Welcome to Bimini


I sailed across the Gulf Stream in a small boat for the first time in 1988, the year Andante was born. I was an undergraduate working on an oceanographic project in the Abacos and our base of operations was the chief scientist’s sailboat. He had just completed a circumnavigation with his family and had much to share about sailing and island life. It was great living aboard that summer in a tiny Bahamian cove eating the fish and lobster we caught and doing cool science. Later, while in graduate school, I crewed on several sailing races from south Florida to the Bahamas. I even served as navigator on races to Bimini and Great Issac because somebody thought I knew something about ocean currents. We did ok anyway. That was 30 years ago.

Yesterday I finally made the short trip myself in my own boat. It was a very satisfying accomplishment — even though there wasn’t much sailing because of the light headwinds. The mechanics of the trip were no different than before though technology has changed the stressors. In the before times if you couldn’t see the container ship bearing down you just assumed all was well and you could relax for a bit. Today with radar and AIS you can see where everyone is all the time and can visualize in graphic detail exactly how and when you will collide. So there is never the chance for ignorant relaxation. I was thinking last night that the Miami-Bimini trip is less about sailing than it is a giant game of Frogger. After about 10 hours of dodging traffic and constantly updating our heading to stay on course we arrived offshore of Alice Town, North Bimini, around 0400. I anchored just off the beach for a few hours to take a nap and wait for sunrise to pick our way along the shallow channel and enter the narrow harbor.

Andante dockside at the Bimini Big Game Club. (North) Bimini has been described as an island 7 miles long that is nowhere wider than 700 yards. Fishing and tourism are huge here and have been for decades. Ernest Hemingway is an important and revered former resident.
Departing Biscayne Bay in Miami after sunrise meant threading through the narrow and shallow Biscayne (Stiltsville) Channel at night with no moon. This was the only part of the trip with any real pucker factor for me because of our draft (about 6.5 ft). A slow speed and a really good flashlight got us through.
Looking over the side of Andante at the dock. The water is as clear as, well, water. Without getting too sciencey, the water is clear because its mostly just water — there is very little in the way of life or suspended stuff. This is typical of mid-ocean water and is why isolated island groups (Hawaii, Bermuda, Bahamas, Maldives, Seychelles, Micronesia, etc.). are blessed with such clear water. Lively productive water is generally cloudy and full of plankton and such. Dead water looks like gin.
Local fisherman clean fish and toss the scraps into the harbor. Big nurse sharks (and rays, and lots of smaller fish) swim freely through the marina and congregate under the boats.
Folks at the marina recommended a really cute little restaurant serving breakfast on the beach…
…the same beach that I anchored off earlier this morning for a nap. Even in the dark it was attractive but in daylight the colors really pop.
The breakfast I’d been waiting for. Eggs and conch and grits. With a friend.
Tomorrow is another day. I’m not sure where we’ll go but I expect it will be warm and beautiful. Stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “Welcome to Bimini”

  1. I feel like I am with you. I love the breakfast on the beach, course I love breakfast anyway. Following your progress daily. Interesting, but the spot track gets interrupted at times and it looks like you are stalled mid-ocean, presumably when the day is overcast.


  2. Loved the breakfast on the beach, course I love breakfast anyway. Following your progress daily. Interesting laid-back places. Sometimes the spot tracker gets stalled, presumably when the skies are overcast, then it catches up all of a sudden.


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