Greece, Corfu - checking out and back in
After exploring a bit of the Greek Ionian it was time to head north and explore the Adriatic Sea. Albania would be the first country for us to visit, but not before we dealt with our exit formalities in Corfu.
We anchored by the fishing harbour just north of the commercial port, a convenient anchorage to deal with check-in and out formalities with the bonus point of its proximity to a Lidl supermarket, although exposed to the predominant northerly winds that blow down the Adriatic all the way to the Ionian.
From this anchorage, we could see both the anchorage and quay that we would need to sail directly into in Albania through the binoculars. I think we had never experienced such proximity between different countries.
After doing a major provisioning run to the Lidl supermarket just up the creek it was time to go find the relevant officials to sort out our paperwork.
We left the dinghy inside the fishing harbour just on the end corner by a rusty ladder, walked to the commercial harbour and found our way to the Port Police. No-one stopped us for questions at both gates we had to cross which we found a bit strange.
The Port Police was very straight forward although the lady officer was extremely grumpy explaining us where could we find Customs. As if we should, of course, know without any hesitations where to find all relevant authorities.
We then proceeded towards the ferry/cruisers building where we could find the Customs offices, at the same time one of the local Greek ferries had just docked and cars were loading on and off quickly before the next departure and there we were walking through the huge parking lot style area with everyone rushing around us.
We crossed the gate that separates the local ferries area from the bus parking area for the international departures and arrivals and proceeded to big policed gates where we had to explain that we needed to find the Customs officials so we could stamp our passports out of the EU before leaving to Albania on our vessel.
The first officer was not quite understanding what we were talking about but the officer behind him on the booth quickly directed us to a discreet door on the side of the building marked as "Departures to Albania".
As we entered through that door we found ourselves in a big empty hall where all commercial spaces had their shutters closed. We wandered a bit and found the automatic passport control/ferry tickets machines, and then possibly due to our lost look a lady officer showed up from behind an X-ray machine confused why were there people in there when there wasn’t any ferry scheduled for that time, after a quick explanation she opened one of the automatic gates for us and guided us through a set of staff only doors to take us to another section of the building where we could find the needed officials. After a quick check of papers, we surrendered our Transit Log and got the passport stamped. Then the officer guided us out through another door and kindly pointed, that next time we could just knock on this door if it was closed.
As we exited he placed the sign on the outside of the door saying "To Albania".
A few months later we were back in Corfu repeating the entire process but this time to do our check-in after spending most of the summer in the Adriatic.
This was our first attempt on getting "stamped" in the Transit Log, but unfortunately, things didn't go as smoothly as we had expected.
At the Port Police we indicated John as the captain of the vessel and referred to the correct article on the back of Transit Log explaining our intentions, we filled the paperwork with the police officer and when we finished that part of the formalities the lady told us to proceed to Customs to issue the Transit Log while she would fax our paperwork to Customs. She indicated that once we had the Transit Log we would need to come back to Port Police to stamp it.
We rushed to Customs only to find out that after we signed and she stamped our documents she had used white-out ink to edit our paperwork removing the title captain from John’s details indicating our vessel only had crew, no captain.
In light of that change, the Customs officer informed us he could not stamp us on the Transit Log only on the passports.
What a disappointment.
When we returned to the Port Police office with our new Transit Log in hands we could see in the face of the officer the smirk of victory with her achievement.
We wasted no time with a discussion that would lead nowhere and got the Transit Log stamped so we could carry on with our journey.
Plans had to be reshaped, we could only stay just shy of 90 days.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community. In this post you can find information regarding check in and out procedures with location for the Port Police, Customs and Immigration