Bimini and Onward….

With our newly installed solar farm, and topping off of the fuel tanks, we departed Marathon Florida for Bimini, Bahamas.  The new solar panels are so much more efficient than our old wind/solar set up, in fact as I write this blog update the batteries on float charge and I’m making ice at the same time.  Yippee!

12 Alex setting up solar

Our passage to Bimini was as good as it gets…really!  Once clear of Boot Key Harbour, where it is really difficult to retract the hooks from your butt, we began to make good time following Remora.  Remora, as you should remember, is a Saga 43 sailboat owned by John and Marcia ….pronounced Marsh…a, not Mar see ah!

And what awesome people they are!  The four of us hit off right off the bat, and our friendship has only grown since.  John and Marcia have AIS on Remora, both the transmit and receive options, so that is a huge plus when travelling near heavy traffic areas.  It is so nice to see and be seen by commercial traffic.  There were a ton of boats leaving Boot Key harbour all day long, we scheduled our departure so that we would arrive in Bimini after daybreak the next day.  The seas were calm, we were able to sail for a nice amount of the trip, and Beth and I soon realized that we would install AIS before we did our east coast of the U.S. trip later this year.

Bluewater marina charges a $1 per foot per day, extra for power and water.  Water is 75 cents a gallon, not sure about the power.  The wifi was iffy, and best gained if you went and sat outside the office.  The marina is within walking distance of everything, it is a small island.

Following John and Marcia on Remora

Following John and Marcia on Remora

Our passage to Bimini was as good as it gets…really!  Once clear of Boot Key Harbour, where it is really difficult to retract the hooks from your butt, we began to make good time following Remora.  Remora, as you should remember, is a Saga 43 sailboat owned by John and Marcia ABCDEFG…lol…sorry, I cannot remember their last name at this moment in time…so that is that is what we will use, ABCDEFG….my apologies to John and Marcia….pronounced Marsh…a, not Mar see ah!

And what awesome people they are!  The four of us hit off right off the bat, and our friendship has only grown since.  John and Marcia have AIS on Remora, both the transmit and receive options, so that is a huge plus when travelling near heavy traffic areas.  It is so nice to see and be seen by commercial traffic.  There were a ton of boats leaving Boot Key harbour all day long, we scheduled our departure so that we would arrive in Bimini after daybreak the next day.  The seas were calm, we were able to sail for a nice amount of the trip, and Beth and I soon realized that we would install AIS before we did our east coast of the U.S. trip later this year.

We followed John and Marcia in their Saga 43, a beautiful sailboat.  They have radar and AIS, which proved to us to be a critical piece of electronics that we will be purchasing when we return to the U.S.  This AIS shows you where other ships are, who they are, their speed, course and destination….that is if they too have AIS.  Invaluable in heavy marine traffic areas.

Following John and Marcia on Remora

Following John and Marcia on Remora

North Bimini is nice, very narrow streets for all of the F1 drivers over there<grin>.  Fresh baked bread is readily available, as are conch dishes.  Not to repeat myself, it’s time to move on to the passages from Bimini onward.

The docks at Bimini Blue water Marina

The docks at Bimini Blue water Marina

Marcia from Remora taking a picture of me taking a picture of her

Marcia from Remora taking a picture of me taking a picture of her

North Bimini is nice, very narrow streets for all of the F1 drivers over there<grin>.  Fresh baked bread is readily available, as are conch dishes.

The four of us enjoyed some local food, a hillside restaurant which served conch…I believe it was called C.J.s, and the conch was ok….deep frying it seems to render the conch chewy and flavourless to me.

John, Marcia and Randy - Welcome to Alice Town

John, Marcia and Randy – Welcome to Alice Town

Day two found us walking to Joes conch hut…where we thoroughly enjoyed Joe and his rendition of conch salad, also known as conch cerviche.  It was flawless…expensive, fresh, and flawless.  Our return walk to the boats was along the north shore of the island, where we enjoyed viewing the huge waves from the incoming cold front.  And huge they were….there was no way anyone would be swimming in that water!

The view from our slip at the end of the dock in Bimini. Look at the colour of the water

The view from our slip at the end of the dock in Bimini. Look at the colour of the water

Huge breaking waves on the West side of the Island

Huge breaking waves on the West side of the Island

Choosing Blue Water marina over Browns marina seemed a very good choice, as the boats at the docks there were bouncing and galloping back and forth like race horses. Browns marina was a lot closer to the entrance to the harbour, and so was much more prone to the wave action…..which we enjoyed for about two days at least.

35 It really is as fresh as you can get it. 39 Randy's younger twin brother 40 Hamming it up

We departed Bimini just past first light after listening to a weather update on the SSB radio from Chris Parker.  Chris Parker is a weather guru, and is very much respected by the sailing and boating community in general.  With a green light from the broadcast, we set out with the armada of other boats departing for points in the Bahamas.  Just as we were entering the channel out of North Bimini, a jerk decided to pass us on the port side, and with a power boat pulling a disabled sailboat back through the channel, we had to move to starboard, and promptly touched bottom, which thankfully is all sand.  We were able to clear this shallow water and continue on through the channel and give the sailboat being towed which had no steering a wide enough berth for all of us to be comfortable.  I’d like to meet the jerk who passed us on the inside one day………

 Anchoring in the middle of the Ocean

Anchoring in the middle of the Ocean

 Anchoring in the middle of the Ocean

Anchoring in the middle of the Ocean

We continued across in the general direction of the North West Passage, or the northern route.  This route, opposed to the southern route, includes an overnight anchoring out on the banks.  Seriously, you drop your anchor in 12 feet of water, or so, in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles of water surrounding you….the sunsets are amazing, the stars are amazing, the waters were very calm…we had an absolutely great night!  Early the next morning we were off again, Remora in the lead, John and Marcia’s Saga 43.  Through the north west passage with ease, and on to West Bay.
See here https://www.google.com/search?q=west+bay+bahamas&rls=com.microsoft:en-CA:IE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7WQIA_enUS575&tbm=isch&imgil=ibljfCFHzScHpM%253A%253BxVI_-ERcMcqOPM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.bahamasfilm.com%25252Fnassau%25252FNPwestern%25252Flocwestbay.htm&source=iu&pf=m&fir=ibljfCFHzScHpM%253A%252CxVI_-ERcMcqOPM%252C_&usg=__39LwcvC5_JEBdV8UsReFcdruLSs%3D&biw=1242&bih=562&dpr=1.1&ved=0CFkQyjc&ei=GCnmVPT5F_fesAS8zoHQCg

 Anchoring in the middle of the Ocean

Anchoring in the middle of the Ocean

52

West Bay is not well protected from west winds, and we did our best to tuck in to the far shore out of the west winds, once we cleared the huge private yacht which was departing from the same bay.  We spent another fairly nice night there, even with the west winds.

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine

I have to tell you, Moorahme sits in the water and does not roam, hobbyhorse or roll unless conditions are really bad.  And they weren’t.  We love our boat!  We departed West Bay next morning and headed off to Allen Cay.  Allen Cay, see here….  http://www.bahamas.com/node/50457
This Cay is fairly well protected, but does have a strong current when the tide shifts.  There is a large sandbar in the center of the cay, and there are quite a few very nice looking beaches…where the native rock iguanas will either greet you or chase you down the beach.  I watched a rather large iguana chase a woman down the beach to her dinghy, it was very funny!  Why would anyone tease a wild reptilian creature?

Allen Cay facing the sand bar in the middle - north east

Allen Cay facing the sand bar in the middle – north east

Allen Cay facing the shore east

Allen Cay facing the shore east

We had a difficult time anchoring in Allen Cay.  The rip tide was flowing one way, and the winds the opposite.  I could see our 75 lb. Rocna new generation anchor laying on the sandy bottom, but we weren’t moving, the anchor wasn’t setting……we worked at anchoring for almost an hour before I was happy with the set.  John and Marcia were having the same issues, so I guess you could say that we were all having fun…so to speak<grin>  That night, the winds picked up, and neither John nor I got a lot of sleep, the anchor sets being of some concern.

We departed Allen Cay the next morning after listening to Chris Parker and the weather forecast was somewhat ominous, big winds…time to find a dock to tie to.  The closest marina is a privately owned island, Highbourne Cay, see here     http://www.highbournecaybahamas.com/   and reservations had been made for us to dock there.  We had some big waves to provide us with the morning entertainment, and John and Marcia even had some water splash into their cockpit……what fun!  The remainder of the trip into the marina was uneventful and we were tied to the fixed docks by 11:30 a.m

Nurse sharks swimming past our stern...

Nurse sharks swimming past our stern…

...and on past Remora

…and on past Remora

Just before sunset a nurse shark crused past the stern of all the boats – looking for dinner scraps perhaps. I know nurse sharks are fairly dosile but we were careful not to encourage visits from them. And then there was another beautiful sunset.

IMG_1030 IMG_1034

Dinner that night was at the Exuma restaurant…good food…and it should be, appetizers at $18 and entrees $30 or so and up.  Drinks were only $9…..geeeeeesh!

Beth and I left Highbourne Cay after two nights….at $2.75 per foot per day, it was time to move on.  While we were there, and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute there either at the beach or watching the huge private yachts which were swarming in and out of the docks full time.  Nice to see that there is still some money left out in the world…lol!
In fact, one private yacht was so large, that when we were leaving, it’s superstructure blocked our ability to use the range markers located on the hill behind the yacht to check our departure lines out of the harbour.  What a beauty she was.

We departed Highbourne Cay at 2 p.m., thanks to the friendly staff who allowed us to stay at the dock until it was rented out….Shanna is the best!  Once through Highbourne passage, things changed, big time.  25 knot winds right on the nose, big waves with no fetch time in between….Beth was starting to sink into motion sickness once again.  Moorahme was galloping through the waters, loving the conditions, but Beth, not so much.  Not until things started to settle down, the winds down around 16 knots and the waves smaller and with a decent fetch, did Beth start to come around.  And she did!  What a trooper she is!  About 8 hours into the 16 hour passage Beth was doing just fine.  The sunset that night was amazing, and the remainder of the trip quite uneventful and quiet.  We arrived at the entrance to Emerald Bay marina at about 6:30 a.m., and just floated around until we anticipated our arrival at the dock would coincide with the staff arrival.  LOL….I forgot about island time…..even though they say they start at 7 a.m., the fuel dock attendant arrived closer to 7:40, without keys for the pumps…LOL!  Island time, Island time, rah rah rah!!!
We fueled up, decided to stay at the $1 per foot per day docks, and proceeded to tie up.  We were assisted by quite a few other sailors…and two of them even own a 1981 Stevens 47!  So, 2 of the known 56 built are here in the same marina, so cool!

This marina has been carved out of the coral, has cement floating docks…but the water has only one way in and one way out…so, what does that mean?  It means that when a northerly wind picks up, it pushes the waters into the marina, and then the water has an issue getting back out.  The floating docks dance around, the boats tied up to them dance around….but the dancing can be lessened by tieing the boat tightly to the docks, which we have done.  In fact, at the moment, with the winds gusting to almost 30 knots, we have extra lines tied to ensure that we don’t have any issues with breaking lines, etc.

There are a ton of boats here, this marina is huge, and run by the Sandals resort chain.  There are 48 foot Beneteaus tied at the .50 cent per foot per day docks, 27 foot boats at the $1 per foot per day docks, and freakishly huge yachts tied at the $2.75 per foot per day docks.  There are some gorgeous boats here…..a rather large catamaran with three forestays..or 3 sails plus the main….I have not ever seen this set up on a sailboat before yesterday.  There is a nice looking power boat here with 4 – 300 horsepower engines, every size and type of sailboat you can imagine.  And what is really nice is that most of the boats are flying the Canadian flag!  Awesome, a Canadian navy flotilla in the Bahamas!  How do you envision the creation of the song “What do you do with a drunken sailor?”….perhaps it was because of we Canucks in an anchorage?  LOL!

So, enough updates for now, hope I haven’t left anything important out.  Try to stay warm in that deep freeze back home!  Beth’s kids will be here on Monday, and we are going to have some fun then!

Keep your stick on the ice!

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2 thoughts on “Bimini and Onward….

  1. Enjoyed reading your blog Randy, keep them coming.
    Thumbs up for AIS.
    Btw no cruising sailboats at Montego Bay yacht club or Negril during our stay.

    Like

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