Hopetown/ Abacos July 2015

Discussion in 'Sea Ray Lifestyle & Cruising' started by k9medic, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. k9medic

    k9medic Active Member

    528
    Mar 27, 2013
    Florida
    2005 23' twin engine jet boat
    1998 420 Aft Cabin
    twin jet 160hp.
    twin 3116 CATs
    Given some discussion on another boating forum it would appear that my mind has been made up that in July of 2015 I will be transiting from the west coast of Florida to Hopetown in the Abacos for vacation.

    My plan outbound would be the following:

    1. Crystal River to Longboat Key - anchor out
    2. Longboat Key to the entrance of the Okeechobee Waterway - marina
    3. OWW to west side of the lake (takes into account the time in locks)- marina
    4. West side to Stuart - marina (meet family)
    5. Stuart to Sale Cay, 7 hours at 16kts - anchor
    6. Sale Cay to Green Turtle, 6.5 hours at 8kts - marina
    7. Green Turtle to Elbow/Hopetown, 3 hours at 8 kts. Probably stop at great Guana Cay too - marina
    8. Repeat steps 1-7 in reverse.

    While this is a bit out, I tend to plan and re-plan so the more time the better.

    I know some of you have done this trip and I would certainly be interested in hearing about your experiences.

    For someone that may be interested in doing this trip, I would be interested in having a buddy boat.
     
  2. trit21

    trit21 New Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Live, Orlando: Boat, Ft. Pierce
    See signature
    See signature
    Stuart to Sale? Where are you checking in customs? I assume you are taking the SeaRay 420 aft so why not go to West End, check in customs, relax for the night as you have done the hard part of crossing the stream, next day to Green Turtle. West End to GTC is 125 miles or so, you might want to push the throttles a little to get over there and avoid the thunderstorms that are sure to be present. Only other thing at this point I would worry about is the depth the Okeechobee when crossing in July. Sometimes it gets real skinny but you will only be able to tell that at time of departure. We go over every year to GTC, Guana for anywhere from 2-4 weeks.
     
  3. ttmott

    ttmott Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    Yea, and the fuel at West End is less expensive. Clearing in at West End as trit21 says gives you more options to alter your plan like first to Alans-Pensacola or Manjack before Green Turtle. From a fuel aspect we usually fill stateside then West End which allows us to do most of the Abacos then Treasure then West End and back to home. Never less than enough to turn around and go back to last fuel.
     
  4. k9medic

    k9medic Active Member

    528
    Mar 27, 2013
    Florida
    2005 23' twin engine jet boat
    1998 420 Aft Cabin
    twin jet 160hp.
    twin 3116 CATs
    From my math, Stuart direct to Great Sale Cay is 112nm which would take me approximately 7 hours at cruise speed (22gph). The next morning we could transit to Green Turtle at 8 kts. for 6.5 hours (3.5gph) and clear customs there. If it worked out that way, I would have burned just less than 1/2 a tank of fuel.

    I was thinking that I could fuel in Elbow Cay for the return back to Stuart?


    Trit21 - I'd love to take the jet boat... I took it to Bimini a few years back and then down to Key West and it was a blast.
     
  5. trit21

    trit21 New Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Live, Orlando: Boat, Ft. Pierce
    See signature
    See signature
    Please be aware you are required to check in customs first chance you get. That is how it is stated on the Bahamas website. I have heard, no direct connection, to a sailboat that did the exact thing you are looking to do. Stay at Sale for the night. Bahamian coast guard came to them and forced them to return to West End to check in and the proceed from there, back tracking an entire day at or more when on sail of course. Don't fish before you check in either. They are looking to make examples of people. Just ask the guys that fished before arriving at Walkers/Grand that were in jail with everything including the boat impounded. I heard it was going to be over a $9000 fine by the time they added everything up but haven't heard what the final outcome was on that story. Probably never will.
     
  6. k9medic

    k9medic Active Member

    528
    Mar 27, 2013
    Florida
    2005 23' twin engine jet boat
    1998 420 Aft Cabin
    twin jet 160hp.
    twin 3116 CATs

    This is where the water is not so clear. Fortunately I don't fish and I would plan on flying the Q flag until I got to GTC.

    Some forums say you can go direct to GTC and others say West End.

    So much for easy...
     
  7. ttmott

    ttmott Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    When you arrive on the banks the quarantine flag must be hoisted. If you are not displaying the flag and, for example, anchored for the night in the Bahamas they can and will impound your stuff and you. You are welcome to report in to your first landfall where ever that may be, provided customs are hosted there. You cannot swim, fish, or walk on land before clearing in. They make things easy and simple for boaters to enjoy the Bahamas so please, for all of us that behave, play to the rules.
     
  8. trit21

    trit21 New Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Live, Orlando: Boat, Ft. Pierce
    See signature
    See signature
    You can go directly to GTC but you cannot stop along the way from what I understand. Many have stopped at Sale first but this is when you may get in trouble. You can also stop at Walker to check in, well now it is at Grand since the building at Walkers is almost fallen but check with Bahamas Custom next year as to the rules, they seem to change frequently although probably not as it is just interpretation.
     
  9. trit21

    trit21 New Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Live, Orlando: Boat, Ft. Pierce
    See signature
    See signature
    Oh....and the rule states to fly the quarantine flag when near a port of entry not when you cross the bank according to the Bahamas website.
     
  10. ttmott

    ttmott Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    Tom
    you can spend the night or ten nights without clearing in; you cannot fish, swim, or touch land until clearing in; you or your passengers cannot leave the vessel. You must show the quarantine flag until clearing. They prefer and mandate you clear at the first convenience.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  11. k9medic

    k9medic Active Member

    528
    Mar 27, 2013
    Florida
    2005 23' twin engine jet boat
    1998 420 Aft Cabin
    twin jet 160hp.
    twin 3116 CATs
    This seems kind of presumptuous. Heck, I even have an FCC radio license since I operate a radio in a foreign port... Doesn't everyone who goes to the Bahamas get one? You know to play by the rules.

    My point is that given the many different interpretations of Bahamian regulations (some which change while you are standing there clearing customs) there are different ways to look at what is considered clearing in at the closest port of entry. One could argue that the closest point is intended as the closest port of entry to your destination.

    You even changed your stance it seems - "If you are not displaying the flag and, for example, anchored for the night in the Bahamas they can and will impound your stuff and you." to "They prefer and mandate you clear at the first convenience. "

    I have been to the Bahamas several times by boat as well as by personal plane. Each time has been different. For that matter if you participate in a Bimini Fling (operated by the Bahamian Govt.) they give you a yellow tshirt to use as a Q flag but if you talk to the customs guys at the dock they say that's not legal.
     
  12. ttmott

    ttmott Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    This seems kind of presumptuous. Heck, I even have an FCC radio license since I operate a radio in a foreign port... Doesn't everyone who goes to the Bahamas get one? You know to play by the rules.
    Not meant to be presumptuous but rather prescriptive; my apology for such pointed articulation. I don't understand the FCC corollary; VHF in the US and Bahamas do not require operator's license and the FCC is a US regulatory entity.

    My point is that given the many different interpretations of Bahamian regulations (some which change while you are standing there clearing customs) there are different ways to look at what is considered clearing in at the closest port of entry. One could argue that the closest point is intended as the closest port of entry to your destination.
    I had always thought Bahamian requirements for boaters are rather straight forward. The idea is, if you are passing through Bahamian waters and not leaving your vessel there is no need to clear through their customs. If you are going to stay and play in the Bahamas then clear in at the first port of harbor where customs has a presence. First port of harbor may or may not be the closest and may be your final destination well into the islands. Until your vessel clears in the Q flag needs to be displayed. They require when entering the country that the Q flag be raised and can be lowered after clearing in. You and your passengers must remain on the vessel until clearing is completed. Only the captain / owner may leave the vessel to clear in. There are circumstances that may alter procedure; for example, my last trip over a couple of weeks ago we came in to West End after 8 PM and the customs office was closed. Old Bahamas Inn allowed us to leave the boat and stay in our rooms until morning; we were instructed not to leave the property until clearing in the morning.

    You even changed your stance it seems - "If you are not displaying the flag and, for example, anchored for the night in the Bahamas they can and will impound your stuff and you." to "They prefer and mandate you clear at the first convenience. "
    Q flag needs to be displayed when you enter their country and removed after clearing in. You quite possibly could have it displayed from Memory Rock all the way to GTC; your choice where you want to clear in but the flag needs to be up until you do.

    I have been to the Bahamas several times by boat as well as by personal plane. Each time has been different. For that matter if you participate in a Bimini Fling (operated by the Bahamian Govt.) they give you a yellow tshirt to use as a Q flag but if you talk to the customs guys at the dock they say that's not legal.
    I frequent there also and find the rules consistent every time so far. A yellow tshirt on my bowsprit seems a bit tacky so I'll stick with the flag....:smt001
     
  13. trit21

    trit21 New Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    Live, Orlando: Boat, Ft. Pierce
    See signature
    See signature
    [h=3]Arriving By Boat[/h]Visiting boaters must clear Customs and Immigration at the nearest designated Port of Entry. As you enter each port, fly the yellow quarantine flag and notify Customs of your arrival. Only the captain is permitted to leave the boat until your vessel has been cleared.

    Above is directly from the bahamas website, flag only needs to be flown as you enter the port. Also states as nearest designated port of entry. So, for all of us passing either West End or Walker/Grand, that is the nearest port of entry. But, I have always cleared in a GTC. If you think about it, if you had to clear in at the nearest port of entry, no one would ever check in at GTC as this port is not the nearest to anyone since all of us from FL pass a port on the way there either WE, Walker/grand, or even Spanish. Rules are ambiguous at best and I agree seem to change on the fly, especially the length of time and fees depending on size.

    The above would also tend to discourage staying at night on the hook, you had to pass a port of entry West end or Walker/Grand) to get to Sale, you should have already checked in.

    Licensing of VHF from the FCC website.Reason, I think but may be wrong, is the issuing of MMSI number for international use. The MMSI # issued by Boatus is not internationally registered so you must obtain and international registered MMSI # and the only way to do that is get a license from the FCC. I THINK that is why.


    [h=3]Who Needs a Ship Station License[/h]
    You do not need a license to operate a marine VHF radio, radar, or EPIRBs aboard voluntary ships operating domestically. The term "voluntary ships" refers to ships that are not required by law to carry a radio. Generally, this term applies to recreation or pleasure craft. The term "voluntary ships" does not apply to the following:
    1. Cargo ships over 300 gross tons navigating in the open sea;
    2. Ships certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry more than 6 passengers for hire in the open sea or tidewaters of the U.S.;
    3. Power driven ships over 20 meters in length on navigable waterways;
    4. Ships of more than 100 gross tons certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry at least one passenger on navigable waterways;
    5. Tow boats of more than 7.8 meters in length on navigable waterways; and,
    6. Uninspected commercial fishing industry vessels required to carry a VHF radio.
    7. Ships required to carry an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transceiver by the U.S. Coast Guard regulations enacted pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2000.

    Ships are considered as operating domestically when they do not travel to foreign ports or do not transmit radio communications to foreign stations. Sailing in international waters is permitted, so long as the previous conditions are met. If you travel to a foreign port (e.g., Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands), a license is required. Additionally, if you travel to a foreign port, you are required to have an operator permit.
     
  14. k9medic

    k9medic Active Member

    528
    Mar 27, 2013
    Florida
    2005 23' twin engine jet boat
    1998 420 Aft Cabin
    twin jet 160hp.
    twin 3116 CATs
    Got a response from some folks in the Bahamian govt. that I have contact with. I cleared out some of my identifying info -

    Good morning [k9medic].,

    Yes you may clear Bahamas Customs in Green Turtle Cay.

    If we could be of further assistance, please let me know.



    I'll hold this email just in case.
     
  15. k9medic

    k9medic Active Member

    528
    Mar 27, 2013
    Florida
    2005 23' twin engine jet boat
    1998 420 Aft Cabin
    twin jet 160hp.
    twin 3116 CATs
    Well we just got back from our 16 day trip to the Abacos. What an adventure!

    Thanks to a VERY wet and stormy start, the first four days we didn't see any sunshine. We spent four days travelling to the east coast of Florida, 8 days in the Bahamas and then four days coming back.

    Our final trip route changed just a bit though

    We stayed in marinas in Indian Rocks Beach followed by Englewood, the LaBelle City Dock, and then in Stuart. Once we left Stuart we anchored off of Great Sale Cay for the night and then cleared customs in Green Turtle Cay. After spending the night in GTC, we went down to Elbow Cay for a couple of nights and then returned to GTC for a few more days before running hard back to Stuart.

    All in all it was a decent trip but I did have a few hiccups (weather not included).

    Thanks to a misplaced marker, I had a soft grounding off Jewfish Key in the Sarasota area and wound up dropping the dinghy to push myself off. When we anchored in Great Sale Cay we were treated to multiple water spouts approaching us that fortunately passed just to the other side of the island.

    On the return trip, a speader bar that holds my dinghy broke while we were running in 4-5' waves. This caused me to have to cobble something together while the boat drifted 100nm off shore in broad seas.

    When leaving the fuel dock in Stuart I again ran aground and did significant damage to my props. This was in the area known as the "crossroads" and again was thanks to a missing marker. We limped back to the fuel docks around 8pm and wound up spending three nights there waiting for the props to be repaired. Once repairs were complete we were underway yet again. Amazingly enough, the diver was at the dock the next morning by 0900 and the repaired props were back on the next day by 3pm. If it were not for the lock schedule in the OWW we would have only lost a day and a half.

    Other than that we managed just shy of 1000nm, 10 lock openings, 95 hours on the engines and 16 days total.



    Heading south -

    [​IMG]



    LaBelle City Docks (free with water and electricity!)

    [​IMG]


    Waterspouts
    [​IMG]


    Off No Name Cay
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  16. Quint4

    Quint4 Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    S.W. Ohio
    330 Sport Bridge
    5.7 MPI 350 Merc Bluewaters
    Sounds like quite an adventure. Thanks for the update and pics.
     
  17. ttmott

    ttmott Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    Were you at Bluff House on Green Turtle last Sunday / Monday? If so we were right next to you.
     
  18. k9medic

    k9medic Active Member

    528
    Mar 27, 2013
    Florida
    2005 23' twin engine jet boat
    1998 420 Aft Cabin
    twin jet 160hp.
    twin 3116 CATs

    Too funny! That was indeed us. I remember your boat - nice and clean with a dinghy on the platform
     

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