Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bimini Beach, Mackey Shoal Shalom, Bird Key, and Nassau

A few pictures of Bimini, before we left.

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.

As we left we spotted this at the dock two spots down from us. This boat arrived during the night, and went down after that. A sober reminder that at any minute, your day can go from bad to worse. This guy's fishing poles are still in the holders. Wow.

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.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Berries, Major Tom- Your Circuit's Dead

We are leaving today for a two day passage to the Berrie Islands here in the Bahamas. We will drop our anchor today in the middle of nowhere, and finish up the trip tomorrow. The weather is not ideal of course, but shows no sign of improvement over the next week, so, off we go. Whats a little wind in the face anyhow.

Our circuit is dead refers to the David Bowie song Major Tom. You know the song, about the astronaut that gets lost in space after his circuit goes dead. Well, our comment section is just as dead. I am renaming it the Major Tom section. Just try to leave a comment. It is believed that the problem is something called third party verification and cookies. Before you are allowed to comment, you have to solve a Captcha, which is a easy little puzzle with fuzzy letters or numbers. This prevents evil computers from automatically accessing the blog and redirecting traffic to a sushi shop in Chinatown. This is the latest from the Blogger Guru's ;

You simply have to permit third party cookies so you can compose your comment, then solve a CAPTCHA, then publish your comment. Being logged in simply lets you publish anonymously, without having to solve a CAPTCHA. If you don't have a Google account, you authenticate yourself as a human, by solving a CAPTCHA. To remember that you are authenticated (non Google), the CAPTCHA script (which runs under "") creates a cookie, which is read under the domains where your blog - and any later blogs commented on - is published. And that is a third party cookie.

What this means is, if you have a google email account, it may ask you to sign in. It will then leave a cookie, which is like a tag, on your computer so that it remembers you if you come back again. The next time, you won't be asked to sign in again because of that tag, or cookie. If you don't have a google account, you may be asked to solve a Captcha puzzle every time. I think this is right, please email us and let us know if this is how it is really working, or what the problem is. We will fix it. Sorry.

No internet for a few days though. Hope this helps, not sure it did. If you have a security program like Norton, or AVG, be sure it will allow third party cookies. You can tell it to just allow this one website if you want, without changing anything else.

Pictures to come later, along with huge wakes from speeding boats, Bimini has slow internet access.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Dearly Departed: Chris and Joyce Have Crossed Over

It's true. We have crossed over. We departed Miami this morning and crossed over to Bimini in the Bahamas! The boat was loaded to the gills, (not sure where that saying comes from, boats don't even have gills) and we staged at a small lagoon just inside the entrance to Biscayne Bay at the Atlantic Ocean. It was a great spot to anchor for the night, protected from the wind and waves, and only a 30 minute ride to the ocean to start the trip.

Before we said goodbye to Miami, we had to send some things out in the mail, and change our phones plan, and the best way to do this was to walk through Coconut Grove to the various places we needed to go. Coconut Grove is old school Miami, the original Miami city hall is in Coconut Grove. Beautiful tropical trees line the streets, and interesting shops are interspersed with parks, estates and old Florida money.

Next was a quick trip through the Barnacle House, which is a state park now. Cool old house, right on the bay, at one time it was in the middle of absolute nowhere. Now, it is in the heart of Coconut Grove's downtown and restaurant district. I bet the guy who built this so so long ago would flip out if he knew how much the old spot had changed. Not exactly an improvement on the old homestead.

We left the marina once all the errands were done, and headed to No Name Harbor at Bill Baggs State Park. This park is really close to the entrance to Biscayne Bay, and we anchored there for the night. We met a really nice couple from Australia there and visited for a while. They are really awesome, and are headed over to the Bahamas on their boat Echo Echo. It used to be called just Echo, and they liked the name, but in Australian Government wisdom, if there was EVER a bought named Echo registered in Australia, there can never be another one. Ever. So they renamed their boat Echo Echo. The problem with this is, the proper way to hail a boat or port on the radio is to repeat it three times and then state your name as the hailer. Example, if we wanted to hail the Main Street bridge, we would say over the radio.. "Main Street, Main Street, Main Street, this is sailing vessel Saltrun." Now, imagine hailing the Echo Echo boat. It would be something like.. "Echo Echo, Echo Echo, Echo Echo.. " Wow! Great couple, we wish them luck and a great cruise through the Bahamas and beyond, back to Australia! Maybe we can sail some together soon.

We left No Name Harbor at 0730 and went straight into the Gulfstream and across to Bimini Bahamas. It was a nice sail, no Chuck Norris today, although the wind and seas were significantly higher than the forecast. We thought we would be motoring into a slight breeze, but instead we saw winds up to 20 knots and seas in the 8 foot range. Luckily, they were not coming right at us this time, and we sailed at up to 8 knots through the slop and directly to the Bahamas. Once there, the paperwork went smoothly, and we are now officially in the Bahamas! Guincha loves it, and went for a long walk in the water and sand.

Wanted; Boat Letterer, must be a good speller. Apply at the Bimini boat yard, sometime after the sun gets warm this week. It's island time here in the Bahamas.