Next hurdle would be finding a place to register and insure our soon to be yacht. Not as easy as it sounds, when approaching the larger insurance companies like Pantaenius they right out refused insurance because the boat is lying in Curacao which in their geographically challenged mind is in the middle of the very dangerous Caribbean. Even though Curacao is well removed from the infamous hurricane belt and the Spanish Waters is probably one of the safest spots to moor your boat in the region.

Spanish waters, photo by S/Y Zeezwaluw

Choosing where to insure and register the boat turned out to be a pain in the behind. We figured that we first find a place to register, and then search for a suitable insurance. At first we thought about registering in Holland, since I’m Dutch, and the red white and blue just looks pretty darn nice flying or the stern of a vessel. But to register the boat in the Curacao, which is sort of Dutch territory, the rules and regulations are clear as mud. We were told that some official had to put microdots, a sort of registration thing for insurance. If this could be done on Curacao was unclear, as Curacao recently got partial independence from the Kingdom. So we thought, why not hop over to Bonaire, just a day sail away, as Bonaire is a ‘province’ of the Kingdom. But no officials capable of microdotting are present on the little island, and our questions to officials in Holland on how to arrange for this to be done remained unanswered.

As the closing date for the purchase was getting closer, we let go of the idea of red white and blue, and opted for a Hong Kong registration under a company. According to our broker this would be easy as pie. So Linda, being a Hong Kong lawyer, dug up a shelf company with a funny name and got all documents necessary to proceed. One of the requirements for Hong Kong registration was a recent survey done by a surveyor registered with Lloyds or similar calibre offices. As it turns out, our surveyor, Edwin, had all the credentials and registrations in the world, except for those few accepted in Hong Kong, so the Hong Kong flag would be a no-go. Something our broker should have known.

In hindsight a good thing, as when I was going over flagging regulations I found that the official flagging for a Hong Kong vessel is now a Chinese flag over a Hong Kong territory flag. Under no circumstances would I be flying a Chinese flag around Asia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, for obvious reasons. I also found the following funny fact whilst researching flagging etiquettes

“The flying of two ensigns of two countries, one above the other, on the same staff is a sign that the vessel concerned has been captured or has surrendered during wartime. The ensign flying in the inferior, or lower, position is that of the country the ship has been captured from: conversely, the ensign flying in the superior, or upper position, is that of the country that has captured the ship.”

Someone in the communist party did not think this through when changing regulations back in 1997.

Anyway, digressing here, back to the registration puzzle. Holland was of the list, so was Hong Kong. We briefly checked American registration, but you can not get an American registered boat insured while it’s on Curacao, and like the Chinese flag, an American flag would also generate unwanted attention in certain seas, so that was of the list as well.

Then we looked into Curacao itself, we already had our Hong Kong company and our broker checked with the registration office which told us it would be no problem to use that. The notary tended to disagree, so our company registration idea sunk to the bottom of the sea. The only option seemed to be to register under a personal title locally on Curacao, which we ended up doing. The process was quite simple, but has to be done in person at the Maritime office, under the Juliana Bridge. We first went there with our agent and a stack of paperwork. It turned out the official wanted yet another document signed as the sales contract apparently was to difficult to comprehend. Our broker took care of it and about a week later we could pick up the registration documents. We were in the neighbourhood so thought we simple swing by and pick it up. But the maritime office is in an area which is guarded by a very unpleasant guard whom rudely told us that today we could not enter without a Dutch or Curacao ID or Driving License, so our agent had to step in again..

In the end we got the eagerly awaited piece of paper. Hence our Blue flag with white stars..

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