Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written but wifi in the Bahamas has been intermittent. We arrived on Bimini on Easter Sunday. Leaving at midnight from Miami, we made good time across the Stream. We had decided last minute after incessantly checking the weather that we finally had our weather window. It wasn’t the ideal conditions we had planned on, but being anchored out 1 mile from Coconut Grove was starting to get to us, and the prospect of staying in Miami any longer was becoming less of an option as we were starting to suffer severe symptons of cabin fever. As the sun was setting that evening, we had a surprise visitor approach our boat. At first I thought it was some careless sailor not seeing us anchored out, but as he got closer, we realized that it was our fairy godparents, Randy and Brenna. They were on their way out to Sand Key for weekend sail, and had stopped by to say hi. When we told them we were leaving, they told us they had a gift for us. Randy skillfully motored their Sabre, Dazzle, close to Moitessier, so Brenna could hand over the gift. They were vertical metal ice cube trays! Ones that you fill vertically and put against your holding plate so that they will freeze. Thanks again Randy and Brenna! Cold drinks may be one the greatest gift one can bestow on a sailor!
With the wind directly on our nose the entire time, it was decided, unfortunately, that we would not be sailing. Overall, the crossing was better than we had hoped for, with a semi full moon lighting up the sky and watching over us, and the seas with only 3 ft waves, the trip turned out to be quite pleasant. Even with the wind at 10-15kts across the stream coming E/SE, our average speed was about 5kts. Not bad considering the current going against us.
Upon arrival into Bimini, we had decided to stay at Browns Marina because our buddy boat was also staying there. Entering the Bahamas by boat is sublime, I felt like Dorothy as she entered the Emerald city, seeing the water change from an inky aquamarine blue to a bright cobalt, to a turquoise, greener than you could imagine. The water is so clear that you could see bottom even at 30 ft. We hailed the dockmaster shortly upon entering the channel and he told us to hail him again when we got closer. As we made our approach, we tried to hail him again, but with no answer. Since he didn’t respond, we thought perhaps we could just pick our own slip. Just as I was about to successfully approach one of the empty outer slips, we see the dockmaster shout from a different slip that it was the wrong slip. WTF? So having to back out and do the approach again, I attempted to get into another slip that was further in and much, much harder to get into as the current was going out and the wind was blowing me into the dock at about 15 kts, and it required basically a 90 degree turn into.
After unsuccessfully trying to get into that slip, I had to once again turn the boat around in a freeway that was only slightly bigger than our boat. I thought for sure that we’d hit a piling or worse yet another boat, but once again, Rick’s lessons had proved to be invaluable, and Moitessier was able to escape completely unscathed. Mind you the most unnerving part of this ordeal was that the entire marina was just sitting around watching me. I was even tempted to offer some popcorn to my audience, but I obviously had a more important task at hand. At this point, my nerves and my brain had gotten ahead of me, and I had lost the confidence that I could even get us into any slips. After discussing with Frank and telling him that there was no way in hell I could get Moitessier into the designated slip, we started to discuss possible places to anchor instead, when Gary from our buddy boat hailed us on the VHF. He told us that he had bribed the dockmaster into letting us use the T-head instead, so around the channel we came again and successfully tie up. How grateful I was to him at that moment!
Browns marina was made famous by Ernest Hemmingway, who used to keep his fishing boat, Pilar, there, it’s a small marina with simple amenities like ice, showers, and really poor internet. I can’t say I really enjoyed our stay there as the dockmaster turned out to be a drunken, ornery asshole. He seemed to have an affinity for our friend, Gary, because he would provide him with a glass of moonshine everyday. But to us, he was completely unapproachable and terribly rude at times. Luckily for us, we had only planned to spend one night there just to check in and get settled, so we didn’t let it bother us too much. Aside from that, we had a great time the first day. Checking into Bimini was a snap. With Frank leaving me on the boat to tidy up, him and Gary took a walk to the customs and immigration office with our passports and necessary paperwork. Frank says it was the easiest check-in he’s ever had to do in any country. Partly becauses he was the only one in the immigration office, it turned out to be the most painless part of the day. Frank said that the customs officer said to him as he entered the office, “This is gonna be the quickest clearance you’ve ever had in your life, cause I’m trying to follow those girls…” pointing to a group of ladies. This was a true testament to the laid back, lackadaisical ways of the Bahamians.
Upon Frank’s return, we met 2 groups of young cruisers like us. One was a large group of the 6 Norwegians, whom the captain had taken the boat from Norway and had spent the past year cruising. They were on their way back north to cross the Atlantic home. The second was a couple that has been cruising the Bahamas for the past year as well, who made a living drop shipping tractor equipment and finagling free marina stays selling ad space on their website. I guess they were all also a bit surprised to meet us and our buddy boat as they had all said that the entire time cruising, they had rarely met young cruisers like us. Sweet! As it was Easter Sunday, we were invited to a huge beach party that evening on Radio beach, sponsored by Khalik. When I say huge, I mean I think the whole island of Bimini had come to the party. The entire beach was filled and we spent the night dancing away to reggae and dancehall, socializing with fellow young cruisers, and watching girl fights break out, my kind of night!