It has been a long first week. I’m not sure where to begin, so I will start with clearing customs and finding a spot to anchor, then do a second post on exploring Hilo. Camanoe and I sailed into Hilo, Hawaii just before sundown on June 14th, 2012. A momentus occasion, as it marked my first long distance solo ocean passage. Upon arrival we anchored just off the Bayfront Beach before sunset. No one yelled at us or chased us away, so I figured it was good enough for the evening. The next morning, I had a difficult time contacting customs, the Harbor Master, Immigration and Agriculture. When I finally contacted the Harbor Master they informed me I would have to move Camanoe to Radio Bay (a mile to the southeast) and clear customs there. I couldn’t row my dinghy ashore and walk. No I had to go to Radio Bay because, “I couldn’t walk through town until clearing customs.” Upon entering the tight Radio Bay I dropped the hook and lowered the dinghy quickly, because it was crowded so I couldn’t lay out too much chain. I rowed to the beach as instructed and began the walk to Customs. Supposedly there were signs all over pointing to Customs. Guess what? There were no signs, and I had to walk through a mile of town in order to make it to the Customs building. Clearing back into the states was quick and painless.
Customs: Do you have any weapons on board? Me: No.
Customs: Do you have any fruit and meat on board? Me: No.
Customs: Are you smuggling illegal aliens into the country? Me: No.
Customs: Can I see your passport and vessel paperwork? Me: Sure. Be careful with the passport, I just finished making it.
Custom: Welcome to the United States, you need to check in with the Harbor Master next.
At the Harbor Masters:
Them: When did you come into Hilo Bay? Me: Last night.
Them: Were you anchored by the beach? Me: Yes.
Them: If you were anchored by the beach then you need to pay for the evening with the DLNR. Me: I’ll get right on that!
Them: Are you going to stay here in Radio Bay for a while? If so it’s $10 dollars a night plus $30 for an annual mooring/anchoring permit. It’s only valid in Hilo, but you can only stay here for 30 days maximum anyway. Me:
No, I will anchor way outside of the bay (seriously trying to hide my contempt. Why should you have to pay for anchoring? They don’t provide any services; not even a dinghy landing.).
Them: Oh, ok. If you anchor outside of the bay, you need to contact the DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) so you can pay them. Here is the phone number. Different organizations control different parts of the bay. Me: Sure; will do!
Afterwards, I moved over next to the break wall and stayed several days for free until my parents flew in to visit. Apparently, none of the GREEDY organizations had a boat to come and collect the fees. After talking to several other cruisers it’s safe to assume Hilo is a greedy, third-world country for boaters. They expect anchorage fees, but make no attempt to provide anything in return. They could at least provide dinghy docks or designated dinghy beaches, there is no security for your dinghy or boat whatsoever. I have obviously been spoiled by Mexico and their hospitality towards cruisers.