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Florida to Bahamas: FBO at KFXE? SkyDemon with map or FF? Bahamas WX?

Hi all,

Trip planned for around New Years from Florida (with a rented Arrow II) to explore/island hop The Bahamas.

We’ll probably put in a stop at KFXE Fort Lauderdale Executive the night before flying over to the islands. I have some US flying experience but no FBO experience. Would you recommend getting assistance from an FBO there (e.g. Banyan) for fuel, possibly renting some safety gear like a PLB, and helping out with the customs forms etc? Is this comparable to an handling agent in Europe? What sort of fees can one expect? Or better just get self-service fuel and figure out the paperwork (this should be ok, the stuff is pretty well documented online).

Also, earlier this year I decided to extend my SkyDemon subscription and not buy a Foreflight subscription. Would you say for a trip like this, Foreflight is a “must-have” (well, it obviously isn’t, people flew on papercharts for decades)? SkyDemon has Florida covered (but I understand there are data quality issues in the US, e.g. with TFRs) and The Bahamas are covered to a very basic extend. I currently think this should be enough, if amended by a full paper chart that I would buy in Fort Lauderdale or so.

Then.. WX for The Bahamas shouldn’t be a big issue at this time of the year, but either way: Which sources would one use over there?

Then.. WX for The Bahamas shouldn’t be a big issue at this time of the year, but either way: Which sources would one use over there?Thanks!

Essen-Mülheim (EDLE), Düsseldorf (EDDL), Paderborn (EDLP), Mönchengladbach (EDLN), Germany

Hi Patrick,
I would not hesitate to go to Banyan. I’m sure they’ll plenty of advice about flying to the Bahamas. It is one of their mottos (gateway to the Bahamas).
US customs are really sensitive to who goes across their borders (especially back to the US but still) and local advice would be helpful.
(Good) FBOs are one of the best part of flying around the US.
Any way, it cannot hurt to use them.
They only have good reviews on Airnav and fuel is pricey, which means probably no handdling fee.

About SD and no FF, I would take the Basic Plus subscription for a VFR trip around the US. It makes FPLs and weather planning so much easier (with FBO info !).

Have a great trip and bring us pictures !

Last Edited by Jujupilote at 19 Oct 18:05

We used World Jet at FXE twice and were satisfied. There are no fees if you take fuel and they had the cheapest fuel a year ago. You won‘t need any assistance with customs, just do the eapis online and you‘ll be good. I don’t think you can rent any safty gear there, do you have any information about that with other FBOs?

AVIATION WEATHER CENTER covers the Bahamas and will probably be all you need.

SD is really not very good for the region (I‘m a fan in Europe), so you may want to consider FF.

And don’t forget the write-up here

EDIT: Jujupilote is right, by law you need a B1/B2 visa to enter the US on a private flight. This also applies in your case when re-entering. I have heard of many who got away without one, but I wouldn’t take the chance.

Last Edited by terbang at 19 Oct 19:06
EDFM (Mannheim), Germany

FF have a 30-day free trial subscription, I would get that, for the US it’s really a fantastic tool.

terbang wrote:

EDIT: Jujupilote is right, by law you need a B1/B2 visa to enter the US on a private flight. This also applies in your case when re-entering. I have heard of many who got away without one, but I wouldn’t take the chance.

I don’t think that’s correct. A couple of years ago a pilot friend was visiting from Austria and we planned on flying to Vancouver. He got it in writing from the US embassy in Vienna that for a short trip no visa is required and you can re-enter on the visa waiver program. That said, I don’t know how ‘short trip’ is defined. Also, we didn’t test it, as we ended up not crossing into Canada.

@Patrick, I would contact the US embassy / consulate that serves your area and get an answer in writing (email) and take that with me.

Last Edited by 172driver at 19 Oct 23:36

172driver wrote:

@Patrick, I would contact the US embassy / consulate that serves your area and get an answer in writing (email) and take that with me.

This is definitely a good idea!

EDFM (Mannheim), Germany

I used to do trip like this from FXE (Banyan) to the Bahamas.
Never had a written answer but it seams that there is a kind of exception for this find of trip. I always did them without VISA (waiver program)
When you re enter the States they put you on the same 90 days period.

Banyan pilot shop rent gear to go to the Bahamas (life raft and everything)

Have a nice flight

LFPT Pontoise, LFPB

Romain wrote:

Never had a written answer but it seams that there is a kind of exception for this find of trip. I always did them without VISA (waiver program) When you re enter the States they put you on the same 90 days period.

I believe the phrase that’s used for this exception is ‘excursion’ and I understand the Visa Waiver Program time is cumulative in relation got the 90 days limit, exactly as you say. For example before my (non-US citizen) wife obtained US residence (LPR), she visited the US for around 10 weeks and during her visit we made day trips out of the US. She carried her passport with entry data, and also her ticket out of the US just to be sure… and we had no trouble. The question to me is how many days are within the legal definition of ‘excursion’. I did find this in relation to (ship) cruises, which seems to put the limit at 30 days…

“If you are not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. LPR, you will need a passport and/or the appropriate documentation based on the status you are seeking in the U.S. for any type of cruise, closed loop or not. If you are traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), your I-94W (immigration stamp) that you were issued when you first entered the U.S. can be used for reentering the U.S. at the end of your cruise – as long as the cruise ends before your 90 day admission period has expired and you did not travel beyond adjacent islands or contiguous territory, and you were not outside the U.S. for more than 30 days”

I hope you have a good time Patrick and can avoid any hassles.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 20 Oct 17:30

Yep. If you enter the US under visa waiver you can make these short trips even by GA and reenter with the same visa waiver stamp. Not sure how long they will allow.

EGTK Oxford

To give you an idea the max I did is two nights out (into the Bahamas) and multiple days out.
It was so much fun to do my time building into these islands.

Make sure your renter allow his airplane to go out of the states and especially into the Bahamas. Most school/renters don’t allow it..

LFPT Pontoise, LFPB

The US Embassy in London have this exception in writing on their website (FAQ section), by Googling you should find it. I had printed that for our two week trip of the Caribbean this spring, but didn’t need to argue about it with anyone upon our return.

We went through Fort Pierce on the way out and back, also rented a life raft from the FBO there. Don’t think anyone rents out PLBs. I had extensively researched that since my own had been in service for a battery change and they didn’t manage to return it to me within 6 weeks… so we bought another one over there. They put it in big letters that they don’t want non US residents to register them with NOAA, and the PLBs you buy over there can only be registered in the US or Canada. We took the risk and it turned out that it was no problem with a foreign address on the NOAA website.

Fort Pierce seems to be consistently efficient, which I can confirm. FXE can have queues I heard on the COPA forum. I’ve used Banyan for little things when flying out of FXE locally, and they were always good.

Can recommend this guide for the Bahamas:
https://www.aopa.org/travel/international-travel/bahamas-and-caribbean-pilots-guides

ForeFlight covers most of the Bahamas, also works for weather, e.g. radar overlays.

Make sure the plane has a Customs decal (little sticker that says the customs user fee is paid) or to order it well in advance (6 weeks should be safe). I forgot to do it, but ultimately the decal number (which goes into eAPIS) and order confirmation printout seem to be sufficient in most cases.

Destination wise, really loved Harbour Island (airport is North Eleuthera) for its relaxed atmosphere, snorkeling and the pristine beach (said to be pink sand, if you look the right way I would say maybe). Though not exactly a cheap place, as all of the Bahamas in fact.

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