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
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,