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Published: October 20th 2008
Left Boca (KBCT) went to Fort Pierce 9(KFPR)to get Life Jackets and P/W.
Or: (sing it)" It's Better in the Bahamas".
In preparation for my future around the world flight I thought; 'Start small Tom; a nice easy trip to the Bahamas'. Learn how to fly 'international'. Apparantly US Customs doesn't care if you leave America. Flying out of the US turned out to be very easy. Get in your plane and go. No flight plan. no clearance.
Josian and I had our passports, money, full tanks and two safety yellow life jackets. Beautiful day. No problem getiing to and finding Marsh Habour(MYAM) airport. About an hour and twenty minutes. Huh? The runway (27) looks really nice but as we got to about 200 feet I noticed an X next to the runway numbers. You can't land on those. So I did a nifty little 'jog' to the right and landed on the open runway. It would have been nice to know that ahead of time. But, hey, we are in the Bahamas!
After a short cab ride we found a room at the Island Breezes, went to Wally's for lunch, drank beer at Snappas. I won't bore you. Nothing eventful. Nice place, nice people.
OOOHH I'm scared.
In the Bermuda Triangle
During morning coffee I viewed the lead colored bases of the clouds with some indecision. If it's IFR(instrument) how do we leave? The rules are different in the Bahamas. Do we stay low until we can get someone on the radio? Do we climb VFR(visual) and get on top of the clouds? Can we? After getting weather, calling customs in Fort Pierce and filing a Defense VFR flight plan with Miami Radio off we went. You need some type of flight plan to get back in the US unless you would enjoy being intercepted by some jets when crossing into US territory.
We climbed out to 7500 feet and Called Miami Radio to open our flight plan. At that point I thought it would be wise to amend it to an IFR flight plan. Done,easy as pie. All I had to do was call Miami Center to open it. Here's where we ran into some problems. No one wanted us:-( We were handed off from one controller to the next; none wanting to take resposibility for our flight. After 10 minutes or so we seemed to be pretty much in the clear so I called back Miami Radio, asked
X does NOT mark the spot! Pior to the 'nifty jog'.
to go back to my original VFR flight plan, and activated. We were finally on our way back with no worries.
I had told Customs we would arrive at 1445 local time. We were actually ahead of schedule so I adjusted our speed. We taxied to the front of the Customs office at exactly 1445. We were met by two fine gentleman who politely informed me that someone fom Bahamas Air Traffic Control wanted us to call. To make matters worse I was then told Miami Center wants you to call, too. To a pilot this is like being told, "Hey the cops called and they want you to call them back". I mean really, what good could come of this? The Customs Officers felt my pain and gave us the bums rush through customs. I called Miami, identified myself, and was asked "We are wondering where you are?" I told them Fort Pierce. Seems that amending my flight plan caused some confusion to the Bahamians. I recounted the scenario to the controller at Miami and found out we were in no trouble at all. As in much of life, the problems all seemed to stem from a lack
of communication. Whew! Now that I was in the right I asked them all types of questions about flying out of the Bahamas and the best way to do it next time. Basically what I discovered is that you're on your own when flying in Bahamian airspace.
An uneventful trip back to Boca. I will look forward(and backwards) to my next trip 'abroad'.
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