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Long Trip Tips  
 
 

Long Range Readiness

Every long range trip requires rather rigid discipline in finding and correcting problems that might only be irritating on a one day boat trip, but will ruin a long planned vacation trip to the Bahamas. The following list has evolved over the years from myself and several other authors, and is used by the CFOA for their annual Bahamas trips.

Boat:

  1. Electrical system: Do all switches work?
    Horn, cabin, dash, cockpit and deck lights?
    Are navigational lights working properly?.
    Is the battery fluid level okay?
  2. Do bilge pumps work, for both
    manual and automatic operation?
  3. Is the spares kit restocked? Fuel and oil filters, spark plugs, belts, light bulbs, fuses, voltmeter, tools, hydraulic and engine oil, and spare props if you have them.
  4. Check safety gear: life vests, flares and meteors that are in date, fire extinguishers, and EPIRBs and life raft if you have them.
  5. Fishing tackle: Take everything you need. Selection is poor , and bait is also scarce. Make sure a heavy cutter is on board for cutting fish hooks and lure cable in case a crew member is hooked or a quick release is necessary.
  6. Electronics: Check VHF radio, fish finder, radar, navigation gear, and antennas.
  7. Ground tackle: check anchor, rode and line. When loaded for the trip, can you access the anchor in an emergency? In many situations, quick anchor deployment can mean the difference between losing and saving the boat.
  8. Plan stowage for accessibility of crossing items, snacks, etc. Try and secure all stowage to keep it from moving during the crossing, especially in the cockpit. Balance the load to avoid listing, or plowing.
  9. Take the boat weight limit seriously. Five foot seas are not the same as your backyard lake. An overloaded boat is dangerous in bad seas, and even more dangerous when dead in the water.
  10. Charts and guides. Are they handy? Can you read them in sea spray or rain? Did you write those waypoints down?

If you have a trailer:

  1. Grease and check wheel bearings.
  2. Check tires and spare for pressure,
    sidewall, and tread condition.
  3. Check surge brake and fluids.
  4. Check turn signal and brake lights.
  5. Check lug wrench and jack.
  6. With the boat off the trailer,
    inspect rollers and bunks.

Medicine

Take a small first aid kit with salves, ointments, sting-eze, antiseptic washes, aspirin, bandages, and decongestant. Cuts, scrapes, scratches, and burns regularly occur on fishing and diving trips, so be prepared. Take sunscreen, and sunburn treatment for those who didn't use the sunscreen. Take bug screen, and bug bite treatment.

When traveling to remote areas internationally, I carry the following emergency kit:

  • A cycle of antibiotics.
  • An anti diarrhea medicine.
  • Domboro Otic (an ear wash) for post diving ear treatment.

Sooner or later you'll need all of them, and when you do, they'll be difficult to come by. Your family doctor in the USA will gladly prescibe them for you for this use.


Insurance

  • Boat - Be sure that your boat insurance covers you in the Bahamas. Many insurers require a short-term rider to cover the trip outside the U.S., which others require notification of the trip and it's duration. Coverage is NOT automatic, and accidents happen.
  • Crew- Inquire of your health care insurance provider what is required for claims and coverage in the Bahamas. For instance, even MEDICARE does not cover persons in the Bahamas.


Food and drink.

These items are expensive in the Bahamas, and unless you are satisfied with the local resturant fare every night, make some plans for your needs.

  • Tobacco, beer and soda are very expensive, so bring your own.
  • Quality meats are hard to find.
  • If you plan to grill you will need charcoal or propane.
  • Access to shopping is uncertain, so bring those items that your comfort depends upon.
  • Ice is expensive and if it is made from desalinated water, will melt quickly. Some marinas have freezer access. Water in a container that can be refrozen and used repeatedly is useful in ice chests, to
    augment cubed ice.