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A Week in Bimini

Posted on Apr 10, 2015 | 2 comments

Unfortunately, most anchorages in Bimini are only protected from the west...not helpful for us!

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!

The nature trail was beautiful!

Does anyone know what lives here? We didn't stick around to find out!

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?

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!

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.

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!

Crossing the Gulf Stream

Posted on Apr 7, 2015 | 4 comments

Our first sighting of Bimini after a long day on the water.

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

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 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.

Dan raising the quarantine flag.

Horizon docked at Bimini Sands Marina

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!

Welcome to Cruising!

Posted on Apr 3, 2015 | 0 comments

Our first night at anchor was beautiful!

Our first night at anchor was beautiful!

As of April 1, we have officially joined the ranks of full-time cruisers! (And no this is not an April Fool’s joke.) Dan finished off his last few days at work and brought home an awesome cruising gift from his boss David that will be a great addition to our interior. We also off-loaded our remaining car to some friends of our marina neighbors who were kind enough to let us use it all the way up to our departure. With all of our last minute tasks wrapped up, we were ready to go!

This beautiful anchor light now has a place of honor in our main salon.

This beautiful anchor light now has a place of honor in our main salon.

The only problem is how much mud the anchor brings back up with it!

The only problem is how much mud the anchor brings back up with it!

Though we had never anchored over night before, our first couple of nights have gone smoothly thanks to our over-sized Mantus* anchor. It was important to us to have an anchor that we could trust and after many hours of online research and talking to other cruisers, we think we have made the right choice. The ease with which our anchor has set these first few nights has been very important for our confidence in anchoring, which is a must if we want to keep marina expenses to a minimum. We’ll do an update on our anchoring experience after the first couple of months, but thus far we are very happy with the performance.

The opening was a little too close for comfort...

The opening was a little too close for comfort…

After a full 4 hours of ICW bridges on Thursday (and 11 hours from Lantana to Hollywood in July), I’m happy to report that we are free of the drawbridge prison that is South Florida. Hopefully, the next time we come through the area we’ll be able to do more of that time on the ocean side, but at least it was mostly uneventful. The Broad Causeway bridge in Miami was having construction done on it when we went through, which meant that only one side was opening. Talk about a tight squeeze! We also made it through the Julia Tuttle bridge which the the only fixed bridge under 65 feet along the entire East Coast ICW. The story goes that the architect accidentally made the plans for 56′ instead of 65′ and now a good percentage of larger sailboats can’t fit through.

That's 95 feet to the top!

That’s 95 feet to the top!

Thursday afternoon and night were spent checking out South Beach Miami, where there are certainly a lot of interesting people, to say the least. One night was enough for us though and we are now anchored just outside of No Name Harbor on Biscayne Bay. We got to tour the old lighthouse on the island and even Carter made it up the 109 steps to the top! It was a beautiful view from the top, though Dan wasn’t too happy about the swaying old staircase as we came to the end of our 95 foot climb. Then back to the boat to finish preparations for our Gulf Stream crossing tomorrow! To Bimini we go!

Carter loved the view

Carter loved the view

 

*Mantus gave us a generous discount on the purchase of our anchor and bridle in exchange for honest reviews of their products. While this a factor in choosing to go with them, we would not have agreed to the arrangement if they were not already on our top choices list.