Ft Lauderdale, FL to Bimini, Bahamas


After Dane & Steph left we focused on getting ready for the Bahamas. This meant – 

  • Completing several things on our boat to do list. I will not bore you with the details but it involved mostly cleaning and maintenance items.

  •  Stocking the boat with as much food (and beer/wine) as we could. Prices for just about everything are 2-2.5x higher in the Bahamas compared to the US. 

  • Finding space for all that food, beer and wine. 

  • Getting Penny to a vet for her health certificate as one is required to enter the Bahamas. 

  • Picking up our mobile hot spot. My Island WiFi was simply the best way to stay connected last year and so of course we signed up again. 

  • Getting the generator injectors replaced. 

  • Donating our rusty bikes to a local business that re-purposes them and then distributes to low income children and families. 

The (partial) aftermath of a trip to Costco and Trader Joes. Following day we picked up a large online order at the nearby Walmart. 

Finding space for everything we bought was a challenge even with all the great storage our boat has. Luckily everything in the picture actually fit under our bed. 

Getting rid of excess packaging to fit as much as we can into the refrigerator.  Example – take the spinach and ravioli out of the bulky plastic containers they come in. 

Heading to the Bahamas with one packed refrigerator/freezer. 

One last item before looking for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas was driving up to Jacksonville (4.5 hr drive north). I had momentarily lost my sanity and decided to run the Jacksonville Marathon. I did this 8 weeks before the race which meant a very short amount to train (never an ideal strategy when setting out to run 26.2 miles). But it was a goal for me to work towards before heading over to the Bahamas where most days are spent in the water and the running shoes do not get much use. The good news is that the race went really well. I ended up with a a PR and BQ time (Boston Qualifying) the latter is a nice runner's bucket list item. 

Thank you Jacksonville Marathon organizers for the well organized race. The PR and BQ time was worth the 4.5 hr drive back to Jacksonville while my legs tightened up from sitting for so long. 

After the race we met Jan (Ceci Kay) for dinner in Ft Lauderdale one last time. He had helped us a few weeks back with the leaking rudder seal and it has been nice to see him a few times while he is out from the west coast visiting his mom for a few weeks. 

The weather forecast showed a brief opportunity to cross the Gulf Stream for Bimini on a Tuesday. So Monday afternoon we left the New River and dropped the anchor 5 miles north at Sunrise Bay (we had stayed here on the way down to our marina spot in Ft Lauderdale and liked it). Also, Forever Friday (Mike & Mary) had been hanging out here for a week and we wanted to see them before we crossed to the Bahamas. 

Before leaving our dock spot we absolutely needed this guy (or girl) off our boat and back on land. 

There were several large yachts being towed or under their own power when we left, it can be quite stressful in the narrower sections of the New River as they pass by. Just off the New River this 191 footer was in front of us – 191 feet!

Not sure how many miles we have traveled with Forever Friday or how many times we have managed to meet up this past year and a half but we have made great lifelong memories together. 

Forever Friday (right) and Heartbeat (left). Most likely the last time we will both be at anchor together. 

Tuesday we crossed the Gulf Stream ~60 miles and landed in South Bimini. The conditions were good, commercial traffic was light and it was wonderful to see the clear blue waters as we approached the marina. It is a long story but Kent spent several hours checking us into the country after being told that the immigration office near us was closing early. After having checked into over a dozen countries in our boating history this was the most challenging check in. Last year was a breeze, this year not so much. 

Leaving Fort Lauderdale. Make no mistake this is a busy port city – freighters, cruise ships and sport fishing boats galore. 

The Gulf Stream brings warm water from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean. We needed to account for this northerly current/push and cross under benign conditions. 

Our Garmin InReach track as we are underway to Bimini.
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Officially checked into the country and flying the Bahamian flag. 

While we landed in Bimini and were officially in the Bahamas we are looking to spend as much time as we can further east in the Exumas. This will require several good weather days for us to travel there. The one nice day we crossed over to Bimini was followed by a forecast of at least a week+ of very high winds. We knew when we left Ft Lauderdale that we would be sitting in Bimini for quite some time. Interestingly enough we crossed to Bimini last year on the same day we did this year but with our friends on INNTW (Kelly, Mike & their kiddos). We had the same situation last year where we needed to wait a week in Bimini to be able to move on. We really did not want to have the same thing happen this year but we also did not want to sit in SE Florida any longer either. So we chose to sit and make the most we can of Bimini. 

Geography refresher. We are currently in Bimini (just off Florida). Last year we were able to explore Nassau, a little bit of the Berry Islands, the Exuma chain (the small islands just west of where it reads “Exuma Sound”), Eluethra Island, Cat Island, Great Abaco and Grand Bahama. While it is all lovely, one of our favorite areas is the Exumas and so we are looking forward to spending as much time as we can there this year. 

The first night in Bimini delivered a wonderful sunset. 

While there is not much to do/see in Bimini we will take this next week+ while it blows hard to catch up on the never ending to do list, start back up our beach walking routine, cook some great meals on board, dip in the ocean and dive back into some good books. Stay tuned for when the winds subside and where we can make it to next.