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Old 23-06-2012, 21:42   #16
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

i was hailed by bdf last summer.

i crossed west palm to memory rock to great sale to spanish cay to green turtle cay where i checked in. i flew q flag and never went ashore until green turtle. spanish cay, by the way, is a port of entry but i chose not to clear in there.

we had anchored off spanish cay for the night, well within view of the marina and the possibility of clearing in there. in the morning we picked up anchor and i began
heading back to the channel so we could turn to the course for green turtle. as usual, i had my handheld at the helm. my wife was looking back and said to me 'there's a big boat coming up behind us'. i just assumed it was a fishing boat coming out of spanish and didn't look back. a moment later she said 'it's getting pretty close'. as i was about to look back i get a call on the radio...

bdf: 'one step, p49'.
me; 'p49, one step'
bdf; 'one step, go to 14'.
me; 'one step going to 14'.
me; 'one step standing by on 14'
bdf; 'one step, what was your last port of call?'
me; 'p49, last port was west palm beach florida'
bdf; 'one step, what is your destination?'
me; 'p49, my destination is green turtle cay where i will be clearing in'
bdf; 'one step, you are required to clear in at your nearest port of entry. you should have cleared in at west end'.
me; ' p49, i came by way of memory rock, great sale, spanish cay.'
bdf; ' one step, next time clear in at west end'.
me; 'thank you for the information, p49'
bdf; 'going back to 16'
me; ' going back to 16'

i went on to green turtle and cleared in. saw p49 patrolling next day but they never called me again.

i don't consider this encounter anything but ordinary. bdf was very business like about everything. i don't agree with them about having to clear at west end but it's their country and if that's the rule then so be it. i'm not crazy about west end mostly because of having to enter the banks through poorly marked indian cay channel; memory rock is shorter and less bothersome.

two years before i was boarded by our coast guard after leaving bimini enroute to fort lauderdale. about ten miles out of bimini i saw a cutter about two miles off. after a bit they sent an inflatable over with four kids with guns. they asked me a few general questions, then checked back with the cutter and told me they would be doing a boarding for inspection. two came aboard. one walked through the boat with me to check for safety gear while the other sat in the cockpit and filled out a form. they were on my boat for about ten minutes, then left me a copy of the form they had filled out and left.

two weeks later, friends of ours made the same crossing and were boarded by the same cutter. they're a very ordinary looking middle aged couple in a prout 39 cat. they had a different experience. the coasties nearly took their boat apart looking for contraband, and of course found nothing.....
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Old 23-06-2012, 22:01   #17
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hillbillylad View Post
I doubt this is some Bahamas government edict. I reckon some of those B.D.F guys have tried a trip across the stream for a bit of shopping in the USA. After meeting the arrogant, ignorant officials here they thought they should reciprocate.Give it a year or two and you'll need to apply online and produce a full life history to get into the Bahamas. After you've been photographed, fingerprinted and eye scanned of course.
Sadly enough this has been my experience trying to get a visa for the USA. Ana and I have EU passports and have ESAT visas (part of the visa waiver exchange program). I wanted to apply for a 6 month visa to cruise up to Maine ... was near impossible as I had to sail up to Nassau in the Bahamas for an interview. That was fine until they said they could only see us a month later which put us slap into hurricane season ... not prepared to do that!
SO in the BVI and my daughter arrives in the USVI by aircraft next week to join us. I called the US embassy to ask if all was ok for me to sail the short trip from Tortola to St Thomas to collect my daughter ... I have a VALID ESTA visa. 'SIr, Im afraid that is not possible as on an ESTA visa you HAVE to arrive in US waters on a COMMERCIAL VESSEL ... a Charter boat is fine!'
'Sir', I replied, 'Where can I apply for a visa that would give me the right to enter on my yacht?'.
'Sir, you will have to go to Barbados or to Nassau in the Bahamas. You may not enter the US on an ESTA visa and apply for another visa ... sorry' he said sounding rather embarrased at how pathetic this is and we ended the discussion.
Sometimes I wonder in amazement at what century we are living in!
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Old 24-06-2012, 05:43   #18
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Reason for not clearing into a country = I wanted to go snorkelling .

Would also be of interest to know the nationality of the folks who have had problems...............
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Old 24-06-2012, 09:38   #19
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Isn't it legal and accepted to "Q through" the Bahamas, i.e. pass through without landing, en route from one non-Bahamas country bound for another? How is the BDF to know if you're Q-ing through or bound for a Bahamian port?
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Old 24-06-2012, 14:59   #20
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

From The Abaconiam Letters to the Editor June 15 edition.
aT 10:19 AM on June 8 en route to Guana Cay from Treasure Cay in a group of 4 to 6 boats,2 couples in a Rental Boat receive a warning shot 20 yds to the side of there boat.They stated they saw the BDF boat coming toward the group of boats with lights flashing but since they were DOING NOTHING WRONG assumed the BDF boat was en route to Treasure Cay.This one boat was singled out.The boat was s earched and were told by the BDF that they should have there Documentation Rental Aggrement and Passports on board,They were carrying No spears and were only going snorkeling,finding no illegal items they were allowed to continue on there way,the couples stated that the stop was reckless and as they are all tourist found they whole incident very disturbing.
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Old 24-06-2012, 15:11   #21
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Also reported in the Abaconiann June 10 a boat foundered just of Hawksbill Cays carring a number of Haitian's to Fl.Eleven are know dead and thoughts are there are more.These people boarded the boat in Treasure Cay reportedly .Wonder where the BDF was.Maybe things are changing in the Bahamas.Maybe the New PM should round up his Forces and remind them what's important.
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Old 24-06-2012, 15:45   #22
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Quote:
Isn't it legal and accepted to "Q through" the Bahamas, i.e. pass through without landing, en route from one non-Bahamas country bound for another? How is the BDF to know if you're Q-ing through or bound for a Bahamian port?
You are supposed to check in within 24 hours of entering their territorial waters.
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Old 26-06-2012, 14:03   #23
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

We just returned from the Bahamas stopping at Mangrove then clearing in at Walkers the next day. We then continued to cruise the Abacos, Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, the Exumas, and Bimini. We never encountered the Defence Force this trip. On the same trip, our friends bypassed West End, stopped at Mangrove for the night, then cleared at Green Turtle. They had no trouble either.

In the past we were routinely boarded once in Nassau and on another trip asked to move our anchor location in Marsh Harbour. Both times the officers were courteous.
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Old 26-06-2012, 14:17   #24
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

I get lots of reports from cruisers that have had no issues in the past. Also reports from cruisers just returning not having any problems. It's beginning to sound like a couple of isolated cases but it's best to get these issues dealt with right away rather than it become a problem in the future. I just received this from someone at Explorer Chartbooks,

"I forwarded this post to the Ministry of Tourism. Their reply:
We are in recite of your email about the harassment of cruisers in the Abacos.
This is very disturbing and I would appreciate it, if you can submit to me the facts of these incidents so that they can be passed onto the various
government agencies for investigation.
Kindly email me your phone contact.
Regards,
Ebiana Smith
Visitor Relations
Ministry of Tourism
Nassau Bahamas
phone: 242-3287810 fax: 242-326-0166
ebsmith@bahamas.com
http://www.bahamas.com/The Bahamas

Sounds like someone needs to provide additional, SPECIFIC information and details so that this can be investigated !"


I did send them all of the information I had plus contacts at Abacos Cruisers Net who had additional info. I'll post the responses as I get them. Chuck
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Old 08-07-2012, 20:06   #25
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

I really don't understand why they are being faulted for enforcing their policy of checking into the first possible port of entry.

Wanting to avoid a marina fee at W.E. is a poor excuse for not following their very reasonable entrance regulations, especially since cruisers checking in at West End can tie up to the marina sea wall for free and are in no way obligated to stay at the marina. I normally check in and out at W.E and have rarely picked up a slip there.

In my experience, the U.S. is much less friendly to it's own cruisers than anything I've heard mentioned here.

If cruisers want relations to decline, continually ignoring their country's entry requirements is probably a good way to do it.
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Old 08-07-2012, 20:34   #26
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Well, if one does not like a country's regulations and entrance requirements, and the way they enforce them, then don't go into their territorial waters. If per chance one finds one must enter their waters, then be mindful of the their laws and comply.
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Old 24-07-2012, 15:12   #27
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

The RBDF Marines have a tough job. Many don't know it but the crew of one of their vessels were killed by a Cuban fighter jet years ago in the area of the Cay Sal Bank.

As for dealing with us, the one thing you must remember is that most of these RBDF guys don't understand cruisers. They're from some small island, or a suburb of Nassau, and they simply don't get it...us coming over there in our boats and hanging out and exploring.

During my time at Exuma Park I dealt with lots of different DF guys who would rotate into and out of the Park, two new ones every couple of weeks, and I got to know them a bit. Some are solid DF marines, some are thugs in a uniform. This is part of the reason that some vessels will treat you differently. It could be the crew and their attitude, and your attitude can change their attitude. One DF marine told me of a time they boarded a large power yacht and the lady on board told them to take off their boots so as not to soil her nice white carpet. They did as she asked, but they then submitted her and her husband to a 5 hour search, the only reason they did that, and admitted so to me. They want to be treated with respect and that's understandable...still, they reacted incorrectly no matter how rude the woman may have appeared.

Twenty years ago things were really out of control with boardings and such, things are much, much better today. The CO of every ship is responsible for their crew and their actions. If the crew acts in a less than professional manner it is the CO's fault.

At the very least I would supply the RBDF in Coral Harbour with the time/date of any infraction, the boat's number, and any crewman's name that can be obtained. The RBDF are not to be feared, but respected, and when in their waters, obeyed.
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Old 24-07-2012, 15:35   #28
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Thanks Steve, Just an update, I received a phone call from Commander Nedley Martinborough, Operations Commander of the RBDF, and he ask for all of the details I had and for any contacts. They are looking into this and I get the impression this will not happen again. Tourism is too important to the Bahamas economy and boaters are a big part of that tourism. Chuck
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Old 24-07-2012, 17:07   #29
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

We checked in at Treasure Cay in Dec 2011 - and at Driggs Hill (Andros) in July 2012 - we've never been boarded or hailed by the defense force, and never been treated with anything but friendly respect by Bahamian officials of all sorts. My bet: one obnoxious defense force officer out there - and/or a couple of obnoxious cruisers out there. Anything's possible! "Harassment" and "Bahamas" are words that don't really go together, in my book!
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Old 24-07-2012, 19:22   #30
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We checked in at Treasure Cay in Dec 2011 - and at Driggs Hill (Andros) in July 2012 - we've never been boarded or hailed by the defense force, and never been treated with anything but friendly respect by Bahamian officials of all sorts. My bet: one obnoxious defense force officer out there - and/or a couple of obnoxious cruisers out there. Anything's possible! "Harassment" and "Bahamas" are words that don't really go together, in my book!
Ditto on the on the quote "harassment and Bahamas don't go together. There are lots of us that make the crossing to these wonderful islands: from live aboard twenty something foot sailboats to 150+ super yachts but we all have one thing in common we enjoy the hospitality of the Bahamian people and the unbelievably beautiful waters of the islands. In all my years of going to the Bahamas, I have not heard a single complaint about the Defence Force doing anything other than enforcing the laws of the country. I am very suspicious of these undocumented claims of harassment.
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