Well, we successfully got underway to Bimini at 12:30am. The half moon was just rising, although low clouds were obscuring most of its light. Many of the cruisers down here, even the experienced ones, fear a night crossing. But our extensive amount of nighttime sailing on the Chesapeake, with all its ship and tug traffic, has made us quite comfortable with it. And it has the significant benefit that it lets us arrive at Bimini while the sun is high in the sky, allowing us to more easily "read" the shallow waters.
In clear conditions at night, the big ships, especially the cruise ships, are visible from a long way off. The cruise ships are so lit up that they're impossible to miss. And our AIS display gives us all the data, including closest time of approach and distance.
So, off we went into the darkness. The trip around Cape Florida was interesting, as there was a large number of sailboats anchored outside of No Name Harbor. I guess it was too full inside, as is often the case. This made me glad we had decided not to anchor there.
Once past Cape Florida, we headed South East to a point a few miles South of Fowey Rocks Light. This was intended to give us enough distance South at the start to compensate for the amount the Gulf Stream would push us North as we crossed it.
Conditions offshore were extremely calm. Swells less than 2 ft, and winds light and variable. Couldn't be more benign. We motored off into the distance.
At around 4am, I came off watch and woke Joan to join Bill for the next three hours. Three hours later, I awoke and relieved Bill, just before dawn. The new dawn over the calm water 20 miles offshore was spectacular.
|Dawn halfway to Bimini|
|Empress of the Seas|
Somewhere around 10 miles out, we caught our first sight of land! We had managed to locate the little patch of sand in the middle of a whole lot of water!
|Gliding Through the Shallow Entrance Channel|
|Waiting for a Slip|
|Docked in the Bahamas!!|
We had one quick decision to make. The weather window was good for about two more days. We could use it to make our next leg to the Berry Islands, but since that's a 24 hour trip, it meant that we would have to leave first thing the next morning! Since all of us were operating on only about three hours sleep from the night crossing, we decided to wait it out here while the window closed and the front passed through before moving on at the next window, sometime around Tuesday.
So, we will be here in Bimini with its crystal clear waters for a few days, giving us a chance to explore the islands. Life is good.