Fri 27 May 2016 12:50
We slipped our moorings at 4.30 am in order to catch a favourable tide around Cape Sable. There was no fog and a good moon, so spotting lobster pots was not particularly difficult. While the wind was generally favourable all the way across, there was not much of it and we spent a good many hours motoring, very concerned not to get a wrap round the prop from a trailing lobster pot line. Everyone we met who sail these waters has had the ignominy of being towed in by the Coastguard after being disabled by a prop wrap at some stage, and we are warned that Maine is even worse.
We approached Rockland the next morning in fine sunny weather and docked at Rockland Public Moorings at 12.10 local American time. The passage was without incident, but our real problems started two hours out of Rockland when we tried to make contact with the Customs and Immigration authorities, by ringing them as instructed. To cut a long story short, the only way you can contact immigration is by cell phone and our phones stubbornly refused to connect. The Rockland harbour master came to our aid a few hours after we had docked, although by accompanying him to his office, John had apparently committed a ‘violation’ by stepping on US soil without clearance. However it allowed the necessary telephone call to be made and the required information to be given. Still no-one came to the boat and in the meantime, we were stuck on board. At 5.00 pm on a Saturday afternoon and still no visit from immigration, John suddenly remembered the satellite phone and put a call through to the authorities. Our information seemed to have gone missing, so the whole process was started again. We didn’t think anyone would come that evening, but just as we were serving up supper at 8.15 pm, there was a knock on the hull and the most charming of officers came aboard, efficiently completed the necessary paperwork and wished us a pleasant stay in the US. So we have had to revise our rather negative view of the US immigration process, although not completely. We now find that we have to report in to every place we go, immediately we arrive - again only possible by cell phone, so that will either mean using up sat phone minutes or buying a local cell phone. We plan to spend the day in Rockford and go up to Rockport tomorrow.