Getting parts down here in the islands is always an exercise in patience. There are very few locally available items fit for use on a modern cruising boat, so almost everything we need has to be shipped in.
In times past, virtually our only option was to have the part shipped to Reggie Express in Ft. Lauderdale and then wait for the once a week flight from Florida to here. Of course that’s just the first half of the story. Once the part reached the island, you then have to navigate the pitfalls of the Bahamian customs bureaucracy which on it’s best day, need help finding it’s own ass with both hands.
Stamps, duties, fees, paperwork, taxi rides to and from the airport and a general sense of ineptitude and graft serve to make this a multi-day process. It also usually doubles the price of the part you ordered.
The service from Reggie Express has never been great, but since Regina has turned the reins of the company over to her son, they’ve become down right horrendous. Some weeks the plane shows up, some it doesn’t. If the plane isn’t full enough they might opt to wait another week. It’s always something with them.
It also doesn’t help that their on island facilitator is either the most over-worked man in the Bahamas or just sort of lazy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice fellow, but totally, totally unreliable.
Having said all that, at the end of the day it is what it is. That’s the price of admission, the cost to do business and the bill for living in paradise.
Fast forward to this year, the Bahamas have dropped their 40% import duty across the board with the country wide implementation of a 7.5% VAT (value added tax). This is slowly starting to reduce the overhead associated with importation of pieces and parts, but as of last month, with the start-up of a new company called The Pineapple Express, there is now competition at the transport delivery level.
We used these guys for one small part as a sort of test run and I’ve got to say it couldn’t have gone smoother. Pineapple will receive your parts in the states at their office in Lauderdale, or if it’s from a local vendor, they will drive out and pick it up for you. They fly up to three times a week to New Providence (Nassau), Great Exuma, Eleuthera and the Berry Islands. They hit Nassau first where they walk all of the deliveries through customs. This is especially nice as when the parts reach G’Town, everything is sorted and you just have to dinghy down to Reno’s office next to the Baranche Laundromat to pick up your stuff.
For all of that they charged us $15 to bring me in a new thermo-coupler and a stator assembly. Gold star for you Pineapple People.
As an aside, they also deliver people, so those of you transporting, say large dogs, you might want to check them out.
Anyway, unless Reggie Express steps up their game, they might start feeling the pinch of competition very soon.