Take care of sea grass and coral when you cruise and anchor...

Take care of sea grass and coral when you cruise and anchor in The Bahamas

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Captain Cole pulls up to a new snorkeling mooring In Elizabeth Harbour, Great Exuma. Photo: EHCP

The Bahamian government is currently drafting new regulations—that include severe penalties—to protect coral throughout the islands. All vessels, from yachts to cruise ships, will be liable for any damage they cause to sea grass beds when they anchor, run aground or discharge pollutants. Sea grass beds are more fragile than most people realize and are very important to benthic ecosystems. Turtle grass is the principal food for green turtles, and queen conch graze on algae that grow in the sea grass beds. Use moorings when available and anchor only in clear sand. Many national parks have moorings with more planned. The Elizabeth Harbour Conservation Partnership in Great Exuma is in the process of installing a number of snorkeling moorings in Elizabeth Harbour, and a few yacht owners have committed to installing large moorings in West Bay, Conception Island. elizabethharbourpartnership.org

Firearms

Cruisers in the Bahamas are allowed to retain firearms on board for their entire cruise, although Bahamas Customs insists that all firearms and ammunition be declared upon entry and listed on the vessel’s Cruising Permit. Failure to declare firearms is a serious breach of Bahamian law.

If cruisers plan to leave their boats unattended for more than a few days, it is a good idea to contact the local Customs or Police who can secure the firearms ashore in a locked government facility—a sensible precaution to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands. Cruisers can recover their firearms when they return.

Fuel in the Central Exumas

The increased number of boats and the closure of the fuel facilities in Samson Cay have made it difficult for the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to keep up with demand. This summer the club occasionally ran out of gas. As fuel shortages are not uncommon in the out-islands, it is prudent to stay topped off and call ahead to your next destination.