Books and Information for Cruising Sailors
and Other Adventure Travelers

Bahamas Cruising and Adventure Travel - Order Books on Last Page - USA Only


Plans for a sailing trip by two old U.S. Navy friends, one retired and one soon to be, had been hatched more than a year before the scheduled departure. The planned route included most of the main island groups of the Bahamas; and although the two old friends had made many trips together, this would be their most ambitious one by far. The untimely death of the author’s good friend changed the situation, and the retired Navy Captain was left with a “go no-go” decision. Closer to seventy than sixty, some reflection determined that “if he were ever going to go, it had better be now.” He was just too old not to! What ensued was a three month, two thousand mile, single-handed trek through the Bahamas, illustrating clearly that this is a voyage that almost any sailor can make.


NEW RELEASE!!!! A lifelong sailor tried a different way to cruise The Bahamas - MailBoats! Spared from navigational duties and weather planning requirements of cruising sailors, mailboats brought their own set of travel challenges. It all turned into a grand adventure for this sailor and old septuagenarian friends! Travel along with us and visit the real and remote Bahamas and meet real Bahamians! Only by MailBoat! Learn something about a beautiful, interesting, and friendly country and about mailboats and how to travel on them. Partake in our adventures, and then maybe go yourself!!


About the Author




Captain Frederick Braman, USN (ret), lives in Fleming Island, Florida with his wife Louise of over fifty years. High school sweethearts, both are originally from Bay City, Michigan.

Having lived on three continents, the Bramans have traveled the world, much of it during a quarter century long Navy career. They have called several places in Michigan, Tennessee, California, Virginia, Japan and Italy home, before landing in Florida. Following his Navy retirement in 1994, Fred taught high school math for fifteen years in the USA and in Italy. Fred is a graduate of General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) with a B.S. degree in engineering and from the US Naval Post-Graduate School with a M.S. degree in management. Fred and Louise have a daughter Monica Kruse, Son-in-Law Matt, Grandson Grant and Granddaughter Madchen, who fortunately live nearby.

A lifelong sailor, sailing adventures led to Fred’s writing as he described his cruises along the US East Coast, Cuba, the Caribbean and throughout the Bahamas over several decades. He has published over fifty magazine articles and his first book, “Too Old Not to Go,” chronicled his 2012, two thousand mile, single-handed voyage throughout the main island groups of the Bahamas in his trusty Catalina 30 sloop Rhombus. Fred's many articles will be offered for FREE and his books on cruising will be offered for sale.

Contact Fred


  • Orange Park, Florida, United States

New Release: Cruising by MailBoat - The Short Story


                                                                                                                                    The Idea Hatches 

A lifelong sailor, I first noticed mailboats while sailing along the Bahamian Out-islands during a long trip. No matter how small the island, it seemed that the mailboat would come in while I was there. Here is how I described it in my 2013 book, Too Old Not to Go. 

“After a great week, my stay at Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands was over. I made one more trip to my favorite beach, turned in the dilapidated pink jeep I had rented, and topped Rhombus off with water, fuel, and some needed supplies. Luckily, the Bahamas mailboat had docked in the town the previous day and the stores were full of supplies. Mailboats are the link to the larger world for the small, outer islands and they carry everything - milk, beer, groceries, lumber, crates of chickens, pallets of canned goods, goats, passengers, and even mail. A cruise by mailboat is now on my list of fun things to try; flexible schedule required!”

Captain Gurth Dean docks at Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas, during a 2012 sailing trip. I watched people as well as cargo get off. I  watched people get off the same boat in the same spot during another trip in 2018. In 2020, I got off!!


                                                                                                                      What’s in the Book?

                                                                                                         Our MailBoat Travel Adventures 

                                                                                                             How to Travel Instructions

                                                                                                        Travel and Schedule Information

                                                                                        Sketches of Bahamian History, Geology and Culture

                                                                                            Paintings and the Stories of Historic Mailboats

                                                                                                            Over 160 Color Photographs


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                               “The beauty of these Islands surpasses that of any others.” 

                                                   Christopher Columbus,1492



 


Why MailBoats!!


The Bahamas is a country of hundreds of islands that occupies thousands of square miles of ocean. In the 1950s, the United States spent a pile of money connecting forty-eight contiguous states that were already connected by a highway system. There is no question that the improved connectivity of the Interstate Highway System has been a major contributor to the US economy ever since. Economic imperatives drove that huge US national  investment, and the improved quality of life for generations of residents is incalculable. But, to achieve the same goals, how do you connect the inhabited Bahamian Islands distributed over 100,000 square miles of ocean? Lots of bridges? I don’t think so. Mailboats!  History, geography and eventually the need to improve commerce influenced the coming of mailboats. It didn’t happen quickly. By 1821, the schooners Dash and Paragon were connecting islands within the Bahamas with mail coming from outside the colony. Any hope for economic development demanded more regular inter-island service, not just for mail, but also for passengers and cargo. Eventually, a system of mailboats was established with a small cay in Nassau as the “mailboat hub” and the routs to the many Out-islands the “spokes.” The weekly routes, first with sailing ships of the day and later with modern vessels, finally connected the country’s many islands for cargo, passengers, and mail!

                                                                                   The Islands of The Bahamas cover a big piece of the Atlantic Ocean.

History, geography and eventually the need to improve commerce influenced the coming of mailboats. It didn’t happen quickly.<strong> </strong>By 1821, the schooners Dash and Paragon were connecting islands within the Bahamas with mail coming from outside the colony. Any hope for economic development demanded more regular inter-island service, not just for mail, but also for passengers and cargo. Eventually, a system of mailboats was established with a small cay in Nassau as the “mailboat hub” and the routs to the many Out-islands the “spokes.” The weekly routes, first with sailing ships of the day and later with modern vessels, finally connected the country’s many islands for cargo, passengers, and even mail!


Traveling Instructions and Our MailBoat Routes


Anything More?? 

Twelve historical, geological, and cultural sketches of the real Bahamas and real Bahamians are sprinkled throughout the book where we encountered them in our travels. Stories like the college art professor who left a Northeastern university and emigrated to a remote area of the Bahama Islands to pursue his art in peace and tranquility and raise his young family away from the turmoil of the modern world; The Out-Island Doctor who took his practice to remote corners of the country unserved by medical care using his 31 foot ketch the Green Cross as office and transportation; an inshore Blue Hole where you can step of a sandy beach into seven hundred feet of deep blue water; and even a story of a cultural icon that also happens to be a critter! Also included are stories of historic MailBoats, beautifully recreated with colorful paintings by a talented Bahamian artist.


OK, I’m Sold. How Do I Do It?

It all starts in MailBoat Heaven, Potters Cay, in Nassau, Bahamas. So it all begins with a flight to Nassau. A chapter, MailBoat Travel 101, will describe most of the rest with additional details scattered throughout the chapters with a summary and a detailed sample travel plan in the Appendix. Beautifully illustrated, color photographs appear on 107 of the book’s 187 pages, and tell much of the story. If you need any help with your own plan, contact the author.

About My Articles


Note: The cruising articles on the following pages have previously been published in various magazines. They are grouped by geographic area, but all locations are in the Southeastern Atlantic Coast and Intra-Coastal Waterway, Northwestern Caribbean including Cuba, and the Bahamas. Emailed PDF copies of any article are available free of charge, merely by asking. Hard copies in color are available by mail for $5.00 to cover only the cost of printing and postage. All cruises were accomplished in my Catalina 30, Rhombus. All trips originated in my homeport in Jacksonville, Florida, and include informative charts of routs and anchorages, as well as many photographs of places visited. The dialogue always includes a good bit of area history.

                                                                               Cruising the Great Northeast(NE Florida that is plus a little bit of Georgia!)

  1. Cruise to Georgia’s Little Places: Part 1. Cruise one of the great ICW areas:  Sisters Creek, Cumberland Island, Brunswick and St. Marys, Georgia.
  2. Cruise to Georgia’s Little Places: Part 2. Jekyll Island to Darien.
  3. Destination Darien:A Journey to Colonial America, An AICW trip north of Jacksonville crossing St. Andrews and St. Simons Sounds.
  4. Destination Kingsley Plantation: More than just a Stopover, Drop the hook in one of the ICW’s delightful spots - the Ft. George River. Tour an historic early 19th Century plantation, unique for a happy ending.
  5. Fernandina: Pirates,Thieves, Revolutionaries, Shrimpers, and Now Lots of Cruising Sailors, A great stop in a great town!
  6. Saint Marys, Georgia:What Aaron Burr, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Toonerville Trolley, and Cruising Sailors all have in Common, A delightful stop and some surprising history.
  7. Cumberland Island: Twenty-five Years of Cruising to Paradise Parts 1-3, Arguably the premier cruising stop on the US East Coast, Cumberland Island is presented in some detail, with charts to multiple anchorages along the island’s length to explore this wonderful National Seashore Island from top to bottom.
  8. A Jacksonville Sojourn: Up the St. John’s River is Worth the Trip, Visit the big city and the little towns up an interesting river.

                                                                                                                               Cruising Florida

  1. Eau Gallie: A Picturesque Port and Maybe Even a Dragon, The snow birds and those headed to the islands often speed through mid-Florida. This is one of the many great stops if you take the time.
  2. Marineland; An undiscovered Gem on the ICW, Former home of “Sea Hunt” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” Marineland now boasts swimming with dolphins, the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Research Reserve, Eco kayak tours of the Princess Place and Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserves, and the area’s most active sea turtle hospital.
  3. Marathon: A Great Destination No Matter How You Get There, Plenty of great stops along this route with tons of activity at destination.
  4. Abaco in America: Traditional Bahamian Boats Built in Florida, Story of a small Florida boat works building famous Albury boats, one at a time.
  5. Satori’s First Voyage: The Okeechobee Waterway and a Cruise Across Florida to a New Home, A “new” Compac 27 makes a really pretty trip with locks - lots of them!

                                                                                                                                  Cruising Cuba

Note: These trips took place during President Obama’s detente with Cuba, opening the way for US Citizen cruisers to cruise Cuba legally under some restrictions. If US policy returns to the Obama model, it is probably that the travel requirements, approvals, and restrictions will also return.

  1. Rhombus’ Cuban Adventure: Trip Planning and a Voyage to Cuba, Part I of this series covers the legalities and procedures for approval to go to Cuba and ends shortly after arrival at Marina Gaviota in Varadero, a modern, full-service marina closest to our departure point in Marathon. 
  2. Rhombus’ Cuban Adventure: The North Coast and the Island of Cayo Levisa, Part II describes out 140 NM sail west to an off-shore island and our idyllic week there.
  3. Rhombus’ Cuban Adventure: Marina Hemingway, Havana, and Return, Part III describes our 60 NM trip east to Marina Hemingway, our touring of the area around, including Hemingway’s Cuban home, and our few days in Havana. The trip closes with the 120 NM return to Marathon and the clearing back into the USA.
  4. Revival - A Cuban Sojourn: Even Little Boats Can Get There, The story of Bart Blankenship, our Marina Hemingway dock mate, who cruised to Cuba in his engine-less 26 foot coastal cruiser with his 82 year old mother as crew.

                                                                                                                             Cruising The Bahamas

  1. Hell’s Night: The Next Day Wasn’t so Hot Either, A busted engine, a turbulent night at anchor on The Great Bahama Bank, and a marina entrance in the Berry Islands under sail alone, made for an interesting trip!
  2. Bahamas Cruising: A sailor’s lament at a failed attempt!, With Grandson and Son-in-Law as crew, this anticipated Bahamas cruise turned into a swashbuckling trip to home.
  3. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: Miami, Bimini and Great Harbour Cay, Part I of a multi-part series of a 2000 mile long cruise through the islands.
  4. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: Great Harbour Cay to Highbourn Cay, Part 2
  5. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: Cape Eleuthera, Part 3
  6. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: North to Spanish Wells, Part 4
  7. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: Spanish Wells to the Abaco Islands, Part 5
  8. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: The Southern Sea of Abaco, Part 6
  9. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: Hope Town and Treasure Cay, Part 7
  10. Voyage of Rhombus, 2018: The Whale, Green Turtle and Home, Part 8
  11. Marv’s Weather Service, The go to weather in The Bahamas and elsewhere
  12. An Afternoon with Steve Dodge: Historian and Abaco’s Guide, An interesting story about historian turned cruising guide, but, always a historian.

Cruising Sailors

Book Reviews - From All Sources


 Cruising by MailBoat 5.0 out of 5 stars Book for Today Reviewed in the United States on April 26, 2021 Verified Purchase "I just finished reading the book*entitled "Cruising by Mailboat." This is the 2nd in the series written by CAPT Fred Braman. Fred is an articulate storyteller and this book captures the essence of a salty sea captain's adventures traveling through his beloved Bahama out islands by various mailboats. In this book he details the pros and cons of mailboat travel as well as the opportunities this means of travel afford. He captures and documents the behind the scenes history and struggles of some of the not so prominent local families that contribute so much to the development of the Bahama islands life-style and economy. So much of this book centers on lesser known communities of the out islands that are rarely visited by tourists. The people depicted in the book are Bahamians that live and work without so much as a note of gratitude for their contributions and that of their families. If you are interested in wanting to capture the essence of the real Bahamian life-style; then this is the book that tells it like it is. In summary, CAPT Fred's book allows you to vicariously live the lives*of the people that make the Bahama out island so great.”"

Perry McDonald
     

 Cruising by MailBoat 5.0 out of 5 stars An artistic view of the Iconic Bahamian mail-boat Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2021 If you have an interest in historic and iconic water-going vessels, from the ancient coracles, the Nile fellucias and the famous Peterborough canoe, this book will be an endearing addition to your collection. After Fred's first book about sailing in the Bahamas, this book is a well-researched and well-crafted portrayal of another iconic water-going vessel, the Bahamian mail-boat. Fred just doesn't write about this boat and island system, but takes the reader on a journey full of the factual evolution of the mail-boat system but fills it with the fanciful art of sailing with exquisite art work and photos. If you have, like the rest of the world has, a love for the "Bahamian"-lifestyle, this book will bring new insights into a vital part of the Bahamas."

Beth Lugger
     

 Cruising by MailBoat Note: For transparency, a three star "review" was omitted as it was a complaint that a Kindle version of the book is not offered, even though the reason for not doing so was clearly indicated. With 158 color photographs and paintings, the Author believes that a black and white digital treatment of the book would not do it justice. The reviewer did not buy the book and made no pretense to have read it."

Chip Fuller

 5.0 out of 5 stars Reconsidering our cruising plan! Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2021 A rich and diverse journey, well told. Motivated me to go, but see these places and people under no rush, from my own boat. Thoroughly enjoyed the book!"

Mike Jeglic
     

 5.0 out of 5 stars The author and colleagues experienced mailboats across the archipelago Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2021 "Been there, and you should too!" might be a subtitle to CRUISING BY MAILBOAT, which I thoroughly enjoy and often refer to. It is well illustrated and laid out in a very accessible format allowing you to skip to ships or islands, people, culture, and history. The most important aspect of this project, having also worked on a different kind of Bahamian Mailboat book during the same decade, is how very genuine Capt. Braman, his companions are, esp. the generous photographer Dave Blake, as are their Bahamian hosts. Capt. Braman is one of the most observant sailors, writers, naval officers and gentlemen who I have had the honor to work with. There were no books focused on mailboats of Bahamas in their first 217 years of history, then suddenly two books in the same month in 2021. Capt. Braman and his fellow swashbucklers not only managed to have adventurous fun, the book infuses others with their sense of adventure, they bent with the odd winds of this peculiar archipelagic trade, and most importantly they improvised. They have made fast and loyal friends along the way, many of them happy to contribute however they could, and I am pleased to be one of them. Bravo, corsairs! It is lovely that so many were so helpful so often. With a project lead like Capt. Braman, the results his team produced are predictably delectable, informative, and inspirational. So, peel out a $20 bill and hop on the next mailboat at Potters Cay Nassau with a cooler, hook and line, your copy of CRUISING BY MAILBOAT with Messrs. Braman, Blake, Curry, and Dodge by your side. Enjoy - they certainly have."

Eric WibergNone
     

Book Reviews - From All Sources


 Too Old Not to Go 5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it! Reviewed in the United States on April 14, 2014 Verified Purchase Forty years ago this month, I set off on a cruise through the Exuma chain of the Bahama's. I was hoping to see how some of the places I sailed may have changed, but Fred's trip only went south to where mine began. I read the book in two days as he peaked my interest. I like the fact he didn't give up the dream and decided to sail solo. I won't give the reason away. I find the book very readable, pretty informative and I'd recommend it. Be safe on the water and good cruising. Jennifer 3 people found this helpful."

Jenquay
     

 Too Old Not to Go 5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed the book! Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2014 Verified Purchase Really enjoyed the book. There's lots of good advice for the cruising sailor and lots of good advice for the armchair sailor. And the best advice of all is Go! Get out there!"

Rafael Lima
     

 Too Old Not to Go 5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2014 Verified Purchase Great Read...going on 69 in September....probably ought to take his advice and just go...be damned everything else."

Larry M. Handley
     

Book Reviews - From All Sources


 Too Old Not to Go 5 of 5 Stars Highly recommend Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2015 Verified Purchase Great book. Fun and interesting read with many tips/resources to aid the cruising sailor to the Bahamas and beyond."

Fwpper45
     

 Too Old Not to Go 4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, sound insights and advice Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2013 Disclosure: I met the author on his Bahamas cruise which is the subject of this book, and am mentioned in it. In this review, I endeavor to put my personal connection with Fred aside, in order to provide other interested readers with useful information regarding the value of this book. His writing engages the reader, with a light and humorous style. That said, he tells the tale of his Bahamas cruising solo sailboat cruise as a factual log of events. Also included are side-notes of information and insight--takeaways--that I can confirm are useful. I think that if I were contemplating my first trip to the Bahamas on a sailboat, or any single-hand sailing trip on such a boat, this book would be useful and inspiring. The four star rating compares this work with books by other authors in similar situations: self-published, first work, etc. In such a "genre" this work clearly stands out for me as a reader. 4 people found this helpful."

Captain Wil
    

 5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and inspiring Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2021 Verified Purchase First hand account of the trials, adventures and fun experienced by the author. Fred is a courageous and determined sailor who let nothing prevent him from completing his single handed voyage around the Bahamas. We can all learn from his "can do" attitude."

Robin
     

Books and Articles For Sale - USA Only