Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The More We Learn The Less We Know

  This photo has nothing to do with the subject of this blog. It's just a picture of a beautiful Hinckley Yacht docked here at the A & B Marina in Key West. Some things are just what they are and have no other value and serve no purpose. One of those things are advice; that's why I seldom, or ever, give advice here on this forum. The blog is about our experiences. Others can draw from it what they will.
  But people still give lots of advice. And on other matters, I do too, even though I know it is of no use. I like it when people relate a story about their experiences, but I don't appreciate it when I'm told what I should do by others. Especially if they don't know what they are talking about.
  Take for instance, our intention of going to The Bahamas. Notice that I didn't say, "We are going to The Bahamas". We want to go. We intend to go. We are making plans to go. But are we going? That's like asking what's going to happen next week.
  I've been poking around for information about traveling to The Bahamas in a boat for some time now and I'm nowhere near to being totally informed. I say, in a boat, because invariably when the subject comes up, someone will say, "Have you been to The Bahamas?" Yes. Several times. On our honeymoon to the West End, and more than once to New Providence and Nassau. So we know how things are there, or used to be, so many years ago.
  We have been focused on getting Holly prepared for the trip and I've neglected the necessary preparations for getting us and Swing Set prepared. But I'm making up for lost ground.
  As I've shared before, Holly can't go anywhere without her rabies vaccination, and she can't  get that until after March 1st. Doctor's orders. We've applied to The Bahamas Department of Agriculture for her entry permit and we are still waiting for it, but we'll go with the application and receipt for payment in hand if we have to. We'll also need a medical certificate from the vet too. The Bahamas regulations state that the certificate can't be over 48 hours old. I feel like this stipulation will not only be flexible, but the date can be left blank and we can fill it in when we have to. I can make this happen. A scanner is a wonderful tool. Another logistical issue is that the rabies shot has to be given a month before you arrive in country. See how easy it all is?
  As far as us...we purchased charts for The Bahamas when we were in Cape Coral last October. While here in Key West, we ordered from Amazon two guidebooks for the Abacos and The Bahamas. We ordered our identification decal from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service. This decal is necessary for any vessel over 30 feet. The decal will be here before we leave Key West, or so I'm told.
  We've been "networking" about the trip with others, trying to gather some personal experience, not to be confused with advice about what we should do, as I've said. Everyone has a different opinion about the easiest ports of entry, or the best cruising areas, or what equipment we need. If we tell people that we intend to anchor out, they never fail to list the best marinas to stay at. If we reveal what charts and books we have, we are invariably told that we "need" another book or chart. Folks never fail to enjoy spending other peoples money.
  Yesterday a well meaning boater wanted me to come down and look at his chart plotter setup. I declined, telling him that it didn't matter what he had, we were going to use what we had, not having any desire to spend yet more money on this old tub. This was only after having listened to him list all the other stuff like his that we needed. Well, we have a water maker. He doesn't. So there.
  I had learned of something called the "Local Boaters Option". It's part of the Small Vessels Reporting System. I learned of this from one of the guides that we purchased. It usually allows citizens returning from Canada and The Bahamas to re-enter the U.S. by simply making a phone call. For us it could mean not checking in at Miami or Key West when we return and waiting for an inspection. I made a few calls, found the cumbersome application online, filled it out, and was able to schedule a required "interview" by a Customs agent here in Key West. Our interview will be tomorrow morning. We have to take a taxi to the airport here in Key West for the interview, but we'll incorporate a trip to Winn-Dixie on the way back.
  This trip to The Bahamas will be no different than the rest of our travels so far. We read lots of material concerning cruising the inland rivers and crossing the Gulf of Mexico before we started out last year. Some of the advice was legitimate, but some was unnecessary, and future travel will be the same. Troubles will come. We'll deal with them as we can as they come up; there is no way a person can plan for every occurrence.
  Put this way; we don't go off unprepared. But some people over analyze and try to anticipate every negative aspect of a situation. That takes all the fun out of everything. We'll do reasonable diligence and leave the rest to good luck. It's as good a system as any.


  1. Mike,

    I read your blog all the time and enjoy your writing. We are long time river runners like you, mostly on KY and Barkley Lakes spent a couple of years at the Duck Club in a rented slip on "C" Dock.
    We have a 580 Sedan Bridge now and keep it behind our 2nd Home at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral FL. We planned our Bahama Trip for literally years and I read everything I could get my hands on. I was way beyond just being prepared for this trip, preparing was fun though.
    One thing for sure most of the writers/advice givers are either sailors or trawler speed boaters, (not that there is anything wrong with that) and they tend to exagerate the challenges in my opinion. You would have thought crossing the Gulf Stream was like space travel.
    We do travel fast so not knowing if you are going to run at cruising speed or not changes the plan significantly. In the end the whole trip is no big deal and knowing the laws for entry (we chose Bimini) is the only real hassle. I did not like Bimini it seemed dirty and unorganized. We also traveled with our dog Sophie a 15 lb Westie and we worried about the 48 hour vet sign off as well, in the end my wife talked it thru in advance with a Bahamian Customs agent and she basically told us not to worry about the 48 hour requirement just make sure to have the paperwork in order. That turned out to be true and they let Sophie in no issues.

    We headed for Atlantis from Bimini and then Sampson Cay in the Exumas, what a fantastic trip!! Next time we will cut across Florida on the river and head for the Abacos from Stuart.

    There is my two cents worth travel safe,

    Tom Kraska

  2. Tom, this is useful information, especially about checking through at Bimini and the 48 hour requirement. My belief that "unorganized" is the term of the day in The Bahamas and I'll expect it. Our speed will be determined by the weather, but my suspicion is that I'll most likely run at cruising speed in order to get to customs early, wherever we decide on entering. Thanks for your two cents.

  3. Just a thought, have been following for some time and things appear to getting riskier and riskier as ya go........What a pilot? Are they available/ Bonded? Reasonable? Maybe a Pilot wanting to make it to the Bahamas for a Pilot ride back to the Keys..................., all the best and stay safe :)

  4. I would no sooner hire a captain to pilot our boat than I would hire someone else to have sex with my wife. This is as plain as I can put it. Thanks for the note, and keep reading!

  5. Nice captain/sex comparison haha. I would have to agree as well in hiring somebody else to drive. You might as well just take a plane to Bahamas. I'm just catching up on reading your blog so you have probably come and gone to Bahamas. I hope you enjoyed the adventure I guess I will read about it soon.