Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Cats Are Worried

Oh No!!!  What if we can't get into the Bahamas with our Parents!!!???  Jezabelle and Jetsam have just found out that they may be considered Persona-Non-Grata in the Bahamas!!!

The Beginning:  January 29th  Luckily for them, I've known this for some time...  We've been making such slow time in getting this far, that it seems I needed a wake-up call about the Bahamas Pet Permit.  A casual question amongst pet owners at dinner the other night spawned a frenzy to get our ducks (er) cats in a row, so to speak.

Since regulations change with the winds, I waited until it was actually TIME to get started before I did much research about the requirements for bringing pets into the Bahamas.  Plus, I've got such wonderful real-time resources in the Women Who Sail Facebook group.   I've got  "friends" who are entering the Bahamas with their pets literally as I write this, who can be consulted about what they did to prepare and how it all went.

Turns out, the website has some pretty clear and precise instructions for importing cats and dogs.  The requirements are simple and the form is short.  Since we'll be heading South soon, the time to apply for our permit is NOW!  I downloaded the Permit request form and printed copies for ourselves and for our dock mates.  These forms can be sent by regular mail, but in the interest of heading off bureaucratic gyrations at the pass... we chose to Fed-Ex our forms.  The cost of $55 was spread amongst the three of us, so it wasn't that bad, and the forms, along with our money orders for $15 per pet, got there next day.

Next obstacle was how to get the Permits returned to us.  We have no address and no fax.  Advice from Facebook friends comes to the rescue again.  I set up an eFax # so that permits can be sent to us via fax, but we'll receive them as an email.  Very cool!  There was even a Free offer going on that waived the activation fee!  I quickly set up our fax number and we're set!  I had to enter credit card information, but it won't be charged unless we go past the free trial month without canceling the subscription.

The Middle: Our Fed-Ex went out on January 29th and we actually received a faxed response on January 31st!  Oh JOY!  But wait... We sent our applications for six pets and only got faxes with three permits...  I sent an email requesting the remaining three permits and promptly received a fax containing duplicates of two previously received permits.

The Next Week and a half... Long (and exhaustingly frustrating) story short... I sent half a dozen emails (unanswered) and made half a dozen attempts to send a faxed letter.  No faxes went through as the number went unanswered, day and night... no answer.

So I bit the bullet and placed the cell phone call to the Bahamas, having no idea what THAT will cost us...  I spoke to a woman, gave her my information, which she (maybe wrote down) and I hoped.  Next day, nothing.  So I called again, same routine as if I had never spoken to them at all.  Smile in my voice, respectful conversation, very sorry to bother you, please re-fax the forms for Swart and XXX.


I made several more attempts at phone contact over the next two days which resulted in "disconnected" calls.  Seriously!! They're hanging UP on me!!!  What do I DO!?  I'm becoming desperate!  I've gotta get a grip!

So, I calm down and think about it philosophically... Maybe this is a lesson in "Island Time".  Maybe they are so "chill" over there, they can't deal with people like me who want I's dotted and T's crossed... like YESterday!  So, they're not really punishing me... no, they are teaching me a lesson.  I should learn from this, come at it from a different angle, be resourceful...  not slit my WRISTS!!!!

(yes, this IS the short story...)

Just after the fecal culture... notice her tail!
February 8:  The problem is the vaccinations.  They have to be a month in advance of entry, so it's time to get them.  But the secretary at the Vet's office said they couldn't complete the health attestation form without the permit number.  I made the appointment anyway and took my forms to the Vet, along with one of the permits we HAVE received, so that she could see the requirements, and so attest that we had received these vaccines.

Ready to make a break for it!
The Vet was very nice, and completed the forms after making sure we had all the required vaccines and exams.  Cha Ching!  So I feel a little better now.  At least THAT is out of the way and we won't have to scramble to find a vet and transport the cats by dinghy and public bus...  Relief!

February 10th:  So now, how to get those permits?  I sent out the missing three applications again by Priority Mail, with a letter (and a little "something extra") requesting that they re-fax these three as we only received the other three... and we wait...

The End:  Saturday February 22nd:  Before the last Priority Mail I sent has even had a chance to arrive in the Bahamas... My daughter called me to say that the Pet Permits have been mailed to our home... In Texas...  So, she packed them up and sent them (along with other things) to us via Fed Ex for another $36 so that we wouldn't have to delay our departure from Sarasota.

I was able to cancel the e-Fax account before any charges were applied, so THAT was free.  The whole thing cost us $77 plus the cost of Fed Ex to us and the vet bill... which don't really count.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


  1. For future reference, I wouldn't send things as a group again. That is probably what screwed things up. We made the same mistake ONCE (admittedly in Mexico and not Bahamas), at the beginning of our cruising, and never again. Multiple names and addresses on documents in one package seem to be a problem.

    Glad you got them all okay eventually!!

    1. Now you tell me!! I thought it would be easier since all of the permits were going to the same fax number. Well, we learned our lesson.

  2. If there are any more concerns there is a vet in walking distance to Boot Key Harbor dingy dock in Marathon that does all this on a daily basis for the hundreds of cruisers staging there to go to the Bahamas.

    1. Hopefully we won't need another vet visit. We've got the form filled out and other Cruiser friends have said that the 24 hour thing doesn't apply to sailboats. Also, many said that they don't even look at the forms when you check in... they just want to know that you paid for the permit. One of our friends who is there now with his cat didn't even get a permit at all. Just didn't mention that they had a cat... I'm too much of a rule follower to try that one.