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Old 03-04-2013, 09:24   #166
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

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Originally Posted by s/v 'Faith' View Post
Received in my email, posted with permission;Quote:
Good Day Mr .Lloyd,
In receiving your communication I am very distressed and sorry for any negative implications BASRA is receiving due to me wearing one of your tee shirts over my work shirt on a cold day. These persons on the vessel "3 Sheets" are making VERY untrue slanderous allegations.
They lied to The Bahamas Government Officials on this matter, they lied to the US Embassy on this matter (Alleging to be aground in Bimini whilst tied up at Bayshore Marina Nassau) and now they lie to the members of the Cruisers Forum. All in a promised effort to slander our company name for the inconvenience they mistakenly perceive we caused them.
At the request of the denied tow boat Richard L. Barker & Captain Adrian Baker we offered our services to the persons onboard "3 Sheets" but discussed no amount of money what so ever. We never got that far with them as they said it was in the hands of their Insurance Company and they could not proceed without their approval. So I have no idea how they can accuse us of attempted extortion.
We never called their insurance company how in the world would we know who that is. They called us, as well as TOW BOAT US Ft Lauderdale, because we gave the tow boat Captain Adrian Baker our contacts and our promise to assist in any way we can, which we attempted to do legally. (Sorry if they consider the legal way of doing things the wrong way.)
We were directed by the tow boat Captain to talk to the vessel owners regarding assisting them (how else would we know what vessel they came to assist0 and met the persons on board 3 sheets, had a very cordial conversation with the gentelman on board but the Lady appeared to be extremely emotional possibly linked to the drinks being passed about at the time, then left on what we thought were good terms.
We identified ourselves CLEARLY that we were from ABC Yacht Services Nassau Bahamas and never even remotely indicated we were there on behalf of BASRA other than me having a long sleeve BASRA polo on that day over my ABC polo because it was a little chilly that day.
I will reserve my personal opinion of these people right now and only add that if they continue to commit public slander we shall have no other recourse than to prosecute as all this has been documented by not only the Bahamas Government But also by the US Embassy yes Federal Government Officials who were also lied to. Hmmm last I checked that is punishable with imprisonment.
These folks ought to be thankful for our attempts to help them and stop being so vicious with their attacks against the good people of the Bahamas who might I add legally tried to assist them.
One final note regarding the exorbitant rates they accuse us of is so ridiculous we offer rates thousands of dollars less than what that tow boat operator was prepaid to do illegally. Have a look at their website ( TOWBOAT US FT LAUDERDALE, Long Distance Towing) they openly advertise their illegal activities in the Bahamas and list the hundreds of thousands worth of illegal Salvage they have taken from legally operating Bahamian Companies and the Bahamaian people since 2002 I counted 24 Salvage jobs if they had no permits every one of them was illegal. How can these people dare accuse us of extortion or any kind of illegal activity.
Again we do humbly apologize for wearing one of you polo shirts during the conduct of our business and we shall make every effort not to let that mistake happen again (all those cruisers on that forum should buy one they really warm and support an excellent cause we do)

Yours sincerely,
Captain Ian Gilbert
ABC Yacht Services Nassau Bahamas
Here we have a proof of the attitude and approach of the Gilbert character. No facts, just denials and accusations based on guesses, and indirect threads. Luckily for the OP, there were marina security present during the Gilbert's "visit" who escorted him in and out, and other witnesses.

This gem does it for me:

Gilbert did not discuss the compensation for a job
discussed no amount of money what so ever
but the ABC offers competitive rates (telepathically?)
we offer rates thousands of dollars less than ...

Nice going ...
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:34   #167
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

There is no basis for a claim of extortion here. A local tower offering his services in this situation could have happened in any marina in the world, or for that matter, in any city if suffering a breakdown when traveling by car. The crew of Three Sheets must have felt vulnerable, but that's no justification for the claim of extortion or being held hostage. I'm sure that's how it felt, but that's not the reality of this situation.

What was inconvenient here was a broken engine, not knowing the local laws/customs, and being intimidated by the red tape involved.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the repairs and insurance... They do seem to have good insurance coverage, if it covers the entire cost of this tow regardless of the outcome.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:38   #168
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

If I was OP would be giving the Bahamas a wide berth for a while...........

......and if someone in the Bahamas does start a criminal case (in some jurisdictions slander can also be a criminal offence, especially when it involves the State - no idea if that is the case in the Bahamas) probably wise to check what reciprocal extradition arrangements Bahamas have elsewhere in the Carribean. I presume the US would not give anyone up for something like this, but.........

....and in that case might also be worth checking whether sealed indictments / secret courts are the norm as in the US - would take the edge off another paradise if it involved a surprise short flight to the Bahamas in an orange jump suit.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:43   #169
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
SNIP
If your up for this approach fine.. just don't gripe about high insurance premiums coz newbies/oldies take the tow boat home...
There was a recent thread about how to get into inflatables after skin diving where a similar sentiment was used. Sorta cruising is only for the young and fit.

The problem with this idea is that lots of times when there is a problem you may not be at your best. It is easy to get injured or sick or both with the result being no matter how young and fit you are something as simple as handling a dock line is not possible, especially if your hand was crushed by the anchor chain in heavy weather.

It is hard for me to say what I would have done in Three Sheets place. I have a cat with two outboards. In the past I broke a shift lever on one of them and simply proceeded to motor up to my mooring ball with one engine, picked up the line single handed, and the next day biked to the Yamaha shop and ordered a replacement part.

I would not expect my insurance to cover my engines, but it seems Three Sheets does have at least a chance for their engine being covered. The thing you seem to be missing is the only way there is a chance for the insurance payment is if they follow the directions from their insurance company.

You also seem to be missing that once it became clear their insurance company's directions were to be modified their course of action was very similar to what you suggested.

Lets also keep in mind US Tow in the past had done just what they did this time with no problem. This time there was stricter enforcement of the Bahamas law. Nothing wrong with that. But I would bet the first response from the insurance company was standard procedure and once a change was needed the insurance company modified its response.

Don't take this as me defending insurance companies, just that they are not as dumb as some folks seem to think they are.

It would be nice if we all were able to fix everything on our boats and never needed out side help. But that is not the case.

I have no problems with noobies/oldies cruising, but more importantly even if I did there is not much I could do about it.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:43   #170
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

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Originally Posted by letsgetsailing3 View Post
There is no basis for a claim of extortion here.
I agree, legally it was not the extortion ... just intimidation and attempt to milk the opportunity.

Good outcome of all of this ... we all learned a bit, and we've got to know the ABC management really well ... reading both sides of the story.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:00   #171
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Mr. Gilbert (assuming this is Mr. Gilbert),

I had not planned on participating further in the discussion, but as your accuser, you deserve a response. Regarding your ridiculous comments that we were drunk and that we lied to officials, I'll address a few specific points then move on to the big picture.

1. We had been in Nassau for 4 weeks with engine failure, working first with a local shop to try to repair before it was decided we needed to come home. Of course we didn't tell the US Embassy we were stuck in Bimini. That makes absolutely no sense.

2. Yes, Mike was cordial with you at first until we both realized what was really happening. Yes, I was very emotional when we both realized that we weren't leaving as planned and a stranger was at our boat demanding a deposit and telling us we were breaking the law. Sometimes, one can't stop tears. The implication I was drunk is laughable.

3. You left when we demanded you to leave with a marina escort making sure you exited. Certainly no way on good terms.

Had you represented BASRA as willing to help tow a distressed vessel three miles out of the harbor as the comments posted from BASRA indicated were standard practice, both Mike and I would have thanked you and taken advantage of your generous offer. As it was, you used your BASRA credentials to get past security, and then yes, you represented ABC Yacht Services, while wearing a BASRA shirt. Regardless of how you found out where we were, in less than a minute after we discussed the delay on VHF with our tow captain, you appeared at our dock. We told you it was out of our hands and that it was an Insurance Claim with Seaworthy (clearly a mistake in hindsight). Furthermore, we told you that we had to wait for them to call us because our international cell plan didn't allow us to call their 800 #. Miraculously you got one of the claim supervisors on the phone almost immediately after we told you that.

Of course we will not speak for the insurance representative , but we CLEARLY heard you tell her in a raised voice that Three Sheets would only leave under your tow (again your tow, not a Bahamian or BASRA tow) along with your fee of $125/mile. Neither Mike or I would support such an astronomical fee, even if it wasn't out of our pocket. I also assure you that had this happened to us in the United States, we would have called the police the moment you demanded a deposit. Not knowing Bahamian laws of extortion or understanding the nature or connections of the BASRA organization, we decided against it. So we left the harbor with help from our marina (at no charge and with much good will) and sailed home.

Regarding the towboat from the US...they cleared to come in through Port Authority, anchored the large tow vessel and were launching the tender en route to clear customs before coming to collect us. That was the order of things as specifically explained to us from our tow boat captain. They in no way were hiding their agenda and have stated that they want to ensure they are abiding by all Bahamian policies. As the tow vessel was 100ft, with TowBoatUS clearly marked on the side, it would be rather hard to hide in the Nassau harbor, driving right by the primary Customs and Immigrations dock. As I know many towing companies do not follow policy, I am glad that our insurance company contracted with such a reputable company that wanted only to do the right thing, the right way. As we learned from the owner, TowboatUS Ft. Lauderdale often contracts directly with the salvage companies in Freeport and the Exumas. They do a great job of using locals where available as they have done legally and successfully for 20 years. Just as I won't categorize BASRA based on one bad individual, it's equally wrong for anyone to lump TowboatUS Fort Lauderdale in the same group as the many illegal tow vessels operating in Bahamian waters.

Fortunately for us, so many kind and generous locals made us feel welcome and sympathized openly with our plight (Did I mention we have Bahamian witnesses?), that we do hope to return again someday. If you are blackballed, it is not from our statements on this forum - the story has not been on here long enough. I would guess that it is from many Bahamian supporters who saw the injustice and spoke up for us.

To BASRA, I wish Mike and I had known more about your organization of volunteers before this incident as we certainly would've reached out for help. We didn't look into it as we didn't consider needing "rescue" since we were situated safely in a marina. Unfortunately, when you could have helped, Mr. Gilbert did your organization an injustice and we are happy to hear that you are investigating the matter. I will add that we did get to meet another BASRA director while we were in Nassau after this incident and he represented your organization very well. I assure you, we do not hold BASRA responsible for this incident in any way.

Lessons learned from Three Sheets? When planning our sabbatical, I did research the high level political climate of the countries we planned to visit and of course Mike is very well versed on all entry requirements and practices. I definitely should have researched the search and rescue process and representing organizations. I'll admit I naively didn't research the Bahamas political climate enough, because they are such a close neighbor and a well-known tourist destination. That is certainly a mistake that I won't make again.

As for those of you questioning the reasoning behind securing a tow, you can criticize all you like. At the time it seemed the optimal choice to get us home quickly -the wind direction wasn't good for sailing the direction we needed to go. As we also have a Golden Retriever on board, we wanted limit his time stuck on our vessel as much as possible. At any rate, we can continue the "he said, she said" all day long. We've told the true story of events as they occurred, but people will continue to believe what they want. I can't change human nature. I'll leave it to the forum to continue should the other members choose, but we are done here. Three Sheets OUT.

Fair winds and following seas,
Jennifer
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:19   #172
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pirate Re: Extortion in Nassau

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There was a recent thread about how to get into inflatables after skin diving where a similar sentiment was used. Sorta cruising is only for the young and fit.
Yer Darn Tootin Mate.....

65 this year...

The problem with this idea is that lots of times when there is a problem you may not be at your best. It is easy to get injured or sick or both with the result being no matter how young and fit you are something as simple as handling a dock line is not possible, especially if your hand was crushed by the anchor chain in heavy weather.

Skip the what ifs... I'm referring to what is...

It is hard for me to say what I would have done in Three Sheets place. I have a cat with two outboards. In the past I broke a shift lever on one of them and simply proceeded to motor up to my mooring ball with one engine, picked up the line single handed, and the next day biked to the Yamaha shop and ordered a replacement part.

If both engines had been stuffed could you have sailed onto your mooring..? If not.. now's the time to start practicing

I would not expect my insurance to cover my engines, but it seems Three Sheets does have at least a chance for their engine being covered. The thing you seem to be missing is the only way there is a chance for the insurance payment is if they follow the directions from their insurance company.

You also seem to be missing that once it became clear their insurance company's directions were to be modified their course of action was very similar to what you suggested.

Lets also keep in mind US Tow in the past had done just what they did this time with no problem. This time there was stricter enforcement of the Bahamas law. Nothing wrong with that. But I would bet the first response from the insurance company was standard procedure and once a change was needed the insurance company modified its response.

Don't take this as me defending insurance companies, just that they are not as dumb as some folks seem to think they are.

It would be nice if we all were able to fix everything on our boats and never needed out side help. But that is not the case.

I have no problems with noobies/oldies cruising, but more importantly even if I did there is not much I could do about it.
Hey... nothing personal.. just that the trend with Noobies seems more and more like the 'Turf Trompers'....
got a problem call the Insurance..
Pass the Buck... who needs to think, Where's me Play Station.
Okay so the engine's stuffed.. sail... they did not have to fix anything...
Anyway... next time they'll know better... they'll log on to CF and 400 odd posts later they'll be so confused they'll call the Insurance..
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:24   #173
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Fascinating thread.

Thanks Three Sheets for your continued detailed and measured input into this thread. I am sure many are taking note of the lessons learned here.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:27   #174
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

Having the reverse problem, of being dismasted last year coming into Georgetown, Exumas, and able to motor back to Florida, through Nassau, and, yes, with Seaworthy as my insurer, I wish to make the following comments: One, as you stated in your open, and if I understood correctly, the reason to return to the US so that all parties could determine the cause of your engine failure. This is a legal liability issue, unrelated to making repairs, and more to do with who pays. The repairs could have been made in Nassau, as the Yanmar service there is good, and had the "parties" brought to Nassau, rather than your boat to Florida.

As for Nassau, and Freeport, for that matter, corruption is not unknown, however, I must agree with many of the above posts, the Bahamas is another sovereign nation. They have an explicit right to control their borders and regulate commerce. No matter how convenient, or the more competent, or the least expensive you and Seaworthy may hold TowBoatUS, it is still a US business, and has no right (without prior approval) to enter another nation's territory to compete with a Bahamian company. If you own a business in the US, you would also expect the US government to protect you from unauthorized foreign competitors.

If you found the local towing business and Customs Director terse, it might have something to do with Americans ignoring the fact that the Bahamas is another country. It also may have something to do with the fact that the primary foreign exchange income comes from dollars left behind by what they can sell to travelers, including towing services.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:31   #175
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

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Originally Posted by Three Sheets View Post
SNIP

So we left the harbor with help from our marina (at no charge and with much good will) and sailed home.
SNIP
Perhaps the key point in the whole thread.

Much is made of how cruisers help each other as much as possible and to a great extent this has been my experience. I know the folks at my marina on a first name basis and only have good things to say about them, except when the pump out boat is upwind of me. Several cruisers in the marina have helped me out in many ways, and I hope I have returned the favor by helping out others.

Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is to try and help out more and not get so involved in official processes that oft times make things worse instead of better.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:35   #176
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

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If you found the local towing business and Customs Director terse, it might have something to do with Americans ignoring the fact that the Bahamas is another country. It also may have something to do with the fact that the primary foreign exchange income comes from dollars left behind by what they can sell to travelers, including towing services.
It was explained again in the most recent Three Sheets post ... the Americans, specifically TowBoatsUS, were not attempting clandestine pouching ... they were in the harbor in a big ship with company logo. They cleared with the harbor master, and were in contact with local government customs and immigration regarding this matter, as they have done many times before.

And then private Gilbert showed up ...
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:43   #177
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

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If both engines had been stuffed could you have sailed onto your mooring..? If not.. now's the time to start practicing

SNIP
Back 1975 I was in grad school and one summer I was sailing my Dad's 32 ft ketch single handed. Got caught in a line squall and the tiller sheared off the rudder. I know you don't try and out run a line squall and the mizzen should have been down.

Still that did not stop me. I tied two cushions to a rope, threw them over the side and would pull on one or the other to steer. Once I got in the canal behind my Dad's house I saw him and held the tiller in the air, slowed down, tacked past the seawall, dropped everything but the working jib, and sailed in much to his amazement.

Boy did he give me a talking to. So sailing into the dock is not something I will be practicing a lot.

But your point is well taken. It is better to be as self reliant as possible. However I am reminded of the old Einstein quotation, 'things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler'.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:32   #178
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

I'm surprised at how much traction this thread has gotten. It would not have even rated mentioning in my world. You want to see extortion, come work in Nigeria for a bit.
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:44   #179
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As "extortion" goes this is pretty mild compared to what a cruiser can encounter on the world stage. One can have their boat impounded with fake liens, be thrown in jail in expectation of a bribe for release, have trumped up charges drawn up and imprisoned (happened to a good friend just last year in trinidad and only the good nature of local cruisers kept his boat safe and raised enough money for bail and a hearing since he was not allowed access to a bank nor a phone).

These are rare events and usually involve some complicity with the cruiser party, whether intentional through lack of awareness or na´vetÚ or just wrong place and wrong time. However what makes this interesting as well is the, apparent, contributions of the various involved parties. It gives new cruisers a look at what they should try to avoid by being prepared on numerous fronts;

1. Be prepared to go to sea, always
2. Rely on your local cruising community first for help and advice
3. Be aware of the politics and history concerning the issue at hand
4. Assume that the situation is not controllable and not what it appears

I think 3 sheets did a good job in this, and don't understand the fuss. Ok, maybe the language of the initial post and the term extortion was a bit strong when they were likely faced for their first time with institutional corruption, however when push came to shove they did what they needed to do to solve the problem...

...they hoisted their sails and got the f&$k out of Dodge.

What more is there to say?
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:53   #180
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

This thread got a lot of attention because of the alarmist title. In reality, this isn't a story about extortion in the Bahamas, it's a story of how menacing a situation can seem when someone gets out of their comfort zone. The reality of the situation is pretty benign.

It wouldn't get too many clicks if the title were "Engine fails, couple feels threatened by tow operator, boat gets towed home." The title implies a much more threatening situation.
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