Thursday, April 6, 2017

Back to Bimini

Friday, March 31, 2017

Today we began a 3-day passage from New Providence Island, across the infamous tongue of the ocean and the Bahama banks to Bimini Island.

We had been watching the weather since back in the Exumas, looking for a good window for this crossing, since we would be spending one night anchored out on the banks, and didn't want to get bounced around too badly.

Not only did we find one, but it looked like, if we were lucky, there would be a Westbound crossing window to Florida from Bimini opening up shortly after we got there!

We departed Palm Cay Marina at 8:00 am and started on the first leg of this trip.  This 51 mile leg took us most of the way across the deep Tongue of the Ocean to Frasier's Hog Cay, near Chub Cay, in the southern part of the Berry Islands.  Two foot swells were coming out of the SSE, so we tucked up several miles up along Frasier's Hog Cay, to a point opposite the Berry Islands Club.  The swells were blocked by Fowl Cay and the shallows, just as we were told they would be.

We anchored just North of the newly renovated mooring field, and discovered that our friends Jeb and Ursula (s/v/Wisper) were anchored next to us.

The bottom was grass beds over sand, and we took great care to drop our anchor in a sandy patch to make sure it would set well (it did). After the long day, we ate and retired to bed.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

8:00 am we were off again.  Today, we would finish the last part of the Tongue of the Ocean, and leave its 3000+ foot depths for the 20 foot depths of the Bahama Banks.  The plan was to go about halfway across the banks to a shallow place called Mackie Shoal and anchor there for the night.  We had timed the weather for this to be a windless night, and it was shaping up that way already.

Once up on the Banks, I spotted something in the water.  Changing course to investigate, we discovered that it was a derelict hard-bottomed dinghy! 

A Derelict Dinghy!
One tube was deflated, and the other was soft.  And it had clearly been in the water for some time, as it had some algae growing on it.

For most of this trip, we have been suffering from "Dinghy Envy", as our small, soft-bottomed Dinghy won't get up on plane, and thus goes places very slowly while getting the occupants very wet.  A salvaged hard-bottomed dinghy might be just the ticket!

We carefully circled it to be sure it wasn't trailing any long lines, before coming up along side of it and getting a couple of lines on it.

Secured alongside
At first glance, it seemed to be in pretty good shape, so we proceeded to get a halyard on it to try and raise it aboard.  But we could only get it partway up due to the weight of the water in it.  We looked for registration numbers, or a hull identification plate on the transom, but found nothing.  But we also discovered that it wasn't in that great a shape anyway.  The transom was partially detached from the tubes, and there were several large patches on it, one of which was peeling up.

At this point, it was looking more like a trash disposal problem than a windfall, so we lowered it back down and turned it free to resume its solitary journey across the Banks.

The dinghy diversion had cost us time, and we didn't get to our anchor spot until almost sunset.

Mackie Shoal is a sandbar on the Bahama Banks.  There, we were able to anchor in 10 feet of water, with nothing but water to the horizon in all directions!  It's a strange feeling.

The sun and clouds put on an extra special show for us at sunset, and the wind died down until the water surface was as smooth as a lake.

Joan watching the show
Sunday, April 2, 2017

Morning dawned on a sea that was positively glossy!  Not a breath of wind and you could see the bottom easily, with only occssional cats-paws on the surface.

We picked a really good night to anchor on the Banks!
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.  We motored on autopilot and I got another book read!  Eventually, Bimini hove into view, and we rounded the North Rock Light and headed into North Bimini and took a slip at Blue Water Marina.

Bimini Ho!

North Rock Light

We had completed our (abbreviated) loop through the Bahamas, and were back to where we had started nearly three months ago!  It's hard to believe that much time, and so many miles, have passed already!

The weather predictions are holding, and it looks like we'll get our crossing window in two days, on Wednesday.  It'll give us just enough time to top off the tanks, make a few repairs, and take one last look at Bimini before departing.

Life is good.

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