Sailor Barters “Magazines” for Fish in the Bahamas

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A long time friend named Eddie recalled this story from his sailing days.

I used to go sailing a lot when I was younger. Since I was based in Florida, we, my girlfriend and I, would go and take trips to the Bahamas for a month or two every year.

If you’ve ever been sailing, you know the weather and water are unpredictable. Storms come and go very quickly, and leaving out of Florida, the water is moving fast to the North. That’s called the Gulfstream, and if you lose your wind there, you may end up hundreds of miles to the North of your intended destination.

For that reason, it’s always good to go as far South in the Florida Keys as possible, and leave from there.

Back in those days, my engine was unreliable, and navigation equipment was not perfected like the GPS you have on every phone.

We relied on “Dead Reckoning” which is how they navigated in the days of old. It’s basically an estimate of direction + speed + direction of ocean current + time traveled = position.

So, we got lost one time. This is not always a bad thing, but not knowing where you are in the Bahamas can be a problem. The islands are littered with reefs, and the water is shallow in a lot of areas that are not necessarily near land. The water is clear as air, so it’s sometimes hard to tell if you’re looking at 5 feet of water, or 30 feet.

Anyway, during our unintentional detour, we stumbled on a fisherman out in the water, doing what he’s probably done his entire life. In the Bahamas, having a boat makes you king. Fishing is a way of life there. Even though the fisherman might not get a lot of money per pound of fish, they eat very well.

So, he came towards us in his boat, and asked if we wanted some fish. We told him we lost wind in the “Stream” and asked where we were. Again, he asked if we wanted some fish to buy. We told him we didn’t have a lot of money, and he wanted to know what else we may have to trade. We offered some “magazines”, you know, the kind you get at the xxx store.

As you can imagine, a Bahamian fisherman can probably go his entire life without seeing that kind of publication, so he was all too happy to lay on some fish in exchange for a couple of mags.

We ended up getting around 20 pounds of Tuna for a couple of mags. A fair trade if you ask me!

A friend told us about carrying magazines when sailing for use as bartering items, as most men would gladly trade for what they had in their boat.

We could have equally brought name brand jeans, shoes, or something else.

If you’re going on a trip somewhere, look at bringing some items that are hard to get or not available where you’re going. We’ve more than paid for many vacations by bringing valuable items that we sold or bartered in countries we visited.


Thanks Eddie.