©2012 PerryJoseph.com

3.05.2016

Eleuthera's Fine Threads

Eleuthera's Fine Threads


One of the more common threads to my visits to Eleuthera and Harbour Island is to spend a little time with good friend Fred Neely, known by most on the island as "Fine Threads." Fred is my connection for North Eleuthera car rentals and taxi service. Fred makes for an excellent example of what it means to be an ambassador for one's country. Warm, friendly and always smiling. I can see him one day and then again the following year and it's like no time has lapsed in between. He is the first guy I look for when I exit the airport terminal in North Eleuthera. I know I am back home when he shakes my hand.

When Fred isn't tending to his cabs and cars, he farms the fertile soils of Eleuthera -- like he doesn't have enough to do already. Fred is a true entrepreneur not to mention a minister, a green thumb and a very fine gentleman to boot.

I did a short interview with Fred the last time I was through and thought I'd share it here: Interview with Eleuthera's Fine Threads - Farmer, Taxi Driver and Car Rental Entrepreneur.

I try to avoid making specific recommendations on where to stay and who to see when visiting Eleuthera, but in this case, I can't miss recommending Fred. I am sure you will love him too.

pj  
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2.09.2016

Eleuthera Car Rentals

Queen's Highway - Eluthera
Renting a car on Eleuthera is not like renting a car from Enterprise or National, it's much more casual and informal than that. Ja man! The rental car "companies" on Eleuthera are sole proprietors who have paid a fee to the Bahamian government to act as a "self drive" franchise -- hence the "SD" moniker on so many of the license plates. But I'm not here to talk about those technicalities - you can delve into the details on my new page for "Eleuthera car rentals".

What I am here to talk about is being aware of the differences when driving a rental car around Eleuthera as opposed to being in your home country. The rules and the roads are different when you are on an island. First off, there is no official "drivers ed" on Eleuthera -- driving skills are going to vary widely. This is also true of the commercial drivers, many of whom are driving vehicles that can be quite old and under-maintained. This is not to say the same isn't true back home, but in this environment, these less-than-ideal circumstances are exacerbated by the roads themselves.

The sad truth is a lot of lives have been lost on Eleuthera's roads, the majority of which were outright carelessness.

There's one major "highway" that runs from the north to the south end of Eleuthera called "Queen's Highway." This highway is really a two lane road with a speed limit of 45mph excluding towns, curves and pot holes. In most cases, the highway lacks stripes and there is a serious shortage of "shoulder space" to get out of the way of speeding oncoming traffic.

Added to this is the complication is having to drive on the left side of the road; at least for those of us who are used to driving on the right side -- additional concentration required!

There's more... As you can see from the photo, the Queen's Highway can run right next to the ocean in any number of areas of Eleuthera. As you might expect, this type of environment does not play well with paved roads and eventually you wind up some really nasty pot holes -- particularly dangerous to encounter around tight corners at better-than-average speeds -- and then you have to drive through these pot holes because the vehicle on the other side of the road is going even faster and you have nowhere to go to avoid the pot hole. Wait till you see how much the car rental guy wants for breaking his car! In many cases, I have been told by the car rental guys "you break it, you buy it." Not far from reality when you consider the average age of these car rentals are 12 years; a number of which were "hard driven years" given these vehicles have been known to go off-road when they had no business of going there in the first place.

I would be remiss if I didn't also mention night time driving. Let me tell you, this can be real white knuckle stuff if you're not fully conversant with the roads and conditions. Hopefully your windshield will be clear enough so you are not blinded by oncoming traffic. Blowing sands eventually trash the clarity of a car's windshield. Sounds really stupid, but check your windshield and wipers before you venture out at night so you don't Goombay Smash!

If you are planning on going off-road, then consider the following absolute necessities: some sort of map, an inflated spare tire with the necessary gear to change a flat, a cell phone if possible, and plenty of water in case you have to walk back into town or to the highway. 

Okay, so you have to rent a car on Eleuthera; I know that. So here's what I do when driving around Eleuthera:

I rarely exceed the speed limit. I expect the unexpected in the next 2 seconds. I do not drive under the influence -- especially at night (easy for me to do because I don't drink, ha!) And I use all the other usual precautions, and last but not least, I am very very careful not to hurt anyone or screw the car up! State Farm told me I was on my own when I'm in the Bahamas. And don't think you can just leave the island and take care of things later... it doesn't work that way.

I'd probably throw one more rule if you have kids: I would be extremely reserved about letting them drive without an adult in the car.

Just in case any of this gives you pause, I've driven a lot of miles around Eleuthera and have not had an accident (but I have had flats, a few car problems and a close call or two.)

You can check out my list of rental people when it comes to finding someone to rent a car on Eleuthera, I can't give recommendations; it wouldn't be fair. Some are good and some are bad. Use the guidelines I provide on my page and you may have a better chance of having a good experience. Whatever you do, don't rent a car that you are uncomfortable with. There are going to be other cars you can rent if you are willing to take the time to call around. Lastly, recommendations from those providing your accommodations are usually going to be a good start. Just remember you're on an island where it pays to be patient and careful.

See you on the island -- toot toot, beep, beep!


pj
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8.23.2012

Eleuthera Vacation Rentals

Eleuthera vacation rental
Eleuthera Vacation Rental - Palmetto Point
Thinking about renting a vacation rental on Eleuthera or elsewhere in the Bahamas? You may find this interesting reading -- especially if you are looking to spend part of Junior's college fund on a two week romp in paradise.

My wife and I have rented quite a few vacation rentals on Eleuthera as well as Harbour Island and a number of other islands throughout the Bahamas. We are hopeless Bahamas junkies.

I am a photographer and when I am shooting photos on a larger island like Eleuthera, I/we may rent upwards of 4 to 5 different vacation rentals in a period of weeks. This provides me with more immediate access to the various areas of Eleuthera.

But I promised my wife I was not going to talk about photography in this post (darn!) I am going to share some notes on what we learned from our experience renting vacation properties. We recently authored some advice on renting a vacation home on Eleuthera. This can be a real bargain when done right. Much of what we wrote is similar to what you might read elsewhere on the internet. We reconstituted and added points we think are more specific to Eleuthera rentals and renting vacation properties in general.

Eleuthera rental
Eleuthera Rental
Palmetto Point
If you are still interested in this topic, click and read our piece on "Tips for Renting Vacation Rentals by Owner." After that, I will share a few more tips and thoughts.

Our experiences with vacation rentals have ranged anywhere from excellent to near disaster. We have stayed at better than a few dozen homes and visited countless more. Once the bug of "vacation rental" bites, it can be addictive -- especially when the rental is right on the beach! They definitely have some advantages over staying at hotels or resorts on Eleuthera, albeit we stay at those too! We like some of the conveniences, privacy, ambiance and value that vacation homes can offer. The bonus is these vacation homes are in some very amazing locations. Check out our satellite map of Eleuthera rentals and see for yourself.

The focus here is on "value" and what that means. Amongst the pool of rentals throughout Eleuthera, Harbour Island and the Abacos, there are some real cherries to pick from. Many times, it starts with being able to find that unique person or couple who is renting their "vacation home" directly to you. Our definition of "vacation home" is a place where the homeowner lives or visits the house more than a couple of weeks out of the year. In a number of cases, the homeowners aren't necessarily looking to make money from the rental, rather they are looking to help pay down overhead, and perhaps one day, build up enough equity so they can enjoy the gains and benefits at retirement. What typically goes with this mindset is a reasonably maintained vacation home. It's a win-win for both parties.

For us, there are two elements to consider when evaluating vacation rentals: maintenance and cleanliness. "Maintenance" means the plumbing works, the electricity is on, there is running water, etc. We always like to know who fixes what around the rental and make sure we understand exactly what it is going to take to get their attention if the toilet backs up or the refrigerator shuts down. We know where they live, work, and their telephone numbers. Sometimes, we learn who their kids' are and what time they get up and go to bed. When you spend a pretty penny to enjoy a not-nearly-long-enough vacation in paradise, you don't want problems! Maintenance is not something we want to do. We leave that at home.

Eleuthera vacation rental by owner
Vacation Rental by Owner
on Eleuthera Island
The other element of all vacation rentals is "cleanliness" which is usually up to you and whomever the caretaker is. Sometimes you don't always get what you were hoping for -- especially if the caretaker has only a handful of hours to flip xyz rental properties on a Saturday. As a result, we are in the habit of asking the property owners if the caretaker will come clean while we are there and ask how much they charge. If the place isn't quite to our liking when we arrive, we immediately book the caretaker and pay for them come back in a day or so, usually a Monday as most go to church on Sunday. And please! Bring a little extra Mr. Clean! Many (but not all) of the people we have ever worked with are nice people and will bend over backwards for you -- especially for a smile. A little extra money doesn't hurt either. We do both. We're on vacation. Time to spend!


What happens when things aren't right? I'm a photographer. I take photos. If the place truly sucks, I take a lot of photos. I'm also prepared to email the photos to the owner while I'm still on the property if I think it is necessary. Nice to have the right email addresses with you in these events.

We are not afraid to ask for a partial refund if things are sincerely unreasonable and avoidable. Tell home owners right away. We may ask the them to pick up the tab for some extra cleaning. Pictures of vacation rentals in the right places speak a thousand words -- the only caption I have ever had to use is "look at this and tell me what you think." Nothing like having 3 pages of comments from various people saying "yuck" about a property photo on Trip Adviser. Having said that, please don't do this until you've made an earnest attempt to allow a homeowner make good. Saying nasty things about a property on TA or anywhere on the net really should be a last resort. Your exchange should be documented in fairness to you and the owner. It should go without saying, this is an island environment and it is a challenge to keep things running. Don't expect perfect.

While we talk about potential pitfalls with renting a vacation home on Eleuthera, we don't want to be a Debbie Downer either. If you do reasonable homework and you know who you are dealing with, you will likely have a most memorable vacation.

Now where did I leave that Goombay Smash?

pj

©2012 Perry Joseph Photography
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