Bahamas Cruising ‘Need To Have Stuff’

Suggested by TJ and Kaye Assenmacher

From experience gained during 3 winter cruises to the Abacos aboard
SHEARWATER – 1975 Alberg 37 Yawl – 2006-2007
; 2009-2010; AND 2011-2012


Wavy Line Chart Of The Abacos

Hit Counter Visits since 7/21/2011
(Posted 7/21/2011/Updated 9/18/2012)

Charts/Publications For The Bahamas

-         Skipper Bob Publications (

o       Anchorages Along The Intracoastal Waterway (Must Have) – Updates available via the Skipper Bob website.

o       Marinas Along The Intracoastal Waterway (Nice To Have)

o       Cruising Comfortably On A Budget (Nice To Have)

o       Bahamas Bound (Nice To Have Information regarding sailing in the Bahamas.)


-         White Sound Press (

o       The Cruising Guide To Abaco, Bahamas By Steve Dodge (Must Have – The Cruising ‘Bible’ of the Abacos – Includes maps, GPS Waypoints, etc.).  Also have digital charts (on CD).

o       Inlet ChartbookSoutheastern United States - Chesapeake Bay to Miami.  (Nice to have if doing off-shore legs up/down the East Coast)


-         Wavey Line Charts (  Waterproof planning charts.


-         Explorer Chartbooks ( The ONLY accurate charts of the Bahamas.

o       Explorer Chartbook Near Bahamas (Includes Abacos) Must Have for the Abacos

o       Explorer Chartbook Exumas and Ragged Islands (Must Have if Going Further South)

o       Explorer Chartbook Far Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (Must Have if Going REALLY Further South)


-     The Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook Norfolk, Virginia to Miami, Florida (By Leslie Kettlewell, John Kettlewell.)  McGraw-Hill - Check for the latest edition (Sixth Edition)  which has charts updated to 2012 -  (  A REALLY handy cockpit ‘flip chart’.


-    On our last Bahamas cruise (8 October 2011 - 13 May 2012, we used the digital navigation program Polar View     This inexpensive (approximately $40 USD) nav program worked very well.  Polar View also interfaces with Active Captain, an interactive cruising guide which also includes some listings in the Bahamas. We  installed it on our ‘poor man’s chartplotter’ (a laptop) tied to our GPS.   Check it out.)  Additionally, we use the FREE CaptainRated  ( which is a boating review site providing real reviews by real boaters brought to you by ActiveCaptain (


Other Stuff To Consider

If contemplating any off-shore passages (up/down the U.S. Atlantic Coast), you should carry NOAA off shore paper charts for plotting purposes.


Bahamas cruising permits/customs

-     Bahamas Cruising Permit $300 -   (

       -     Bahama Ports Of Entry (In the Abacos, we normally 'declare' into the Bahamas at Green Turtle Cay)


-     Quarantine flag (yellow) and Bahamian courtesy flag (flown from starboard spreader).  The Bahamian courtesy flag is different from the Bahamian National Flag.

Flag (Yellow) (Yellow)


Bahamian Courtesy Flag                               Bahamian National Flag



Clearing back into the US.

-     Local Boater Option (LBO) for U.S. Citizens - )


-     Customs Decal (For  U.S. Citizens with boats over 30')

-     Passports required - MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CURRENT AND UP-TO-DATE PASSPORTS - we make copies of passports, credit cards and boat documents ‘just in case…’.


-     Dinghy registration and up to date stickers.

-     Ship’s document (up to date) if documented boat, or ships registration if a non-documented boat.

-     Boat insurance papers/TowBoatUS/Seatow Insurance (cheap insurance – well worth the cost!)


Miscellaneous ‘Good To Know’ Stuff

-     High cost items in the Bahamas (paper goods, fuel, beer, wine, soft drinks).  Laundry about $4.00/load plus dryer about the same cost.

-     Low Cost (relatively) items in the Bahamas (liquor, cheese, rice, beans, pork).  1 Bahamian $ = 1 USD and used interchangeably.  We cash in all our Bahamian money prior to leaving.  US coins won’t work in vending machines/laundromats, etc.  Canadians need to exchange their Canadian $$ to Bahamian or US dollars.

-     Cell phone – most don’t have coverage in the Bahamas (for some carriers/phones, you can buy a Bahamian ‘Sim Card’.

-     Most places have Internet/WIFI (may have to pay) – SKYPE works if you have Internet (

-     Evacuation Insurance through Divers Alert Network (DAN)  (  Family membership $55.
As a DAN Member, you automatically receive DAN TravelAssist and up to $100,000 of evacuation assistance coverage. Effective for both diving and non-diving injuries, this benefit is provided by AIG Travel Assist, a world leader in emergency evacuation services. Your evacuation coverage begins when you are traveling at least 50 miles/80 km from home and call DAN TravelAssist to arrange your evacuation.


-     Carry aboard a good set of Current and Tide Tables (we use ‘computer’ tide tables) – very necessary on the ICW especially in Georgia and North Florida where tidal ranges are high.  You need to always be aware of what stage the tide is since there is a lot of ‘skinny’ water.  You need to plan some passages based on tidal times (i.e., passage through some ‘cuts’ at mid-tide rising).  Barometer Bob website is a good place to find Tide Tables for the Abacos - also a good source of news and information for the Abacos.  


-     Probably the most important equipment on board transiting the ICW is a reliable depth sounder, and a pair of GOOD binoculars.


-     ‘R O’ (reverse osmosis) water is available for about 20-25 cents/gal (2012).  We use perhaps 3-4 gal/day.  Use ‘foaming’ soap.  Use ammonia for onboard clothes wash, ammonia + water in spray bottle for galley; vinegar + water for mildew; and Clorox+ water in spray bottle for sanitization.  Small (1-2 tbs) amount of Clorox in water tanks.  Periodically flush vinegar and a bit of vegetable oil through the head to help keep the 'plumbing' clear of calcium buildup and to lubricate the pump.


-     Spare parts/filters (oil/fuel/water)/water pump impeller-rebuild kit/starter?/alternator?/fuel pump?….   Some automotive parts are available locally, and there are several good ship chandleries in the Abacos – but expensive.


-     Repair parts would need to be ordered from states (Fedex – fast but expensive) – need copy of cruising permit to avoid import taxes.  Nice to have a few copies of cruising permit….


-     Dinghy tube repair kit (PVC / Hypalon material and glue depending on what kind of dinghy you have), also a spare dinghy valve or 2.  Outboard spare spark plug.


-         Tech manuals for electronic gear, engine, transmission, etc.


-         Enough tools (and the right tools) to do just about any job on the boat.


-         Cordless electric drill (charge off a small inverter – we have a small Black and Decker inverter – 600 watts - about $65 at Lowes) which takes care of all our charging needs. It runs a small ‘ShopVac’ just fine also.


-         Personal boat cards and card file/folder.


Try to take just ‘enough stuff’, but not ‘too much stuff’ (including clothes).  The fall on the ICW can be chilly at times, so some jackets, sweaters, sweat shirts, and blue jeans are in order.   Likewise January in the Bahamas may be cool, but it hasn’t snowed there in years. Once we 'get south' to warmer areas, we pack all of our 'winter' clothes in a waterproof bag and it goes to the bottom of the starboard cockpit locker, not to be seen till the next transit of cooler climes.  But one should always remember, the Bahamas are no longer a ‘Third World Country’.  There is very little that one cannot obtain in the Bahamas. In general, we try to be ‘independent’ of most repair techs, marinas, etc.


This is by no means an all inclusive list of things to consider, but this may 'spark your interest' in cruising to the Bahamas.  There is a lot more ‘stuff’ to consider, but remember, the object is to have ‘fun’ exploring new places, and......

 The Difference Between Adversity and Adventure Is ATTITUDE!


British Quote During WW-II