Off to Bimini (Part 1)

Crossing the Gulf Stream to Paradise

Captain Shel Miller

Let’s have some fun and cross over to Bimini from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Ernest Hemingway wrote about the Bimini chain of islands, in The Bahamas, in his ‘Islands in the Stream’. There was even a small museum dedicated to him, his work, and his fishing in the heart of Bimini at the Compleat Angler until it burned down a few years ago. ‘Compleat’ is the British spelling for the American ‘Complete’; The Bahamas were a possession of the U.K. until gaining their independence in 1973.

Come along and we can celebrate our arrival at the ‘End of the World’ bar also known as the ‘Sand Bar’. ‘Sand Bar’ because the floor is literally sand. Hey, it’s easy to keep clean. See below for a view from the back deck:

Sand-bar-back-deck-small

Or, we might relax on the beach below just a few footsteps from where we’ll dock our boat:

Bimini-Beach-400x245

In both of the above photos no attempt was made to enhance the color, this is actually what the waters of The Bahamas look like.

Planning our course:

Because the Gulf Stream flows north at up to 3.5 knots in places we’ll have to take that into account as we cross it from west to east. The course we’ll actually steer will be pointing further south to compensate for the current. Check out the large area chart below (not to be used for navigation!):

florida-bahamas

Bimini is about 50 nautical miles in a straight line from Ft. Lauderdale so if our boat speed is 6-8 knots that will take a few hours. We want to arrive in good daylight, one strategy might be to leave during the late evening hours so we arrive around mid-day with good light. There are only a few aids to navigation to help us find our way, to a large extent it will be our eyes that guide us, that’s why we want to arrive during the daytime. Use the following quick guide for navigating in these waters; green water is good and deep enough, white means shallow, and if it’s brown go around as it may be rocks or coral.

For a much more thorough and detailed approach to figuring out the correct course to steer see: Currents.

In part II we’ll talk about various anchorages, fishing, and underwater attractions in the Bimini area. We’ll also discover what customs and immigration has in store for us.

Best Sailing,
Captain Shel

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