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Old 28-03-2013, 16:29   #16
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Whew I can't type today!! Hit send before spell check. I also wanted to add that yes we contacted the embassy and they did not offer help or guidance. In addition, our tow company had always towed from the Bahamas by checking in with customs and declaring it was a tow without any further issues. This was a first for them in 15 years of towing from the Bahamas. Wouldn't it have even easier for the Government to grant clearance based on new policy changes that would give them notice that next time it wouldn't be allowed? Just a thought...
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Old 28-03-2013, 17:46   #17
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

A few thoughts:
1.) the Bahamians were angered because they felt their country was being disrespected by the US tow company that believed they had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted to do in another's country. This is understandable.
2.) nonetheless, they could have been more gracious, accomodating and sympathetic since their country produces nothing and relies 100% on tourism. And, if the story is accurate, it is certainly nothing short of extortion.
3.) I'm sure I will anger some with the following remark, but I have found it to be true, from my personal experience and observation, that Basra is a joke and any comparison with them and the US Coast Guard is absurd.
4.) Hindsight is always 20/20, but you own a sailboat and why would you want a towboat from the US to come 160 nm when you could, and did, sail the boat back to the States? As others have suggested, anyone could have moved you from your slip with a dinghy and avoided all this mess. If you can't sail your boat, don't leave the country and consider buying a powerboat.
5.)No matter how you want to spin it, the Bahamas IS a Third World country and why would you expect the officials to respond any differently than they did to your wife(?) Do you think the average Bahamian official has taken classes in "sensitivity training" and "Human rights in the workplace?" Is it possible your wife's tone and manner was interpreted by the official as an insult? I don't mean to be mean-spirited but, these are all real considerations that you might have overlooked in your frank story. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 28-03-2013, 18:21   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
A few thoughts:
1.) the Bahamians were angered because they felt their country was being disrespected by the US tow company that believed they had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted to do in another's country. This is understandable.
2.) nonetheless, they could have been more gracious, accomodating and sympathetic since their country produces nothing and relies 100% on tourism. And, if the story is accurate, it is certainly nothing short of extortion.
3.) I'm sure I will anger some with the following remark, but I have found it to be true, from my personal experience and observation, that Basra is a joke and any comparison with them and the US Coast Guard is absurd.
4.) Hindsight is always 20/20, but you own a sailboat and why would you want a towboat from the US to come 160 nm when you could, and did, sail the boat back to the States? As others have suggested, anyone could have moved you from your slip with a dinghy and avoided all this mess. If you can't sail your boat, don't leave the country and consider buying a powerboat.
5.)No matter how you want to spin it, the Bahamas IS a Third World country and why would you expect the officials to respond any differently than they did to your wife(?) Do you think the average Bahamian official has taken classes in "sensitivity training" and "Human rights in the workplace?" Is it possible your wife's tone and manner was interpreted by the official as an insult? I don't mean to be mean-spirited but, these are all real considerations that you might have overlooked in your frank story. Good luck and good sailing.


I appreciate all opinions and will respond as best I can to your points. By the way, "I" is Jennifer, the First Mate.

1. I understand the issue of hiring Bahamians and I completely agree with the principle. Please keep in mind that we only submitted an insurance claim and from there it was out of our hands. However, this particular tow company did not disrespect the Bahamas as they followed all of the guidelines for checking in as they had before. They did not sneak in or attempt to hide what they were doing in any way. If there was supposed to be a work permit, they and the insurance company did not know about it. From what we read in our research after the fact, these policy enforcements started just before we arrived. Furthermore, the tow company was cleared to come in, but the BASRA extortionist appeared at customs to have the towboat called back in. Somehow he got our marina information from Customs to come directly to our boat to demand payment. THAT is the story here.

2. Yes, the story is accurate, but a shorter version of the full story. Otherwise we would not have publicly claimed extortion.

3. We simply did not know enough about BASRA, we just knew that he looked "official" when he confronted us. I think the organization is more like our voluntary Coast Guard Auxiliary, and just like that organization, some are helpful and some aren't. I would never characterize an entire organization based on one man's negative actions.

4. Of course as sailors we prefer to sail and we are both very capable. However the costs were growing prohibitive as we stayed in a marina and we needed to get out quickly to catch a good weather window to sail the full 30 hours. The tow seemed viable and the fastest way back at the time. After a week of waiting, we did in fact sail back to international waters. Your "if you can't sail your boat" comment was unnecessary except to add more insult to injury.

5. You wrongfully assumed it is not the wife telling this story here. I was in fact I was purposefully "meek" when discussing the extortionist. And I assure you, meek does not come easy for me, but recognizing that we are not in the US, I held my usually sharp tongue. Unfortunately, I think just the fact that I spoke at all angered him.

For those of you trying to spin a political debate, that was not my intention. I simply wanted to bring the extortion we experienced to light. Plus if policy (or enforcement) has changed on Bahamian work permits, I thought the community would like to know what we experienced. We just started our cruising life this last October, so surely there are other "novices" to this life that this story will benefit. If anyone wishes to debate the political issue behind this, go to www.tribune242.com and search "work permits." That's probably a better forum for political debates.

Thanks again for input.

Jennifer
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Old 28-03-2013, 19:40   #19
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

Jennifer you sound pretty reasonable, with some self awareness, cultural sensitivity, etc etc. Everyone agrees on the point about Bahamian protectionism, and they do have a right to set policies on international tows -- but $125/mile sounds absurd, and makes them look like crooks.

My only feedback for you is that your negotiation tactic was to defer to insurance, and somehow in that process it became a **** show. You were no longer Jennifer the cool sailor lady when you started negotiating for your insurance company, but rather an impediment to them getting $$ they felt entitled too. It is the same here in the US, and the lines between insurance fraud and filing legitimate claims can be blurry, but the "who cares, it's insurance" attitude ain't limited to Nassau. Have you been in an auto accident and dealt with a body shop?

Anyway, you got caught up in a business transaction that they were going to win. Times are a little tough down there right now to boot. In the end you took personal responsibility for the situation and sailed home. Sure there are some great sailors on this board, but for mere mortals, sneaking out and sailing home is a great accomplishment -well done.

Try not to take it too personally. Being far away (not really) from home, cultural differences, fear, stress, etc prolly make it seem a lot darker than it was. Nassau is crappy. I was born in Freeport but prefer the quiet cays when I visit. Give it another shot some day and don't let the BASRA guy ruin some of the best cruising grounds around here.
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Old 28-03-2013, 19:55   #20
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

It's disappointing that folks who suggested sailing back missed the important part in your OP that conditions weren't favorable when you first got stuck in this mess, but later they were.

Also, the folks suggesting you use your dinghy fail to notice that your report was made once you were back safely.

Darn, wish more people would read.

Sorry to hear about your troubles, glad you're safe.
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Old 28-03-2013, 20:14   #21
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

Three sheets -
I think it could be beneficial to a number of people if you would post this story on the explorercharts.com web site.
Thanks
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Old 28-03-2013, 20:55   #22
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Quote:
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Jennifer you sound pretty reasonable, with some self awareness, cultural sensitivity, etc etc. Everyone agrees on the point about Bahamian protectionism, and they do have a right to set policies on international tows -- but $125/mile sounds absurd, and makes them look like crooks.

My only feedback for you is that your negotiation tactic was to defer to insurance, and somehow in that process it became a **** show. You were no longer Jennifer the cool sailor lady when you started negotiating for your insurance company, but rather an impediment to them getting $$ they felt entitled too. It is the same here in the US, and the lines between insurance fraud and filing legitimate claims can be blurry, but the "who cares, it's insurance" attitude ain't limited to Nassau. Have you been in an auto accident and dealt with a body shop?

Anyway, you got caught up in a business transaction that they were going to win. Times are a little tough down there right now to boot. In the end you took personal responsibility for the situation and sailed home. Sure there are some great sailors on this board, but for mere mortals, sneaking out and sailing home is a great accomplishment -well done.

Try not to take it too personally. Being far away (not really) from home, cultural differences, fear, stress, etc prolly make it seem a lot darker than it was. Nassau is crappy. I was born in Freeport but prefer the quiet cays when I visit. Give it another shot some day and don't let the BASRA guy ruin some of the best cruising grounds around here.

Thanks. As an American, I'm certainly sensitive to immigration issues as it's often in the forefront of our news. And certainly, I would expect to be hired over an immigrant to my country when qualified. But I also try to keep a human perspective on any story. I certainly would hate to hear of a tourist in our country treated so poorly. Sadly, I'm sure it happens here too.

I agree on your feedback, but of course in hindsight. I know the Bahamas is not a third-world country as another reader posted, and while I don't pretend to know all of our cultural differences, I didn't expect such a negative experience with the government. Maybe on that subject, I will admit a degree of naivety. Extortion happens in every country, but it was the appearance of support of it by the Bahamian government that made it feel third-world. I have experienced that type of attitude with regards to insurance before with auto claims, etc. and it always angers me. People don't understand the trickle-down effects of milking the system. I certainly don't want my rates (or other insurers' rates) to increase because I supported extortion. So yes, we sailed, because we would not authorize our insurance to let the bad guy win. I appreciate the kind words of "well-done." I know it's not a monumental feat, but it's the longest passage for us to date having just started out. So it does feel like a small achievement anyway. Up until last year, we were inland lake sailors. Big difference!

It is hard not to take it a little personally as we'd been planning on cruising Bahamian waters for 10 years and this is what we got. But we also know how lucky we are in many ways so we will get through it together and try to get back on course. Maybe someday we will try to get back, but we will never go near Nassau. For the record, 99% of the Bahamians with whom we interacted or got to know in our time there were wonderful people. So no worries, we do not associate the few jerks with all the others. I just want all the others to know about the few jerks.
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Old 28-03-2013, 20:59   #23
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It's disappointing that folks who suggested sailing back missed the important part in your OP that conditions weren't favorable when you first got stuck in this mess, but later they were.

Also, the folks suggesting you use your dinghy fail to notice that your report was made once you were back safely.

Darn, wish more people would read.

Sorry to hear about your troubles, glad you're safe.
Thanks for noticing. And yes, we are glad we're safe too.
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Old 28-03-2013, 21:05   #24
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
It's disappointing that folks who suggested sailing back missed the important part in your OP that conditions weren't favorable when you first got stuck in this mess, but later they were.

Also, the folks suggesting you use your dinghy fail to notice that your report was made once you were back safely.

Darn, wish more people would read.
Well I didn't see anything specifically mentioned about weather in the OP. Not until post #15 was it stated that there was not a weather window at the time.

Not trying to be critical, just trying to understand why sailing wasn't an option if weather was good enough to allow the tow boat to cross from FL to Nassau? Was there no wind so the tow was motoring over in a calm and sailing not possible?



Quote:
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Sorry to hear about your troubles, glad you're safe.
Absolutely. The whole affair sounded very unpleasant and even frightening. Even in a country as benign and friendly to the US it can be very scary to have officials start acting aggressive. Also, since the US towing operators report that they followed a procedure that had been officially sanctioned for years it sounds like someone local with a connection decided they wanted a piece of the action and pulled some strings to try to horn in. The comment about why do you care if insurance is paying just emphasizes the fact that the whole affair was an attempt to make a big score at the expense of the insurance company.

I am hoping this report gets back to someone in the government that realizes the potential impact to tourism in the Bahamas. Tourist dollars are over half the economy in the Bahamas and the greed of a few could hurt the rest.

Just reconfirms my Bahamas cruising policy for the last 35 years, avoid Nassau unless you have no other option for repairs or some emergency.
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Old 28-03-2013, 21:11   #25
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

Well done Jennifer in sticking with your principles and solving the problem.
Good reminder to all of us about dealing with local contractors who try to secure monopolies thru red tape.

Curious about what you would have done differently now that you have the benefit of hindsight in getting out of the marina?
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Old 28-03-2013, 21:30   #26
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

Not sure I will ever donate to Bahama Search and Rescue. You check in once and you get years of junk mail from them to donate, then they pull this kind of stuff? That said, you just can't go to another country and start doing business.
Sailing out Nassau harbor could be a trick sometimes.
To bad a new boat like that would have an engine failure. I must be overdue with my 1971 boat.
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Old 28-03-2013, 21:33   #27
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Ok, last post from me tonight. Previous posters, no worries...I am thick-skinned. None of you know our exact story, course or conditions, so there were bound to be questions and assumptions. As far as sailing, the conditions for crossing were fine under power, but wind direction was far less than optimal for us to make good time under sail. The fair weather window wasn't long enough for that. The tow would've averaged 10 knots and insurance covered it. Why not take advantage to get home quickly so we could get our repairs going? Remember, we are still dealing with engine failure so getting back fast and safely was important.

If you're interested in our experiences in the Bahamas, feel free to view our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/threesheetssailing. You will see in our post of this story, there is more at the end.

Goodnight!
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Old 28-03-2013, 21:46   #28
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

Read the facebook page. Whatever you do, don't let this deter you from moving forward. Just skip the bahama's perhaps and move on to better places
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Old 28-03-2013, 22:26   #29
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Re: Extortion in Nassau

We think ya did the right thing ! and so did your Insurer! if theres any problem it lays with the US tow company not keeping up with the new rules that have been passed. Ive towed a couple of folks to open water from other third world countrys, never for the reason you had but others ! Seems like when they start new stuff in the Bahamas, things get out of hand real quick!! We almost never go to Nassau, if theres any other place to go! we have had to go there to pick up our daughter when she flew in !! Things went sorta ok had a little trouble adding her to the ships crew, but it got fixed in a little island time LOL We do know the way you get treated has changed for the worse in the last 5 or 6 years, seems like they are pissed about having to work or something !! I do know the last trip we took there we had our son-in law with us and he's a Bahamian resident currently living in the states, we got the royal treatment from all the officials we dealt with when he was with us LOL I think we are gonna take him all the time when we go there !!
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Old 29-03-2013, 06:13   #30
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Well done Jennifer in sticking with your principles and solving the problem.
Good reminder to all of us about dealing with local contractors who try to secure monopolies thru red tape.

Curious about what you would have done differently now that you have the benefit of hindsight in getting out of the marina?
We would not have gone to Nassau that's sure.
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