Brown's Marina, Bimini, The Bahamas
Date: Friday 19th December 2014
Position: 25:43.335N 79:17.919W
We left Miami Municipal Marina at first light on Thursday 18th December and an hour later, after motoring south of Dodge Island we were back in the ocean. The good news was that there were no strong northerly winds, that can make a crossing of the Gulf Stream quite horrendous. The bad news was that there wasn’t actually any wind at all. Absolutely none. And so it stayed all day. We motored on arriving off the Bimini Islands by mid-afternoon. The sun shone and the sea was flat. It was a very safe and uneventful crossing but ultimately just a little boring.
Bimini consists of two principle islands and we decided to go into Browns marina in the north island. The entrance is narrow, shallow and sandy but a very strong tidal current sluices through the islands. Even though we had timed our approach for close to high tide, and even though we stayed pretty much central between the navigational markers set up to guide us into the harbour we still momentarily touched bottom as we made our way through. It was only the slightest of touches, but it shouldn’t have happened. Clearly the charts for the area were not accurate. In fact for the last six months most of our sailing has been undertaken in shallow water covering distances of a couple of thousand miles and this was the first time that there had been any sort of noticeable contact between keel and seabed. Fortunately no harm was done and the channel soon became deeper. As if to underline that were back in the crystal clear waters of The Bahamas a spotted eagle ray glided under the boat as the current sped us through the rest of the entrance channel.
We pulled in to the first marina after the entrance and were helped to tie up by the marina staff. It was now around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I was interested to see if we would be able to undertake the entrance formalities before end of office hours. In fact not only were we able to visit customs and immigration to get our cruising permit and passports stamped, but we were also able to get new SIMs for our phones so that we could make local phone calls and access the internet. That must be some sort of a record!
The contrast between Miami and Bimini was almost overwhelming. Miami was huge and massively wealthy with skyscrapers, freeways, luxury cars, palatial private homes, hip hop music blaring from multiple locations and warehouse sized supermarkets full of everything. Not much more than 40 miles away Bimini was a typical small Bahamian town with just a few narrow streets with old cars and trucks only just squeezing past each other, happy people milling around through the traffic, poorly built one story houses and shops, brightly painted but only just hanging together, greetings from every passer-by, Bahamian music; but all around, never far away, the sound of gentle lapping waves and exquisite, turquoise water. It felt good to be back.