South Bimini, Bimini Islands, Bahamas
Position: 25 42.634N, 079 17.984W
Posted by Bill
We left Marathon on the 23rd and cruised up to Tarpon Basin (Key Largo area). We had good wind and wind direction, and got to turn off the motor and sail a good portion of it. As we neared the entrance to Tarpon Basin we had a visitor swim right beside us for about 15 minutes:
We love it when they do that! We anchored in position 25 07.174N, 080 25.849W and enjoyed a quiet evening.
The next day we were up at dawn and cruised up Biscayne Bay to No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne. It is a convenient departure point to the Bahamas with close and deep access to the ocean. It is not a very big harbor and gets really crowded with Miami locals on the weekends. Since it was a Friday, we didn’t expect to get into the harbor and figured we would be anchoring outside the entrance. We had just enough room to get all 3 boats inside, and we all got together for dinner on Sofia Jeanne. Our anchored position was 24 40.633N, 080 09.821W. The forecast called for light winds and a 2-3 foot swell from the north, caused by a low pressure system off the Carolinas. The wave period (time between waves) was supposed to be 9-10 seconds, so we figured the swell would be tolerable even though it was hitting us on the beam, which makes our boat roll unless we are sailing. Along the way from Tarpon Basin, we ran into some 30 speed boats that were participating in a race from Miami to Key West. They came in groups, sometimes with long time periods between groups. Here is a picture of one that passed us in Key Biscayne:
They were moving at around 70 MPH, maybe more. We intersected a large group of about 30 of them in a channel that is 3 boat widths wide. The channel is lined with mangrove trees and has several blind curves. We have often encountered small fishing boats sitting in the middle of the channel fishing. These guys came by a full speed, about 15 feet from our port side, water spraying us…one right after another! I couldn’t believe that they didn’t slow down, especially in the blind curves. It is a miracle that they didn’t hit anyone, and fortunately there were no fishing boats in the middle!
Saturday, we woke before first light so that we could leave as soon as we could see. Unfortunately, we had dense fog, which wasn’t supposed to lift until 9 AM. We waited until we had a little daylight, and decided we could still depart. There were several sport fishing boats that passed us in the channel at full speed, which was nuts! After we got into the ocean, the fog started to lift and we increased our speed. The trip started out pretty calm, but quickly became 3-4 foot beam swells with occasional 5 footers, and a 6 second period. That lasted most of the trip. Sofia Jeanne and Byrd Ketcher seemed to be taking the swells much better than us. I think it is a function of boat design, and ours is very susceptible to rolling side to side in a beam sea. We were getting thrown from one side to another and I could hear stuff being tossed around in the storage lockers below in the cabin. I tried going slower (which was way worse), faster, different angles to the seas, using sails (which didn’t work because there was very little wind), all to no avail. I finally found a speed that minimized the effect, but it was a miserable passage. We will NEVER again travel in beam seas like that unless there is enough wind to put up sails (the boat does not have the roll problem under sail). After 9 hours we arrived at South Bimini and pulled into the marina at Bimini Sands Resort. Here is Tricia hoisting our Q flag as we approached the island (island in the background):
When visiting a foreign country, it is protocol to fly the Q (meaning quarantine) from the starboard side of the boat, until you clear customs. You then fly the country flat in place of the Q. We took a taxi to the airport and cleared customs, and came back to the boat, all of us getting together for dinner. This is a really nice marina by Bahamian standards, and we enjoyed the beach and infinity pool yesterday. I’ll post some more about it in the next days. We are waiting out weather until Wednesday, and will then depart to move east…either the Exuma Cays, or the Berry Islands, depending on weather.