Throwback Thursday: The Still Lost City of Atlantis

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It’s funny what a year can do to change one’s perspective.  The first time we arrived in the Bahamas in 2013 we had been a little underwhelmed by the islands that awaited us.  Expecting that every time we stepped off our dinghy we’d be greeted with the picture perfect resorts that you always find in ads, we quickly found out that the cruisers versions was filled with lots of dusty roads, low lying shrubs, and run down buildings.

Sure those iconic areas existed, if you wanted to pay for them, but that was not in our budget and we continued to lament, for awhile, that our life did not always resemble the cover of a Conde Nast magazine. Here’s what we learned in the one year we were away from the Bahamas though.  The inhabitants of these islands are some of the warmest and most welcoming that you’ll ever meet in your life.  Just because we weren’t strolling through perfectly manicured grounds with towering palm trees doesn’t mean that these islands can’t hold a certain kind of charm.  And most importantly, these waters really are the best you’ll come across in the western hemisphere.

So it was with a bit of sadness on our second visit through the Bahamas that we had to rush through them due to a schedule and that a good chunk of that time was spent in bad weather. After our few great days in Warderick Wells we were feeling the sand running out of our timer before our Atlantic crossing and realized we needed to get to Florida asap.  Making one long jump we left from there and sailed 36 hours directly to Bimini to situate ourselves for a Gulf crossing as soon as the weather permitted.

It may have seemed at the time like the weather was working against us once more by keeping us in Bimini a few days longer than we intended, but it’s one of the best things that could have happened.  One last chance to get as much as we could from a country we didn’t realize how much we loved until we made it back a second time.  With those few days we watched the waves roll in to Radio Beach and even had a chance to snorkel the famous Bimini road.  Just a few more memories to last a lifetime and make us remember what a special place we had originally cast aside.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday May 8, 2014, 

NW Bimini

Everyone has heard of the lost city of Atlantis, right? A highly developed society constructed  in script by Plato that supposedly sunk into the sea? Did you know that right here in Bimini Bahamas, they claim to have remains of this lost city? Or at least, the road leading to it. That’s right, situated on the NW side of the island just off Paradise Point is the Bimini road, an underwater rock formation that is so precisely laid out that it is claimed to have once been a man made road or wall, and is now currently sitting 15 or so feet below the water’s surface.

When we were here just a month ago I had desperately wanted to dive (snorkel) this site, but it was just waaaay more than our dinghy would have been able to handle, about five miles each way from where we had been sitting all the way up the channel inside. Since we had no reason to rush ourselves in this morning, in fact, we needed to wait for an incoming tide, we decided to time our departure from the anchorage in the afternoon which meant we had the whole morning to find and explore the Bimini Road. After our morning coffee to fully wake ourselves up, we checked the spot where I had plugged the coordinates in our chart plotter and with the destined spot now in mind, we hopped in the dinghy and sped off at all our little Mercury 3.3 could give us. Our guidebook along with the coordinates, also stated there was a buoy marking the site and you could not miss it. Only…we could. As far as we could see on the horizon, the only buoys that seemed to be littering our view were bright orange ones that were marking off construction zones for a new pier that is being installed.

At this point we realized that we should have put the coordinates into our little hand held GPS and brought it with us, but now, just like in that scene at the beginning of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, although we could still see the boat, we deemed that we’d ‘Already gone too far’ and didn’t want to head back to get it. The next best option was to have Matt stick his goggled head underwater each time we came up to a dark patch in the water only to find out that each of these dark patches was a bed of eel grass. There were a few rocks out in the water that were supposed to be marking the start, or end, or side, or some relation to the road, so we kept focusing on that area to no avail. Then we realized what we’d really been wanting to do all along. Catch some dinner at the end of our pole spear.

Four weeks in the Bahamas so far and we’d never been out for one spear fishing adventure. This was going to be our last opportunity, and if we couldn’t swim the underwater road to a mythological city, well damn it, we still weren’t going to go home empty handed. Based on the kind of below the surface life we found back at Emerald Rock in Warderick Wells, the rocks we had been skirting around all morning seemed like the perfect place to gouge things. Dropping the anchor to the dinghy in a sandy spot to the side we fell back in the water and were instantly greeted with bright purple fan coral and a small shelf of rock hiding glass eyed snappers below. I thought Matt would have to work at his rusty skills for awhile since it’s been over a year since he’s last stabbed anything, but on his third attempt he was already swimming to the surface with a punctured fish on his spear. Score! That was half a dinner right there, we just needed a few more to fill our plates up for a few nights.

Rounding all angles of the large rock now we first scanned to see what was available to eat before just shooting anything that moved. There were a lot of fish we hadn’t seen in quite some time, and a few new ones we couldn’t identify as well. Continuing around the edges we’d kick down the 5-6 feet below us to look in all nooks and I kept a close eye out for any lobster. We didn’t see any of those, but did come across something much much better. At the east side of the rock was a large tunnel that wasn’t visible above water, but once you got down a few feet you could see that it let from one side of the rock right out to the other. Except, you couldn’t quite see it clearly due to all the fish swaying back and forth in there with the tide. It was literally a wall of fish with a few specs of light filtering through here and there. Matt was completely ready to go in and do a little exploring, but my nerves got the best of me and made it apparent to him I would be waiting outside. He decided to forgo it if I wasn’t going along, we wanted to make sure to always have an eye on each other, and took the long way around instead.

Getting from one side to the other was a little tricky due to the shallowness of the coral and rock in some areas. We had to swim over rugged edges of rock that were mere inches away from our belly, all the while fighting against the crests of waves that were building up due to the shallow waters. Doing a circumnavigation of the rock we ended up on the south side for the best fishing, where a group of yellow fish that we can’t remember their name but ate all the time last year were hanging out. 15 more minutes in that spot and we had two more fish in the dinghy, ready to make their way to the dinner table that night.

Even though that spot had been treating us well we settled on a change of scenery and snorkeled past the dinghy to the next rock where we didn’t see many good fishing opportunities, but we did see parts of something that looked suspiciously like an underwater rock formation. The beginning of the Bimini Road perhaps? Hmmmm….I’m going to say yes just so I can say that we actually did snorkel it. Since we had lost sight of the rest of the road and had also lost sight of any good fishing, we moved ourselves and the dinghy to the northernmost rock of the formation. Wow. All I can say about this rock is wow. Best snorkeling we’ve seen in the Bahamas yet this year. Not only was there colorful coral abound, but there were underwater bays full of hundreds and hundreds of fish! We could have had enough fish to last us a year by staying in this spot had two unfavorable things not happened. The first is that the elastic band on our pull spear kept breaking. Matt was able to fix it two times, luckily since one of those time brought in another fish for us to eat, but after that it was deemed unusable for the rest of the day. The other thing was the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen, and it would not leave our eyesight. It’s one thing just to swim with them, but when we have a bloody fish between us and them, well, let’s just say we don’t want to find out in person how they handle that.

I can’t say we were too disappointed with our day though. Great snorkeling, great fish gazing and spearing, and swimming the Bimini Road (yup, I’m calling it!). Once we had the fish on deck and cleaned into edible fillets, still need to hone that skill a little, we upped anchor to make our way out of the swells that were building and into the safety of the harbor where we were greeted with a calm anchorage and internet access. For dinner we enjoyed a breathtaking sunset and fish tacos where I decided that it was a special enough occasion to pull out my second to last Red Stripe (yup, part of the 24 pk I bought in Jamaica last May). Our time in the Bahamas now officially feels as if it’s at an end, we’ll probably be leaving on the next available weather window although it’s probably still a few days out. I can’t believe how fast it’s already gone by. Last time we were counting down the days until we could get out, now we’re savoring each day that we still have here.

Bimini sunset

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Throwback Thursday: La-Ho!

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

We knew we would be leaving Fort Lauderdale shortly and most likely not visiting again for a very long time.  This meant a night of sad good byes with the good friends we had made during our time there.  One part of cruising that I never enjoy.

When we thought we were ready to up anchor and become Bahamas bound, we found out that we’d be stuck at anchor for at least one more day when our running lights wouldn’t come on and we came to the realization this would be a much easier fix in the US than in the islands.  Plus, we didn’t want to be out in the dark until that fix could be made. The next night though, the anchor was properly up and we were on our way out of the US. It was a long and hard fight this time across the Gulf Stream, which was running very wide and a good speed, which drastically diminished our pointing and speed.

After a much longer passage than we’d anticipated, we pulled into Bimini with enough time to still check ourselves in and make our way to the beach for a little relaxing.  Plus an extra bonus for us, we had new friends, Kim and Jereme of Lahowind, that had arrived the same day we did!

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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Radio Beach Rocks

Monday May 12, 2014

rocks on Radio Beach, North Bimini

Did you think I meant ‘rocks’ as in ‘this place is so cool, I never want to leave it’?.  Well, although that is also true, I was talking about the actual rocks on Radio Beach in North Bimini.  Are they actually rocks?  Or are they coral?  Fossils?  I’m not quite sure, Google didn’t help me out too much on that one.  All I know is that last time we were here I didn’t get to see much of them because it was high tide during our afternoons at the beach.  On this round however, the tide was low and leaving them fully exposed for me to explore.

I don’t know what it was about this little chunk of water that was so irresistible to me, but I could just not stay away from it.  Walking on the rocks, amid the rocks, poking between the rocks with a stick.  You would have thought I was a six year old let lose on their first school field trip.  One thing is for sure though, whether they’re entertaining a six year old, or just a thirty-one year old who likes to act like one, these rocks/coral/fossil combined with the crystal clear waters behind them were absolutely stunning.

rocks on Radio Beach, North Bimini, Bahamas

North Bimini, Bahamas

Bimini rocks

tide pool at Radio Beach

Jessica on Radio Beach, North Bimini, Bahamas

dark clouds over Radio Beach, North Bimini

rain on Radio Beach, North Bimini

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The Still Lost City of Atlantis

Thursday May 8, 2014

NW Bimini

Everyone has heard of the lost city of Atlantis, right? A highly developed society constructed  in script by Plato that supposedly sunk into the sea? Did you know that right here in Bimini Bahamas, they claim to have remains of this lost city? Or at least, the road leading to it. That’s right, situated on the NW side of the island just off Paradise Point is the Bimini road, an underwater rock formation that is so precisely laid out that it is claimed to have once been a man made road or wall, and is now currently sitting 15 or so feet below the water’s surface.

When we were here just a month ago I had desperately wanted to dive (snorkel) this site, but it was just waaaay more than our dinghy would have been able to handle, about five miles each way from where we had been sitting all the way up the channel inside. Since we had no reason to rush ourselves in this morning, in fact, we needed to wait for an incoming tide, we decided to time our departure from the anchorage in the afternoon which meant we had the whole morning to find and explore the Bimini Road. After our morning coffee to fully wake ourselves up, we checked the spot where I had plugged the coordinates in our chart plotter and with the destined spot now in mind, we hopped in the dinghy and sped off at all our little Mercury 3.3 could give us. Our guidebook along with the coordinates, also stated there was a buoy marking the site and you could not miss it. Only…we could. As far as we could see on the horizon, the only buoys that seemed to be littering our view were bright orange ones that were marking off construction zones for a new pier that is being installed.

At this point we realized that we should have put the coordinates into our little hand held GPS and brought it with us, but now, just like in that scene at the beginning of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, although we could still see the boat, we deemed that we’d ‘Already gone too far’ and didn’t want to head back to get it. The next best option was to have Matt stick his goggled head underwater each time we came up to a dark patch in the water only to find out that each of these dark patches was a bed of eel grass. There were a few rocks out in the water that were supposed to be marking the start, or end, or side, or some relation to the road, so we kept focusing on that area to no avail. Then we realized what we’d really been wanting to do all along. Catch some dinner at the end of our pole spear.

Four weeks in the Bahamas so far and we’d never been out for one spear fishing adventure. This was going to be our last opportunity, and if we couldn’t swim the underwater road to a mythological city, well damn it, we still weren’t going to go home empty handed. Based on the kind of below the surface life we found back at Emerald Rock in Warderick Wells, the rocks we had been skirting around all morning seemed like the perfect place to gouge things. Dropping the anchor to the dinghy in a sandy spot to the side we fell back in the water and were instantly greeted with bright purple fan coral and a small shelf of rock hiding glass eyed snappers below. I thought Matt would have to work at his rusty skills for awhile since it’s been over a year since he’s last stabbed anything, but on his third attempt he was already swimming to the surface with a punctured fish on his spear. Score! That was half a dinner right there, we just needed a few more to fill our plates up for a few nights.

Rounding all angles of the large rock now we first scanned to see what was available to eat before just shooting anything that moved. There were a lot of fish we hadn’t seen in quite some time, and a few new ones we couldn’t identify as well. Continuing around the edges we’d kick down the 5-6 feet below us to look in all nooks and I kept a close eye out for any lobster. We didn’t see any of those, but did come across something much much better. At the east side of the rock was a large tunnel that wasn’t visible above water, but once you got down a few feet you could see that it let from one side of the rock right out to the other. Except, you couldn’t quite see it clearly due to all the fish swaying back and forth in there with the tide. It was literally a wall of fish with a few specs of light filtering through here and there. Matt was completely ready to go in and do a little exploring, but my nerves got the best of me and made it apparent to him I would be waiting outside. He decided to forgo it if I wasn’t going along, we wanted to make sure to always have an eye on each other, and took the long way around instead.

Getting from one side to the other was a little tricky due to the shallowness of the coral and rock in some areas. We had to swim over rugged edges of rock that were mere inches away from our belly, all the while fighting against the crests of waves that were building up due to the shallow waters. Doing a circumnavigation of the rock we ended up on the south side for the best fishing, where a group of yellow fish that we can’t remember their name but ate all the time last year were hanging out. 15 more minutes in that spot and we had two more fish in the dinghy, ready to make their way to the dinner table that night.

Even though that spot had been treating us well we settled on a change of scenery and snorkeled past the dinghy to the next rock where we didn’t see many good fishing opportunities, but we did see parts of something that looked suspiciously like an underwater rock formation. The beginning of the Bimini Road perhaps? Hmmmm….I’m going to say yes just so I can say that we actually did snorkel it. Since we had lost sight of the rest of the road and had also lost sight of any good fishing, we moved ourselves and the dinghy to the northernmost rock of the formation. Wow. All I can say about this rock is wow. Best snorkeling we’ve seen in the Bahamas yet this year. Not only was there colorful coral abound, but there were underwater bays full of hundreds and hundreds of fish! We could have had enough fish to last us a year by staying in this spot had two unfavorable things not happened. The first is that the elastic band on our pull spear kept breaking. Matt was able to fix it two times, luckily since one of those time brought in another fish for us to eat, but after that it was deemed unusable for the rest of the day. The other thing was the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen, and it would not leave our eyesight. It’s one thing just to swim with them, but when we have a bloody fish between us and them, well, let’s just say we don’t want to find out in person how they handle that.

I can’t say we were too disappointed with our day though. Great snorkeling, great fish gazing and spearing, and swimming the Bimini Road (yup, I’m calling it!). Once we had the fish on deck and cleaned into edible fillets, still need to hone that skill a little, we upped anchor to make our way out of the swells that were building and into the safety of the harbor where we were greeted with a calm anchorage and internet access. For dinner we enjoyed a breathtaking sunset and fish tacos where I decided that it was a special enough occasion to pull out my second to last Red Stripe (yup, part of the 24 pk I bought in Jamaica last May). Our time in the Bahamas now officially feels as if it’s at an end, we’ll probably be leaving on the next available weather window although it’s probably still a few days out. I can’t believe how fast it’s already gone by. Last time we were counting down the days until we could get out, now we’re savoring each day that we still have here.

Bimini sunset

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Making Miles

Wednesday May 7, 2014

Exuma Banks

There was only one thing left on my Exuma wish list, and sadly, I did not get to complete it.  The last item on the list that we missed out on last year and I wanted to squeeze in this time around was stopping at Norman’s Cay, just about 10 miles north of Warderick Wells.  This spot is famous for being the headquarters of drug smuggling operations for Carlos Lehder (even featured in one of my favorite movies, Blow), and even though the drug runners have been gone for about 30 years now, this little island still has a few draws.  There’s the famous McDuff’s restaurant where we hear you can pay $20 for a single burger (thanks, I think we would have passed on that one), and the sunken remains of an airplane that lies just a few feel below the water and is perfect for snorkeling.  That is the reason I wanted to visit.  But according to Kim and Jereme, whom had just come from there, getting to the plane from the anchorage we would have been in on the west side of the island would have been very far in the dingy and very hard at times with the current ripping through the cut between islands, where the wreckage lies.

Well, since our intended plan had been to anchor at Norman’s Cay, then Allen’s Cay; Nassua, Berry’s; Great Bahama Banks; and finally Bimini, and now it wasn’t likely that I’d even be able to see the one sight I wanted to go to Norman’s for, we decided to skip it all.  After talking to a couple from s/v Sea Witch while out snorkeling the other day, they mentioned there would be steady east winds for the next three days that they themselves would be riding directly back to their home port of Palm Beach.  We took a moment to think about it, and this is what we came up with.  We need/want to be back in Miami by May 15th to give ourselves at least two weeks to prepare the boat for our Atlantic crossing with a departure date for that of June 1st (weather dependent).  If we were to still hit all of these intended anchorages, even just staying for one night, that wouldn’t put us back to Bimini until the 12th.  Doable, but any bad weather could quickly put us behind schedule.  Or…we could skip all of that and head directly back to Bimini from Warderick Wells.  So that’s what we decided to do.

Matt was a little more enthusiastic about this ‘go go go’ idea than I was, I wasn’t ready to give up these excruciatingly beautiful anchorages just yet, but he’s been indulging me throughout all of the Bahamas so far, so he did not hear any complaints from me when he asked for this one favor back.  He was ready to get into ocean crossing prep mode, and after 8 days, I was just excited at the thought of getting internet back.  Anchor was weighed at 9 am yesterday under sail power alone, and we slid out into the calm waters of the Exuma Banks.  Due to the east winds and still being so close to shore, we enjoyed a good five hours of extremely settled water where it was hard to tell we were even moving.  Poor Georgie, who probably assumed we were still at anchor since it was so calm, didn’t understand why she was being reprimanded as she tried to wander the deck.  We still never want to take the chance that she might go overboard while underway and contain her to the cockpit, but unless conditions are pretty rough we won’t actually force her leash secured leash on her, letting her wander the cockpit and cabin.

Although we were headed in a NW direction, the winds had clocked just south enough to keep fairly downwind the whole way.  Things did start to pick up yesterday evening where the waves began to build just a little and even though our apparent wind was only in the 15-20 knot range, we were keeping a steady 7 knots under our hull.  We passed Nassau just at sunset and then I was sent to bed.  Even though we were speeding along and would normally reduce sail once the sun went down (just so a reef doesn’t have to be put in when one person is trying to sleep…we just take care of it beforehand), there was an unspoken wish between us that we might actually cover all our miles to Bimini before sundown the next night, but we needed to keep going fast to do that.  It was only when I had been down below for a few hours, never actually catching any sleep, that I felt a sudden knock on our side.  A big gust had come up and basically thrown us over and rounded us up into the wind.  Ok…time to slow down a little.  Matt brought in the headsail, but even in doing so we still managed to keep 6 knots under our hull until getting in the lee of the Berrys.

The NW Channel was crossed over at 3 am, and something we would normally never do in the dark, except we still had our track on the chart plotter from the first time we passed through and we made sure to stick to it exactly.  Surrounding us were the lights of anchored boats that had dropped hook in the shallow waters just before the pass, waiting until morning to make their run through it.  By this point I had been on shift for three hours, and since I had not managed to accumulate any sleep from my first shift below, Matt let me go down early to catch a few hours even though I still owed him two more. (We made sure to both be up for crossing the channel)

The rest of our sail today through the banks was rather uneventful, although I wish some excitement would have come in the form of fish biting on our line.  We didn’t even have any barracuda to throw back.*  I guess in the world of yin and yang though, we had to give something up to get something in return.  Our journey might have been fish-less, but it was also fast.  We rounded the North Rock of Bimini at four in the afternoon, plenty of time to get ourselves to a comfortable anchorage for the night.  Since the tide was now coming out though and we would prefer it to be at our backs instead of fighting it on our way in, we decided to anchor outside of the harbor for the night.  Which not only satisfied my wish for at least one more beautiful anchorage, but it might satisfy my wish for good snorkeling as well.  Because we have just put ourselves in a prime spot to check out the Bimini Road tomorrow morning.

 

*Imagine my disappointment when, as soon as I logged into our Facebook account after having scheduled a bunch of post to go up as we were heading up the Exumas, one of our readers pointed out to me that the first time we crossed the banks our first catch was not actually a barracuda, but a mackerel!!  Something we could have eaten!!  Thanks for letting us know Ben, we’ll make sure to keep a sharper eye out the next time.  It was those damn big teeth that had us confused the first time.

 

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Ooooo Barracuda!

Tuesday April 15, 2014

catching baracuda

This morning finally signaled our departure from Bimini.  With east winds keeping us put for just about a full week now, I can’t say that we were disappointed to be sitting here while we were waiting.  This is a really great island and I’m sad we passed right by it last year.  But now it’s time to get a move on, and quickly too.  We have lots of friends already in the Bahamas a lot further south than we are, and we’d really like to be able to catch up with them.  It seems as if a lot of people are congregating in Georgetown Exumas right now, but we’d like to try to make to to Long Island once more for Easter if the winds will carry us down there fast enough.  It’s a long way to go in about five days, but should the winds be on our side, we should be able to put in a lot of miles each day.

The winds when we left were supposed to start of SE but then clock all the way south in the early afternoon, which we needed because with a goal of getting to the Berry Islands via the NW Channel, we needed to go in a southeast direction and did not want to motor into the winds all day.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to make the full 70 miles to Frazier’s Hog Cay, but hopes were that we could get within about 5-10 miles of the channel and anchor in the banks for the night.  The whole area that we’re passing through doesn’t have depths over 25 feet, and if the weather is settled, there’s no issue just dropping anchor right in the middle of it.  You probably don’t want to be right next to the channel and have your anchor light be mistaken for a buoy, or sit right on the path of the magenta line in case anyone is traveling through the night, but winds didn’t look like they were going to get over 15 knots and we weren’t worried about having a bumpy night.

Kim and Jereme on Laho left with us this morning to buddy up for the day and night, and as we exited north Bimini there were a parade of sails all going the same direction, every other boat waiting for the same window that we had.  The sail north out of the lee of Bimini was great, but just as predicted, rounding the North Rock and pointing ourselves at the Northwest channel, winds were almost on the nose.  The headsail had to come in and the engine went on.  Not quite how we wanted the day to go, but we’re just looking to put on miles at this point.  It feels like we spend all of our time now waiting around instead of actually going anywhere.

Laho sailing

Georgie resting under dodger The morning was absolutely beautiful, and it was another one of those days that we had to sit back and thinkabout how lucky we are for being able to live this lifestyle.  Our friends back home had just gotten to the office, snow might even still be on the ground (FYI, I could not have survived this past winter if I was back home), and here we were, sunshine and warm tropic waters in front of us.  A quick cup of coffee made from my AeroPress, and I was in absolute heaven.

Just as I was about to pop my head out of the companionway and tell Matt we might as well trail a line while we were moving to since this seemed like the perfect area to catch fish, I found out that he’d already rigged it up while I was below.  We each pulled out our e-readers and settled in for a long day of catching fish, since that’s usually what happens.  Never before have we had a bite on one of our lines while we’ve been trolling.

Imagine our surprise when not even an hour later we felt a tug on the line.  Assuming it was probably seaweed, since that seems to be the only thing our hooks normally grab on to, we pulled in the line to find out there was actually a fish on there!  Not quite sure what it was when we first reeled it in, I went to fetch our Cruisers Guide to Fishing where we quickly identified that it was a barracuda.  Handing Matt a set of gloves and needle nose pliers, he worked the hook out of the fish’s mouth and tossed it back in the water.  It wasn’t until we’d already let it go that I asked “Hey, aren’t those actually edible?”  Apparently they are, but Matt was worried about the possibility of ciguatera.  And with some friends having recently been affected by it and reading about their horror stories, we did not want to take any kind of chance with it.  The line was set once again, and we patiently waited for a large snapper to clamp on.

We did get two more catches during the day, but they were both barracuda.  WTH?  Did we suddenly become experts at catching them?  The second one that came along was huge and, as soon as Matt set about getting the hook out of it’s mouth, this thing began squirting blood like it was a prop on a movie set.  Within moments the whole back area of the cockpit looked like it belonged in a horror movie.  I wish I could have gotten a photo of what it looked like, but I’m not sure all of you would have wanted to see the blood.  I personally love that kind of stuff.  Everyone else?  I’ve heard not so much.

catching small baracuda

Laho sailing

big baracuda

 

Since most of the other boats that had left in the morning with us didn’t mind burning their fuel at a faster rate as they pushed on at 6-7 knots, our boats fell behind since we didn’t want to put too much pressure on the engine and have anything else go wrong.  Having talked about it earlier in the day, the plan was to make it as far as we could by 7 pm and drop anchor, starting again at day break.  We didn’t even come close to making the miles that we thought, still sitting back 20 miles from the Northwest Channel by the time 7 pm rolled around.  Not only that, but those winds that were supposed to clock around to the south decided to stay on our nose all day and then gust up in the evening.  What was supposed to be a calm night under clear skies and stars turned into the worst anchorage we’ve ever been in.

With nothing to block them from us, the waves built up to a nice chop and were tossing our boats back and forth, back and forth.  It was tolerable while making dinner and even while watching a movie, I’d put on a scopolamine patch to prepare for any kind of seasickness, but trying to sleep was almost impossible.  We both took sides of the salon, neither of us wanting to take the bucking bronco ride that was the v-berth.  Even then I feel like I should have had a lee cloth up on my side to keep me from falling out of bed.  Some of the waves weren’t too bad, it was kind of like being on a not too bad passage, but every couple of minutes one rogue wave would come and toss us on our side.  They always seemed to hit the port side where I was sleeping, so it only rolled Matt further into the nook of his bed while I was left bracing myself so I wouldn’t slide out.  Poor Kim and Jereme are probably completely deterred from sailing now, expecting every anchorage to be like this.

Laho anchored in banks

Having only collected about four hours of sleep by the time the sun came up, although we did purposefully wake ourselves up at 3 am to catch the lunar eclipse, the anchors were raised for more miles to be covered.  Deciding that they didn’t want to spend a second day sailing right into the wind, Laho vetoed going to Fraziers Hog Cay and opted for Great Harbor Cay to the north instead.  I don’t blame them.  If we didn’t have a schedule to keep, we probably would have followed them there.

Laho anchored at sunrise

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Casino Royale

Saturday April 12, 2014

Resort World Bimini Casino

While we were enjoying some sundowners and double checking charts over on Laho last night, Kim and Jereme said they wanted to spend the day today exploring town and then maybe hit the casino in the evening and asked if we were up for joining them.  It didn’t even take me two seconds to agree because I knew I’d be able to turn this into a Fancy Cocktail Hour, a reason to pull out a dress, style my hair, and even put on eyeliner.  Chances like that don’t come up in our life too often any more.  Also, a chance to hang out with Kim and Jereme is always a good time since we’ve enjoyed ourselves on each other’s boat’s the past two nights in a row.

Starting my beauty routine early in the afternoon, I put rollers in my hair and ironed out my best dress, barely saving time to eat diner which I was actually taking bites of while putting on makeup.  Swinging by to get our friends, we pulled up to the docks just a few hundred feet from us at Resort World Bimini and tried our best to act like we belonged there once we stepped into the compound.  Is it a rule you have to be staying here to actually visit the grounds?  We weren’t sure, but gauging the dollar amount that Jerme wanted to split between poker and roulette, we didn’t think they’d turn us away.

Kim & Jessica

marina at Resort World Bimini

laho casino photo

(Photo courtesy of Lahowind)

slots at casino

As soon as we entered the casino we made our way to the roulette table where I watched with wonder as Jereme split chips out between the range of numbers.  You mean there’s more to it than just picking red or black?  This is why I stick with the slot machines, although honestly, I’m not even usually sure what I’m trying to match up there.  I just wait for the bells and whistles to go off and let me know I’ve done something right.

One of the benefits of going to a casino to gamble is that they usually give you free drinks in return.  We were going to be damned if we dropped all of our money here and didn’t get anything out of it, so one of the first things we did was try to hail a cocktail waitress to start serving cold Kaliks.  At the moment only Jereme would have been able to get one since he was the only one gambling, but they did not feel like making their way to us on their own.  I literally had to hunt one down, tap her on the shoulder, and tell her that my friend was gambling at the roulette table and would like something to drink.  It was another ten minutes after that when she eventually made her way over to take his order.  Finally getting his first drink dropped off just as the last of his chips were being placed on the table I turned to Jereme and cracked, “How does that hundred dollar beer taste?”.  So far, it was his only prize of the evening.

Jereme & Kim in casino

The other game that Jereme was planning on dropping some money on for the evening was three card poker, although no one would be working the table for at least an hour.  Situating ourselves at the penny slots right next to the roulette table we’d just come from, each of us slid a $20 in our machine and starting pressing buttons, winning fifteen to fifty cents here and there.  Hailing down a cocktail waitress again, Kim had the bright idea of handing her a large tip the first time to make sure she kept coming back.  And boy did she.  I was only half way through my first Kalik when my second one was handed to me. We happily sat here and enjoyed our beers until the poker table opened up and we all sat down at the table to see how long Jerme’s money could hold out.

laho poker photo

 Can you tell we went a little drink crazy?  The margaritas were getting too sugary, and I even ended up switching to straight shots of tequila. (To sip, not to shoot)

(Photo courtesy of Lahowind)

Jereme playing poker

The money did last a good long time and it was already getting quite late when we decided to pack in in and head back to the boats.  Stepping on to the shuttle though, we (I) asked to be dropped off at one of the resorts restaurants where a wedding was being held.  Our first shuttle driver told us we should check it out, and after our entertaining night at the casino, crashing a wedding seemed like the next logical step.

Getting dropped off it looked as if most of the guests had already left and it was just a few members of the wedding party left.  There was a photo shoot of the bride and groom going on in front of the pool, so of course I grabbed my camera out and began shooting as well, acting like I was doing them a monumental service by popping up at their wedding and photographing their special moments.  (Remember, tequila.)  Being quite brazen at that point, literally dragging Kim behind me, I walked up to a member of the party that was taking photos and claimed that we were world travelers and would love to have our photo taken with the bride and groom.  I was quickly brushed off.  Probably understandably.

4.12.14 (8)

 In my mind at the time I was doing a better job than the wedding photographer…..not quite.

4.12.14 (9)

 Finally a little defeated that they wanted nothing to do with us, we left the wedding party to walk back to the dinghy, where we found a playground along the way.  Who could resist climbing the monkey bars and tumbling down the slide?  Definitely not us!  For anywhere between five and forty-five minutes (time was kind of getting away from me at that point), we reverted back to our six year old selves where we had a ball running and playing and stumbling on the astroturf as we fell out of slides and off the monkey bars.

Matt on playground

 With quite a fantastic night under our belts we arrived back at the dinghy, ready to take this party to Laho since we weren’t ready to call it quits.  I don’t quite know how it happened since it happened so quickly, but all I know is that I was so happy to have my camera out at the moment, because one second I’m looking at three people sitting in the dinghy, and the next thing I know is there’s only two in there because Jereme had somehow gone in the water.  It took a second to fish him out, but we did spend the rest of the ride back pondering how he ended up in the water in the first place.  Even he couldn’t tell you how he got there.  One moment he was there, the next he was gone.  We got back to Laho and decided it might be best to disband the party since Jereme’s phone was now a casualty of the night and we didn’t know who or what might be next.

Jereme in water

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Float Plane Obsessed

Thursday April 10, 2014

float plane 1

When we first pulled in to our little anchorage here in Bimini all the way at the end of the channel, there had benn a small orange buoy floating near the edge that we could not for the life of us figure out what it was meant for.  At first we thought that maybe a dive boat tied up next to it, but believe me, there is nothing interesting in this spot to dive on.  Or maybe there is and we don’t know it?  The water’s been a little too murky in this area to actually see what’s on the bottom.

It didn’t take us long to solve the mystery though.  While I was in town checking us in on Monday Matt was greeted with a roaring plane engine while he relaxed below.  Maybe this is a designated anchorage, maybe it’s not, but we have found out that it’s where Resort World Bimini, which we’re right next to, uses as an airstrip for their float planes and uses the mooring to tie up to if the dock is full.  Every hour or so there’s one landing or taking off right next to us, and I’ve admittedly become obsessed with them, running into the cockpit each time I hear those propellers running.  I’m sure the pilots are so sick me of aiming my camera at them each time they land or take off, but ever since our friends on Laho have moved over to this anchorage as well, Kim’s been taking the occasional photos too, so I don’t feel so deserted in my obsession.  Let those pilots stare, I have an agenda.  And it includes taking a zillion photos of them.

float plane 2

float plane 3

float plane 4

laho and plane

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La-Ho!

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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The Bimini Road

Monday April 7, 2014

sunrise on the Gulf Stream

As with any late timed departure that we need to make for a passage, we can never seem to wait long enough for the alarm to actually go off before we get to anxious and want to get underway. Usually there is a forced after dinner nap which never actually happens, and instead of waiting for the clock to tick by extra minutes as we lie there awake, we figure it’s better just to get the show on the road. Luckily this has never afforded us a before sunrise approach yet.

Looking at the clock as it dragged to only ten o’clock, three hours before our intended departure time, we figured it was better to get in too early than too late. Even if we could manage the 48 miles from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini in ten hours, it would still be light enough for us to make our way in the harbor. Raising the anchor as all the boats in the lake were silent and still around us, we navigated out the tricky entrance and into the ICW. Hailing our friendly bridge operator at the 17th St. Causeway, we slid under and were quickly on our way out the Port Everglades inlet with our bow pointed a few degrees south of Bimini to make up for the push of the Gulf Stream. After verifying our course of 120 degrees and sitting with Matt until we were out of range for the late night shipping traffic that was exiting with us, I took my leave to get a few hours of sleep.

17th St. Causeway at night

ICW at night

Since we had both basically been up all night my sleep was cut short after only an hour and a half when Matt’s head starting nodding off too many times and he needed to seek refuge in the comfort of the sette. Harnessing in and taking my spot in the cockpit, I was pointed out the numerous cruise ships that were transporting their hoards of tourist between the Bahamas and the States, but told that everything else looked fine. It wasn’t until Matt was (quickly) snoring below that I noticed that one thing wasn’t quite as I had hoped. We had obviously entered the Gulf Stream, and that 120 degrees we had been holding so perfectly was now faltering to a mere sixty degrees.

We had expected to be pushed a few miles north of where we actually wanted to be, and anticipating this, left ourselves plenty of time to make it there once day broke. This is why we had felt so comfortable leaving at such an early time in the night. Trying to send all the good vibes I could from myself and into the boat, I tried to mentally convince it to point further south. When this didn’t seem to work I took to reasoning with the stream itself, begging for it to end as soon as possible. Once we didn’t have the force against us we could head directly south if we needed to, I just hoped it would be sooner than later. By the time my three hour shift was up, none of my reasoning had done any good against the stubborn boat and the stubborn Gulf Stream. Having the opposite effect that I’d hoped, I actually seemed to infuriate both of them and they conspired to work against me, pushing us off course even more into the fifty degree range. I gave up and hoped the master of sail trim coming up to replace me could work his magic on the situation.

Gulf Stream Sunrise

Serendipity on the Gulf Stream

The next time I was up on deck I had not been greeted with the results I was hoping for. We weren’t doing quite as bad as when I had left, but we still weren’t able to point ourselves toward Bimini. This is the day the stream decided to take up the whole expanse between Florida and the Bahamas. When we had finally reached a point that we were at least in the same longitude of Bimini, we pointed the bow due South, and right into the wind, and motored on with the most pathetic progress I’d ever seen. I’ve become quite used to our downwind travels of at least five to six knots, and the fact that we weren’t even doing close to that was complete torture. And it seemed like no matter how far east we were, we could not escape the clutches of the stream. Even though our heading was pointing us toward the safe haven and peaceful night of slumber that is Bimini harbor, our course was slowly but surely sneaking in a southwest direction. Eventually I had enough and tacked the boat so that we were pointing, both with heading and course, directly into the middle of the island. I’d run us up on the beach if that’s what it took to escape the forces working against us.

This plan seemed to actually do the trick. We crashed through the building wind and waves, but we were finally heading in a direction we actually wanted to go. Normally the last two to three hours of a passage will drive me insane, seeing your destination right in front of you but knowing you’re still a few hours away from actually getting there, but this time I could do nothing but smile that we would actually make it there before dark. Coasting in from thousands of feet to only 40, I waited until we were just a few minutes from the channel entrance before waking Matt from his afternoon nap to have him help me navigate in.

Matching up the multiple sets of charts we have to make sure the buoys were correct and marked what they claimed to, I figured this last bit would be a piece of cake. I was just about to cross in front of the first green buoy and round into the channel when out of nowhere the engine cut out on us. By this point we weren’t actually in the channel yet, but depths had gotten down to fifteen feet and a very swift current was about to send me directly into green buoy number 1. While Matt was having a quick panic attack and a cuss storm a few feet ahead of me, I calculated my options. Try to start the engine again? Roll out the headsail? No, not enough time. Steer into the current to avoid the buoy but then put myself in the channel and possibly the shoals without total control?

Within ten seconds, of which felt like an eternity, the engine was purring again and I was able to narrowly avoid the buoy as I gunned us into the channel under full throttle, afraid to douse it any for fear it might shut off again. Shooting into the channel at seven knots, I was not able to regain my breath until we had gotten through the worst parts and were now passing by the marinas lining the entrance to the harbor. Confident that we could drop the anchor in this part of the channel if absolutely necessary I let myself pull back on the throttle while Matt brought down the main and we continued to cruise in at just over four knots now.

Still trying to avoid marinas since we like to be at anchor whenever possible, we noticed the first marked anchorage just past Bimini Big Game Club was a little too crowded. Resigning ourselves to the only other anchorage, a mile down the channel, I tried not to let myself get upset about the long dinghy ride in my near future to get us checked in, but only focused on the fact that in just a few minutes the anchor would be down and I could spend the rest of my day night fighting the elements. I don’t know if it was just bad luck that we received or if I should have heeded the warnings that it’s better to cross from Miami than Ft. Lauderdale, but I will give this one tip. Don’t ever cross from Ft. Lauderdale. Spend the extra day and get yourself down to No Name Harbor first. You’re likely to have a much better crossing than we did.

dinghy dock in Bimini

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