First-Timer’s Guide to the Bahamas

The author’s ketch, “Cantabile,” at anchor off Firefly Restaurant at Elbow Cay, Abacos. Photo by Vicki Lathom
The author’s ketch, “Cantabile,” at anchor off Firefly Restaurant at Elbow Cay, Abacos. Photo by Vicki Lathom

Bottom Line
Now, if you’re not wiping the sweat off your brow after reading all the things that can happen, consider this just a list of ways to better ensure making it better in the Bahamas. The most important guideline is to be prepared with a plan. Just sailing off into the blue with pretty much the look of adventure on your face can be an invitation to Murphy’s Law.

PREP TO TAKE A PET:
Taking a pet to the Bahamas takes some planning.  Some of the rules for bringing a cat or dog are clear, some not so clear.

Bahamian pet regulations are the responsibility of the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture. The pet must be at least six months old and have received a rabies vaccination.

Apply for a permit from the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture, which costs $10. Don’t wait until the last minute since the mail takes six weeks one way. Experienced cruisers pay the extra $5 to get the document faxed back, or with shorter notice, Fed Ex the application and a $15 money order.

Health Certificate
A veterinarian certificate of health is also required and must be signed off by a veterinarian no more than 48 hours before checking into the Bahamas. Needless to say, this 48 hour limit is usually impossible to meet because of the unpredictability of a weather window. Do the best you can with this timing, knowing that Customs agents are aware that the 48 hour can be unrealistic.

Location of the check-in also may play a role in how smoothly the process goes. Have your paperwork in order, Rover and Felix vaccinated, and maybe even well groomed in case of physical inspection. Soon you all will be watching the sunsets together.

Vicki Lathom
Vicki lives in Annapolis, MD, where she and partner, Barry Miller, cruise the Chesapeake and the Intercoastal Waterway to the Bahamas or Florida. They cruise in a 36-foot Albine Express trawler named, Balboita.