Monday, September 05, 2011

The American Ex-pat Community in Turkey?

Delaware USA flagged boats - all over Turkey

[Kyle]When we arrived in Kuşadasi, we found out there was a large American ex-pat community there. Nearly a third of all of the boats in the marina were flying American flags. Even stranger, 90% of those had a hailing port of Delaware. Just plain Delaware. What are the odds? The U.S. Coast Guard, when documenting boats, requires a vessel to have the hailing port city and state clearly marked below the vessel’s name. Footprint’s is Portland, Oregon. It is a little known fact that there is a stand-alone city called Delaware in the U.S. They even have a professional sports franchise: The Delaware Fibbers. As a fellow American, I have made a point of going up, introducing myself, and asking what part of the city of Delaware they’re from. I’ve been getting a lot of blank stares. Usually this is because I am not funny, but lately it seems to be that none of the occupants speaks English. Now, I realize there are Americans who don’t speak English, like teenagers, but virtually the rest of us do to the exclusion of every other language in the world. This is very suspicious indeed.

Of course, the real story here is that it is a tax dodge. For $60, you can incorporate in Delaware, which then allows you to document a boat as American for what must be lots cheaper than the Turkish government allows. As a result, there are a lot of medium-sized powerboats available for charter over here that are not fit for the open sea and whose 100-gallon tanks wouldn’t get them a tenth of the way from “Delaware” to the next gas station in Bermuda.

This has really ruined it for us. We sailed here from America, thank you very much. It was a long damn way. Over 12,000 nautical miles has been put on our log since we left three years ago. We used to get automatic credit for knowing how to sail when we pulled into a harbor. Now, nobody seems to give us a second glance. The French, the Germans and the Brits, who have all come a very long way themselves, look at us with derision as yet more idiot charterers on one of those “Delaware” boats. No wonder they’re cutting our knots off and telling us how to cleat a line. They all seem shocked when they learn we actually sailed her here, particularly given her size.

There is one upside, though. On the sail from Tinos to Ikaria, we lost our flag. The little plastic clips that held it to the pole just broke sometime in the night, sending it fluttering into the sea. The Meltemi of Kate and Mark’s visit was too much for them. We replaced the flag with one of our worn out spares (we have spares for nearly everything) and attached it with some spare string, but were worried about finding a proper replacement. Well, you guessed it; the boat store in Kuşadasi sold enough of them to have plenty in stock.

1 comment:

Chris Bonney 2 said...

We've long joked here about all those "Delaware boaters." A Delaware registration almost always means the owners have chosen to incorporate the boat and take advantage of Delaware's low/no corporate tax rate. You see it especially on large yachts.