Trip to Exuma (Bahamas), tell me everything I should know.

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by TimRF79, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Got 220 hours (PPL/IR) and plan on a trip to Exuma in November.
    Think i would fly into MYEF, what should I know?

    I could not find an instrument approach?
    What are normal weather patterns around there in November?
    Any issue leaving the plane on the ramp for a week, which covers are recommended?
    What route should I go?
    What else do I need to think about?
     
  2. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member

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    Limited help, but I can tell you that the airport appears well-managed, and I believe it is attended at all times.

    We loved Exuma, but we like the road less-traveled.
     
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  3. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    I'm a flying hour west of you, and I'll be embarking on my bucket list trip here in the next 2 weeks; my route shadows your intended route. My final destination is PR. My technical stop will be in Stella Maris (MYLS) which is just east of your intended destination.

    I had FXE or FPR selected for the outbound crossing, and so far have settled on FPR mainly because the raft-renting FBO hours are more convenient for picking up my life raft rental. For you with Bahamas as final destination, you could make any airport in FL a launching point if a raft rental is not part of the plan.

    As far as route from FL to Bahamas? That's all gonna depend on where you're planning on crossing outbound. fwiw, for my technical stop to MYLS on day 2 I'm looking at FPR ANGEE BR62V ZFP BR65V ZQA A555 DUKKY MYLS. Easy peasy. If coming from the FLL area, it'd be Bimini to ZQA and the rest is the same. Miami Center VHF coverage all over the Bahamas is pretty good above 6k from what I'm told.

    Approaches in the Bahamas? None that I have access to. Not planning on needing them. Conditions in the islands are usually high ceilings, otherwise it's torrential squalls that come and go quickly. Radar coverage from MIA should get you below the high ceilings before you cancel. The leg is short enough turning back is always a possibility, but one should be able to get a good look at the weather on the ground at the hotel before making the decision to launch, so as to make that hypothetical moot. It's really not an area of pervasive low ceilings. I'm not worried about IMC arrivals east of FL. Ultimately go with the plan that accommodates your experience and risk tolerance. It's supposed to be fun, do what you can handle.

    I'm planning on writing down the center freqs I come in contact with through that sector. I haven't found that information to be as conveniently available as it is in CONUS coverage charts and approach plates. My plan so far will be to pick up my IFR clearance in the air with said frequencies in hand when departing from the Bahamas to PR/CONUS respectively.

    The rest is the usual logistics. Get your CBP customs sticker (30 bucks with shipping) online. Takes a couple weeks to get to ya, good for one year. Make an eAPIS account online, create an CONUS-outbound manifest prior to departure date from CONUS, create an CONUS-inbound manifest before departure date from the Bahamas. Call the Customs office in FL you intend to use at least an hour prior to intended arrival the day of. Contact numbers are usually available via commercial sources.

    Bahamas fees vary. See here for a list of fees depending on the line item (cruising permit, inbound/outbound, per pax et al). I'll tell you that's the #1 reason I'm stretching my range to the limit and making Bahamas my technical stop instead of the more geo-convenient (for my trip) Turks and Caicos. The latter is absolutely out of control on the fees. Other folks have had a sour experience with the TC, if you do a search on POA.

    November weather is the latter part of hurricane season, but these things are known weeks in advance. Should be no issue flexing your travel plans to accommodate hurricanes, provided they don't decimate the island you're intending on visiting.

    Cheers!
     
  4. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was thinking either FLL or FXE, was thinking on getting a raft back home, so i don't have to stay overland getting to FL.
    Between FLL and FXE, any recommendations?


    Wondering if FLL to MYEF direct is a good idea?


    Never left the US, so I have no idea what "usual logistics is" ;-)

    PS: What plane are you flying?
     
  5. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...visited-part-5-ifr-into-exuma-bahamas.128962/

    Here’s some folk in the Exuma’s right now. Sailing, not flying, but you may find it interesting
    https://searchingforacheeseburgerinparadise.com/
     
  6. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    I can't speak for the fee structure and turn time of staging out of FLL. FXE seems convenient enough for piston operations imo. I suppose you could look around for the cheapest fueling in the area if that's a driving motivation and you're not picking the stop to pick up a rental raft like I am.

    Sure, I don't see why not. It's pretty much the same route as the VOR-to-VOR route. Only reason I'm doing the IFR thing for the OCONUS legs is I'm lazy and don't want to get into a kerfuffle with the "defenders" over at the political office *cough* -er DHS/CBP over DVFR/ADIZ security theater potato.


    74' Arrow II.
     
  7. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What is a ‘technical stop’?
     
  8. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    Fuel stop, customs stop, stop to get a life raft, etc.
     
  9. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    FPR would be my pick. Convenient and the FBO has a pretty decent restaurant. Just watch out for the exorbitant amount of students in that area.
     
  10. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Its etymology was ICAO-speak for an international leg segment exclusively necessitated by lack of fuel range and not disembarking purposes (aka not destination). The primary purpose derives from the Second Freedom of the Air (ICAO), back in the days of airplanes who couldn't make the ocean crossings non-stop. Essentially relaxed/truncated customs processing requirements are/were given to tech stops, in order to accommodate the non-destination nature of the landing.

    In the modern context I suppose it means nothing these days, as the Bahamas doesn't appear to expedite my customs handling nor reduce my fees paid during a tech stop vis a vis that of a RON tourist. Some countries reduce said fees/processing kabuki, others do not. It comes down to a country by country basis.

    Rando factoid. The ninth Freedom is not observed in the United States (it is in the European Union).
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
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  11. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I can't tell you about the Exumas but I fly over to the Abacos every month.

    There are only 2 approved instrument approaches in the Bahamas - Nassau and Freeport. Weather is almost always VFR. Miami Center controls 6K and above and Nassua covers 6K and below. If you go to the other thread that was mentioned, you will see my discussion on "ifr" in the Bahamas. In short, I just do VFR flight following.

    Normally, I fly direct BLUFI then MYAT to limit over water exposure. Facility fee for a non FBO airport is $50 for a singe engine. $29 per person departure tax.

    You will need 3 copies of the C7A for and 2 copies of the C7. You will also need a negative PCR covid test taken 5 days prior to arrival in the Bahamas and will need to complete a health visa online. It's $40 if you are there less than 5 days and $60 if you are there over 5 days. On the 5th day in country, you will have to take a rapid covid test.

    Coming back you need to log into eapis and put your info in for an arrival back into the states.
     
  12. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I’m wondering if/when proof of vaccination might exempt one from needing a covid test.
     
  13. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That gets asked on some other forums (and by my house renters) at least 2-3 time a week. Current guidance is not in the near future. Heck right now they have folks making fake covid tests and trying to move around the country.
     
  14. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    No instrument approaches. November should be pretty good weather. It’s a fun little airport to fly into. Take lots of pictures!
     
  15. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    What about those of us on a tech stop (gas n go)?

    Should one print the C7A forms et al and fill them out in advance, or are they available from the customs people?
     
  16. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Unless you are a commercial pilot working you will need one. A commercial pilot still has to have a health visa but files “exempt.”


    I always have my forms pre filled with everything but the passenger names and the date and time. I also never rely on customs to have the paperwork handy. It can turn a 5 minute process into an hour long one.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  17. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Yikes. Considering I'm doing two fuel stops in the Bahamas a week apart (to/from legs) the Bahamas fuel stop plan just got a lot messier than anticipated, and expensive depending on how much 2 PCR tests on each end plus health visa set me back. I'm emailing the Travel Compliance Unit to see what their stance is on tech stops.

    Thanks for the glove save. I would have been the cluebird who shows up with no health visa. Though I wonder, for someone who wasn't intending on entering the Country in the first place, and a travel policy meant to keep people out without testing, it'd be the mother of all ironies they'd want to detain me, nevermind as an already-vaccinated traveler. I'll be sure and post their response here as soon as I get it.

    What have folks seen on the PCR testing front, cost and turnaround time?
     
  18. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well, I am hoping that by November a vaccination card will do just fine...
     
  19. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I get my PCR's from CVS for free. Usually takes 1-2 days in the turnaround.
     
  20. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I’ve done a PCR test through Walgreens. No charge. They just bill your insurance. Got my results in 16 hours and my fiancé’s in 25 hours.
     
  21. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Which of these license do I need to have for a Bahamas flight?
    upload_2021-4-5_16-42-37.png
     
  22. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    The first one. Restricted radiotelephone operator permit
     
  23. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Regarding the eApis...
    your spouse would be passenger, or is there a way to define them as crew?
     
  24. wayneda40

    wayneda40 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Here's a video about departing KFPR and landing MYEF for a tech stop and then continuing to Turks & Caicos...

    There are Instrument Approaches at MYEF (RNAV 12, RNAV 30); you'll need Jepp plates and to confirm that your panel navigator includes them.
    Enjoy your trip!
    Wayne
     
  25. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So it looked to me, you where on an IFR plan talking to Miami until about 10miles NW of MYEF?
     
  26. wayneda40

    wayneda40 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Correct. On this Bahamas/Caribbean tour we chose to file/fly IFR on pretty much all the legs. Logic: we wanted ATC to "care" about us; there were likely to be layers we didn't want to have to dodge; flying higher over water is usually a good idea.
     
  27. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    How long did it take you to fuel-n-go at Exuma? Trying to properly account for delays in order to make it to PR before US customs closes.

    --brk brk--

    Got a response from the FBO at Stella. No covid test required for fuel stop.
     
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  28. wayneda40

    wayneda40 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I just looked up the tracklogs... from landing to takeoff 40 minutes. Caution: we had no other aircraft getting fuel or processing during our brief stay... and we were transiting out of the Bahamas for the Turks & Caicos.
     
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  29. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson En-Route

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    FWIW, I’ll just react to some of the above. I’ve been flying into the out islands of the Bahamas for a few years including Exuma - highly recommend the Bahamas out islands as a destination if you like the place like we do.

    Tech stop in Bahamas vs TCIs; Good decision independent of what inconveniences are encountered in BHSs. What they say is what you’ll get with no BS. Can’t trust a word of what is said in TCIs. Me, I installed long range tanks so I can make PR or VIs without a fuel stop.


    Don’t worry or prep for instrument approaches. Stay visual because the only wx requiring instruments is a Tstorm which you don’t want to fly through. Lots of strips out there.

    BHS fees vary over time but we’ve found them always to be applied consistently and by the book. No one is trying to take you for a ride out there. Very orderly place just laid back. Turn of the urgency and speed and all will be well.

    Fill out C7 in duplicate/triplicate whatever. Various forms of the form are easily downloaded and filled and copied before you leave. Saves time and sometimes sweaty effort after you land.

    US CPB Customs sticker required before you leave. Receipt will serve but they are now sending them same day as paid (it’s been several weeks in the past but 2 days for my recent renewal!!)

    Filing IFR is always my plan. Feels good on departure, can be hard to initiate coming back but still good just don’t obsess. Get up over 5k before even attempting.

    Get your papers in order, or in this case eAPIS. Do both ways before you leave. It can be altered if needed but only if your day of departure or airports change or passengers change. Most important: call your destination CBP location just before takeoff with a reasonably accurate arrival time and all (eAPIS is an estimate). Very required by US, the call that is. Make it!

    You don’t need no stinkin’ Radiotelephone license.

    No need to ever fly into the big 2 airports in BHS. I never have and everything points to never doing so. That’s the point of flying yourself. The fun in is in the out islands.

    Enjoy!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
     
  30. jayhawk74

    jayhawk74 Pre-Flight

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    Another thing to remember is when coming back into the US any passenger will need to show that they tested negative for Covid no more than 3 days prior to their arrival into the US, and having been vaccinated doesn't count.
     
  31. TimRF79

    TimRF79 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You are saying people have to get a covid test done in the Bahamas (when staying for 7 days), and if you test positive they will deny entry to a US citizen?
     
  32. jayhawk74

    jayhawk74 Pre-Flight

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    This is from the Stated Dept website. According to the Company I fly for this includes Part 91, 91K, and 135 as well as 121.

    Effective January 26, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery for all passengers two years of age and over prior to boarding. Airlines must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery.
     
  33. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    Not to threadjack, but what do you all do for ground/water transportation in the Bahamas?
     
  34. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    True for revenue pax, not true for those repatriating via own-conveyance.
     
  35. Wrench978

    Wrench978 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I used exhuma as a fuel stop on my way back to PR a few months ago (mid Jan). I was done getting fuel and processing customs within a half hour. I stayed a little longer so I could eat my lunch and give my dogs some water. No covid test required for a fuel stop. if I actually entered the country, I was told I would need one. for example, if I had maintenance issues that kept me overnight. @hindsight2020, not sure if youre planning (or already made your fight) on BQN or SIG. I asked them before I left if I could file an eAPIS to both airports and play it by ear. it was going to be on the fringe of my comfortable fuel range, and wanted to keep my options open. they said sure, just notify the other customs office that you wont be there once on the ground. Also, they didnt ask for any covid test results in PR, either.

    as far as route to Exhuma, I left SSI and flew the coast south to about Fort Pierce, then direct nassau then exhuma. I was VFR the whole way. no issues.
     
  36. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    yeah I already made the crossing. I cleared customs in BQN. Will stage out of there again on the way back conus since launching out of sig eats into my already paltry reserves. Winds should be ok.

    I chose IFR on the way here since the wx out of KFPR that morning didn't allow for a VFR adventure. I'm filing IFR on the way back, mainly cuz Im lazy about the ADIZ thing.

    In the future, if this is something I wish to do more often, I want the tanks to do it non-stop. It's not even the fuel stop (Stella so far has been pretty quick) it's the paperwork hassle that I wish to avoid. Weather enroute usually is pretty predictable this time of year on the go/no-go front. Cheers!
     
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  37. Wrench978

    Wrench978 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was able to make it from Isla Grande to Lantana FL non stop on the way north, but I had some tip tank issues and headwinds which necessitated a fuel stop... Hope your stay in PR has been good!
     
  38. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That would be very interesting. A USA citizen being denied entry back into the country because they didn’t have a test. Wonder how many lawyers would be salivating to take that case!
     
  39. Samuel Seidel

    Samuel Seidel Pre-Flight

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    Has anyone here flown to the Bahamas without a medical?
     
  40. jayhawk74

    jayhawk74 Pre-Flight

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    Technically the Govt hasn't denied the passenger entry into the US. What the Govt is requiring is that the Pilot not allow a passenger on to the airplane who can't show a negative Covid test within 3 days. If the Pilot does bring a passenger into the US who can't show such a test the Pilot will be the one violated, not the passenger.