Greece, Itea - checking in
This third time we have arrived in Greece the plan was to go straight towards the Corinth Canal and cross to the Aegean Sea, so our goal was to try and keep our movements in Greek waters as direct as possible towards this destination.
With this in mind, the obvious ports of entry were Argostoli, Zakynthos or Itea. But given that we needed to "kill" time before arriving at the port of entry, and to avoid paying for the full month of Octobers cruising tax, we must arrive after the first of November, Itea became the best port of entry of our choices, allowing us to cover more than half of the miles needed to reach the Corinth Canal before we even checked into Greece.
On the first of the month, we arrived in Itea and because of the new Covid19 restrictions, we decided it would be better to call the Coast Guard on channel 16 of the VHF radio and ask for instructions. We were immediately instructed to enter the port and dock alongside the breakwater, but to our surprise, we were told to simply wait on board until the following morning, (this was most unusual in Covid19 times) Monday 9am before going to the Port Police office instead of being told to wait for health clearance.
The following day we geared up with our masks and headed to the Port Police not exactly sure what to expect.
We rang the doorbell, they opened the door, we climbed the flight of stairs and approached the first door in front of us and that was wide opened with an officer sitting at a desk, he told us that for what we were looking for it was the first door on the left down the corridor to the right when coming up the stairs.
We then tried that door and a very nice lady took care of all our papers no questions asked regarding Covid19 restrictions or clearances. Then she asked if we had already paid our TEPAI (the cruising tax) and since we hadn’t she asked us to go pay it and then come back so she could finalize the paperwork for Customs.
We quickly headed to the post office in the block of buildings before and once we managed to pay the tax we returned to the Port Police Office where the lady was waiting with our papers for Customs.
A quick explanation where the Customs office was and we rushed there, just a couple of blocks back from where we were.
Customs office was, as usual, more time consuming and despite a little bit of trouble with the language, all papers were completed without hassle.
The next stop was Immigration police, a couple of blocks away again. But things here didn’t turn out as simple as in the offices of the other authorities, the person responsible for immigration matters was... not there, no explanation was given but we were told to return the following day to complete procedures.
Disappointed we couldn’t complete the check-in procedures we had to retrace our steps to Customs and Port Police offices to inform the process could not be completed today. The officials of those offices looked puzzled at us and emphasized we couldn’t leave port before the procedures were completed.
We promised we wouldn’t go anywhere without finishing the process the following morning.
Tuesday morning at 8am we were in front of the Port Police office and the officer responsible for Immigration issues seemed to be already there waiting for us.
A bit of conversation regarding where we were coming from and showing that John had not yet stamped his passport in Schengen because in Malta he had been stamped on the crew list and regarded as a professional mariner seemed to convince the officer to consider the John equally to what Malta had done and John got "stamped" in the Transit Log instead of the passport allowing us to stay in Greece up to 6 months without affecting our Schengen time.
We then had to go and visit the Port Police again to get our Transit Log stamped in and out of Itea as we had planned to depart in the afternoon after our visit to Delphi that morning. The Port Police lady was already waiting for us because the Immigration police had called confirming formalities had been completed from their side and that they were satisfied.
This had been the easiest check-in in Greece so far and we had finally managed to get on the Transit Log!
***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