Gulf Stream Crossing to Bimini: Take 2

The screws for the old props finally arrived. While taking off the bad new prop, Matt took a file to the prop and managed to get it to open and close again. Yay! (And while the prop was off and Matt was under the boat, we started very slowly dragging. Boat drama - never ends). Now we have functioning "new" props and all the hardware to put the old props back on should the problem occur again. 
Hastings had to lay out in the sun to carry out his supervisory duties.

We said goodbye to Humphrey the manatee and headed north, wondering if it was worth leaving this pristine spot, worried about what boat drama awaited, unwilling to even text my mother to say we were leaving, because we might not be!

We went through Angelfish Creek at bayside low tide and ocean side high tide (confusing right? I don't understand tides) - the lowest depth was 7.5 feet. We anchored outside the channel in the ocean. Last time we didn't cross, we had speeds from 2-8 knots, so it was really tough for us to time our departure. We left at midnight and had steady 7 knot speeds. At this rate, we would arrive before our marina opened, so we slowed our speed to 5 knots.

Our departure point was 12 miles south of our previous departure point so we were able to use the Gulf Stream to our advantage and get an amazing push towards our destination. The weather was really perfect and as forecast; light west winds.
We rely on radar and AIS at night. We can see ship's lights, but it's hard to tell size, direction and speed. Our course over ground was 071, but we were headed 100, which confused our radar (yellow streaks) because the radar looks dead ahead to where we should be going and doesn't know we are crabbing 30 degrees. The AIS (green triangles) was correctly plotted. Also note our previous ant trail on the left. You can see where we stopped, drifted to the north while diving the prop, attempted to keep going at 2 knots, and then gave us and headed home. What larks! I had one 29HP enginge on at 1800 RPM (usually we cruise at 2500) and I just couldn't stope the speeds!) 
Raising the Q flag while sailing to the Bahamas
Yellow Q flag raised. Bimini is so flat you can't see it!
Approaching Bimini, the color of the water changed from deep Gulf Stream blue to crystal clear turquoise. I figured we were about to run aground and checked the depth finder: 30 feet and it looked like a swimming pool! We arrived at the Bimini entrance channel at 9AM and went straight across into Bimini Sands Marina on South Bimini. Just a note: we hailed the marina on VHF, however, they just have a handheld device and won't hear you until you are in the marina basin. The dockmaster helped us tie up and gave me the immigration cards to fill out. I had already filled out the customs forms (Has any one died on the voyage?, Have any rats died of the plague on your vessel?) He then hailed me a taxi on VHF, and I headed to the airport to clear in. I was immediately terrified because the driver was driving on the wrong side of the road. Soon, opposing taxi traffic appeared and
somehow this driver knew to avoid us. It then dawned on me: foreign country.

South Bimini airport isn't a fancy, sprawling place like Miami. No A/C, no security, no metal detectors, no bomb and drug sniffing dogs. Just three large rooms with single desks in the middle of each. One room for the "airline" desks, one room for customs, and one room for immigration. There was a strange loud beeping noise that sounded like a fire alarm, except there was no fire alarm.

Customs took our paperwork and $300 fee. Immigration was in the next room, but came to the Customs desk and was straightforward. While they sometimes grant 120 days, we only got 90 days and will have to go to another immigration office when our 90 days are up to get an extension.
I'd gone to a lot of effort to get Hastings's paperwork all kosher, and Matt was even worried he'd be rejected because his required vet exam was well over 48 hours old. (We took him to the vet the day before our first attempt, but it was now 3 weeks old). No one asked about the dog, and I didn't know if I needed to get his paperwork stamped. I didn't want any trouble down the road like I'm Johnny Depp (who had to evacuate his dogs on a private jet from New Zealand after not declaring them). So, I volunteered my "pet paperwork". I was asked what kind of dog he was and upon hearing he was a cocker spaniel customs was completely un-interested and didn't even want to see the dog's paperwork. 

I went back outside to the taxi, paid the $10 round trip taxi fare and rushed back to Independence.

We had arrived at the dock at 9AM, and it was now 10AM - not too shabby, unless you are an un-interesting cocker spaniel who had been trapped on a boat for 24 hours. Imagine - he could see land but wasn't allowed off to enjoy it until we were official. Torture! I sprung Matt and Hastings out of jail and Hastings got his first walk on Bahamian soil. We took down our yellow "Q" for "Quarrantine" flag and raised the Bahamian courtesy flag. We made it! 

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  1. Glad you made finally - and thoroughly - made it! Enjoy the Bahamas. :-)

  2. Yay! Congratulations. And welcome to the Bahamas, mon. I can hardly wait to live vicariously through you for the next several months.

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

  3. Thank you! It took us many years of planning and grief to get here, but it's been worth it. Maybe an airplane ride would have been easier and cheaper though!


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