Preparing for The Raggeds

A Week Aboard S/V Sabado: 3/21/2021 – 3/28/2021

Happy Sunday! Here’s this week’s video.

Last Sunday we cranked out the rest of our chores: we cleaned the boat (inside and out), did the last of our laundry, finished up our provisioning, sorted out our hard drive and SD cards, and made arrangements to get fuel on our way out the next morning.

We left the dock Monday morning, filled our tanks with diesel, and motored back over to the Stocking Island/George Town area to anchor while we got our ducks in a row for our trip to the Raggeds. The Raggeds are a small chain of islands in the southern Bahamas that are known amongst boaters for being practically uninhabited. There are next to no restaurants or stores or cell service, just a whole lot of pristine beaches! That being said, we knew we needed to be fully self-sufficient before we headed that way (hence our hefty reprovisioning haul and fuel top off). We dropped anchor right by where we were last week, and decided to have Jamal swing by again to fill up our second propane tank- just to be safe. 

We realized later that afternoon that our 3 month cruising permit was set to expire April 7th. We were hoping to be in the Raggeds then, so we needed to figure out how to get an extension before we left George Town. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. 

The rules keep changing (presumably because of COVID), so getting up to date info on the process is next to impossible. The latest instructions we could find was a photo of a handwritten note a customs agent gave someone a month ago on how to request an extension, because supposedly they weren’t allowing anyone to do it in person anymore.

Aside from that, we had Facebook forums of people talking about how immigration was asking them to email over their credit card information for the extension payment or text it to someone if they weren’t comfortable emailing it?! It all sounded suspicious, and we were already going against the protocol by asking for our extension early, so I had low expectations. 

I sent the email as instructed in the note and waited. When I didn’t hear back the next day, I called the number listed on their website for the customs and immigration office in George Town. The woman who answered gave me a separate number to call, which didn’t work. I called her back and asked if she could just transfer me, but she said she couldn’t “because I needed to speak with someone in another department” (is that not what transferring is for???). After trying every other number I could find online, I was able to speak to a guy who told me to call 5 different variations of the same number “until one works”… so that’s what I did. When I finally got a hold of someone in the right department, they said I could come in and do it in person. 

So, after all that, we simply got in the dinghy, went to shore, and walked into the office. It was all wildly disorganized- I wish I could’ve taken a photo of their filing system for you to see?- but the woman who helped us was great and we left with our extended cruising permit in hand. 

Next up: extending our tourist visa. (cruising permit = boat can stay, tourist visa = we can stay)

Taking into account our cruising permit extension experience, I thought maybe everyone was over complicating this process too. So, we just walked across town and into the office that was in charge of visas with our fingers crossed. Apparently this is where the email situation came into play- the source of everyone’s confusion- so, let me lay it out for all my fellow cruisers:

Customs office= in charge of cruising permit extensions, just walk in and bring all your paperwork + $500 

Immigration office= in charge of tourist visa extensions, email pics of all your paperwork along with your newly extended cruising permit to and include in the body of the email the amount of time you’d like your visa to be extended for. They’ll send you the extension electronically, no need to go into the office. 

Overall, the processes themselves were not difficult at all, but the lack of access to information about the processes was enough for us to briefly consider going back to the States when our permit expired instead!

We salvaged the day with some homemade fresh mango + lime + rum cocktails.

On Wednesday, the waiting began… We were ready for the Raggeds, just looking for the right weather to make the trip. We started getting antsy immediately, since we’d already spent over 2 weeks in the area we were waiting in. 

We spent the day on the boat, which probably didn’t help our anxious feelings. I worked out, FaceTimed my family, played around with this week’s video (did you notice the new ending image?) tried out a new recipe for dinner, and watched a few episodes of Dexter while the sun set behind one massive cloud. 

Thursday and Friday were similar (sorry I don’t have anything more exciting to report!). 

On Saturday morning our start battery alarm went off. 

If you recall, we replaced our port engine start battery recently, but it appeared both batteries had died this time. Several things to note here: 

  1. This means the last battery we bought in the Bahamas was bad when we bought it, so we’ll need to bring our tester into the store this time to make sure the ones they’re trying to sell us are good. 
  2. If none of them are good, we will not be buying them, which means we’ll need to jump start the ones we’ve got and sail back to the States. 
  3. The only store that sells them here is a very long dinghy ride away, and conditions are bad. It would be risky for us to go, but conditions won’t be improving any time soon and it’s a safety hazard for us to just hang out with two dead batteries. 
  4. The store that sells them here has a google review that calls it “literally the worst place to buy start batteries” but it’s our only option. 
  5. There are no business hours posted online and no one picks up the phone when we call, so we have no idea if the store is even open. 

Taking ALL of these things into consideration, we decided to say fuck it and go anyway. It was a long and rough dinghy ride, but we made it there safely, found one mildly acceptable start battery priced 2.5x higher than it should’ve been, bought it, wrapped it in a trash bag to protect it, and headed home. I can’t wait to see how awful the GoPro footage turns out from all the bouncing. Our poor dinghy was getting air with each wave we slammed into!

We made it home, feeling a bit jostled, and opened a couple of beers. We’re planning on installing the new battery today, and hopefully it’ll last until we get back to the US. We chose not to buy a new battery for our port engine, because it appears to be slightly less dead than our starboard one and we’d rather not spend the money to replace our recently replaced battery, only to replace it again when we get back to the US.

Aside from that, we’re making some bread right now and planning a little beach picnic for lunch! What are you doing today?❤️

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