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Changes in Cruising The Bahamas In 1979, I cruised the Bahamas, once for two weeks in the spring and another time for three months in the summer. The spring trip was more of a shakedown cruise, but the motor on my 26-foot Folkboat broke a shaft two days before our planned departure, so we went without any power. I had sailed the boat extensively without power and thought nothing of it, as did my friend. He’d been to the Bahamas before (I hadn’t) and was a good sailor, and we figured no big deal—and we weren’t about to postpone the trip. Problem was we lost power in the middle of the Gulfstream at 2am. We’d left from Miami, so we were far enough south that it wasn’t going to turn into a trip to Bermuda. We lost power for about eight hours, and even though we tied up the inflatable with a 1.5hp Seagull to the boat, we still drifted so far north that our planned entry at Cat Cay was out of the question. After finally getting wind, which allowed us to sail east, we ended up entering the Northwest Providence Channel and then on to the Berrys— our original destination. We decided to skip entering The Bahamas legally and just sailed south along the Berrys and then back north, eventually making it back to Florida. We never did enter legally, but it was such a short trip we decided to just go home. Would I do that today? Absolutely not. I probably shouldn’t have done it back then. And today, I doubt you could get away that. A month later I came back to The Bahamas with my girlfriend and we cruised for three months. We also started from Miami and this time, we entered the country at Cat Cay. We had a motor on that trip, but had great wind in the crossing and never needed it (strange how things work out like that). During our three months in The Bahamas, we sailed across to Gun Club Cay, cruised the Berrys, then went south to Nassau and on down through the Exumas. We never saw the Bahamian police on the water. Last fall, we reported on a boarding incident in the

Bahamas where boaters had the Bahamian police board and “aggressively” inspected their boat. The police found that the boaters did not correctly report the correct number of shotgun shells they had on board when they entered (and The Bahamas is strict on gun policy). They were fined $300 on the spot, which they paid to the police who boarded them. What surprised everyone, including BoatU.S.—who they reported the incident to—was that they were in a remote bay in the Abacos. Inspections and boardings have always occurred in the Bahamas, but rarely in the out islands. BoatU.S. reported that more boardings in the out islands should be expected as this is new government policy. In this issue (“Short Tacks,” page 16), we have an update from BoatU.S. on that boarding. Times are changing and I know that a lot of people who cruise The Bahamas regularly are going to be greatly disappointed with this new inspection policy. It’s like missing Ol’ Florida—or Ol’ anywhere in the U.S. (and the world for that matter). What this means is that—for one—no entering and leaving the country without officially entering like I did in 1979. We’d probably be put in jail with a hefty fine today. But there are other advantages. Once, in that ’79 trip, we anchored offshore Norman’s Cay, not knowing that it was the headquarters for a well-known Columbian drug smuggler, featured in the 1993 movie Blow. We saw activity on the island, but because of massive mosquito problems, we didn’t go ashore. That sort of activity is no longer allowed I am sure. It’s the only time I can think of in my life when I was grateful for lots of mosquitoes, but I wasn’t at the time. I think The Bahamas is beginning to realize what they have, and along with increased cruising fees instituted in recent years, they are going to profit from visitors and there will be many changes in store for cruisers. The times they are a-changin’.

Contribute to Southwinds – Articles and Photos Wanted Sailing Experiences: Stories and photos about experiences in places you’ve cruised; anchorages, marinas, or passages made throughout the Southern waters, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Boat Reviews: Sail or Trawler. Review your boat. See the ad on page 12 on reviewing your boat Charter Stories: Have an interesting Charter story? In our Southern waters, or perhaps in the Bahamas or the Caribbean? Write About Your Yacht Club or Sailing Association: Tell us about your club, its history, facilities, major events, etc. Youth Sailing: Write about a local youth sailing organization or sailing camp Bahamas and the Caribbean: Trips, experiences, passages, anchorages, provisioning and other stories of interest.

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Southwinds May 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds May 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...