Conditions: Clear in the morning, sun and clouds in the afternoon, spot showers. Winds from the Southwest 5-10 mph. Seas initially 2-3 feet, then 2 foot easy swells in the Gulf Stream.
Distance traveled: 53.3 nautical miles
Time underway: 6 hours 5 minutes
Average Speed: 9 knots
Max Speed: 17 knots
When we awoke Friday morning at 6:00 we checked the weather again and quickly got to our departure procedure when we agreed that this was the day. The forecast held as predicted – 10 mph hour winds out of the southwest and two-foot seas. You can’t really hope for much better than that when crossing the Gulf Stream. The Stream moves northerly at up to five and a half miles per hour so if the wind is coming out of any northerly quadrant it creates a wind-against-tide situation that can get downright nasty and even dangerous. Not being on a schedule we were picking our day carefully even if it meant sitting around for a bit (it always bears repeating – the worst thing you can have on a boat is a schedule). Because of our inability to fuel at Bahia Mar due to the super-yachts monopolizing the docks normally used for fueling, we were out of our slip at 6:45am to head to Lauderdale Marina to top off the tanks on our way to the inlet . It couldn’t have been more calm and smooth as we pulled away from Bahia Mar.
After an easy fueling, we piloted OLOH to Port Everglades inlet and once clear of the jetties we adjusted our course to 125 degrees magnetic, our heading for the next approximately five hours, straight into Bimini.
When we were a few miles offshore the seas began to stack up a bit more than predicted and we proceeded with trepidation, wondering if it foretold what was ahead and if we’d need to bail out if it continued to get worse, which we were prepared to do. But as we pressed on and arrived at the Gulf Stream things settled down quite nicely. The autopilot is hard at work during this crossing as the stream wants to push the boat north while our bearing (where we were headed) was to the southeast. So while you lose a little speed and burn a bit more fuel, it’s still very straight-forward navigating in the right conditions.
As land disappeared behind us we did encounter a handful of boats out in the stream including a few freighters that you have to pay close attention to because of the movement of the stream (see the shift in our track at the top of this page). And then something kinda crazy happened. When we were about 30 miles offshore there was a boat coming at us, about five miles ahead on our exact course line. As I’m about to hail them to make sure we were agreed on passing arrangements, I mentioned to Tim that the boat’s name, Cupecoy, was very familiar. We met a couple on a boat by that name about seven years ago at our former home port on Long Island and ran into them again a year later in Atlantic City. So I asked, “you don’t happen to be the guys on the 70 something Hatteras yada yada yada?” And it was! What are the chances?! They were just returning from Bimini after two months in the Exumas and we had a great catch-up on the VHF. And how terrific to be able to get a shot of OLOH in the middle of the Gulf Stream. Great to see you guys!
When we were about fifteen miles out of Bimini, the first silhouettes of land came into sight and it really started to hit us that we were about to enter a foreign land on our boat. We know, people do this every day, but we imagine that everyone must feel this way when they do it for the first time. Heck, we felt something like this the first time we went to Block Island just a few miles off the coast of Rhode Island. As we got closer we saw a wide swath of rain clouds that appeared to be stalled off to the south and we really didn’t want to end this perfect day in a downpour. So we poured on a bit of speed until we came within a few miles of the first set of markers at Bimini.
Because our Exumas plan all came together in the last couple of days, I didn’t do my usual over-research on where we’d be staying. Based on some reviews and what looked from pictures like an easy place to tie up, I made a reservation at Bimini Sands Marina. When we were a few miles out I hailed them on their working VHF channel. As we got closer to their entrance channel we realized getting in looked much trickier than we thought it would be so we wanted to get some local knowledge from their personnel before proceeding. When many attempts to raise them on their working channel and the general hailing channel proved futile we decided to hail another marina a bit further to the north that we heard answering other boaters on the radio (by this time the rain had caught up with us and we were a bit concerned to be in this unfamiliar place while the skies opened up without a marina that was ready for us). This dockmaster was right on it, said they had space and told us to come on down. I remember reading about the Big Game Club in the past and assumed it would be a big sportfish marina. It may be at times but on this day there was a good sized motor yacht on their T-head, a boat the size of ours which had just pulled in and then your usual variety.
We eased OLOH into a slip and once we were secured I was off to Customs and Immigration. When you first arrive in The Bahamas you fly your yellow quarantine flag and no one but the captain is permitted off the boat until he has gone through the process of “clearing in.” This meant no walk for Jasper (or Tim) until I got back.
Fortunately, and unlike the marina we had planned to stay at, Customs was right on the property and as we had completed all of our paperwork before leaving I breezed right through. Then it was a short walk down the street to Immigrations where I was in and out in three minutes. Woohoo!
Quickly back to OLOH to raise our Bahamas courtesy flag in place of the quarantine flag and off to walk Jasper and check-in at the marina. Then back to OLOH for the all-important, very well deserved arrival cocktail. Sometimes you really feel like you’ve arrived and this was one of those days…
Because of forecast thunderstorm activity on our route to our next stop, Chub Cay, and a north wind that would have made our departure unpleasant we opted to enjoy our first full day in the Bahamas exploring what we could of Bimini – a bit on foot near the marina with Jasper and a bit more by dinghy (with Jasper, of course). What we saw of the island had a great deal of character and being able to get Jasper to his first Bahamian where he played with another really cool dog was a highlight of our brief stay here. So was the delicious, fresh conch salad at the BGBG (the Bimini Big Game Bar and Grill).
Time to study the weather and plan our next leg on our way to the Exumas. See you out there!
Please be sure to subscribe to the blog on the top right of this page to get notified when updates are posted. And please leave any comments or questions below – we love to hear from you & know that you’re along for the ride! You can also follow us on Twitter at @MYOLOH and for plenty more pictures and video find us on Instagram. And the M/Y OLOH Facebook Page is live so please like us & follow us there as well.