Provisioning in the Bahamas

Food in the Bahamas is much more expensive, there is no way around this fact. Now, if you are going to pay more, you might as well get better food for your money. 

We have found that the produce sold at the local grocery stores, while more expensive, is pathetic. Apples have brown spots on them, lettuce is already wilted and rotting. You pick through and hope to fill your basket with enough good produce to make a nice salad back on the boat. 

We then discovered that the marinas who cater to the very wealthy have "mini grocery stores" in them. The brands of food on the walls are those sold in Costco in the United States. What they do is send a fast boat to the US to stock up, then run back to the marina to supply the shelves. This means that you are getting American portions at Bahamian prices, but most of all, fresher foods. 

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The selection and bulk may be limited, but we have found that the foods are of wonderful quality and it is easy to fill up your stores with fresh and wonderful produce. 

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Cost Effective Dinghy

When shopping for a dinghy, you might be looking at the cost of owning and operating the dinghy. How much fuel will it burn, how fast can it go, how many people can it carry. In the US, dinghy docking is a flat rate, so it is rarely considered in the equation. If you plan to travel internationally, it should be on your list of considerations. 

In the US, we found that dinghy docks ranged in price from Free to $5 per day. They didn't care how big your dinghy was, if you tie up, you had to pay a flat rate. For a long time, we towed behind us our 13 foot dinghy. It was very stable, rowed quickly, and gave us a very dry ride. The problem with this dinghy is it didn't fit on our deck, and since we were going to be crossing oceans, we wanted to carry our dinghy instead of towing it. 

We began the search for a dinghy that would fit on our deck, and due to size constraints, it needed to be rather small. 

We found our current dinghy on Craigslist for $300. It's a 7 foot catamaran dinghy that is stable and can carry a lot of load, but it isn't a very dry ride if the wind is against you. It also doesn't tow as well, and since it has such a short waterline, it doesn't move very quickly either. That being said, it get us to shore and back, and it fits on our deck. 

In the Bahamas, there are two types of cruisers: 
1. Rich people in marinas 
2. Not rich people at anchor

The rich people in marinas are usually sporting yachts that are around 100 feet in length. They tie up in marinas that range in price from $4-$14 per foot per day, meaning that these people are paying around $400 to $1400 per day to be in a marina. For not rich people, this sounds ridiculous, so we anchor near shore where it is free. 

The way the not rich people get to shore is they take their dinghy and land it on a beach. In deserted islands, this works wonderfully well, as you land on your own private island with no one and nothing around you! When you get to developed islands, things change.  

In the Bahamas, all beaches are considered public property. The issue is very wealthy people will build their mansions along the beach and would rather not have people walking by their vacation homes. Since they can't restrict people from the beach, they simply restrict people's ability to get to the beach. 

If you land by boat, you can relax on the beach, but you can't get into land to provision or go out for the night. If you are on land, you can't get to the beach because they have built a wall that literally runs the entire length of the beach and road. In one rather extreme situation, the entire peninsula was privately owned, blocked off by a tall wall and patrolled by several guards. The beaches were also patrolled by guards, making sure that you don't try and "sneak" your way to the main road. 

In other words, the only way to get to shore in these areas is to pay to tie up at the marina. Instead of paying to tie up your large cruising yacht, we have found that you can just as easily pay to tie up your dinghy. They don't have a dinghy rate here, but instead charge by the foot. 

In this case, having the shortest, but widest, dinghy you can get will pay huge dividends when it comes time to tie up in a fancy marina to go to shore. 

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Beer, it's cheaper than water!

In the Bahamas, drinkable water is a premium! At a restaurant, a single tall glass of water (1L) can cost as much as $10! Local beer, on the other hand, costs $4 for a draft glass. In other words, drinking water costs about $37.85 per gallon, at a time when fuel (which is considered very expensive here) can be purchased for arou $4.80 to $6.50 per gallon. Water costs more than gasoline!!

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Before you head to shore to get your meal, drink a lot of water on the boat where it is cheaper, then go to the restaurant and have yourself a Kalik. This beer is practically water, but at a fraction of the price!  

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Doing Laundry

When cruising, laundry can start to pile up on you. Going to shore and exploring towns and islands is fun, as well as going swimming in crystal clear waters! The problem is that your clothes will start to pile up and smell as laundry duty begins to beccon.  

Cities have laundromats, as well as various types of laundry services. The problem with them is they tend to be located in "less than the ideal" parts of town. You risk your clothes being stolen out of the machines as well as risking you being robbed while you are there.  

We usually go with only enough money to do the laundry, and dress in very plain clothes, as to not attract too much attention, and we have not personally had any problems. We simply sit in the laundry room and wait for the machines to launder our clothing while we edit videos or work on writing blog posts. 

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In the US, we were always able to find a laundromat close to shore, making it easy to transport the laundry from boat to laundromat, and back to the boat. In the Bahamas, that has been a different situation. 

We have found that small towns have no public laundry facilities. Every time we ask, cruisers mention going to Nassau, to the main city, and doing laundry there. Nassau is infamous for high crime against boats and boaters. The crime there is so notorious that in a cruising book, it warned that being on your vessel will not be a deterrent towards boat theft while anchored or tied un in Nassau Harbor.  

Since people kept telling us that Nassau was the only place to get it done, and since we wanted to avoid taking the boat there due to the risk of crime; we began looking at alternatives. 

One glaring alternative to going to a big city is to go to where rich people expect to be treated like they are in a big city: marinas! 

We have found that if you go to a marina and pay to tie up, you can then use all of their facilities. This means that you can buy fuel, provisions, and do laundry, all in the confines of the marina. Now, marinas here are wicked expensive, so we have found yet another trick to stretching out your cruising dollar. 

When you go to the marina, don't go in your boat, go in your dinghy! We tied up in Lyford Cay Marina, on the same island as Nassau, where they charge $5 per foot per day. Being how our dinghy is only 7 feet long, it costs us $35 to come to shore and do all our errands. This is far cheaper than trying to get to shore, get a taxi to the laundromat, and pay the machines to wash your clothes. 

We have also found that the marinas laundry machines are much cheaper than other public washing facilities. The machines at Lyford Cay Marina are only $1.75 per load. When we were in Florida, the machines were $2.50 per load. (This is the price for the washer, you have to pay again for the dryer). Being how everything in the Bahamas is significantly more expensive when compared to the states, the fact that it is cheaper for laundry means a lot to us.

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Anchored in Paradise

Sailing is slow, there is no way around that. When you set out for a distant destination, you will gradually work your way towards being there. The climates change so slowly that you might not even realize it's happening! Sometimes you need to just step back and appreciate where you are at this very moment! 

You might already be in paradise, but you are just too involved in plotting your next course that you don't see it in front of you. 

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Here we are anchored in Old Fort Bay, New Providence, Bahamas, along with two other sailboats. We have all come from different countries and crossed different waters to get here, but tonight we all remain anchored in the same perfect harbor! 

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