Adventures in Nassau

Ambler Isle
V and S
Sun 19 Dec 2010 18:24
12/19- 20/10
Nassau is not our favorite place, but we go there every year to clear Customs and Immigration because officials routinely grant a 180 day visa to cruising boats planning to stay in the islands for 6 months.  Other ports of call offer less.  But this year, our Customs Officer refused to grant more than 90 days.  An extension could be granted when the 90 days expired.  We begged, we explained, we pleaded.  No luck.  What does this mean to us?  Since boaters rely on the seas and weather,  we must be in a port early in March for our March 19 extension date. They do not make extensions early, or late.   So if a weather window opens to go to a remote Cay, we will have to pass.  Once in port we have to get to Customs and Immigration, usually at the airport.  With  no car we must either walk, hitchhike, or hire a taxi to take us to the airport.  Then we wait in line.  An entire day will be required to comply with this bureaucracy.  All unnecessary.  Next year we may opt to check in at Bimini, Cat Cay, Andros or Chubb Cay.  They may only offer 90 days, but the stop will be more pleasant.  What does this mean to the merchants in Nassau?  Well, we spent a lot of money during our 2 night stay.  This includes fuel, dockage, restaurants, grocery, boating supplies, telephone setup, cruising permit and more.  Maybe we'll buy less, do without more in a different port.  We went to plead our case at the Immigration office.  We asked the bus driver the fare and he said $42.  Never cracked a smile.  We gave him $3 and he accepted it.  The receptionist at Immigration refused to let us speak with an officer, and kicked us out.  The reception at the Fisheries office was about the same.  The lady at the Phone company was clueless regarding their new broadband service, although we'd been in communication with folks who had the service and it worked well. At the local restaurant, the Poop Deck, we enjoyed our first cracked conch.  Then the waitress brought us the wrong bill.   We checked next door at the Texaco StarPort fuel dock and they said diesel was $3.89.  This is a dollar more than in the US.  But when we took the Amber Isle for refueling, the boy said it was $4.11 and cash only, despite the credit card logos all over the windows.  We decided to pass and began calling around to other fuel stations.  We called Hurricane Hole Marina across the harbour.  Their diesel was $3.87. Was the first fuel attendant hoping to pocket the additional $.22 per gallon?   Yes, I know these things happen anywhere but seem more prevalent in Nassau.  A high point of the visit was meeting a number of other boaters heading to Exuma at a happy hour by the marina pool.   And of course seeing Peter, the marina manager again.  The day was sunny and pleasant the day we left Nassau Harbour heading to Rose Island.