I’ll admit I’m a newbie at all this “international” travel stuff. In fact I’ve only left the country twice in my whole 31 years on earth. Once when I was 11 to visit St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Island) for a blissful week of scuba diving heaven with my sister and dad and once again the next year when I was 12 to Prince Edward Island, Canada to explore the Canadian wilderness and golf resort with my dad and now stepmom Kate. This was back in the early 90’s before the stringent Passport rules and so I was never required to have one. Well times have changed and I’ve had to go get myself a Passport, I feel like such a grown up now.

In being so travel inexperienced I didn’t really know all of things we needed to do in order to leave the country and safely travel the world. There are a TON of things to consider/do and it was kind of overwhelming at first gathering all the information but I think now I have a pretty good handle on the basics. This post is kind of procedural and may make you feel like a kid sitting in church so I apologize if it puts anyone to sleep.

Passports

Being a US born citizen the first time Passport application process was really straightforward and easy. You just bring your driver’s license, a certified copy of your birth certificate and your filled out 1990’s block style black ink only form down to your local post office and wait. You wait a bit more and then they take your picture, you pay a bunch of money (checks or cash rules) and they mail off your application for you with the understanding you’ll get your Passport to travel the world in 4-6 weeks. Easy Peasy.
Dani's Passport photo and application

Tate got his first Passport in Nov 2007 a month before he went “hiking” in Canada in December and while it’s good till Nov 2017 we sent in a renewal application since we don’t want it to expire while we are out. This was even easier as you just mail directly your old passport, 90’s form and an updated picture…ah yes the picture. So many rules for the picture, not too close, not too far, no blur and no funny business. I took the new picture in front of our white closet door and then submitted it online to a nifty Passport picture verification site called ePassportPhoto and they sent it to be printed that day to a drug store of my choice for only $8 bucks.
Tate's passport

Aside from the mustache and beard he really doesn’t look much different from 7 years ago. So so handsome <3

Vaccinations!

Lord, this one ended up being more complicated than I realized. Without going through the process of discovery I’ll outline just what vaccines I think are recommended if you plan to venture about.  These were all covered by my insurance except for those with a fee from the local travel clinic. (feel free to add or take away)

  1. Hepatitis A (2 shots 6 months apart)
  2. Hepatitis B (3 shots- 1 month, 2 month, 5 month)
  3. Tetanus (every 10 years)
  4. MMR (2nd shot for lifetime, first should be during childhood)
  5. Meningitis (1 shot lifetime)
  6. Pneumonia (1 shot lifetime)
  7. Yellow Fever ($145)
  8. Typhoid Fever ($115 )
  9. Malaria prescription ($1/pill to take 4 days before and 4 weeks after visiting high risk areas like Haiti)

Of course if you are up to date on any of these you are good which brings us to Tate. When Tate was a teenager he had an immediate and severe reaction to the first Hepatitis B shot, so severe he was hospitalized for days with a high fever and the doctors told him he had “serum sickness” which essentially is a reaction to the proteins found in non-human animal based serums. Because of the severity he never got another shot again. This isn’t good in the world of vaccines.

That episode was nearly 20 years ago now so this past Spring I found Dr. Wild (great name huh?), an allergist at Tulane Medical Center, to test Tate for this so called serum sickness and see if there was anyway he could get vaccinated for all these things he’s missing. On the first visit she essentially ruled out serum sickness since the described symptoms didn’t match what someone exhibiting true serum sickness would experience. Quite frankly the situation left her stumped.

She theorized that perhaps Tate’s body had an extreme response to the vaccine and began “fighting” off whatever the vaccine had introduced, as if he was truly sick with Hep B. They tested his blood and found trace amounts of the expected antibodies, which is a good thing as the this shows the first shot had an effect. Now in 2 weeks she is going to give Tate 10% of the Hep B shot and monitor for a reaction, if there is none then she’ll give him the remaining 90% which will be a full 2nd shot. I’m hoping and keeping my fingers crossed he has no reaction and can proceed with catching up on his severely delinquent vaccination record (every one listed above).

Thankfully I on the other have never had a problem with such things and just yesterday got four shots at once, Hep A, Tetanus, Pneumonia and a Hep B booster. Now I only have a 2nd Hep A in December and the Typhoid and Yellow Fever vaccines and then I’m good to go.
Things we needed to do in order to leave the country and Dani is vaccinated

I have heard you can get vaccines easily and cheaper out of the country but our first few stops after the leaving the Florida Keys are (planned) off the beaten path and I’m just a little wary of going there for the shots that we’ll mainly need for when we are there, it’s truly a rock in a hard place. Also I have read online that when you clear into ports you can be asked for your vaccinations records although I have no idea how frequently that happens.

Boat Documents

This one was really confusing for me years ago but I think I have it narrowed down to the important stuff, please please tell us if we are missing anything. On the boat we are required to carry and often show certain “official documents” when clearing in/out of port’s of call. This is a modified list from the great information over at NoonSite:

The most common documents that are needed when clearing in are:

  • Ship’s registration papers (U.S. Coast Guard Registration for us and we’ll carry the Bill of Sale)
  • Crew list (with full details of passports, date of birth etc).
  • Ships Radio licence for the boat AND a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit for at least one of the crew (The Ships Radio License is for the boat and will give you a MMSI number which you need for your VHF and GPS and we just realized we needed and applied for the RR permit)
  • Passports and vaccination certificates
  • Visas (if required)
  • Clearance papers (zarpe) from the last country visited
  • VAT paid or VAT exempt certificate (when in the EU)
  • BOAT STAMP (Not required but we plan to have one with the boat name and Coast Guard #, Bettie del Mar did a good write up)
  • BOAT cards (Not required but good to have, we have one with our name, website and Coast Guard #)

Some countries also want to see:

  • Original boat insurance docs (We plan to carry ORM boat insurance)
  • The ship’s logbook (this can be used as a legal document).
  • A CEVNI certificate (if on the inland waterways of Europe)
  • A list of electronic or other valuable items on board

I think we’ll have most everything we need from this list by the time we are ready to leave just as soon as our passports arrive in the mail that Tate’s awesome sister Carley and her husband Adam have offered to take care of for us while we are out, a generosity we aren’t quite sure how to repay just yet…

Well so there you have it.  These are the wrap up and organization projects going on in our world and FINALLY this weekend I get to tackle the recaulking of the cockpit teak. I honestly can’t wait to make this space BEAUTIFUL! Wish me luck.
cockpit teak before