Bahamas for a new pilot?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Sierra Echo, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Sierra Echo

    Sierra Echo Pre-Flight

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    Hey All,

    I'm (finally!) beginning the process of working on my PPL. This has been a lifelong dream, but for years my wife was afraid of me flying. But, for some really cool reasons she is now fully supportive and anxious for me to get in the air. Hurray for me!

    We live in the Miami area, and one of the things she is excited about is the prospect of tooling around the Keys and the Bahamas. The Bahamas in particular are full of small airports in interesting places (she REALLY wants to spend time on Staniel Cay) that are difficult to get to commercially. Having my PPL would give us the freedom to explore on our time. It's an awesome thing to envision!

    So my question for you all is - realistically, how much training / experience should I plan on adding BEYOND my PPL before I bring my family (wife and small child) with me on an extended over-water trip? Are there things I should spend additional time on to prepare for such a journey? Should I require myself to get IFR certified beforehand? You can't fly nights in the Bahamas without IFR, and the weather down here is notoriously unreliable. Is there anything else I should be considering?

    Thanks a ton for your advice!

    -se
     
  2. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    This time of year, the weather is pretty reliably clear. There are quite a few pilots who fly to the islands often down there. I'm sure your CFI knows a few, I'd ask to pick their brains. Me, I didn't feel comfortable doing any sort of cross country with my family until I had my IR. But that's me...
     
  3. Sierra Echo

    Sierra Echo Pre-Flight

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    Fair point on the weather - I was thinking of what the weather will be like when I finish my training... the half of the year when the weather here is very unstable.
     
  4. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    I got no advice for you but I've watched a few video's of people doing it and I'll be jealous when you post photos of your flight.

    for example, this guy went with an experienced pilot on his first trip over:
     
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  5. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Having spent a good deal of time sailing in the Caribbean, let me suggest that you become completely familiar with what's involved, gear and process, in ditching and getting rescued. I say that regardless of whether you fly over water around the Keys or in the Caribbean. My sense is that most pilots don't have a clue about this. Talk to experienced ocean sailors. After all, it's one of them who will be (hopefully) talking with you in advance, and then picking you up, if you ditch. And for what it's worth, I would personally never venture over the ocean in a plane without wearing an inflatable life vest in the cockpit.

    If you go to the Bahamas, it may be necessary for the plane to have an HF radio. Worth asking about. You will definitely need a marine VHF radio, a handheld one at the very least, and know how to use it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
  6. Sierra Echo

    Sierra Echo Pre-Flight

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    Awesome video, thanks for sharing. Now Im REALLY anxious to get the training started! If all goes to plan I will absolutely post pics or videos here!
     
  7. Sierra Echo

    Sierra Echo Pre-Flight

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    Thanks a ton for this, Rory. I dive down here so I have some familiarity, but I charter so I'm not the Captain and thus not accountable for fully understanding the process. It sounds like this needs to change. I'll talk to my charter captain and see what advice he has to give. I'll also keep the equipment requirements in mind. Thanks again!

    -se
     
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  8. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Cleared for Takeoff

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  9. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Cleared for Takeoff

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    I flew my Piper Dakota from Reno, Nevada to the Bahamas (and Cuba) last year.

    • Fly early in the day and GET A WEATHER BRIEFING.

    * Wear a life jacket (this goes for everyone on board), but NEVER INFLATE IT INSIDE THE PLANE.

    * Carry a raft and have it on your passenger's lap. You can rent rafts at Banyan at KFXE (among others).

    * Buy a BOYANT personal locator beacon for each occupant and attach it to your life jacket. Something like this one:
    https://www.acrartex.com/products/c...or-beacons/resqlinkplus/#sthash.SgbQUEAP.dpbs

    • Learn how to file a eAPIS:
    https://eapis.cbp.dhs.gov/auth/login.html?resource_url=https://eapis.cbp.dhs.gov/eapisj/eapis/login

    • Get a customs decal for your plane:
    https://dtops.cbp.dhs.gov/main/#

    Have fun and stay over land as much as possible. If you need to ditch, try to land near a boat.
     
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  10. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree with all of this and would only add that a marine VHF radio is essential. People on boats are not listening to air band. They are listening to marine channel 16.

    I have the same Personal Locator Beacon and will not fly over water in the NYC area, where I am, without it. A tip about the PLB. It has to be registered, and the registration can be updated on the day of your trip with your flight plan.

    That said, the ability to communicate by marine VHF, and to give your GPS position (which argues for a marine radio with GPS), may bring help a hell of a lot faster than a PLB. Note that that PLB will not give you your GPS position, although there's one now that will, albeit much bulkier. Also, if you have an iPhone, the Compass app will give you your GPS position, and it appears that this is totally GPS based and not dependent on proximity to cell towers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
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  11. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sierra Echo,

    Don't mean to scare you, but I think that anyone venturing offshore should read this U.K. accident report: https://www.gov.uk/aaib-reports/piper-pa-28-181-cherokee-archer-ii-g-bxrg-12-november-2011

    This involved a couple flying from England to the Channel Islands (Alderney) who had to ditch in the English Channel. While the husband was unable to get out of the plane, his wife did, and there is lots to be learned. Having sailed the Channel in November/December, I'm struck by the fact that either of them survived, especially given their ages (late 70s). The rule of thumb in the Channel that time of year is that you've got 15-20 minutes to get out of the water. Good thing that the Caribbean, by comparison, is a warm bathtub. Anyway, you may find this report helpful in your planning.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
  12. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    What island? The Bahamas can be straight forward, or an international nightmare.
    It all depends on which island, proper planning, and airport.

    Went to an island and the parking area held three airplanes. It was full. Park on the runway or leave with no customs services. Neither is a good choice.
     
  13. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Cleared for Takeoff

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    Can you suggest a good handheld (waterproof) marine VHF radio? I carry a handheld Aviation radio but adding a marine one is a great idea.
     
  14. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The leading brands are Icom and Standard Horizon (a brand name of Yaesu). In terms of being waterproof, good handheld marine radios are all IPX7 or IPX8. Also, they all float. Also, Digital Selective Calling (an important emergency feature) is available on top handhelds at this point. Marine being a bigger market, they are also less expensive than Icom's and Yaesu's air band radios. Apart from those brands, and depending on budget, I would have a look at what West Marine is producing these days and how they rate in reviews. West Marine is a major retailer that sells radios under its own brand name.

    The big question is whether you want built-in GPS. I think that it's essential in a ditch bag, but it doesn't necessarily have to come from the radio. That said, I just purchased the new Icom air band handheld (the A25) with GPS in part with forced landings in mind.

    Perhaps worth adding that people on boats do actually monitor Channel 16. It's part of the culture. If you need to ditch, and you want to talk with a vessel about doing so near them, there's a very good chance that you'll have them on the radio in short order.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  15. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    99.99% of the time, all the above will be irrelevant. The rest of the time it will literally mean the difference between life and death.

    Respect the sea. She doesn't care and has no compassion for those who aren't prepared. Anything that doesn't exit the plane with you, you won't have and while in-water survival time is longer in the carribean, a life raft is a requirement. I don't know if it is worth checking a marine forecast, but if you fly on calm sunny days, there will probably be more boat traffic around.

    Otherwise, I sweat the interactions with the government more than the chances of having a plane problem.
     
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  16. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach

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    The big problem is that you are actually flying through one corner of the Bermuda triangle and there is significant risk of colliding with no-radio flying saucers that are not on a flight plan.
     
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  17. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I thought the nordo saucer issue was resolved at the last alien operations convention? The goal was to get them all on flight following since their systems won’t interface for automated flight plan filing.
     
  18. Sierra Echo

    Sierra Echo Pre-Flight

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    So much here to digest. Thank you all for the insights. The key message that I'm taking from this is - "in the unlikely event you have to ditch over water in the Caribbean, have with you everything you need to survive, communicate your exact position, and wait for rescue. Make sure those things actually get out of the plane with you." Lots of details to dig into within that statement, but that was the key message I received. I am generally a risk-averse person, especially when transporting my family, so I will be sure I invest in all of the gear mentioned. I'll have to figure out the right radio / gps combinations... I plan to carry a handheld aviation radio as backup when flying, so I will have that, plus it sounds like I need to add a marine radio. One of those will need GPS capability. Toys! :)

    Has anyone had specific issues with the Bahamian government when flying there? Living in S. FL we hear of occasional stories but in general they are regarded as friendly, at least to Americans.

    Thanks again for everything!!!
     
  19. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Cleared for Takeoff

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    The plane was flying fine but he was obviously lost. Why not fly due SE to get to France or due N to find the UK? It would seem much better to get back over land. Really sad.
     
  20. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    I've made the trip in our fixed gear 182, but not since we've had a kid. I don't think we'll make the crossing again with our son until he's old enough to swim, don his own pfd, etc. An HF radio is not necessary. If you do have to ditch, do it near a vessel...i.e. in front of it's path so the helmsman can see you but not so close so as the vessel will run you over after you plunk in the water. Personally I wouldn't bother with a marine VHF.
     
  21. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It reads to me like he made a choice between a controlled ditching and weather conditions/visibility that from his perspective had the potential to deteriorate. The Channel Islanders that I know would not be overly intimidated by 5' swells. The Channel has two busy shipping lanes, one going east and one west, and he was in one of them. I've sailed across those lanes and there would have been a lot of vessels around. If he had had a handheld marine radio, he could have spoken with one of the vessels and gotten his precise position and information on the weather between his position and the coast. Indeed, it would not have been difficult for the vessel to get aviation weather from the Coast Guard/ATC, which could have (it sounds like "would have") resulted in quite a different decision. The vessel could also have launched a lifeboat before he ditched.

    A handheld air band radio might also have helped, but that is unclear from the report, especially since he was at pretty low altitude in not great weather conditions. One would certainly have helped, the minute he got in range, if he had decided to head for the coast.

    I was struck by the impact of the electrical failure on the validity of the deviation card and hence the compass reading. That was an eyeopener.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  22. Badger

    Badger Pattern Altitude

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    Since you are just beginning your PP training, and this is a future goal of yours (with family) I'd suggest making a "practice" trip there with your instructor on board. You can count the trip as your cross country, or night flight (home leg) or other requirement depending on how you structure it.

    Yes it may cost you a few $$, but I think worth the cost and experience. Some rentals may not allow this.
     
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  23. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Cleared for Takeoff

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    Still a 10° difference in compass heading should not affect the ability to find land. Shows how much some people rely on the magenta line.
     
  24. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    True, although note that, for whatever reason or reasons, he was on a course for Brest. Have a look at where Brest is.
     
  25. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yep. I've been there. You don't want to head out to sea. Sounds like Flight 19 and the Bermuda Triangle. Don't lose track of where you are and where you are going.
     
  26. 172andyou

    172andyou Line Up and Wait

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    People get pretty nervous about overwater ditching. But think little of flying over populated areas or forest.

    Bring a PFD, a raft and a PLB. Wear the PFD.

    You will be in no more danger than the kinds of flying that people do regularly with that kit.

    You will be in warm water. That's *absolutely massive*. I would not be nearly so cavalier about flying over the great lakes this time of year. But since your question was about the bahamas, you shouldn't sweat it.
     
  27. Sierra Echo

    Sierra Echo Pre-Flight

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    I've thought about this several times. I've seen many previous accident reports related to people flying over the densely forested areas of the Upper Midwest or the Northeast, and that sounds much more dangerous than flying over the Caribbean. That said, I asked this question because I very much respect the power of the sea and want to be sure I am fully prepared before I take it on. And I'm glad I asked the question, because there's been some really great advice given.

    I'm not afraid of the prospect of doing this; rather I am quite excited by it. But as I mentioned in the past I am risk-adverse to some extent, and prefer to be over prepared rather than under prepared.

    Thanks for the comments, and for the confidence booster!

    -se
     
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  28. Sierra Echo

    Sierra Echo Pre-Flight

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    Love it! Great advice. It seems silly, but I had been thinking about this as something to do after my training was complete. Doing it as part of my training can only make it that much safer when I do bring my family along.

    -se
     
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  29. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    Do you need to get a Radio Permit?
     
  30. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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  31. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just hope the sharks are hungry and get you quick, instead of just circling and taking little bites.
     
  32. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    interestingly enough, this was just posted today. overall I like his videos but they are just too long. I haven't watched this one yet but I will.


     
  33. Hawker800

    Hawker800 Line Up and Wait

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    I read this before my 1st flight.
    [​IMG]
     
  34. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Coincidentally, a new Stevo Kinevo YouTube video today on flying a Cirrus SR22T to the Bahamas and chartering a catamaran with The Moorings:



    Info on The Moorings: https://www.moorings.com
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  35. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Cleared for Takeoff

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    For the folks here that fly over water, do you carry a ditch bag or a ditch box? Any suggestions on something like this? Looking to keep handheld radio, flashlight, passports etc dry and easy to grab in one place if we have to ditch.
     
  36. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’d suggest that you look at what sailors do and perhaps seaplane pilots.

    On my boat, I have a bag. In many years of sailing, I have never heard of anyone using a box. Nothing in a ditch bag should be water sensitive, which should make a box unnecessary.

    If you have decided to fly wearing an inflatable life vest, you have to decide what, if anything (such as a Personal Locator Beacon), should be attached to the vest itself.

    If you investigate this, you will find that things like strobe lights are higher on the list than things like flashlights, and that passports are pretty much at the bottom of what you should be worrying about :)

    Fundamentally, you need two things. High quality inflatable life vests and a high quality life raft. After that, a way to determine your position when you ditch and a way to communicate, including with vessels in the area.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  37. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Wtf.... are you concerned about “what if”
    Or more about the mission itself?

    If you’re concerned about the sharks, take a class.

    If you you want to learn about aviation stuff and how to do it, ask here.
    Some of us have experience and can head you in the right direction.
     
  38. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Cool. What parts of what has been said in this thread about flying over the ocean do you disagree with, and why?
     
  39. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Over the ocesn???? More over water.

    There are several classes that can be taken to fly to Bahamas.
    Many are known here, but to name a few...

    1) pants to a life preserver?
    2) shirt to a life preserver?
    3) many other techniques taught... how to eat fish? Deterimine uf toxic??
    4) shark avoidance?
    5) many others.
     
  40. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    In other words, you have nothing to say about anything said in this thread. Sounds like you haven’t even read it. In fact, sounds like you’ve had one too many tonight.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
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