Beagle Channel fees cause local storm

British voyager Jonathan Selby is currently based in Ushuaia, Argentina, where for the past several months he has been exploring the numerous waterways around the Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel and Cape Horn. He reported that all is not as it should be for vessels exploring this area, as the Chilean government attempts to benefit from the apparently lucrative tourist industry in this scenic area.

Jonathan Selby, pictured with his family aboard their vessel Anahera in the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia, Argentina, organized a writing campaign to reduce cruising fees for recreational vessels visiting southern Chilean waters.
   Image Credit: Jonathan Selby

Selby explained: “As of July (2004), the port captain (in Puerto Williams) started charging commercial tonnage to foreign yachts. Typical charges have been $40 to $60 per port movement. A yacht visiting Chile and seeing the Glaciers and Cape Horn can expect to pay $240 U.S. if all departures are outside banking hours. Charges must be paid in cash in United States currency. Chilean currency and direct bank deposits are not considered acceptable.”

Based on a letter-writing campaign coordinated by Selby, the fees have since been curtailed so that all recreational vessels under 27.5 short tons (25 metric tons) are paying a more modest $2.60 for entry and exit in Chile; vessels over 27.5 short tons are considered of commercial size, however, and continue to pay “movement fees,” Selby said. “The latest fees this week (early November) we had [were] Australis, 49 tonnes (54 short tons), being charged $280 U.S. for five movements plus overtime. And then Mago Del Sur, 24 tonnes (26.5 short tons), being charged $2.60 ($3 as the office had no U.S. small change).”

Selby said the reduction in rates has been made official, but he added, “it does highlight certain problems with cruising in highly regulated waters where rules can change at the drop of a hat.”

By Ocean Navigator