Note: since it is hurricane season once again, I have time to catch up and write some posts.
After patiently waiting almost a month in Marathon, FL, a brief weather window has finally opened up. We plan to leave Marathon in the afternoon and sail overnight to Bimini.
Waiting for weather windows are just a normal part of the cruising lifestyle. It can be frustrating, but the alternative can mean big seas, unhappy crew members, and really a miserable passage. I’d rather be patient and have a comfortable sail any day!
Joe and I both enjoy sailing at night. We like to stand watch, taking turns at the helm while the other sleeps. This is actually very peaceful- imagine a sky filled with stars, the moon rising, and the vibrancy of both sunset and the sunrise. It is a magical experience.
However, before we leave, we first need to focus on last minute tasks to leave Marathon and check out of the marina. This means paying your bills and saying goodbye to new friends.
Oh yes, last minute showers are also on the agenda, so we head to shore to use the marina showers Knock on wood that all is going to plan. Except, Murphy’s Law asserts itself with a newly clean Ethan losing his balance and falling into the water. Ugh! Back to the showers again…
We take off in the afternoon, with the goal of hitting the deeper Gulf Stream waters before dark. The reason for this are all the nasty crab pots closer to shore, which can potentially wrap around our boat propeller. You can dodge them while it is still light.
In the distance, we can see lightning and scattered showers, but they are moving southwest of our path. All looks good. Seas are between 1-2 meters on the starboard side, just forward of beam. Not the best motion for comfort, but all-in-all, not too bad.
Throughout the night, Joe and I take turns standing watch. When on watch, you are busy- making hourly log entries, staying on course, and watching every 10 minutes for any other vessels. I like to listen to music when I’m on watch to help me stay awake. It is also a great time to just think.
About 1 am, Joe takes over and I head below for some much needed rest. Ethan went to bed earlier in the evening and sleeps through the night. Ah, to be 6 years old and sleep through anything.
Up before dawn, I see we are making good time with our sail configuration. But there are lots of large shipping traffic to avoid. At one point, a huge ship is heading on a collusion course with us. We have right of way, but law of tonnage applies ( meaning the big boat wins in a collision). A huge commercial boat this size can run right over us and not feel a bump. I call the vessel and he changes course to pass on our stern- which is behind us.
There is another sailboat named Last Call following behind Mahi, but they do not have AIS. We attempt to call them on the VHF radio to suggest they contact the larger vessel as it appears to be on a collision course. However, there is no response to our hails. I ask Joe to take the helm so I can videotape what looks like a certain collision. I also take pictures (see above image). Look closely and you can see the small sailboat. This is a perfect example why boats traveling offshore need AIS as safety gear. We held our breath and were relieved that the sailboat was not mowed down.
We get close enough to Bimini to see land, so I raise our yellow quarantine courtesy flag. A mail boat arrives to the entrance at roughly the same time, so we pulled out of his way and then followed him inside the cut. We dock with no issues- though the marina staff couldn’t be bothered to tell us where to dock or answer their radios. Luckily, we had friends there to catch our lines and welcome us to the Bahamas.
Ethan and I happily socialize while Joe heads down to Custom and Immigration to check into the country. We look at the weather forecasts and make the decision to get a good night sleep and then pull another overnight sail to Great Harbour Cay. To be honest, Bimini is not one of our favorite places, it is just a place to check in, rest up, and move on.
Of course, I always find the time to go beachcombing. Check out my finds in the bottom photo.