Friday, May 1, 2015

Finally in the Bahamas!!!

We are in the Bahamas mon! We left Marathon around 5pm on the 21st and planned on making the 123 nautical mile sail to North Bimini in less than 24 hours. We would be crossing the Gulf Stream, which would give us a 2.5 knot boost in speed, but we also had to be aware of the weather conditions since things can get hairy in just a few minutes. We headed south from Marathon and found the Gulf Stream about 15 miles from land. It curves to the northeast so we’d be able to enjoy the ride all the way up to Bimini.  There was nothing but us, the sea, and the sky for miles around. It started getting dark around 7, and I had planned on manning the helm to let David get some shut eye. However, the moon was only a sliver in the sky and the star light was obscured by cloud cover, which made things very dark and eerie. It was very hard to see where the horizon ended and the water began. David graciously let me rescind my offer to drive through the night and would wake me up around 5am so I could take over.   Just before going to bed, I sat in the cockpit looking down at the wake from the boat where we could see bioluminescent plankton shining green like lightening bugs. I was woken up early the next morning for my turn and didn’t like what I saw once I climbed up from below. There were dark ominous clouds all around us and a lightning storm in the distance just ahead of us. David had the radar overlay on the GPS on, which showed us where precipitation was within 36 miles from all directions of the boat. And it didn’t look good. We would welcome a rainstorm since it would rinse the boat of sand and salt, but we didn’t know if there would also be lightning. David had been changing course to avoid the storms, but now we were enveloped in a large area of rain. There was nothing to do but sit back, continue on our path, hold hands, and hope for the best. Luckily, we passed through a little rain and things begin to dissipate within fifteen minutes. We arrived on the coast of Bimini around 3pm and had to circle a few times in deep water to wait for the sun to come out from behind the clouds. It can be treacherous going into Bimini Harbor without the sun since there are reefs, sandbars, and rocks scattered around the entrance. We finally made it into the channel, docked at Blue Water Marina, and David walked to Customs and Immigration to clear us in. As in most places, the captain is the only one allowed to leave the boat until we are checked in so I sat in the cockpit and celebrated with a cold beverage. We had crossed the Gulf Stream, sailed over water 2,000 feet deep, and arrived in a new country….pretty cool in my opinion. Once David got back, we walked to Three Daughters where we enjoyed a delicious meal of fried conch, plantains, and rice.

The next day we decided to leave the marina to avoid paying another $45 (which is pretty cheap, especially in the Bahamas) and go anchor further down the channel. Before we left, we met a couple from Toronto who also had a Niagara 35 so we went to check out their boat and chat for a little bit. I was very jealous of their full enclosure netting around the cockpit. If we end up cruising again after our year is up, it’s #1 on my list of things to get. Mosquitoes and other pesky bugs can get quite annoying on a windless day. Before leaving the marina, I saw a shark swim by our boat, but I wasn’t sure which kind it was. There was a guy in a slip a few spots away from us that said he saw a bull shark by his boat the day before, but it also could’ve been a nurse shark. I hoped for the latter but wouldn’t be swimming anywhere in the harbor. We left the marina, anchored, and had a pleasant night on the boat.

The next day was exploration time via the dinghy. Our first stop was Bimini road, which is made up of hundreds of boulders under 15 feet of water.  Some believe that these boulders might have been a fallen Atlantean temple since they form a uniform line.  It was neat to check it out by snorkeling but not a must see. I had read that there is a resident dolphin pod that regularly interacts with people so I wanted to see if I could find them. I knew the chance was slim to none, and I was right. No dolphins L, but we anchored our dinghy in about 10 feet of water off the northern most point of the island and snorkeled in amazing crystal clear water. Oh Bahamas, how I love thee. After that, we landed our dink Dapple on the beach and were going to relax on the beach by Paradise Point for a little bit. We left right after we landed though because we couldn’t pull the dinghy far enough on shore to be clear of the waves. Oh well. We headed back to the boat and stopped off in a shallow area near the channel to see if we could find some conch to eat. After we got there and found a couple, we realized we had no idea how big they needed to be in order to eat or how to get them out of the shell. We left empty handed, but it was fun looking for them.

Before we left Bimini, we needed to do laundry and found a coin laundromat. We ended up paying $10 to wash and dry one load of laundry. I know this is a small island and fresh water is scarce, but that’s a little pricey. I think it’s time to buy a scrub board and do it the old-fashioned way. After that, we checked out the rest of Alicetown, which didn’t take long. They do have an amazing bakery called A Taste of Heaven. We bought a breakfast of mackerel and grits (I’m not a huge fish fan, but it was delicious), a cinnamon roll, chocolate chip cookie, and johnny cake. This place is legit and a must stop for anyone that visits.

We left Bimini late in the afternoon on the 26th, crossed the Grand Bahama bank and anchored by Chub Cay on the 27th. The next day was David’s birthday. Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband! He was the mastermind behind this whole adventure, and I’m very thankful that we decided to go for it. There were several times that we almost nixed doing it because I just wasn’t sure it was right for us. But I don’t regret doing it, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The wind started to pick up on the 29th so we moved to a mooring ball by Frazier’s Cay since our anchor kept dragging. It was a doozy trying to pick up the mooring line with the current and wind, and in the process, I lost the boat hook in the water, which we were luckily able to retrieve. The kind gentleman on the mooring ball next to us rode out in his dinghy to help out, and he handed me the eye of the line, which I was able to run our mooring line through and cleat it off. Afterwards, we stopped by their boat Skybird to chat a bit and give him a beer for his help.

Today we left for Nassau and arrived around 1pm. We were not planning on coming here since it’s very touristy, but we needed to hit the ATM, grocery store, and figure out our phone issue. I bought a Batelco SIM card and 2G of data when we were in Bimini, but my phone went kaput a couple of days after I bought it. I had dropped it back in September and cracked the case. Since then it’s been dropped several times, and I knew the end was near since the touch screen stopped working properly. Now we are trying to work with T-Mobile to unlock David’s phone since the code they gave a few days ago didn’t work. Hopefully it works, and we won’t have to purchase a new one. After we anchored, we hopped in the dinghy and went to the nearby Rubis gas station to take advantage of their free WI-FI and A/C, which is where we presently are. We are planning on staying here for a couple of days due to a cold front coming through the area and then are heading to Allan’s Cay in the Exumas. While here, we hope to check out the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island to lounge out on their beach and visit their aquarium.  

Bimini Road

David found a conch, but he put him back.

The storm we passed through on the way to Bimini.

Docked at Blue Water Marina in North Bimni

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