Bahamas Trip

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CFIDave
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Bahamas Trip

Post by CFIDave » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:45 pm

We just returned from a one-week trip to the Bahamas, as part of a group of 9 aircraft that all left from DC/Northern VA airports. We all met up at Ft. Pierce, FL for an overnight, and then launched to New Bight airport (MYCB) on Cat Island to stay at the Fernandez Bay Village resort -- one of the "out islands" where there are very few tourists and no cruise ships. The trip was organized by one of our local VA flight schools (Aviation Adventures) and they managed to get AOPA to send a reporter and photographer along to document the trip for a future issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.

On the way down to FL (near Jacksonville) we encountered moderate rime icing at 14,000 feet and had to ask for higher to climb out of the clouds. Who'd of thought we'd have to deal with icing in Florida?

While staying on Cat Island for the week we flew as a group over to Staniel Cay (MYES) for the day to rent boats to visit the grotto where the 007 James Bond Thunderball movie scenes were filmed and to visit/feed the wild pigs on a nearby island. On another day we all flew over to San Salvador (MYSM) to tour the Island and visit the spot where Columbus first landed in the New World. We returned to MYCB via Stella Maris (MYLS) on Long Island to get JetA fuel for our DA42. Our plane (with air conditioning) was awesome for Bahamas island hopping, and it took only 2 hours of flight time to get from Ft. Pierce, FL to Cat Island.

For our return flight from Ft. Pierce, FL back to the DC/northern VA area yesterday, we flew our DA42-VI non-stop in less than 4 hours while cruising at 15,000 feet: 180 knots TAS at 75% power. However with a 25 knot tailwind component we saw about 206-207 knots over the ground for most of the flight. While flying over Jacksonville, we were so fast that an ATC controller asked "What kind of Diamond Twinstar are you flying? Is it special or something?" :D

Here's a video of our short-field takeoff from Staniel Cay to get off in 1500 feet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhIBxS4V74A

Here I am grinning just before the takeoff at Staniel Cay:
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Looking back at Staniel Cay right after the takeoff:
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Cat Island Fernandez Bay where we stayed for a week; in the top center you can see the runway where we landed shortly after this photo was taken:
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Approaching the southern end of Eleuthera Island on our return trip to FL:
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Chris B
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Re: Bahamas Trip

Post by Chris B » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:18 am

Very nice! Thanks for posting. Looks like a great trip! :thumbsup:

Tropical sounds great right now, but the Bahamas are a bit far from the west coast.
And Hawaii is slightly out of my range. ;)

Chris
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Re: Bahamas Trip

Post by Gasser » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:22 am

I haven't seen the sun in weeks. Your post was a great mood elevator. Thanks for posting.
Jeff

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jon1746
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Re: Bahamas Trip

Post by jon1746 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:26 am

Ugh, Its -11 F right now Sunday night in FSD right now. Tomorrow morning at 6 am I will have to climb into the cockpit. All I will be thinking about is this video.

Thanks for posting.
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wolfvoador
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Re: Bahamas Trip

Post by wolfvoador » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:29 pm

Any Diamonders, don't forget you have your local "ambassador" here in Nassau/MYNN, let me know when you come! Thanks, Chris, for promoting our islands ... next time, come to see the refurbished N430PS!
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Re: Bahamas Trip

Post by CFIDave » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:24 pm

Wolfgang -- sorry we couldn't get together since we were flying as part of a group. It would be nice to see N430PS again.

For those who haven't ever flown to the Bahamas (this was our very first trip flying there), it is easy to do. The weather is almost always VFR conditions, and there isn't much hassle in crossing the US/Bahamas border, particularly now that Foreflight recently added the ability to electronically submit international/ICAO flight plans from an iPad.

Here's what we did to fly outbound from the US to the Bahamas:

1. Fill out an eAPIS manifest: Once you've entered in all your crew/passenger info online (which you only need to do ONCE, and can do anytime before you leave from home), it takes only a few minutes to create and file a manifest for a particular flight. Within about a minute you'll get an email confirmation giving you "permission" to leave the country.

2. File an ICAO IFR flight plan using Foreflight on an iPad/iPhone: Once you've entered in all the equipment codes for your aircraft (which you only need to do ONCE, and can do anytime before you leave from home), it takes only a few minutes to create and file an international IFR flight plan -- it's just as quick and easy as filing a domestic US IFR flight plan.

That's it -- no need to talk to Flight Service or make any phone calls.

For the return to the US, it's almost the same 2 steps as shown above (i.e., inbound/arrival eAPIS manifest generating an email giving you permission to enter the US, and inbound ICAO flight plan to a US port of entry airport generated by your iPad), plus one more step:

3. Place a phone call to the US Customs office at the US airport where you intend to enter the US, and let them know what time you expect to arrive there. The call must be made fewer than 24 hours and at least 1 hour before arriving, so call before you takeoff or before checking out from your hotel/resort/lodging. When we called they immediately pulled up our inbound/arrival eAPIS manifest on their computer, so we didn't need any type of confirmation number. The place we stayed on Cat Island let us use their Skype phone to call US Customs for free -- they also had WiFi -- but most people in our group used their mobile phone to call (cellphone coverage existed everywhere we went).

Here's a photo of some of the planes in our group heading across the water from Cat Island to San Salvador:
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Note that only 2 of the 9 aircraft were twin engined (DA42 and Piper Twin Comanche). The group also included three Cessna 172, Cessna 182, Cessna 206, Piper Arrow, and A36 Bonanza aircraft. I would have been comfortable flying over the water in a DA40 equipped with life jackets and a rental raft.

Here's the monument where Christopher Columbus first set foot on San Salvador:
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Landing at Stella Maris, Long Island:
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Finally, since some of you commented that this thread is helping you to deal with the winter cold, here are a couple of photos to motivate you to come to the Bahamas: :D
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- Dave
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Re: Bahamas Trip

Post by Gnomad » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:36 pm

Thanks for the write-up Dave, and the beautiful pictures!

Honestly, I keep watching your take-off video, amazing how your plane jumps into the air! Can't wait to experience that climb performance myself. ;)
Eric


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Re: Bahamas Trip

Post by Rick » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:02 pm

Thanks, Dave, for the very informative post! This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, and your wonderful pictures and detailed instructions are much appreciated...

It must have been tough to hang back with the 172's! :-D
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