Thursday, January 23, 2008
Location: Port Lucaya Marina, Grand Bahama
Distance Traveled Today: 29 Nautical Miles
Total Trip Distance: 454 Nautical Miles
I am always amazed at the hassles ordinary law-abiding people get with customs and immigration. We anchored last night near West End and traveled four hours today around to Port Lucaya on the south side of Grand Bahama. We got in around 1:30 pm. Our slip is about a 10-minute walk back to the marina office so, after tying up, I walked over to check in and pick up the customs and immigration paperwork. I was to bring it to the boat, fill everything out, and return it to the Customs and Immigration office. We had a sandwich and filled out the extensive paperwork. About an hour later as I was walking the papers back, I was accosted by a woman from the immigration office who gave me hell about how long I had taken. She demanded to come to the boat and see who was aboard. “I have to see faces”, she said. Apparently, I was not giving sufficient priority to the paperwork. As we walked back to her office, she lectured me on why the paperwork was urgent. I should not have eaten a sandwich, I should not have wasted any time, etc. So, she processed the papers and stamped our passports, etc. Then she told me that the Customs woman had left and would not be back until four pm. I could leave but I had to be back at exactly four. When the Customs person arrived, I was jumped on all over again for taking so long. I made the mistake of telling her we had arrived in the Bahamas late last night and anchored near West End and this caused an additional uproar. Apparently, we were required to stop at the first port of entry we passed and we should have checked in at West End this morning.
Anyway, I was polite and apologetic and eventually they all backed off a little. I told them I’m just a stupid guy from the US and I am not familiar with all of these processes. With all the drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and terrorism going on in the world, you would thing that the little Steel Magnolia would not cause so much of a stir just because we wanted a sandwich while checking in. It all reminded me of the Mexican Cha Cha we went through in Ensenada. Mexico while purchasing our last boat in the year 2000.
So, here I am in the Bahamas. We have two long days of open ocean cruising from here to Nassau and not a single weather window in sight. John Fortenberry and his wife Judy are to fly off to the Abacos tomorrow morning for a long weekend there with friends while I wait out the weather here. They will rejoin me next week when we hope to be able to move on.
I don’t think I’ll have much to report until the weather improves unless the Immigration Lady attacks me again. I’ll let you know when we plan to move on.