Southern Boating

Bahamas Brief: News to Know

Bahamas Brief: News to know before you head to The Bahamas

Confer in Comfort

Valentines Residences Resort and Marina recently added a new 600-square foot conference boardroom. That’s the first and only one of its kind on beautiful Harbor Island in The Bahamas.

Completed in December 2017, the state-of-the-art facility can accommodate up to 30 persons, with 20 at the conference table, and features the latest teleconferencing technologies and audio/visual equipment. The space is ideal for small groups seeking an intimate setting. The 4½-acre property’s world-class amenities include Dermalogica Skin Center and Spa, Cocoa Coffee Shop, Calico’s Retail Shop, Valentines Dive Center, a fitness center, The Rooster Tail Bar, The Boathouse Restaurant. And according, to World Travel Awards, the “Best Marina in The Bahamas.”

A new wooden ramp makes it easier for all Valentines’ guests, including those with disabilities, to access the world-famous pink sand beach. The new, eco-friendly boardwalk not only makes the journey to this spectacular stretch of sand a breeze, but it offers breathtaking views of the clear turquoise water along the way. valentinesresort.com

Bahamas Flings

If you’re nervous about cruising across the Gulf Stream to The Bahamas, don’t go it alone. Join a flotilla of boats cruising together. Each year, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism organizes “Boating Flings” on scheduled weekends throughout the summer. All depart from the Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Here’s the 2018 schedule and destinations:

JUNE
13-17: Grand Bahama Island (Port Lucaya)

20-24: Bimini Big Game Club

27-July 1: Bimini Big Game Club

JULY

11-22: Extended Fling (The Abacos, Harbor Island, Eleuthera)

25-29: Bimini Big Game Club

AUGUST

1-5: Bimini Big Game Club

bahamas.com/boating-flings or (800) 327-7678

Get the Slip

GPDock, community-based, marina slip reservation system offers 24/7 access to a large database of marinas. Boaters can reserve a marina slip quickly and efficiently. Users log on to check a marina’s availability for the desired days and make reservations for their stay. The GPDock mobile app can also be used to pay for fuel and other services at selected marinas. For owners of private docks, GPDock offers a simple solution for taking reservations 24/7 and managing the rental process from their smartphone.

“I created GPDock because I wanted to combine two of my passions: life on the water and technology,” says Carlos Courtaux, CEO of GPDock. “I found out that every time I was planning a boat trip, the marina research process was difficult and time-consuming.”

GPDock currently has 175 marina partners in Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera, and Freeport in The Bahamas and throughout Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers, Florida. The company is rapidly recruiting more partners in many other key boating destinations throughout the U.S and Caribbean with additional plans for expansion. gpdock.com

Travel Safe

Any time visitors travel out of the country, including The Bahamas, it is wise to be aware of any travel advisories in effect. As of January 10, 2018, The Bahamas is classified as Level 2: Exercise increased caution due to crime. Go to travel.state.gov to stay abreast of any changes prior to leaving U.S. waters and to learn more about how to prepare and protect yourself while traveling in foreign countries.

Fly to Charter

Charter company, The Moorings has partnered with Tropic Ocean Airways to offer “Fly & Sail.” It’s a one-of-a-kind travel experience for guests visiting The Bahamas. The service allows yacht charter guests to reserve a private flight directly to their desired Bahamas destination. Guests can fly from Tropic Ocean Airways’ lounge at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport’s private FBO, Sheltair, or the Miami Seaplane Base centrally located between downtown Miami and South Beach on Watson Island.

Upon arrival in The Bahamas, the private sail, power, or all-inclusive crewed Moorings yacht of choice will be prepped and ready for guests to begin their island-hopping vacation in the Abacos or Exumas. This exclusive partnership helps visitors make the most of their travel time, while also making the process as stress-free and seamless as possible.

This newly established relationship offers the ultimate tailor-made experience for vacationers. “The two best ways to see the full natural beauty of The Bahamas are from the air and from the water,” says Rob Ceravolo, CEO of Tropic Ocean Airways. “With the ‘Fly & Sail’ service, guests have the opportunity to experience both.”

All Tropic Ocean Airways’ flights to and from The Bahamas feature premium seating for up to eight passengers aboard an air-conditioned two-pilot crewed Cessna aircraft with luxury interiors. The “Fly & Sail” service can be booked by emailing reservations@flytropic.com or by calling (954) 210-5569 or 1-800-767-0897.

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP)

ECLSP was the first land and sea park in the world. The park was established in 1958 to preserve its unique environment, the delicate ecological balance and protect the local fishing industry.  The park is one of 25 national parks and protected areas managed by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT). In 1986, the park became a No Take Zone, meaning no fishing, conching, shelling or lobstering—nothing living or dead can be removed from its boundaries.

Because of the protection, the park is famous for its pristine beauty and abundant sea and tropical life. Visitors can wander the many trails designed to provide a close encounter with native wildlife and plant species onshore. There is also as a wide variety of marine life along the colorful coral reefs.

Managing such a fragile ecosystem surrounding 11 islands requires support. So, a new anchoring fee structure has been implemented to ensure the park maintains its ecosystem integrity.

“Operations of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park have changed as the use of the park has increased. There is tremendous pressure on the park’s natural resources,” says the BNT. They note that the financial resources required to maintain the park also increase every year.

Managing the park efficiently requires mooring maintenance, patrols, fuel, more vessels, communications, infrastructure, and the relevant staff. “Even with the streamlining of expenses, we need half a million dollars annually to run the ECLSP. Each year the park faces a financial income shortfall,” says the BNT. To effectively manage the park, the BNT feels all users should help ensure the financial viability by paying user fees. All funds raised in the ECLSP are reinvested in the park. This will support ongoing maintenance, infrastructure improvements and monitoring to assess the continued health of the resources.”

As of March 1, 2018, anchorage fees are as follows:

“User fees are vital to helping ensure a sustainably financed and well-managed park,” says the BNT. “Providing parks with the resources needed for effective management helps ensure success.” The BNT now accepts payment for fees online at payexumapark.org. Park Administrator Joseph Ierna, Jr., tells us that according to park wardens, all cruising vessels have not only been accepting the new fees. But, most have stated that it is about time!

bnt.bs/exuma-cays-land-sea-park