Guincha loved the beach, running full speed past us and darting around like a puppy. It was hysterical. Of course, she knows that there are not any dog catchers on Bimini. The only rule we saw enforced was no drinking on the steps of the liquor store. Oh well, so much for that idea.
Bimini is the closest place in the Bahamas to the United States. This is a great place to "clear in" to the Bahamas. It also means that a lot of Americans frequent the place, the fishing is great and it is an easy 45 miles in a power boat. The marinas are full of sport fishing boats, and a few sailboats that are moving through, clearing in or clearing out of the Bahamas. It turns out that Earnest Hemmingway liked to come here and fish. He brought fame and notoriety to this tiny island of 2000 people, so long ago. He docked his boat, Pilar, at the dock next door to us, the Bimini Big Game Club. It has undoubtedly changed hands a few times since "Papa" was here. They are now world famous for expensive dock fees, and food. Oh, and even though they have a ships store, you can't buy any fishing equipment there at all. Hemmingway loved to fish, and was a world class fisherman, marlin, giant tuna, sailfish... the works. He had it down good. He was also a world class drinker and battled with depression. Too bad, he eventually shot himself dead, a terrible loss. When he was in Bimini, he frequented a place called the Compleat Angler. This bar was a landmark, frozen in time, from a day when true heroes were the real deal, men that walked the walk and backed it up with real deal macho. The Compleat Angler burned to the ground a while back, and with it went not only a piece of history, but a great watering hole. Hemmingway might have been a depressed drunk, but he was a lot more than that. He was a gifted writer obviously, and also a pretty good boxer. This comes in handy in bars late at night. He even volunteered his private boat, Pilar, to scout for submarines off the coast of Key West and Cuba during World War II. At his own expense. Really not sure what he would do if he found one, probably go over and rip a hatch off and jump down inside to clock the Captain with a left hook, and then raid his liquor cabinet. Our hats off to you Earnest, sometimes you just deserve it.
We left early to start our two day passage to Bird Key. We were going on the best weather information available at the time, and we made the decision to go. It was believed that the Bahamas were going to experience some raging 30 knot winds in three days. We had a two day passage to make. To somewhere that we have never been, so of course we said, "lets go"! Remember the band called Blind-Faith?
The wind was great the first 8 hours, but right in front of us, bad for sailing. So we motored into the wind, and eventually stopped at a place called Mackey Shoal. It is a wide spot in the road, er, ocean. 35 miles from land, except if you consider the land is just 18 feet below the water, as our friends Neil and Jeanette pointed out, as they were making the same trip with us. As the day went on, the winds built higher and by the end of the day, they were close to 20 knots at time, making the ocean rough enough that we got little sleep that night, worrying that we would drag our anchor in the night.
The next morning, we were up early, ready to put the long night behind us, adios and shalom Mackey Shoals. Our friends hailed on the radio, they were taking on water! They had already bailed twenty buckets of water from the boat! We moved over close, and had the emergency pump and electrical cord in the dingy. We were ready to lower the dingy and brave the sea to help, and just then we got the call that they were going to get going, having stopped the leak temporarily with a foam plug. Thank goodness for them, sinking sucks. For reference, see the picture of the fishing boat in Bimini. Sinking really messes up your day, period.
The second day sail, or should I say, motor, was directly into the wind, up to 20 knots, for about 10 hours. The boat went up, then came down. Sometimes hitting pretty hard, so we turned about 20 degrees away from the incoming waves, and things were a lot better, but this made the trip longer, and by the time we got to Bird Cay, it was almost dark. It turns out that Bird Cay in the Berrie Islands is pretty deserted. We had a much better night in calm water, but the total remoteness of the area drove us to move on the Nassau at first light. Funny thing was, we didn't see any birds in Bird Cay. Maybe they were on Cat Cay, next door. Who knows.