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Old 01-02-2016, 10:06   #16
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

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Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
How do you get to Nassau without passing by one of the closer port-of-entry's, when you're legally required to stop at the closest one on the way in? i.e. it's illegal to sail past West End, Bimini, Mayaguana, Gt. Inagua, Green Turtle etc. on your way to Nassau if you haven't cleared in.
===

That's not entirely accurate. You are not required to divert to a closer port of entry if you are en route to a different port. We've checked in many times at Nassau and also Green Turtle Cay. No one has ever questioned that strategy and of course we always give our last port of call as somewhere in the US. What does get you into a gray area legally is stopping to anchor. You are definitely not allowed to get off the boat or fish, same with stopping at a non-port of entry. You should start flying the yellow Q flag as soon as you enter Bahamian waters.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:15   #17
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

Has anyone checked in through Green Turtle? We used to always go through that office. But I have not cleared in, in about eight or nine years now.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:17   #18
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

Cat Cay as well, just south of Gun, easy in and out.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:32   #19
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

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Originally Posted by wayne.b View Post
===

That's not entirely accurate. You are not required to divert to a closer port of entry if you are en route to a different port. .
Well, someone should tell the Bahamian government, then. Because those silly fools are still putting these words on their official site:

"Visiting boaters must clear Customs and Immigration at the nearest designated Port of Entry."

Boating Entering/Exiting Policies | The Official Site of The Bahamas

I guess if you have any issues sailing around with the idea of just claiming you were heading to Nassau to check in eventually, then the best course of action would be to refer the Bahamians to the Cruisers&Sailing forum.

To be up front, I like your own interpretation of their law better. Means I can sail up to Mayaguana, head over to Acklins, and then back to Turks and Caicos without ever even talking to them.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:37   #20
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

[QUOTE=Waterway Guide;2032932....These policies can change without notice and without consistency across the islands, but the government considers anyone on "the banks" as "in the country" so keep that in mind when you think about anchoring for a few days or going ashore before you check in.[/QUOTE]

Indeed. It's also impossible to sail on the Little Bahama Banks through the Sea of Abaco to points without entering Bahamian territorial waters (regardless of it being on a bank). The distance between Spanish Cay and Abaco for example is barely over 2 NM. In contrast, vessels can arrive at Nassau without sailing over any Bahama's bank and without entering Bahamian territorial waters until one is arriving.

I ran into the same thing when on the Turks and Caicos banks. They hailed me 12 miles out and said I had to clear in (and out at the same time) even though I had no intention of ever making any landfall in the Turks and Caicos.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:48   #21
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

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Cat Cay as well, just south of Gun, easy in and out.
Except the last time I was there you had to pay a big fee to the marina just to tie up and clear customs.
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Old 01-02-2016, 11:01   #22
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

We entered at Nassau upon arrival from West Palm Beach. Did not seem to any problem in doing so and we were not the only boat doing it.
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Old 01-02-2016, 11:02   #23
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

We were hailed by the RBDF in the spring of 2013 for not clearing in sooner. We left WPB and anchored at Great Sale and then Spanish, where a patrol boat caught us leaving for GTC. Told us we should have cleared at West End. We let them know we were headed to GTC to clear and they left us alone.

That was the only time we've ever had a "problem" in all our crossings on this route.

Friend of mine who stayed in the Abacos a long time was told by officials that the boat could stay for a year but the crew had to re-enter at six months. He basically flew to WPB and back on the same day. Expensive, about $500. Wonder if he should have just sailed out the Whale for a few miles, then turn around and re-enter at GTC. Cost $300.

Cat Cay fee was $100 for a one day slip so you could go to customs, but that was a few years ago. A sailor we met up with told me he stopped at the gas dock and cleared in while they were refueling him. No charge for a slip.
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Old 01-02-2016, 11:36   #24
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

Having lived in the Bahamas for a decade, traveled there repeatedly by boat before and after... My experience in the Bahamas over the years of trying to do things diligently is... "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" They are mercurial in their rules. They can change with each shift, personnel or what mood they happen to be in. The secret is to act Bahamian. If you want a 6 month Visa... you just wear them down with friendly conversation.
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Old 01-02-2016, 13:21   #25
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

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Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
Well, someone should tell the Bahamian government, then. Because those silly fools are still putting these words on their official site:

"Visiting boaters must clear Customs and Immigration at the nearest designated Port of Entry."

Boating Entering/Exiting Policies | The Official Site of The Bahamas

I guess if you have any issues sailing around with the idea of just claiming you were heading to Nassau to check in eventually, then the best course of action would be to refer the Bahamians to the Cruisers&Sailing forum.

To be up front, I like your own interpretation of their law better. Means I can sail up to Mayaguana, head over to Acklins, and then back to Turks and Caicos without ever even talking to them.
===

No. Mayaguana is a port of entry and once you enter Bahamian water you are supposed to check in somewhere. Since there are no other POEs even close to Mayaguana, that's where you need to go. We've done that coming back from the Turks and Caicos and it was quick and easy.
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Old 01-02-2016, 13:37   #26
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

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Has anyone checked in through Green Turtle? We used to always go through that office. But I have not cleared in, in about eight or nine years now.
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===

Yes we did that last year in May. We crossed over from Port St Lucie, entered on to the Banks at Memory Rock, and ran all night to Green Turtle Cay. We docked the next morning at Bluff House Marina in White Sound and told the dock master that we needed to clear in. Customs and Immigration came over to the boat a short time later and took care of everything very quickly. It's a nice, very friendly place but a long golf cart ride into town.

Marina - Bluff House Beach Resort & Marina, Green Turtle Cay, the Bahamas
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Old 01-02-2016, 13:44   #27
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

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Except the last time I was there you had to pay a big fee to the marina just to tie up and clear customs.
===

The fee was $100 when we did it 3 years ago. The customs office is right at the head of the dock. They took us right away, and gave us 6 months without a quibble. We thought it was worth it because at that point we were free to transit the Bahamas any way that we wanted and got the 6 months we were looking for.
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Old 01-02-2016, 14:19   #28
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

Headed to West End originally, large thunder storm over it based on radar, changed course to Spanish Cay and checked in there, no issue.
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Old 01-02-2016, 15:43   #29
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

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Yes you're right. It's exactly the same.
I like your previous post better - it is very accurate. The Bahamians want you happy and in the Bahamas with lots of money, they will quickly and gladly solve any of your Government problems to keep you or even to get you there. Unlike the USA Customs and Immigration who would focus on creating some Government problems.

All Bahamians, from Government to private vendors, understand that you are their life blood. Especially after 2008 when their business plummeted. 2005 Marsh Harbor fishing tournament entries 500+, 2008 less than 100!

I haven't taken my boat over to the Bahamas in the past 4 years, but prior to that I would stop anywhere - West End, Spanish Cay, Marsh Harbor, etc., buy the 1 year cruising permit and that was that. At least for the boat.
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Old 01-02-2016, 16:00   #30
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Re: Bahamas Customs Check In

PLP (the Pindling Party), is in charge now... if you think Obama is bad.... just ask any Bahamian what they think of the present government. But they will be voted out most likely in the next election due to their ineptitude. Cuba may kill their edge on tourism too.... Everything is topsy turvy there. They don't know what managing an nation's economy entails... Their last PM was decent...... I met a female Canadian Astronaut years back on Man O' War Cay and she told me that viewing the planet from outer space that the Bahamas looked like the cleanest, prettiest, most awesome water viewed from space.... Try to beat the beauty and purity of Bahamian water... maybe the Maldives or parts of the South Pacific.... but I doubt it. The Bahamas is special.... but I digress... get the 6 month cruising permit by befriending the Customs Agent.
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