Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gateway to the Bahamas!

We planned our departure from Marathon with a two day weather window to get to the Bahamas.  To avoid an overnight passage in the gulfstream, we left Marathon and traveled up the Hawk Channel and anchored near Key Largo, at Rodriguez Key.  The Hawk Channel is the near shore waters along the Florida Keys between the keys and the ocean reef, about 5 miles offshore.  It is much more protected than offshore, but still far from the calm of the TN river.  Our second day would be the long day to Bimini.  It would be our longest single day trip, totaling 73 nm and our first crossing of the gulfstream.  The first 23 miles continued inside the Hawk Channel, until we reached Angelfish Pass, where we ventured out.  Since the gulfstream runs north at about 2 knots, we would be pointing the boat almost due east and being pushed north, to end up at our destination...Bimini!

The crossing was mostly pretty awesome.  The color of the ocean when it's several thousand feet deep is an amazingly deep blue.  We had some man-o-war jellyfish joining us that day, along with two other boats also making the same crossing.  While we didn't plan on the boat company, it is reassuring that you picked a good day to cross when you have others doing the same thing.

We arrived after an uneventful day of motorsailing.  The depth changes rather abruptly from thousands to hundreds to tens of feet as you come onto the Bahamas Bank. The guide books warn about this, but it was still pretty intimidating to go so suddenly from deep blue water to a turquoise color that you can suddenly see right down at the rocks, coral and sand!  But we managed not to run aground, and since there are not good anchoring options here, we tied up at a marina and cleared customs.  Customs was a mostly painless process, there are so many boats that clear in here that the offices are near the marinas and are quite accommodating.  Next stop, the pool, and then the beach!

We spent five nights in Bimini, waiting for our next weather opportunity to head on to our next destination.  In the mean time, we enjoyed swimming and snorkelling on the beach, swimming in the pool, and generally exploring this tiny island.  It is amazing how many people live here, and how friendly and welcoming they all are to each other and visitors.  We felt very welcomed and enjoyed our stay on the "Gateway to the Bahamas".

More sunset candy...

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