The last step in getting the dogs from Florida to Tortola was taking them on the ferry from St. Thomas to Tortola. Once they had seen the dogs' permits, Smith's Ferry was more than willing to take the dogs on board, as cargo, at a rate of $25 per crate - the same rate they charge for excess checked baggage.
The permit papers included a request that we call the BVI Department of Agriculture before our arrival and tell a staff member all the relevant details of the dogs' arrival, whether by air or ferry, the flight number if relevant, and the time, so that a vet could meet us, inspect the dogs, and officially allow the dogs into the BVI. Once we knew which ferry we would be on, we tried to comply with this request. We called several times, but no one answered. As the ferry company loaded the dogs on board, HB was finally able to get through, and informed the vet what time and what ferry line we would be coming on. The vet assured us he would meet us at the Road Town ferry terminal.
Since the dogs were considered checked luggage, they were stowed where all the checked luggage is on Smith's ferry -- at the bow of the ship, ahead of the cabin, out in the open air. The ships' rails offer all the security most baggage needs, but the day we traveled, there seemed to be an awful lot of luggage, and the dogs' crates were balanced on top of some of the luggage, the tops of the crates a few inches above the rails. I imagine that Roscoe and Flash had the ride of their lives during that hour-long ferry passage, as they tried to find their sea legs and deal with the spray from the waves.
Finally, finally we reached Tortola. Knowing the dogs would take extra time, we waited for everyone else to pass through immigration and customs before presenting ourselves. Immigration went fine, but when we got to customs, the officer informed us that the vet had not arrived. We presented the permits, stamped and authorized by the BVI Department of Agriculture, and then waited as the customs officer tried to reach one of the vets to come inspect the dogs. After 15 unsuccessful minutes, the customs officer requested that we not let the dogs out of their crates until the vet had a chance to inspect them, and released us into the BVI.