Subject*: New Bahamas Family Cruising Network
Cruising News*: A new Bahamas family cruising network is being setup for those families with children cruising in the Bahamas. the plan is to exchange information on cruising activities, education, community welfare, environment, interested parties may respond to email@example.com we are looking to establish groups in the Abacos, Exumas, and beyond. exchange information in new providence and grand Bahama will also have value
The important note below was passed along to us by Captain Steve Morrell, editor and publisher of “Southwinds” magazine. If ANYONE has more info about length of stay prohibitions in the Bahamas, please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.
There has been a report of a Canadian cruising boater being asked to leave the Bahamas from George Town, Exuma, after his stay of 90 days ended. He was told that he should have gotten a visa for a longer stay from the Embassy before he came into the country in order to remain in the Bahamas for more than 90 days. Bahamian officials at the Department of Immigration as well as at the Bahamian Embassy in Miami confirm this and now cite statute law, which requires persons of certain nationalities to have a visa if they want to extend beyond a 90-day stay. Persons from the following countries can be extended up to a maximum of 8 months without a visa: Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Nepal, Norway, San Marino, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States. All others MAY be required to have a visa to extend after the 90-day period. It is up to the discretion of the Immigration Officer and the policy is not applied in a uniform manner. For those citizens to a 90-day period, it would be wise to check in with their own embassy before departing for the Bahamas to obtain a visa, or they can visit the Bahamas Embassy in Miami at the Ingraham Building, 25 SE 2nd Avenue; phone 305-373-6295 and ask for Ms. Thomas. Another option is to leave the country, re-enter, and clear Customs again. There is no guarantee one way or another that a person will be asked to either re-enter or produce a visa. As one Bahamian source said, “There are Laws of Convenience in the Bahamas, laws that have been on the books for many years but may or may not be enforced until it suits some purpose.” The new Immigration Officer in George Town, Exuma, states that the 90-day-only limit, without a visa, is being applied there. This may not be the end of this story!
Depressing news on the Immigration subject. Having issued an “all clear” for cruisers to enter any Port of Entry into the Bahamas, based on comments of an Immigration officer in Nassau, who issued 180 permits to two boats clearing in on Tuesday, we heard today that everybody clearing in at Nassau will now receive 90 days MAXIMUM!
If it wasn’t such a serious inconvenience to cruisers, it would be laughable, to watch the misinformation, inconsistent policy, and perceived bumbling on the part of various Immigration officers…..sometimes from the same Port of Entry.
Suffice it to say, that, for now the only Port of Entry that has consistently given 180 days is Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island.
Sorry, to any vessels who have been further inconvenienced by our “all clear” announcement. We thought we were hearing it from someone in charge. Now we are thinking nobody is in charge!
Dick Giddings (W3RDT)
Subject*: Bahamas Cruising Permits
Cruising News*: We are in Vero Beach staging to cross to the Bahamas. Everyone is talking about the “new” rules that are supposed to be happening in the Bahamas. We are getting reports that you can only get a permit for a maximum of 30 days and other stories are that you might get 90 max. Seems that it all depends on were you check in at as to how long you can stay and the fee is still $300 ?????? Does anyone know exactly what is happening?
Yesterday (11/29) Sam the Skull went back to Nassau to protest his 30 day permit, from two weeks ago. After lengthy pleading, he finally got 90 days, after deducting the two weeks he has already been in the Bahamas. He was told at the end of those 90 days, he would have to leave the Bahamas, clear into another country, and then could return and start the process all over again, (INCLUDING paying another $300.00???).
Also yesterday, Blue Pearl went to the Bahamas Consulate in Miami, and got 180 day visas, at the cost of $65 per person.
Also yesterday, Swell Horizon was given 30 in Nassau, but realized, on the way back to the boat, what it meant, and went back to plead for 180 days, as they don’t intend to return until May. The gal was quite firm, but when they finally asked to speak to her supervisor, she gave them 90 days, and subsequent pleading only caused an unpleasant confrontation.
11/28: Nice ‘N Easy apparently had no problem getting 90 days in Nassau, but were flatly told “That is ALL.”
11/27: Option III was only able to get 30 days at Bimini. I don’t know how hard they tried for more, because I had told them to just take it, and go to some other port and ask to have it extended, which is what they are going to do. (This is the port where s/v Valkyrie got 180 days just two weeks before.)
And, in a previous email, I have listed some others who have had widely divergent experiences, at various ports of entry. We are starting to hear questions about “What if I don’t check in at all?” and “What if I just take the 30 days, and simply stay for four or five months?”.
And a few are in Florida, rethinking a visit to the Bahamas until this is straightened out…. I love the Bahamas, but Cuba is looking more tempting all the time! Sea you later…
s/v “St. Jude”
The Immigration system for incoming boats is now back to what it has been for years, after a brief confusion related to the airport. Whatever boaters are given, they can visit Immigration Head Office in Nassau to have it extended to what they want. Otherwise they can do so at a port of entry within the last week of their initial period. That can be difficult re weather, so we recommend the former.
In case of confusion over Cruising Permit length, they are still using forms which say 6 months, after decades of it really being 12 months. As it says that over the owner’s signature, just change it to read 12. C Ps may be extended for an additional two years, for $500 each year if desired.
I guess I understand….back to organized disorganization I have known since the ’80s, and just learned to deal with it. I guess we will have to educate a whole new generation of cruisers to the old ways! (Truly “SNAFU”!)
The policy is: there is no policy, and boats can be given anything from 30 days to 8 months, at the whim of the issuing officer. And we will remind folks to change the Cruising Permits to one year…
And, that they can take their paperwork to Immigration in Nassau for appeal…
And, if we don’t get another chance to say it, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from Dover, NC!!!
Judy and Dick
As of this morning, a couple of boats clearing in at Nassau got 180 day permits. This is undoubtedly as a direct result of Carolyn and Nick Wardle (BASRA) speaking to the officials, on behalf of the cruisers, who are being inconvenienced, and the Bahamian merchants, who are losing business. I don’t ,as yet, know how long it is going to be before the 180 day policy gets out to all of the Ports of Entry. But, the “safe” places to clear in now include Nassau, and Lucaya, and a longer list will surely be added soon.
if you do not want to transit up the busy east coast of fl & you have the time, & you want to leave the keys @ key largo you can go on to the biminis, go through gun cay cut, on to chub cay & clear. then cruise the berrys. at the north end of the berrys you can cross to mores island to cave cay(bight of abaco)(spence rock pass carries about 5.5ft @ mid to high tide). that puts you 1/2 a day to green turtle cay. this route is mostly anchoring & not much marina hopping.
Back in the day, cruise ships attempted to make Baker’s Bay a landing depot with all the amenities but discovered they couldn’t predict the conditions (“rage”) in the Loggerhead channel so they abandoned the whole site. The one thing Cruise ship lines need is predictability. After the Cruise line bailed it has become quite the “destination”. http://www.bakersbayclub.com/
I found it a great place to “end-for-end” my 250′ of primary anchor chain. The bottom was white sand and I dragged it all around in reverse. It did a great job!
Phil “TrawlerPhil” & Aven Rosch
This situation has been boiling up the airways for the past couple of days, and we finally have some first-hand info, well now it’s second-hand, to share with you.
So far, this appears to only apply to Canadians entering the Bahamas, but we are not positive about this either, because that just doesn’t make sense.
The vessel “Marie Antoine” owned by Canadians but with Bahamian registry stays in the Bahamas year ’round but the owners fly back and forth from Canada. They arrived in Georgetown this year, expecting Immigration to approve their 180 day stay, as usual. Instead they were given 30 days! Then they were told that they could renew two times, for a total not to exceed 90 days. At that point they would have to leave the Bahamas for 24 hours and then come back and repeat the process.
So, they immediately informed friends on the FL east coast of the problem…..again, Canadians, hoping to spend six months in the Bahamas, as usual. These two vessels, “Lady Ray” and “Union Jack” went to the Bahamian Consulate in Miami and were told, at first, there was no problem getting 180 days; but then a woman from an inner office said, “Wait! That’s not correct.” This gal is head of the “visa section” in the Bahamas Consulate, in Miami, and her name is Mrs. Vernell Thomas, and the office phone is: 305-455-1175, and another number which may ring directly to Mrs. Thomas’ desk, is: 305-316-4752.
Mrs. Thomas sold these two vessels a $65 visa, plus additional fees for expediting the process, and the passport photo that was required to attach to the visa, which then becomes part of the passport. So that’s $95 per boat, plus the regular fees for the boat.
The reason I suggest this is only happening to Canadians is that several US boats have cleared Customs and Immigration at other than Georgetown and had no problem getting the usual 180 day permit and fishing license. WHY Canadians only?
To further confuse everyone, Michael Hoff, on “Valkyrie”, had called the Bahamas Immigration Office a week ago (when these rumors first popped up), and spoke to a gentleman who purportedly is in charge of all Immigration Offices in the Bahamas. Michael is accompanied by a Canadian citizen, and wanted to dot the I’s and cross the T’s well ahead of arrival on the Banks. He was told there is NO NEW IMMIGRATION POLICY, and if there was a new policy this gentleman would have had to sign off on it before it went into effect!!!
So, now, less than a week later, we have names, and places, and phone numbers. But, I still wanna know, is this just more inconsistency or confusion of unclear or recently discovered OLD policy, or is it simply a regional attempt at ripping off visitors to the Bahamas? Since I started visiting the Bahamas regularly, back in 1991, I have been amazed to find the inconsistent stories of Customs and Immigration in the Bahamas. I have found the most consistent processing to be in Nassau, Green Turtle Cay, and Marsh Harbour (in my personal experience). Some of the others have originated some pretty wild stories about limited cruising permits, outrageous local fees, and some stories I won’t repeat here because I have a hard time believing them. But I have plenty of reason to suspect that this particular Immigration problem is NOT policy, because it just doesn’t make sense to me.
If any of you can find out more and get a clear Bahamas Immigration answer to this, I would appreciate an email to me, describing what is what. And, IF there is a new policy, we had better ALL try to expose it ASAP! (Monty, I was told you were “tearing your hair out” trying to get to the bottom of this! Don’t do that, you do not have hair to spare!!!)
Dick Giddings (“St. Jude”)
aka Capt. Joe King
This new rule also applies to Canadian home owners in Georgetown. After 30 years of visiting this island, this year I was given only 30 days at the Georgetown airport. Since then I received an extension of 60 days after which I will have to leave the island. I’m related to Bahamians who are trying to get to the bottom of this for me. Another example of the total disorganization of this government.
Cruising News: Just got back from a 2 week cruise from Stuart, FL to the Abacos, then back to FL and then out of FL to Brunswick, GA due to Insurance. The crossings of the Gulf Stream went very well but even though good weather was forecast we still left at first light. The Abacos are beautiful, the navigation was pretty easy, but the islands are expensive. The cheapest diesel is found at Marsh Harbor Marina in Marsh Harbor. It was 4.40/gl. At Spanish Cay it was 4.75/gl and a 1 night stay for a 54 footer with 50 amp and no water was 198. At Guana Cay we could not get a slip at Orchid Bay due to Nipper.
After 10,000 miles of trouble free cruising, we took on fuel at West End, Bahamas for the crossing back to Florida. 4 fuel filter changes later we limped into Lake Worth. We had the tanks pumped and cleaned. The gunk that came out was quite amazing. Not sure how much was attributable to West End vs the last time the tanks were cleaned (heaven knows when), but never a problem before the garbage they pumped in at the marina. Will have a filter before we do that again.
Queen Ann’s Revenge
By far the most impressive marina we visited was Marina at Emerald Bay on Great Exuma – 10s across the board. The least impressive with the exception of its location is Exuma Docking Services in George Town, Exumas
R. M. Beggan
The discussion below was copied from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) mail list!
Has anyone recent (or any) experience with the Grand Lucayan Waterway, cut across Grand Bahama Island at Freeport?
My boat, 49 CPMY, needs 5 feet.
Book that I am looking at shows a low water depth of 4 – 4 1/2 feet at the north entrance (ext going north) before heading to Mangrove.
DeFever 49 CPMY, Cygnet
I know you specifically asked about the north entrance, but I’ll post this information in case it is of some benefit to you. If you’ve been there before, it is doubtful any of this information will come as a surprise. If you haven’t, maybe you can make some use of it.
We spent several weeks in the waterway last year, our second visit. One boat drew 5’0″ and the last visit was in a boat that drew 4’9″ and had no problem going in the south entrance either trip. Depth in the waterway is greater than this, by many, many feet. I’d like to say that the depth is 15 feet, but I’m not real sure on this. No matter, once in the waterway, it was deep enough for either our or your boat, with plenty left over.
We did not use the north entrance. There is a bridge across the waterway about half way across the island, height somewhere around 15 feet, maybe a little more. Closest grocery store, is 5 miles away from this bridge (west), but it is a large supermarket style- not Bahamian like at all!
Anchoring in the waterway is dicey in high winds. This waterway was cut out of the coral rock. Sand on the bottom is generally just a shallow layer over limestone. On the other hand, it is not well developed at all and we had extensive number of places to choose from to tie up to along the sides of the waterway. Either plant anchors in the ground or tie to trees.
A couple of cautions: Below the water level in the waterway is a coral ledge that sticks out from the seawall, up to around 18″ in places. No way to keep the hull off this ledge unless you have wide enough fenders or tie in an area where the ledge is not so wide. We had no trouble locating places to tie up at and with our 18″ fender balls had no difficulties. The seawall is 20,or maybe 30 years old, and is crumbling in places but these places are easy to see… good place to look for lobster, conch and fish though. Many cul de sacs and canal off shoots so you don’t have to tie up in the main canal.
Another caution, but a big one, are the poison trees. The place is heavily loaded with them. It is their equivalent of our poison ivy or poison oak. Even barely touching them or getting in the smoke, if they are being burned, can prove harmful. Be sure to get someone that is familiar with what they look like to show you before you touch one. Once poisoned, it takes an exorbitant amount of time to get rid of the itchy, miserable rash. You’ll be shocked at how many trees are there. In the areas that we were in they outnumbered the pines.
Theft is rampant on that island. Try not to leave the boat unattended; or, at least have someone close by watching it, if at all possible.
With all of the side roads, if you have bikes it is easy to get around the island, from one end to the other although the port end is serviced with one, fairly narrow, two lane highway. No bike paths at this end, and no side roads either, and the drivers go fast. Otherwise, on both of our visits to Grand Bahama Island, we had many enjoyable bike trips around.
As a side note, Grand Bahama Island gets their water from a fresh water aquafer. If you have to pay for water, it is usually the cheapest water in the islands.
We’ve enjoyed our time in the waterway, potential for theft and poison trees included. We looked up from our breakfast one Sunday morning and there were about 15 little sailing skiffs from the local yacht club using our anchored boat as a windward mark. They had a kid’s sailing program and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. We were glad that they didn’t. Friendly, smiling little tykes… most of them were trying so hard!
Rudy and Jill
I went through the north end of the canal again this year at high tide & saw 6′ plus for depth
I went through a couple years ago with a 4 1/2 draft and 24′ height. The north entrance is your only concern as you need near high tide and it is much later than at Freeport. Some of the marker poles are missing and you need to ignore the colour of reflectors on the poles. If you have a chart that shows poles the channel goes straight but with some missing it looks like you need to go around some especially with red or orange reflectors on all? This may have been changed by now but I doubt it. This canal is a memorable experience and you should do it at least once.
I have run the waterway several times, last time at low tide in 25′ cruiser with a sterndrive it bumped on the north end while headed out. The water was like glass. Since then, I trim the outdrive while heading out here. I would recommend hitting it at high tide and no wave action to avoid prop damage
We will be having a variety of activities this weekend in honor of Easter. All the proceeds from this weekend’s cook-outs/beach activities will benefit the Staniel Cay All-Age School.
Friday: 11AM, Mt. Olivet Church is holding Good Friday Services. Everyone is welcome and invited!
Saturday: 12noon, Public Beach (just south of Staniel Cay Yacht Club & Welcome to Staniel Cay Wall), Cook-Out featuring traditional Bahamian fare. Curry Mutton with Rice, Fry Frish, Bake Macaroni & Cheese, and more. Cold beer and sodas available too.
Sunday: 11AM, Mt. Olivet Church is holding Resurrection Sunday Easter Services. All are welcome and invited!
Monday: Beginning @ 11AM, All day Easter celebration on the Public Beach on Staniel Cay. Cook-out with cold beer/sodas. Easter egg hunt and games for the kids. Sunset dinner planned too!
All cook-out/dinner proceeds to benefit the Staniel Cay All-Age School.
Subject: Man O’ War Cay (Abaco)
Cruising News: A lot of cruisers who are ‘first timers’ on Man O War Cay do not realize that both the ‘Settlement Harbour’ and ‘Eastern Harbour’ contain many permanent moorings, and have extremely limited space for anchoring. The “Dodge Cruising Guide To The Abacos” still indicates both harbours as ‘Anchorages’ (anchor symbols) and does not mention the moorings #although the moorings have been here for years#. Occasionally, moorings are available for rent, but most are \”Private\” moorings. Additionally, a lot of “Charter” boats run aground coming into the harbour entrance. Boat drawing over 5 feet should consider entering the harbours at mid-tide. Additionally, one of the markers denoting the harbour entrance channel is missing. Cruisers should exercise caution and good sense in entering the Man O War Cay harbours. Man O War Cay is a GREAT place to visit.
The discussion below was copied from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) mail list. As I’ve said many times, this list is a GREAT adjunct to the Cruisers’ Net if you happen to own one of these fuel efficient vessels!
Skip Allen’s View from the Pilothouse column is always worth reading. In the April 2010 Southern Boating says, in part:
“I keep quite a number of spares on board for the expected things like impellers, belts, oil filters and fuses, but knowing that the Bahamian government has reversed a previous unpopular decision and is no longer charging hefty duty on imported repair parts for those boats with valid Bahamas cruising permits gives me more peace of mind and means I don’t have to provide for complete redundancy.”
This is the first mention I’ve seen of the Bahamas doing away with “hefty duty” on parts for cruisers. Does anyone have more information on this?
I’m headed to Abaco in a couple of weeks.
Milt Baker, Nordhavn 47 Bluewater
The duty was lifted last summer (I believe May) but the vessel must have a valid Bahamas Cruising Permit.
Ted Stehle, Editor
Waterway Guide/Skipper Bob Publications
Many thanks, Bob and Ted.
The definitive word seems to be that duty is no longer payable on “replacement boat parts,” though the 7% stamp tax is. Details are at:
Specifically, that URL reports:
BAHAMAS CUSTOMS DUTY FOR BOAT PARTS
There has been a rumor circulating that boaters now have to pay duty on replacement boat parts coming in to the Bahamas. Customs Superintendent Raphael Whyms said that boaters who have a valid cruising permit should have to pay only a 7% stamp tax on replacement boat parts. They should not have to pay any duty. If a boater is assessed a duty fee, he should call Mr. Whyms in Nassau at 242-302-3531 to report it and have the problem corrected.
In addition, I just heard this from friends living on Grand Bahama:
“Yes, the Bahamas has reversed their short-lived practice of charging duty on parts (it lasted for about 1 year) that come in for boats, provided that the in-bound shipment is accompanied with a valid cruising permit. Just recently, my brother came for a visit and was carrying several parts for us — some of which were clearly boat related, the the others that could had been for boat or house use. The clearly boat-related parts were allowed in duty-free without a problem when my brother presented the cruising permit. The other parts that could be used either on a boat or in a home were allowed in under the normal tourist terms — first $100 duty free.
“It is very important that when you order parts from the States that you provide a copy of the cruising permit and request that it be included in the shipment.
“Keep in mind that duty is the main source of income for the Bahamian government and, with the decrease in tourism, and the increase in unemployment, Customs officers are like mother lions protecting their kids!
“Now if they would just change the terms of the $300 cruising permit and allow us to come and go freely for one year, that would be great. As it is, you can exit/re-enter one time within the first 90 days of your 1 year cruising permit.”
I’ve seen reference to this also, several times recently, but I can’t quote where other than in several magazines.
Rudy and Jill
Briney Bug, Panama City, Fl
It surely represents a change back to the way things ought to be.
When I owned Bluewater Books & Charts we sent hundreds, maybe thousands, of packages to yachts in the Bahamas, each package with a neatly labeled with something like “IMPORTED DUTY FREE FOR “YACHT IN TRANSIT” UNDER BAHAMAS LAW (law number included here)” and it always worked really well.
While I’m at the computer, let me say thanks for you frequent posts–they are knowledgeable, valuable, witty, and a thorough joy to read. We on this board are most fortunate to be the beneficiaries of your knowledge, Rudy, and your willingness to share it. Bravo Zulu!
Importing parts for vessels “in transit” with a cruising permit are duty free. Here is the link to the official Bahamas.gov website. Once there, click on the Tariff Act amendment to see the PDF file. Read the
title of the amendment which in part says “to restore the exemption from duty …. parts for temporary cruising vessels”
Folks in George Town report problems with local customs still charging duty. I shipped many parts to Staniel Cay and never paid a cent of duty this past winter.
Subject: Pets and tick-borne disease in the Bahamas
Cruising News: Since we arrived in Long Island and later in Georgetown, I’ve been made aware that there is an outbreak of a tick-borne disease called Ehrlichiosis in pets. It’s carried by the brown dog tick and can be very
serious and/or fatal. If you’re cruising with a dog that you let run ashore, make sure you are using sufficient deterents for ticks and check your dog frequently for ticks. The symptoms of the disease are loss of appetite, high
fever and lameness. Diagnosis is done via a blood test. Treatment includes a dose of antibiotics but once infected, the disease can resurface. The vet in Georgetown has treated several dogs and is very helpful. Please take care…
Subject: Rum Cay, Sumner Point Marina
Cruising News: We are currently in the Sumnet Point Marina and are happy to report the marina operator Bobby is back and getting things ship shape. They are open for business, actually 10 boats in here right now. Just wanted to get the word out as in Georgetown we kept hearing that they were closed.
That is great news! Haven’t been back for some time but now it’s time to plan a trip.
I appropriated Captain remarks below from a string on the T&T list (Trawlers and Trawlering), concerning how to get accurate weather forecasts for the Bahamas.
Weather Underground is fairly good:
The above URL returns a list of all their reporting sites in the Bahamas. Click on any item to get additional details and the forecast.
Grand Banks 49, “Long Legged Lady”
Subject: Clearing in at Bimini
Cruising News: MV 34 “Easy Riders” arrived Feb 23, 2010. Tied up at Blue Water Marina ($1/ft + $10 elet + $10 Wifi +$10 per day toilet/shower + $.60/gal water. Diesel is only $3.95.
Subject: Man of War Cay Entrance
Cruising News: There is a marker missing at the entrance to Man of War Cay. It is the marker referenced in Steve Dodges guide as the “piling with the double arrow in front of the powerboat at the dock. It should be centered in the opening.” This marker is used was a red when going into the main harbor and as a green marker when going into Eastern Harbor. Please note that many markers are really not maintained as green or red in the Bahamas. You have to look for the arrow stick at the top of the piling. The entrance to Man of War it self is narrow thru a rocky pass but easy to navigate. It’s what you need to do after you get thru the pass that this missing marker is causing grief to many a boater. I’ve been here only a few days and have seen at least 3 boats to aground on the sand bar to the North East after entering the pass.
S/V Thate Wata
The point is that you hve to turn sharp left or even sharper right (more than 90deg.) immediately after you enter. Don’t approach the opposite shore, and be sure you’re at idle speed.
I really enjoy reading the various comments regarding “going to the Bahamas and “”The Crossing””. My first time across was in 1984 with a portable DF radio, a compass and a VHF radio. I don’t remember having a depth finder and probably didn’t since I went aground so much. I always left Fort Lauderdale (just as good as Miami in a sail boat) and plotted a course directly to Bimini with adjustments for the northward Gulfstream current. ON one occassion due to a late start and some very rough seas that developed about midway across, we arrived at dusk. Not the best way to do it, but it worked out well. I would not have tried it at night then and can’t imagine doing it now. My rule: if you can’t see it, don’t go. All the best. I hope to join all of you again someday. Capt Dave on At Last
Subject: Mising Marker
Cruising News: Ran across this info concerning a missing (broken) marker that cruisers exiting the Whale should be aware of. A piling at the north end beach on Guana Cay in the Bakers bay beach area was broken off at the water line. Be careful in this area!
The missing piling is reported, via BarometerBob.com, to be at about 26 41.06N 77 10.01W