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Old 23-06-2012, 12:15   #1
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Harassment In The Bahamas

I am hearing reports of cruisers being harassed in the Abacos by the Bahamas Defense Force boats. Some cruisers reported that they were forced to go to back to West End from Mangrove Cay to check in instead of being allowed to check in at Green Turtle. Another cruiser reports they received a warning shot while in their dinghy and were harassed because they did not have their cruising permit in the dinghy with them. We have also received reports of Customs adding additional fees to clear in. These are very disturbing reports and need some clarification. Has anyone else had any issues in the Abacos or anywhere else in the Bahamas?

The Abacos Cruisers Net is asking for anyone with first hand information regarding any such incidents to contact them so they can gather the facts. The net meets every morning at 08:15 on VHF Channel 68 and is based out of Marsh Harbor. Chuck
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Old 23-06-2012, 12:48   #2
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Would love to hear the details relating to the shot across the bow. This is no small thing, particularly for the officer who has to explain why he discharged his weapon.
Mind you, ignorance is no excuse for the law when visitors do not abide.
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Old 23-06-2012, 13:09   #3
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Never had a problem in The Bahamas.....ANYWHERE in the Bahamas.....but some people seem to find trouble wherever they go......if you wanna know....you gotta go.......even if these incidents were true....(they could be).....trust me you are far safer from harassment and boarding with BASRA than with the US Coast Guard, DEA, US customs...etc etc......the Bahamians have been wonderful to us...are wonderful people.....and the Fishing isn't better anywhere in the world..............
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Old 23-06-2012, 13:44   #4
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Just returned from The Bahamas-about 3 1/2 weeks-from West End to Hole in the wall and then to Grt Harbor and Bimini. We saw 1 BDF vessel in Treasure and then again in Marsh. They didnt stop any one. That is the first time I have even seen a BDF vessel in 15 years over. Bob
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Old 23-06-2012, 14:05   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterwayguy
I am hearing reports of cruisers being harassed in the Abacos by the Bahamas Defense Force boats. Some cruisers reported that they were forced to go to back to West End from Mangrove Cay to check in instead of being allowed to check in at Green Turtle. Another cruiser reports they received a warning shot while in their dinghy and were harassed because they did not have their cruising permit in the dinghy with them. We have also received reports of Customs adding additional fees to clear in. These are very disturbing reports and need some clarification. Has anyone else had any issues in the Abacos or anywhere else in the Bahamas?

The Abacos Cruisers Net is asking for anyone with first hand information regarding any such incidents to contact them so they can gather the facts. The net meets every morning at 08:15 on VHF Channel 68 and is based out of Marsh Harbor. Chuck
We returned home earlier this month after spending the winter in the Exumas, we saw the Defence Force boats numerous times and were stopped once when we were out in the tender..........every encounter was pleasant and professional. I wouldn't put much stock in these rumors unless somebody comes up with some hard facts.
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Old 23-06-2012, 14:31   #6
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Unfortunately these reports were given by four boats that were turned back and the cruisers that had the incident in the dinghy and not second hand. The cruisers net out of Marsh Harbor has all of the boat names and individuals involved so this is not just rumors. Chuck
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Old 23-06-2012, 15:55   #7
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

There was a ruling a while back,stating you must clear at the nearest Port of entry when entering Bahamain waters.Thus West End if en route accross the little Bahama Bank.Have had many wonderful stay's in the Bahamas However I,alway's remember it's their Country.
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Old 23-06-2012, 16:17   #8
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Chuck,
Those are indeed very troubling reports. Even though, for the sake of this discussion board, they are only anecdotal and I would like to hear the details, multiple reports of the same incident are difficult to dismiss as cruisers miss-behaving.
I have no explanation for why an officer would discharge his weapon to stop a cruiser in a dinghy. Did he think they were going to flee the Bahamas on their RIB? One possible explanation is that he fired in the air to attract their attention. lacking any other signalling device. I guess you could write that off to poor-judgement, but even then he needs to explain where he thought that expended bullet was going to land.
I have a cynical explanation for the turning of cruisers back to West End. This sounds like a business generated pressure on the local govt. As soon as most of us cruisers found we could check in at Spanish, Green Turtle or Marsh Harbor rather than West End - the arrivals at the Old Bay Resort probably dropped way off, and the economy is probably keeping the Sea Ray flotilla back in Florida. Why would anyone put up with the attitude, poor service and cost of West End/Old Bay when they could get the same process accomplished in Green Turtle? As I say, I'm a cynic.

Of course there could be an explanation that some cruisers have been violating their privilege of safe passage and have gone ashore in the Abacos before checking in. it's the old Un-Clean Wake issue that affects all of us.

I recommend entering the Bahamas at the White Sand Ridge or Memory Rock and going direct to the Sea of Abaco for check-in, respecting the sovereignty of the Bahamas by not going ashore until check in.

However I would still like to hear an explanation from the Bahamas Govt on these incidents.

John
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Old 23-06-2012, 17:20   #9
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

John, The report with the dinghy stated the the BDF fired a warning shot because the dinghy wasn't stopping. The dinghy had no idea that they needed to stop. They were on a snorkeling expedition. The law in the Bahamas states that one must clear in at the nearest Customs Port when entering Bahamian waters. However, until this recent incident, there is no record of this ever being a problem with cruisers. Many clear in at Green Turtle instead of West End, which can be an expensive marina stay. There have been no reports in any other part of the Bahamas. During the season, most cruisers heading for Georgetown will wait to clear in there. There is also reports of cruisers being charged a "transportation" fee for clearing in that is being added to the $150 or $300 normal fee. This too is something new. Folks that really care about these things are trying to collect as much info as possible and that is why I have made this post. There is a new government in the Bahamas and it's not clear whether this is a taste of things to come. Chuck
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Old 23-06-2012, 18:20   #10
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Most cruisers iknew., and it has been a while, checked in long before g town. Usually bimini. Nassau. Or in between. Maybe some are different, but only an idiot wishing to cause trouble for the rest of us would not check in before g town.
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Old 23-06-2012, 18:33   #11
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterwayguy View Post
John, The report with the dinghy stated the the BDF fired a warning shot because the dinghy wasn't stopping. The dinghy had no idea that they needed to stop. They were on a snorkeling expedition. The law in the Bahamas states that one must clear in at the nearest Customs Port when entering Bahamian waters. However, until this recent incident, there is no record of this ever being a problem with cruisers. Many clear in at Green Turtle instead of West End, which can be an expensive marina stay. There have been no reports in any other part of the Bahamas. During the season, most cruisers heading for Georgetown will wait to clear in there. There is also reports of cruisers being charged a "transportation" fee for clearing in that is being added to the $150 or $300 normal fee. This too is something new. Folks that really care about these things are trying to collect as much info as possible and that is why I have made this post. There is a new government in the Bahamas and it's not clear whether this is a taste of things to come. Chuck
So what you are saying, is that because no-one had a problem, it is safe to presume that the law can be disregarded.
Theres that "entitlement" mentality showing again.
THESE ARE SOVERIEGN NATIONS AND THEIR LAWS ARE TO BE LEARNED AND RESPECTED.
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Old 23-06-2012, 18:53   #12
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

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So what you are saying, is that because no-one had a problem, it is safe to presume that the law can be disregarded.
Theres that "entitlement" mentality showing again.
THESE ARE SOVERIEGN NATIONS AND THEIR LAWS ARE TO BE LEARNED AND RESPECTED.
What I am saying is that the government of the Bahamas has allowed boaters to choose their place to check in for as long as we have been cruising there, over 20 years. There has never been a case like this until now and as cruisers we need to know if the new government is changing THEIR attitude or if this is some isolated incident. There is no mentality or suggestion that Bahamian law be violated. We need to understand the procedures that will be acceptable to the Bahamians. Do they plan to change THEIR tolerance for the letter of the law or has the new government decided to live by the letter of the law. Is this a case of over zealous individuals or have they been instructed to enforce regulations no matter what. I would consider requiring a boater to carry their clearance papers in the dinghy while snorkeling a bit over zealous, but you might consider it just enforcing the rules in their country. For those of us that actually plan to cruise the Bahamas in the future, we should know what to expect in order to comply. If they want to charge illegal fees for clearing in, I suppose that under that logic, it is their country and they have the right to do so. But as visitors to that country we should know what to expect so that we can decide if we want to continue to make it part of our itinerary. There are many Bahamians that are very upset with these reports and are making every effort to get all of the information possible before presenting to their officials for a response. Again, that is the purpose of this posting. Chuck
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Old 23-06-2012, 20:04   #13
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

when your told to stop by clearly marked law enforcement vessel.
YOU STOP. put eng in neutral or shut down. keeps hand visible and no sudden moves.
this is simple respect for officers and can save your butt from getting shot!
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Old 23-06-2012, 20:22   #14
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterwayguy View Post
What I am saying is that the government of the Bahamas has allowed boaters to choose their place to check in for as long as we have been cruising there, over 20 years. There has never been a case like this until now and as cruisers we need to know if the new government is changing THEIR attitude or if this is some isolated incident. There is no mentality or suggestion that Bahamian law be violated. We need to understand the procedures that will be acceptable to the Bahamians. Do they plan to change THEIR tolerance for the letter of the law or has the new government decided to live by the letter of the law. Is this a case of over zealous individuals or have they been instructed to enforce regulations no matter what. I would consider requiring a boater to carry their clearance papers in the dinghy while snorkeling a bit over zealous, but you might consider it just enforcing the rules in their country. For those of us that actually plan to cruise the Bahamas in the future, we should know what to expect in order to comply. If they want to charge illegal fees for clearing in, I suppose that under that logic, it is their country and they have the right to do so. But as visitors to that country we should know what to expect so that we can decide if we want to continue to make it part of our itinerary. There are many Bahamians that are very upset with these reports and are making every effort to get all of the information possible before presenting to their officials for a response. Again, that is the purpose of this posting. Chuck
Chuck, I am totally with you on this! If we as cruisers are permitted to cruise certain waters, then there needs to be a consitent set of procedures and if something changes there needs to be a bit of tollerance in thier application of the law! I see no need for the authorities to be taking such drastic and aggressive measures unless of course, there is something in the story that was not mentioned. When I had been aggressively treated by a customs official on one of the islands in the Caribbean, I stood my ground in front of a number of cruisers and demanded an apology. The situation became tense and I called for her superior in command. When I explained the situation to her superior she was instructed to apologise to me in front of the other cruisers and stamp my passport post haste. We dont need to be treated like crap for no reason and I for one certainly wont be!
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Old 23-06-2012, 21:01   #15
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Re: Harassment In The Bahamas

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.
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