Captain's log 201405.25 We're in the the Bahama's, Bimini to be exact. We left South of Miami yesterday morning just before 7am and motored all the way as there was no wind. We headed out through a channel in Biscane then headed South/South East even though Bimini is East. For the first three hours we got 3 miles closer to Bimini. One mile per hour. At one point we started getting further from it. The reason we did this was that there is a large current called the Gulf Stream that runs North between the Bahama's and the USA. If we went straight East the current would push us North then we'd have to head South into the current to maintain course. Or overshoot then go South. We decided to go South first then when we hit the Gulf Stream we turned North East towards Bimini. Our speed went from about 5 knots to about 7knots. The Gulf Stream was very calm. We've been in the ICW in way worse conditions.
Once we got away from the power boaters in Miami and their wakes it was one of the most smooth trips we've had. We lost sight of land for about two hours. LAND HO!! at about 2:30PM local time. I put up the yellow quarantine flag on the starboard spreader, our USA flag on the starboard stern and went towards customs. We made landfall about 4PM local time, about 10 hours all up. If we had a boat that could do 30mph the trip would have taken about an hour and a half. That's what the guy in front of me at customs did it in.
Seems the Bahama's have different rules for different islands regarding clearing in. Some islands want you to anchor if you have pets, for quarantine purposes. Makes perfect sense, that's how almost all other countries do it and the Bahama's are trying to get international recognition for their bio-security. The customs officer said I can't anchor, I have to dock otherwise he can't go and inspect the vessel. Um, yeah you can. You get a boat like all the other places and go to the vessel. To get bio-security recognition that's required. In any case, it seems that in these islands there is no consistent procedure. For example, we investigated getting the paperwork for the cats. Three different versions of how to do it, two from the same department.
Since we had a load of paperwork for importation to Australia and followed all their rules which along with New Zealand are the strictest in the world, we had every test know to man done on the cats and every hoop jumped we submitted these. Everyone was in a state of partial shock at the amount of paperwork. Also, technically when transiting you don't need to import pets into the country, you just can't berth, you have to anchor in mid water. They accepted the paperwork and we cleared in for $150. After that it was time to go to immigration.
Immigration is in another building and I get there and am given forms which all crew needs to fill out. So back to the tender and back to the boat. Get the wife to fill out hers and then back to immigration. He asked where I am docked. I said I'm anchored in the area set aside for boats to clear in. Nope, you can't do that. You have to check into a marina and then do your paperwork. Pretty sure that's to generate income as it's sure not for bis-security. He let that go and stamped the paperwork and we were done. All up it took about 2 hours. So I went back to the boat pretty tired from all the rowing and called it a day.
This morning the wife found an internet hot spot, which is how you're getting this. We'll be heading out shortly and going on the more sheltered waters of the Bahama's towards the windward passage (between Haiti and Cuba). Once we get out of North Bimini we'll put the sails up. Too many boaters here and very narrow channel going from Alice Town and out. Plus there is no wind yet. The auto pilot works, we used it most of the way. Radar works great. It's a Garmin 18HD and it really is high resolution. Picks up boats that we can't see even when they are small sail boats or small power boats. It spots ships further than it does land. It found Bimini about 10 mils out. It's a very low island. On our way into North Bimini the depth sounder was flashing 735feet. Basically that was it's last reading. After that it flashes. The chart plotter showed we were in 2700 feet of water at the deepest point. Most of the way was in the 2000feet depth. I was waiting and waiting for the sounder to show a depth as we came into Bimini. It went from not able to read a depth then 130feet in a second. That's some steep shelf there!
The water here varies by depth and in the deep it's like a Royal Blue that just extends down and down. It gets to be almost fluorescent light blue in the shallower sections (about 100feet) then into a light Cyan in the shallows. I looked over the side at one point and near cut the throttle in panic. It looked like it was only a few feet deep but was actually over 17 feet. The water is that clear here. Well, that's enough of my rambling. We'll be heading off as soon as I make breakfast. The rest of the way is shallow water, between about 6 and 15 feet for a while. There will be no internet so it'll be HF mail after this. We're both looking forward to cruising the islands here, it really is a beautiful area. We'll also be fishing! Yay us. The boat is in good shape, we're in good shape. All is well.