Your passport to fun, or trouble
Here is something that cruisers, or soon-to-be cruisers, would be well-advised to stay on top of: passport expiry dates and other related immigration papers.
Shortly before we were due to set sail from Canada, we visited the renewal center in Ottawa to update our passports. When we finally made our way to the counter, the agent that we spoke with thought we were a little bit silly for renewing our passports so early after she saw that each of them still had two years remaining before they were required to be updated. In her eyes we were essentially throwing away money. From our perspective though, that small amount of money didn’t matter because we knew that trying to organize a renewal when overseas would require us to jump through significantly more hoops, something we definitely wanted to avoid.
We recently heard a story about a fellow Canadian who did have to jump through the above-mentioned hoops and it didn’t sound like it was all that pleasant of an experience. Being stuck on an island, unable to travel further because you no longer have a valid passport, is not something that you want to have happen to you. Note that some countries may require you to have a passport that will be valid for at least 6 months before they let you clear in!
At this very moment we have another friend who is working his way through a very similar problem and it’s again turning out to be not so easy to fix, especially as he’s operating without a fixed address, and relying upon long-distance telephone calls and sketchy internet connections to communicate. We’ve been sending him plenty of good vibes, hoping that he gets it resolved quickly and without much more trouble.
The moral of the story is stay on top of this stuff. It’s a lot better to be playing in the sun than it is to be wrestling with the people working in passport offices and embassies!