Ellen’s (my) job is to do the clearance run. We didn’t know anything about Vilanculos or Mozambique and had no internet to find out… so the idea was Mike drops me off on the beach next to the jetty and I’ll find a cashpoint and the offices of the authorities.
On the beach I got approached by a few guys wanting to help (looking for a job) – that’s normal, but as I didn’t know if they were OK I decided to say “no thank you” and walk off. Obviously I headed into the wrong direction and they didn’t take no for an answer seeing my ignorance. Anyhow, 5 minutes later I was on my way and 15 minutes later I was in front of a cash point.
Thing is the bank often blocks your card in a new country suspecting fraud, but thankfully it worked here. Same as Madagascar though, the amount you can get is limited by the size of the tray not by what you can select on the screen, this cashpoint only had 100MT (Metical) notes (1,6USD). It’s trial and error, just take out as much as you can 2 or 3 times.
At this stage I didn’t know what the currency was called nor how much it was worth. The armed guard next to the cashpoint didn’t really understand what info I needed, so now I had a pack of banknotes and no idea how much it was worth. I walked into the next cafe and chatted up some ex-pats who gave me the exchange rate and told me what I should pay for a TukTuk to the airport. YEY – starting to feel normal and informed now.
From then on everything went smoothly and my check-in run was finished about 2 hours later.
The guys that approached me on the beach were OK. Met them again a week later and friends had them as dinghy minders. I simply didn’t know. (It’s always a bit tricky, I don’t want to offend anyone but I cannot simply trust everyone walking up to me on the beach. BTW I’m dead shy.)
No one overcharged me, which would have been easy in my alien state. Clearance was as correct and efficient as it can be.
I bartered in the Maritime office, the fees were actually correct, it was just me having no feeling for the currency and no idea of how much I really owed. In the end, I paid only for a one-week cruising permit in the area and went back a week later to get an extension.
Airports don’t seem to have ATMs in Africa, take plenty of cash to pay for the visa fee.
There has been a lot of negative information about clearance in Mozambique and cruising safety. If that is based on something somewhere it’s not Vilanculos. I think it’s simply outdated information.
The courtesy flag
Every boat should fly a courtesy flag on the starboard side of the mast when in a foreign country.
We didn’t have one, so I stitched one up on the way to Bazaruto. It’s made up of two unused courtesy flags, some shopping bags, sail repair tape, and a black Edding. It kept me busy for 3 days on my watches, we knew the bad weather was coming.