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Archive For: Bahamas

  • New Info On Clearing Bahamian Customs

    The posting below was copied by permission from the “Cruising News” section of the Explorer Chartbooks, Lewis Offshore website at Clearly, this is vital info for anyone visting the Bahamas. Please visit the Explorer Chartbooks web site for full details!

    We just put an updated report on clearing Bahamas Customs on our website under Cruising Information>Customs. It is a new “wrinkle” in the policy of allowing boats to clear in twice in 90 days under the same initial Customs fee. What we have just found out is that a vessel clearing in the second time in 90 days has to pay a transportation fee. A bit of a surprise to the persons who cleared into Nassau to learn this. I guess it doesn’t happen everywhere if officials don’t have to come to a boat but rather the person goes to the official.

    The normal Bahamas clearing-in fees (also referred to as “boarding fees” by Customs officials) are as reported in our Explorer Chartbooks in the Customs articles–$150 for vessels under 35′ and $300 for vessels over 35′. The newest policy allows a vessel to clear in a second time within a 90-day period under the applicable fee. On the second visit, a note indicating such is written on your cruising permit. However, we just learned that a vessel clearing in for the second time in 90 days is subject to a $30 transportation fee each for the Customs and Immigration Officers. Recently, a vessel reported to us being charged $60 in Nassau for officials to come to the boat. We verified with Customs that this is a valid charge for a second visit within 90 days as the officers provide their own transportation for the visit.

  • Great Bahamas Cruising Advice

    From May 25 through July 1 the weather was great except for one period of 5 days, heavy winds.  Bimini was much the same as in previous years, however there has been considerable clean up of trash on the streets.  The channel markers are missing again, so we came in via the range markers on south Bimini.  Big Game club remains closed and the best dockage in North Bimini (Alice town) is still Blue Water. Diesel was $2.91 a gallon.
    Chub Cay remains the most expensive marina in the Bahamas for boats under 45 ft.  It is $4.75 per foot.  Fuel was $3.29. Mega yachts actually get a break over the Atlantis rates.
    We stopped, as usual at Flo’s for dinner.  If  you have not been there, look at the Bahamas cruising guide and make a stop. It is about 22 miles north of Chub and you can go straight from this location to Nassau or to the Abaco’s.
    As usual Atlantis was one of our favorite locations.  Yes, the slip rate is high, but considering what comes with the slip it is a great place.  Rates at all of the Nassau marina’s are high. Radio calls continued to come in with people requesting slips. 
    In most cases the marinas were full, especially Atlantis.  Lesson here is to make reservations ahead of time.  Compared to previous visits to Atlantis the “people” traffic was lower than past years.  Meaning that the hotel head count was down, but marina count is to the maximum. Fuel at Browns was $2.79.
    In the Exumas a great place to eat dinner is at Sampson.  Dinner reservations are needed, before 5PM.  You can contact them on the radio.  We continue to prefer to anchor out while in the Exumas.  One of the best places is at Big Major. On most nights there were from 12 to 20 boats.  The area is large, good holding and everyone has plenty of room.
    Remember to take fruit or vegetables to feed to pigs on the island.  Fuel in Sampson and Staniel was $2.89.
    Remember that there will be a surcharge of 2 ½  to 4 % for using you credit card.  Cash or travels checks can same some money.
    Best fuel price while on this cruise was at off of the Peterson fuel barge (Miami and Ft Lauderdale) at $2.40, plus tax. City marina, St Augustine at $2.59 (tax included).
    I hope this information is helpful.
    L Davis

  • Cat Cay Clearing Customs Charge

    Just returned from a trip to the Bahamas – 06/03/09 thru 06/24/09.  We made the mistake of heading to Gun Cay to clear customs at Cat Cay.  We entered the Marina and called out to someone on the dock to determine where we could dock for customs.  We were told that if we did not spend the night at the club, there would be a $100 docking fee to tie up to clear customs.  We inquired about the cost to spend the night and were told $3.50 per foot for one night.
    We responded with thanks, but no thanks, and headed north for Bimini (only about ten miles) where we docked for free right by the customs office and were cleared courteously and expeditiously with no extra charges. Save yourself the aggravation and expense and head direct for Bimini – I know I’ll never bother going to Cat Cay again.
    Jerry Shinn
    MV – Cato

  • Exumas and Nassau Cruising News

    Subject: Exumas
    Cruising News: News from Nassau and beyond.  Fueled in Nassau at Starport for 2.75 / gallon for cash diesel.  (Cheaper than pier 66 in Lauderdale.)  Club Thunderball is re-opened on Staniel Cay.  Solomon is renting the place to a great couple who are making a go of it.  Great burgers and ice cold beer.  Good luck Coral.  MacDuff\\\'s at Norman\\\'s Cay is still great- Best cracked conch we have had in a long time and Roxie make home-made ice cream.  Definitely worth a stop.  Stephan has done a great job with it.  More news later.  From Pandora in Nassau.
    Janet Coppoletta

  • Check-in At Spanish Cay

    Subject: Check-In at Spanish Cay
    Cruising News: Be forewarned, that at Spanish Cay, they now have a $50 “dockage fee” if you are just visiting for your customs check-in.  I was told that this was a new policy…  After I told them that in the cruisers guide it indicates there was no charge, they knocked $10 off.  Other than that, it was a pleasant process.
    Mark Thomas

    Subject: Spanish Cay Checkin
    Cruising News: Referring to an earlier post about a $50 check in fee if you clear customs in Spanish Cay, unless there were 10 people on the boat, something is wrong. I have cleared there but always stay a night. The bottom of their webpage (in the marina page) states there is a $5 usage fee, per person, if you clear customs but do not stay at the marina. Again, I have never been charged as I stay the night.

    The $50 charge is well posted at the marina and I believe on their website. I’ve checked in there twice (2005 and 2008), but always stayed the night. In 2005 I had a Cruising Permit (purchased at West End a month earlier) so I was just exercising my re-entry priviledge. Since $50 is about 2/3 the daily berth fee for a 40-45′ boat you might as well spend the night. Obviously they are trying to get people to stay and have dinner at the restaurant (very pricey, but very good). Spanish Cay is still the closest place to checkin in the N. Bahamas and not get a lot of attitude (IMO) as in West End or Fox Town.
    For example in 2005 I didn’t know you are are supposed to pay the fee for the Cruising Permit in cash. I got a lot of grief from the C&I folks in West End. You would have thought I was Public Enemy #1. I got my crew to loan me enough cash to cover the fee. In 2008 I checked in at Spanish Cay and forgot about the cash issue (happens a lot at my age). I just got a sigh from the C&I agent and she accepted my personal check.
    John Stevenson

    We also were surprised at the $50 fee as the cruising guide says that you can tie up for free to check in. We hadn’t planned to spend the night and with a strong N wind, it wasn’t very protected. After some ‘discussion’ they gave us a credit that we could use for dockage in the spring if we decide to stop there. FWIW, I would bypass Spanish Cay and check in at Green Turtle in the future.
    S/V Moondance

  • Sampson Cay Club Saturday Beach Party

    A place where any stress will quickly wash away, like the tide will wash your footsteps from the beach. Don�t bring your suit and tie. Pack your sandals and shorts and be prepared to kick back and havThe Sampson Cay Club is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS' NET SPONSOR!!!

    Subject: Sampson Cay Club Saturday Beach Party
    Cruising News: Join us at Sampson Cay Club Exumas Bahamas for our Weekly Beach Party
    The Party is located on the Beach Behind the Marina
    12 Noon until 7 PM
    Featuring BBQ Ribs and BBQ Chicken
    Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
    Corn on the Cob & Salad
    Cost is $20.00 plus tip
    Happy Hour Drink Specials
    Beer $ 3.00
    Rum Punch $ 4.00
    Soda $ 2.00
    Water $ 1.00
    Come Have a Fun Day on the Beach and Play Volleyball, Horseshoes, Toss a Frisbee or Just Chill out in the Shade in a nice Beach Chair.
    All Welcome Hope to See You Soon

  • Don’t Rock Passage

    Active Image

    Don’t Rock Passage
    This is a popular shortcut in the Abacos between Green Turtle Cay and points to the SE.  It can save a trip through the notoriously rough Whale Cay Passage.  However, it has only 4 ft. MLW and is subject to breakers when a strong NE swell is running.  In an E-SE swell it is usually passable.
    The passage changes from year to year.  I went through twice over the past weekend.  I’ve attached a Google Earth picture with an estimate of the 3 foot contour and a recommended route.  NOTE THIS IS FROM VISUAL OBSERVATION NOT HYDROGRAPHY.  I estimate the contour based on paying attention to my depth finder and looking at the color of the water.  The recommended course will have an honest 4 ft. MLW all the way through.
    Many people go around the north side of Don’t Rock.  This has shallowed substantially from what I remember a few years ago.  Deepest water is definitely on the south side.
    The sandbar to the E-NE of the Sandbank Cays seems to have grown slightly.  It is easily avoided; note the dogleg in the recommended route.
    When transiting this passage, or any in the Bahamas, here is what Pogo would say: “Son, use the natural-born eyebones what God give ya!”
    Capt. Bob Knaus

  • Double Breasted Cays Anchorage – Abacos

    You might want to take a look into my favorite Abaco  anchorage, which is the small "pocket" at the western end of Double Breasted Cays.  This little spot holds 2 boats, snugly, is almost completely protected, has a neat tidal beach and is just shallow enough to discourage most sailboats.  Seaward reef snorkling is good.  In May nurse sharks converge here (for breeding?) and litter the shallows like logs–quite a sight from a dinghy!

  • Problems at Chub Cay

    Subject: Chub Cay Rip-off
    Cruising News: 4 trawlers sought refuge after crossing the Tongue of the Ocean in 6-8 foot seas. We were quoted $4.75 per foot. We went to the anchorage instead, even though it\'s pretty rolly. When we inquired about clearing through Customs, we were told $100.00 per boat.
    Stephanie Wakelin

  • Walkers Cay Open

    It appears that Walkers Cay is open again as they have a new web page. Rosies ( web page ) on Grand Cay states that Walkers is open for clearing in by boat – any one out there able to confirm this??  Also, anyone know if the entrance “channel” has been remarked? And what draft it will carry?
    Vaughan on Abacos Dreaming

    We checked in at Walkers in Dec 2008. The marina and resort were not open and still in the condition the last hurricane left them in. There were no plans to rebuild at that time. There were only three people on the island… customs, police and caretaker. We anchored at Grand Cay and took the dinghy over. A bit of a long run, but the wind was light.
    James Lea

  • Important – Underwater Wreck Posted On Explorer Charts S. E. of Porgee Rock

    The Explorer Charts website has posted a wreck that is located 3.5 n.m.  S.E. of Porgee Rock.  This means that the wreck is on the  route from Nassau Harbor's east end and Highborne Cay.

    Lat. 25.00.8
    Long. 77.12.8

    Evidently this wreck is just under the surface at high tide.  Please  let others know that might be cruising in this area.  You can also look at  other updates at _ (  click  on the "Free Updates" tab.  I will post this on the T & T and Great  Loop lists, if someone knows how to get it to the AGLCA and MTOA please feel  free.
    Todd  & Brenda Lanning

  • Beware of Yellow Pay P)hones in the Bahamas

    Subject: Communications
    Cruising News: Beware Of Yellow Payphones In The Bahamas
    In January, I was cruising in the Abacos Islands and one of my crew had to make several calls to Canada.  He used a yellow payphone at one of the marinas.  There was no company name on the telephone but it advertised credit card calls to the U.S., Canada and International locations.  There were no rates posted and no announcement of costs given either before or after each call.  My crew member assumed, to his regret, that the calls would be comparable to similar long-distance calls made within the U.S.  He made six 2-minute calls, one 5-minute call and one 10-minute call, all to Canada.  The charges for his 27 minutes of calling totalled US$346.53.  This works out to $12.83 per minute!  I strongly suggest you do not use yellow payphones in the Bahamas unless you first get the cost of a call from the operator.  If you can’t get a cost, don’t call.
    There is a good alternative to yellow payphones.  BATELCO, the Bahama Telephone
    Company, sells prepaid long-distance calling cards called HELLO cards.  These are available at most marinas and many stores.  Their cost for calls to the U.S. is $0.47 per minute and there are no additional connect charges.  The cost for calls to Canada is $0.50 per minute.  You can call from any BATELCO payphone and you can dial the toll-free access number from any other regular telephone.
    John Woolsey

  • Chub Cay NOT Closed

    There is apparently a rumor going around that Chub Cay is closed. For instance, I received the note below just this afternoon (3/20/09).

    Good Morning All,
    I received the note below from some fellow cruisers who we hope to cross to the Bahamas with, thought I would share the news with the group.
    "We talked to our friend who owns the dock in Chub that we use ? and it is a very sad story.  Totally shut down ? no water, no electric, no fuel, no customs, no restaurant, the pool is green? ? and he thinks the bank is about to foreclose and float all those beautiful docks right out of there.  And, he says there is no security and it is very unsafe.  Makes us sad ? we have had fun there."

    So, our Salty Southeast Cruisers' Net Sales Director, Winston Fowler, who is quite familiar with Chub Cay, called and discovered that while the development company behind Chub Cay may be having some financial difficulty, the entire complex, including the marina, docks, power and water connections, pool and fuel dock are VERY MUCH OPERATIONAL! Winston was even quoted current fuel prices.
    So, Chub Cay is OPEN. Spread the word!

    And, confirmation from a fellow cruiser that Chub Cay is fully operational:

    Not sure you're referring to the same place, but we stayed overnite Chub Cay Club Marina just Mon, not much going on but docks were fine, water & electric ($55/50A). Power house was running and lights were on all night. Security seemed to be a  non-issue.
    Steve Sipe
    Solo 4303 "Maerin"


  • Impressions of Bimini

    1st time in Bimini, but I can relate that the marinas are empty. Big Game is closed up, we're in Blue Water, there are 6 transient boats here including us, and two semi-permanent. Eight total.
    Our impression of Bimini as 1st timers here is that it's a shadow of its former self. Looks like this was a bustling place 20 yrs ago, maybe even more recently. But lots of empty shell buildings, closed up and nobody around them. It reminds me of a resort in the really off season.
    People are friendly, the beach is beautiful, and the water is crystal clear. Beautiful spot. After coming here, now I *really* don't get the whole thing with Marathon being paradise. <G>
    Now, THIS is what we signed on for!!
    Steve Sipe
    Solo 4303 "Maerin"

  • How The Slow Economy Is Affecting the Bahamas

    The note below is from Captain Milt Baker, founder and former owner of the wonderful Bluewater Books and Charts in Fort Lauderdale, FL. While Milt does note this info is second and third hand, he has every reason to believe that it is accurate.

    Although I've cruised the Bahamas almost every year for the past 25 years, I've been away and have no first-hand information on how the economy has affected the Bahamas. Over the past
    couple of weeks, however, I've spoken have with several people who either live or have interests in the Bahamas, mainly Abaco.  Here's their take:

    –Nassau and Freeport, catering to mass tourism, have been hit hardest.  If you don't count cruise ship passengers who spend little money in the Bahamas, the number of tourists visiting
    Nassau and Freeport is down about 50% from the previous year.  An acquaintance who owns one of  the high-end restaurants at the Atlantis resort told me that his business of off by more than
    50% and that bookings at the hotels there are down about the same amount. 

    –Abaco, catering to more sophisticated travelers, to those who own second homes there, and to the yachting community, has also felt the impact but not as severely.  Tourism is reported to be
    down about 30-35% in Abaco.  Marina fees have either gone down or remained the same, with no increases anywhere.  The new marina at Bakers Bay on Guana Cay was to have been a fancy,
    exclusive megayachts-only marina, yet last weekend it had only three yachts, none of them megayachts.  The price at the marina there is reported to $1.00/foot.  There's lots of space at the usual marinas all around Abaco, and Green Turtle Club is reportedly offering big incentives to get cruisers in.  Charter bookings at The Moorings is way down, according to someone who drives by several times a week and does a quick census of the boats there.

    I don't have any reports on the number of boats at George Town in the Exumas.  The "new" marina at Emerald Bay has reportedly gone belly-up.
    I have felt for a long time that the $300 fee required to clear in a 40-plus foot boat was a bad idea that kept many yachtsmen from visiting the Bahamas.  Combined with a bad economy, it seems to be even worse.  I've heard lots of people say they just won't go there if they have to pay that kind of money for the privilege.
    That said, Judy and I will be headed for Abaco for a few weeks in May and are looking forward to being back in the islands.  I'm guessing we won't have any trouble finding a berth!
    –Milt Baker,
    Nordhavn 47 Bluewater,
    Fort Lauderdale

    And, a similar point of view from Captain Dick:

    We live in Nassau and, for the most part, the tourists keep coming.  There are lots of boats in the harbor and, except for some of the tourist hotels, everything is still pretty much as normal.  The Wyndham Hotel on Cable Beach will be closing for two months in August but the adjacent Radisson and the Crystal Palace Casino will be open.  Atlantis has lost some business by is still relatively busy and, of course, open.  All the good restaurants are open.  There will be more than enough for a visitor to do.  Don't forget the Thursday luncheon at the Green Parrot for visiting yachtsmen.  You can get details on the morning net hosted by Nick Wardle.  Come on down.
    Dick Pluta
    Nassau, Bahamas

  • Communications in the Bahamas

    When in the Bahamas last year, we put our Verizon Air Card and our two Verizon Cell Phones on vacation hold.  The money saved over that 2.5 months almost paid for the Iridium phone we rented from Explorer Satellite.
    We also used MagicJack for calls to the US.  It worked very well when we had a strong WiFi signal.  Our friends used Skype which worked as well but costs more than MagicJack when connecting to a phone, not a computer.  Skype also required headphones; MagicJack used a cheap landline phone we purchased.
    We have no financial interest in Verizon, Iridium, Explorer Satellite, MagicJack or Skype.

  • Grand Lucayan Waterway

    Subject: Bahamas – Grand Lucayan Waterway
    Cruising News: I just returned from an 8 day trip to the Bahamas and wanted to report on some of the water and marinas we experienced.
    After a 2 day stay at Port Lucaya, we took the Grand Lucayan Waterway to Dover Sound on to Little Bahama Banks and then on to Spanish Cay.  The water depths in the Grand Lucayan Waterway were very good except for the very north end of the canal as you enter Dover Sound.  We transited the water on a rising tide approximately 1 hour before high tide.  We experienced at least 5 to 6 feet at the very north end going through the markers.  The rest of the waterway carried at least 12 to 15 feet or more all the way through.  Once you clear the last set of green and red markers into Dover sound, we had good water all the way to Spanish Cay.  After having spoken to the Dockmaster in Port Lucaya and several other local boaters, they said as long as you head out on a rising tide and draw no more than 6 feet, you sould be able to trasit the canal without any problem.  Take your time, slightly favor the green markers as you head out of the waterway into Dover Sound and go slow.
    As far as marinas went, we stayed at Spanish Cay Marina, Green Turtle Club & Marina on Green Turtle Cay, Orchaid Bay on Great Guana Cay and The Boat Harbour on Marsh Harbor.  All of the marinas were very nice and the staff extremely friendly.  We were very impressed with Orchid Bay Marina on Great Guana Cay.  These are very nice facilities and the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome.  If we were to go back any time soon, in addition to Orchaid Bay, I think we change our stay on Green Turtle and visit The Bluff House Marina.  They have great facilities and incredible views of both the harbor and the sound.  The value was very good and the diesel prices were excellent.  From a value perspective, I might also be inclined to choose Conch Inn & Marina in Marsh Harbour.  All in all, a great passage that was a lot of fun.
    Capt. Keith Mckey

    Keith ,
    Tx for taking time to report….Timely for our trip next month.
    Brian Barr

  • Staniel Cay’s “Bond Party”

     Welcome to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, your own paradise in the middle of the beautiful Exumas.Staniel Cay Yacht Club announces its second annual "Bond Party," this one with a "Casino Royale Theme." Of course, Staniel Cay is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS' NET SPONSOR!
    The party will be held on Saturday, 3/28/09, and will feature Blackjack and Poker tournaments with real tables and professional dealers. Prices include 2 night stay in the SCYC cottages, 1 roundtrip ticket on Watermakers Air, Ipod, Digital Camera and exclusive bragging rights.
    Come one, come all! Call 242 355 2024 to book your seat at the table!

  • Bahamas Cruising Guide Question

    The discussion below was copied from the Net's "Ask Your Neighbor" page (, and the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) List.

    If an experienced Bahama cruiser would share with me the name of  their recommendation for a Bahama cruising guide I'd be grateful.
    Tom Hollinger

    We have used Steve Pavlidas' guides for many years and find them to be the best IMO. He divides the Bahamas so which one you will need depends on where you are going. Also be SURE you have the Explorer Charts.

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