After lots of communication with our new friends on Dolce, the Seawind 38 catamaran, we felt prepared and with a good weather window for the transit to Bimini. We had reservations at the Big Game Club, a Resort and Marina. Our planned departure was at 4 am on Saturday with a planned arrival at 2 PM, high tide. Dolce planned to depart at sunrise since she is a full knot faster than us.
Once out of the channel from Key Biscayne, we sailed nicely for about 3 hours until the wind shifted then died. We were able to motor sail and had an interesting time avoiding tankers and cargo ships. At one point we watched as two of them put us into a pincer that forced us to maintain course and speed to pass only 1/2 mile from either of them... We could not turn, slow down nor speed up. Fun with rules-of-the-nautical-road. We love our AIS!
The last two hours was motoring straight upwind into about 15 knots of wind, but we were able to follow Bonita (who we had seen in Vero Beach and again at Lake Sylvia.) We since have gotten to know Randall and Suzanne from the Toronto Area and are planning to buddy with them when we depart Bimini on Thursday.
Arrival was as planned at 2 pm and the Dockmaster allowed us to choose our own slip, allowing for us to point into the current and toss the lines to him on the upwind finger pier for a contactless landing. He very skillfully handled our lines and helped us make fast. Due to the wind it was a big gap for Norma to leap but she managed it all except for one time when I was away.
Customs check-in was a breeze thanks to us being registered and paid the day before using Bahamas Click-to-Clear and we managed immigration despite the agent scrolling her cell phone and not recognizing when we asked her a question. We were ready for the potential scams leading to $75 cash-only, no receipt "fines" that the immigration offices are getting a reputation for. It did not happen.
The next morning, with a storm front forecast for the afternoon, we took a walk along Radio Beach and from Alice Town to Baily Town. Photos do not do the warm, crystal-clear, turquoise waters justice. We passed middens of conch shells and stopped for conch salad at Joe's Conch Shack after buying a loaf of world-famous coconut bread from Nate's Bakery. The photo above on the right is Norma standing next to conch shells signed by customers. While at Joe's a tour group came by and got a conch cleaning demonstration (it is easy if you know the right spot to poke the knife.)
While waiting for our conch salad (Joe's had just opened so they were chopping fresh conch) Allen asked the gal at the bar if he could play his harmonica along with her recorded Jamaican Music. He played to about 5 songs. No-one seemed to mind.
Upon arriving back at Big Game Club, Norma was looking at the water and saw something big, really big. She asked someone nearby and he laughed and said it was a bull shark.
This guy was about 6 feet long. They like to hang out inside the Bimini Channel because fishermen clean their fish and dispose of the guts and heads here. After this first one, we saw three others cruising around.
Today is Monday and Allen plans to walk with Randall to Dolphin Electronics and get an Alive(tm) hotspot, which is supposed to get really good coverage most places in the Bahamas. We plan to leave Bimini on Thursday and head over to Chubb Cay, after a night anchored on the Mackie Shoal. It should be eerie being anchored out with no land in sight anywhere. We are hoping for a clear evening to do some stargazing. But before that there will be more to our stay in Bimini so stay tuned!