A beautiful afternoon for a swim.
Friday morning we were finally ready to get out of Bimini. We took a short hop down to the anchorage at Cat Cay. It was still bouncy since the winds had been coming across the banks for a few days, but at least the wind and waves were coming from the same direction this time around. Once we were safely anchored, we decided to take our dinghy over to Honeymoon Harbor, about 2 miles from our anchorage. We had heard that it was a great place to stop and we are glad that we did!
This one practically climbed my leg!
Carter loved being able to touch the stingrays as they swam by!
We knew that Honeymoon Harbor was famous for having stingrays, but we made sure to hedge our explanation to Carter to manage his expectations in case they decided not to show up. Luckily, that was unnecessary because there were plenty for us to see! As soon as we waded into the water, the rays would immediately start coming towards us. They made many passes close enough to rub your hands along their backs and even a few times rubbed against our legs as they went by looking for food. We spent the whole afternoon playing on the beach and swimming with stingrays, exactly the kind of day we had dreamed of for years! Both Dan and I commented afterwards that it was actually somewhat unnerving to have the multiple stingrays gliding straight towards you in the water. Regardless of how cool it was, we were children of the 90’s and remember distinctly the unlikely death of Steve Irwin at the tail of a stingray.
Our first fish was a black fin tuna!
We left early the next morning to start across the Great Bahama Bank. The wind and waves weren’t nearly as calm as predicted by our multiple weather sources, but the first day wasn’t too bad. We even caught our first fish of the trip, a small black-fin tuna! Unfortunately, our second catch of the day broke our leader and stole our good trolling lure, so that was the end of the fishing for the trip. We’ll hopefully pick up another good one at one of the shops in Nassau and some stronger leaders too!
Our first view of New Providence Island was a relief.
We kept going back and forth on whether to stop for the night at the Northwest Providence Channel entrance or just continue on overnight to Nassau. In the end, we decided to do a little of both. We anchored around 7 pm just behind the shoals north of Andros island to have dinner and get Carter to bed, since we knew it would be hard for him to fall asleep with the engine on. Dan and I got a few hours of sleep before pulling up the anchor at 1:30 am. It was important to us to get into Nassau harbor before dark the next day and it turned out to be a good choice because once again the weather didn’t cooperate as we had hoped.
Carter and the dogs prefer our land days.
Throughout the day, we ended up with wind right on the nose and waves opposing which meant no sails and more engine time. We also discovered that the back-light for the engine thermometer was wired incorrectly, making the engine temperature appear higher than it actually was. This made us keep the engine running slower than normal, which made our trip about 3 hours longer than we had hoped to make the trip. The waves, time, and the added bonus of Carter and I both being seasick for a few hours meant that we were all exceedingly happy to see New Providence Island on the horizon. We went through Nassau Harbor with no problems and were all relieved to be back on land for a few days before heading to the Exumas.
The view of the Atlantis resort from the harbor
Unfortunately, most anchorages in Bimini are only protected from the west…not helpful for us!
We’ve survived our first week as cruisers and so far, we love it! After crossing the Gulf Stream last Saturday, we’ve been (not so) patiently waiting for good weather to cross the Great Bahama Bank in Bimini and exploring the north and south islands to the fullest. While we tried one night at anchor on Monday, with wind from the east and swell from the south, it was just far too uncomfortable to tolerate more than one night. Luckily, Bimini is one of the few areas in the Bahamas where protected anchorages are in short supply so we aren’t anticipating too many nights in marinas past our first week and possibly one night in Nassau.
The nature trail was beautiful!
Does anyone know what lives here? We didn’t stick around to find out!
The good aspect to staying at the Bimini Sands Marina on South Bimini was the opportunity for easy walking access to some of the natural areas on the island. On Sunday we decided to walk over to the Bimini Nature Trail on the south island. The scenery was beautiful, complete with ruins back-lit by the setting sun, poison bark trees and a crazy looking hive on the path. We decided to retrace the first half of the trail rather than pass by the hive as we weren’t sure what might be living inside, but Carter was convinced that he could scare off anything that might try to attack.
Do we look younger yet?
Another fun spot to visit on South Bimini was the Fountain of Youth. The legend goes that Ponce de Leon set out to discover the Fountain of Youth on his voyages, which he had heard would be found in Bimini. He never found it, but we did! A quaint little well in a wooded clearing made for a pleasant outing and a fun history lesson for Carter.
A trip to Bimini wouldn’t be complete without a few loaves of Bimini bread!
All along Kings Highway were huge piles of discarded conch shells. One man’s trash is another’s treasure I suppose.
Multiple trips were also made into Alice Town and Baileytown on North Bimini. These two small towns were a extreme shock after being in the hustle and bustle of South Florida for a year! It took me a few times of people beeping their horns on the road to realize that they weren’t saying “Get out of the way, $&%*@(*#$!” but rather just honking and waving at friends they saw walking down the street. We became well acquainted with Kings Highway, the one lane (two-way mind you) main road of town, as we searched day after day for a store that had a BTC SIM card in stock for our phone. Just another reminder that things are different in the Bahamas. Luckily, we finally have one working now which should help with our communications and being able to check the weather easier throughout our trip.
Next, we head out for Cat Cay before our trip across the bank. We’re hoping to be in Nassau by Sunday evening and then on to the Exumas assuming the weather cooperates a little better this time around!
Our first sighting of Bimini after a long day on the water.
“Land ho!” Dan called to Carter and I as we neared the end of our Gulf Stream Crossing. As we completed the final few miles of our day, it felt as if a huge weight had lifted off of our shoulders. The stunningly clear waters of the Bahamas greeted us after our first “major” crossing and what a reward it was! As I stood on the bowsprit coming into the Bimini channel I called back to Dan that I could see the bottom to which he responded, “We’re still in 80 feet of water!”
The beautiful sunrise over the Gulf Stream
Our morning started early due to a night full of wakes from power boats going in and out of No Name Harbor. When we both realized the other was awake at 3 am, we decided to pull up the anchor and head out rather than try to go back to sleep for only another 2 hours. Conditions were somewhat rocky going out of Cape Florida with waves at 3-5 ft at around a 4 second period, but once we got onto the ocean everything smoothed out quickly. Thankfully we had a rather uneventful crossing… a good thing!
The beautiful waters of the Bahamas, just look at that blue!
The most excitement (other than the morning 5ft waves) was a few container ships that would have come rather close. We were able to call them on the radio by name thanks to our AIS receiver and ensure that we would stay out of their way… one even changed course for us because we called them early enough. The ship was more than 7 miles away from us but our AIS had calculated that in around 25 minutes they would been less than half a mile from us… AIS is truly an amazing safety technology. Dan radioed this information to the ship’s captain and the ship graciously turned a few degrees off course to change our closest approach to over 5 miles. All in all, our trip took about 9 ½ hours from No Name Harbor to Bimini.
Dan raising the quarantine flag.
Horizon docked at Bimini Sands Marina
We decided to stay at Bimini Sands Marina on South Bimini to avoid the strong current along Alice Town. The marina has a nice large basin that is very easy to get into and is well protected from any wind and waves. The marina staff called the bus for Dan clear in at the airport customs station on South Bimini and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly he was able to get back with all of our paperwork completed. With the official issues taken care of, we are happy to start our adventures in the Bahamas!
Would you like to see more photos of our trip? Check out our Flickr page to see the ones that don’t make it into our posts!