting, at another level, peace was restored, the letter of eviction rescinded and....... as we've now gone past the one month customs allow to get the documentation, which was their fault, we have to apply again. Aaaargh. We trust a formality but, if they read this, you never know.
The daft thing is we keep getting tempted to go to Tanzania anyway. The problem is, it surely must be a Covid hotspot as prayer and a herbal infusion seems to have failed. That and I really don't much fancy the wind angle clashing with the cyclones come November. There's already been one rescue at sea and one cat limping back on one rudder. Getting to South Africa isn't looking easy.
Hopefully we can get all this straightened out, and then it's Plan C ........ if folk in Iceland would answer their flaming emails.
*Steel Sapphire - Scottish readers of a certain age might remember the electrical store chain, "Bernard Electrical". The company that brought colour television to the Scottish masses. I grew up right next door to the Bernards, and now, a couple of generations and continents later, we're anchored right next door to Peter Bernard, the grandson. Largs SC members might know his father who has a Fisher 34 in the marina.