Rafting Up Pointers
Most cruising is decided several weeks beforehand. Many cruises are done in
conjunction with the ECSA.
Dean White, Fleet Captain for more information.
Melbourne Yacht Club Cruise Information
Up by the Numbers" (pointers on the rafting process) by former MYC Commodore, Ed Roberts
Bahamas Tips (updated 1/22/2008)
Bahamas Air Sea Rescue (BASRA)
Be sure your point of contact back home has the necessary
information to start a search or make emergency contact if needed. In general
that means an itinerary, description of the vessel (info above), number of
people on board at given times (if changes), understanding of when to consider
you missing. Make SURE you check in with them before the 'missing' time
If someone needs to reach you in the Abacos, use
Cruisers@oii.net. Have them put the boat
name in the subject line and believe me, Patty or someone from the Cruiser's Net
WILL find you.
Communication Plan for Crossing Stream
If you are crossing with other boats, make sure you discuss a
communications plan. (What channel and how often (hourly is recommended)).
BEFORE you are out there, know how far your radio will transmit on the chosen
channel. A proper mast-top antenna on high power should go ~20 miles.
If yours does not, replace your coax and/or antenna (you'll want that range in
Do not head directly into the stream. If you have to tack,
wait until you get onto the bank.
A common plan is to either go from Ft. Pierce or West Palm to Mangrove Cay - about 75-85nmi.
On the return, the distance from West End to Ft Pierce is 86nmi.
Customs in Abaco
You will need either a passport for each
person clearing. Everyone on board must have a pass valid PASSPORT. A birth
certificate is no longer enough. (New Rule in 2008)
Fly the Q flag once you enter Bahamian waters (all yellow flag). Only one person should go
ashore to clear
in. Everyone else should stay on board until the boat has cleared in. To
complete the paperwork you will need; everyone’s passport,
boat registration, ???
Once cleared in replace the Q flag with courtesy
Use "provisions" to fill out blank for what you
have with you as far as food etc.
You may carry weapons into the Bahamas, however you MUST register them. If you
are caught with an unregistered weapon, they can take your vessel. The
feeling is weapons are NOT needed and we have never carried any
and wouldn't recommend it.
If you plan to bring your pet, write to the
Department of Agriculture
PO Box N-3704
This is a $10.00 fee and is much easier to do
ahead of time. Most ports of entry DO NOT HAVE AGRICULTURE offices there. There
is no way to pay the fee and they will hold you and your boat at the port of
entry unti you get someone to pay the fee in the March Harbor Office!! You will
need to have your Vet fill out a health certificate within 1 month of entry.
Here is latest word on the check-in fee (2004,
still current in 2008):
"The Bahamas has given due
consideration to the concern of the boating community and has decided that the
current Fees of $150 for boats up to 35 feet in length and $300 for boats over
35 feet, shall be valid for two entries during any 90 day period, commencing
December 1, 2003 as an interim measure."
Once cleared in replace Q flag with courtesy flag.
Clearing back in to the U.S.
It is now possible to go to the Melbourne
Airport (or any US Customes & Border Protection Office) before you leave. Call
customs and make an appointment. Bring your passport and photo ID and they will
isssue yuo a "pin" that you can use when you enter the country. That and the
"user fee decal" number are all you need to enter with a phone call. Otherwise,
you do need to present yourself at the US Customs and Border Protection Office.
Boats over 25 feet need to have a "User
Fee Decal". This can be done on line through US Customs and is a $25.00 fee.
Also, Chris Reynolds tried something
different in 2005. His report of clearing in at Melbourne Airport can be
Clearing in to the US the Easy Way.
The rules on taking conch have changed recently. The newest rules
direct from the Minister of Tourism, dated October 24, 2007, states that "no
vessel shall have on board at any time conch, exceeding six".
Navigation Once in Abaco
Recommend getting current copy of Steve Dodge "Abaco Guide". It
is available at both West Marine's. The waypoints in Dodge are good.
Abaco is in the process of changing to Red,
Right, Returning. The West Point/Eagle Rock (Hopetown channel) is a green
flasher. North Parrot Cay is a red flasher.
Once in the Sea of Abaco - it's like the Indian
River except mostly 20 feet deep and clear blue. You will get good at reading
the water depth by the colors.
There is about a 2.5 to 3 ft tide change (high to
low). You may need to watch your timing at the shallower locations, i.e. entrance
to Little Harbor.
Communication once in Abaco
Channel 16 should not be used - it is for emergency and local
phone use. 68 is the cruising boat hailing channel, but even if it's quiet, you
should move off to talk (a lot of people are listening to that channel). There is a Cruiser's Net
each day at 8:30 (maybe 8:00) on channel 68, once you get down towards Green
You are probably safer in Abaco than in the US.
We have never needed to lock the boat, but that's up to each captain.
Dinghies are safe at the docks without being locked up. Just be sure to have a
dinghy anchor to keep it out from under the dock.
Fun Things to Do
Fishing - pole or spear. Dodge has all the regulations.
Finding legal conch.
Visiting local watering holes - every bar has their own special rum drink.
Shopping - mostly Marsh Harbor, Green Turtle and Hopetown.
Going up in the Hopetown lighthouse.
Don't miss the 'Signing Tree' at Alan's Pensacola.
Don't miss Double-Breasted for a few days.
to Royal Marsh Harbor Yacht Club Links Page
Boating in the Abacos
Joanne Abbowitt &
Marion Terry' Blog on their Bahama trip
Sherry & Dave
McCampbell's Blog on their Around the World trip