Right before crossing, several items sat at the top of our list. The faster we could check them off the happier we’d be.
• Fuel up- check
• Calm crossing- check
• Easy and calm entrance in to Bimini –check
• Fast clear-in and obtain at least 100 days on cruising permit- big check
• Obtain BTC Sim card for my unlocked phone, talk/text mins and data plan – check 🙂
• Purchase Bimini bread – check
• Enjoy a rum drink – check
Gee, that sounded easy, uh? Actually it was. We got one last uber ride to Panera for lunch then walked across the street (no mean feat) to Walgreens, Publix and Russ got another not quite so stylish haircut.
The entire trip, including a very short detour north for fuel, was 54nm. We wanted to get across quickly so much of the time we cruised at 12kts, slowing down to 8kts once across the Gulf Stream and Bimini in sight. The crossing window was short, just Saturday the 16th, because overnight and all day Sunday we’d be entertained by strong winds and rain.
Wasn’t sure what to expect in Bimini. Huge sportfish area, with a long history of catering to big fishing, and once an ideal staging area and hideout for rum runners. Several basic marinas priced at $1/ft (off season) with two others, Bimini Sands and Big Game Club a bit more but not unreasonable. Further up toward the north end is the FANCY resort/casino/ two marinas/ hotel complex that we couldn’t set foot in, even if we wanted to walk all that way, as it is gated. Oohhhh.
The buildings looked much like ones in George Town; the natives seemed more industrious and friendly and a good meal was available in several places. We joined dock mates, 3 monohulls traveling together, for lunch at the Big Game Club; no fresh catch of the day though.
Blue condom beach 2 days after we crossed to Bimini- lots of sea glass too. Just kidding- not condoms.
The BTC office doesn’t look like much especially with the pull down white garage door used when closed. Once inside, the space is bright, cheery and looks like most any U.S. fancy phone store. As a safety measure, the person you talk with first is behind a counter with a Plexiglas wall separating you. Russ did his homework and knew what we wanted; $81 plus 7.5% VAT was all we shelled out for a Sim Card (Bahamas 242 phone number), $15 of talk/text time and $50 for 5gig of data that expires in 30 days-use it or lose it lads.
Blue Water offered wi-fi but it was sketchy and we were lucky to be docked near the building. The topic of conversation, when we exhausted phone topping up, keeping your number alive for next year and all that, was, guess what? The weather! When would the wind and waves calm down enough to make the departure out the now very wavy entrance, acceptable? The sailing cat, s/v Don Quixote next to us did their BTC thing and headed out Monday; we were impressed. Kinda reminded us of ourselves in our “early” days of Ortolan ownership; sail if the wind is right for the direction you are heading!
We finally settled on leaving Wed for an overnight (gulp) across the Bahama Banks, along the west end of New Providence, angling under it, pointed toward Highbourne Cay and the lovely marina tucked inside. We may be chicken-like with our “not as stable as Ortolan” cat but an overnight would get us to the Exumas in 23 hrs, with much of the 156nm a slow pace of less than 7kts to time arrival after dawn. Wouldn’t want to toss the anchor down (chain is so noisy) and wake up all the anchored boats too early.