FISHING AND DIVING: The Bahamas are also becoming increasingly environmentally-sensitive. Fishing and diving are closely controlled and should not be attempted without getting the regulations and the necessary permits. (Some information on Fishing Regulations is opposite and you'll see where to find out more.) There are many varieties of edible fishes in the Bahamas, and there's nothing quite as delicious as fish that has been caught, cleaned, cooked and eaten all in the same day. It's best to invest in the services of an on-site guide or dive-master — local knowledge doesn't cost that much when purchased this way but it can often be quite costly if you have to gain it the hard way.
If you have fish in your freezer when you enter the Bahamas, our Editor/Captain John Yeager suggests that you let Customs know and notate on your transire that it's there on the way in. That way, you won't be suspected of having violated any fishing rules while in the country!
Hunting:Visitors are not permitted to hunt; shooting of any kind is discouraged. Violation of ANY fish, game, or environmental rules can result in severe penalties, including arrest and confiscation of your boat and property.
Navigation:As reported here for several years, the Bahamas Marina Operators Association, in cooperation with the Bahamian government, has undertaken the job of marking primary channels and hazards. They started in the popular cruising waters of the Little Bahama Bank and the Abacos and have continued with new markers for Spanish Wells and Hatchet Bay on Eleuthera. The markers along the routes across the Great Bahama Bank are generally well maintained (click HERE for list and coordinates), but the truth is that in the Bahamas, channel markers are NEVER as reliable as we are used to here in the States.
But most Bahamian skippers are so adept at eyeball navigation they don't really need markers. This reduces the impetus to add more or to replace those that inevitably get destroyed or damaged. So markers in the Bahamas — even those you've used previously — are always iffy.
While we visitors will probably never be as good at eyeballing depths as are those who have spent their entire lifetimes perfecting the process, the skill can be learned. Here's a tip: The color of the water (and bottom) is the key. The water is like a blue filter and the thinner the water, the less blue you'll see. For added help, remember the rhymes: Blue, blue, sail on through. Green, green it's gettin' lean. Brown, brown, you can run agroun'.
Communications:To use your cellular phone while you're in the Bahamas, you must check with BTC (Bahamas Telephone Company) to verify that your U.S. carrier is listed as working with them. For that, visit their web site: BTCBahamas.com before you travel. The main phone number is 242-302-7000.
If you have specific questions while you're in the Bahamas — or before you go — you may contact the BTC Roaming Department at 242-302-7064. For other questions the main number should be used.
We are told that cellular telephone service in the Bahamas has greatly improved and continues to do so, but is still less than ideal for cruisers and can also be expensive. You may want to check on charges by your own carrier and BTC before you go.
That leaves VHF, SSB radio, and shore phones the primary means of communication. AT&T provides direct service from many major ports (their dockside phones are usually clearly labeled), and BTC sells calling cards that can be used from specified shore phones.
One fairly reliable short range communications network (the Abaco Cruisers Net, broadcast from Marsh Harbour) is available in central Abaco every morning at 0815. Experienced Bahamas cruising folk tune to channel 68 VHF at that time to exchange info on weather, stock market activity, upcoming events and other news of interest. Just by listening you can learn a lot. And if you have anything to contribute, others will appreciate it.
In Nassau, BASRA gives a VHF weather report every morning at 0715 on Channel 16. Listeners are switched to Channel 72. We're told "everybody" listens.
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