SHORT WING TAILDRAGGER IN THE BAHAMASWritten by Keith Flint
Redheaded Copilot asked me where we should take our 2013 winter vacation. The last couple of years, we’d taken cruises.
I suggested it would be adventurous to take our PA-22/20 tube and fabric short wing taildragger—N50KF, “50 Kilo Fox”—on a trip to the Out Islands of the Bahamas.
Redheaded Copilot replied, “I can’t swim.”
I observed that our first stop would be Bimini, which is only 46 nm off the Florida coast; and, that we had crossed Lake Michigan and back (73 nm each way); crossed Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown, Mass. and back (30 nm each way); crossed the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island and back (40 nm each way) and crossed the Chesapeake Bay (40 nm each way) probably 20 different times.
Redheaded Copilot seemed a bit more assured, so she asked, “Where in the Out Islands?”
We googled “Bahamas thatched roof beach villas” and got a hit for Fernandez Bay Resort on Cat Island, approximately 280 nm east of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The over-water itinerary would be 40 minutes (58 nm) from Fort Lauderdale Executive (KFXE) to South Bimini (MYBS) for customs and immigration clearance; one hour (106 nm) to Nassau (MYNN) for fuel; and one hour, 10 minutes (119 nm) to New Bight Airport on Cat Island (MYCB) for a four-day stay.
On the return, it would be back to Nassau for fuel and then two hours (163 nm) from Nassau to KFXE. At no point during any leg would we have less than half a tank—two hours’ worth—of reserve fuel.
Our main concern in planning a January trip from the Northeast was being able to get out of there and back VFR while avoiding icing conditions. That can be a crapshoot. Nevertheless, we rolled the dice and made our Cat Island reservations for a January 21arrival.
We purchased our Bahamas flight guides, charts and other necessary materials, double-checked our insurance coverage, and prepared our paperwork. (For details, see “Bahamas Flight Particulars, page XX. —Ed.)
The Friday night before our 8:00 a.m. departure, the winds in upstate New York were howling at 50 knots out of the northwest. Lying in bed I said to myself, “That doesn’t sound good.”