We are in the Bahama Islands, just barely. We sailed (meaning we motored) from Ft. Lauderdale across the Gulfstream. We departed Ft. Lauderdale about 3:30 am to ensure we made a daylight landing in the Bahamas. The Bahamian government is pretty lax about maintaining navigational aids such as buoys and channel markers so it is best not to leave anything to chance. Daylight landings are always preferred. Due to this morning’s early wake-up call, I kept my pajamas on and motored down the Intracoastal to the ocean in my PJs. Just outside of Ft. Lauderdale we were boarded, yet again, by the US Coast Guard. I am starting to think we have a sticker on the boat somewhere that says, “Hassle us”. In our 2 years of cruising, we have been boarded twice by the US Coast Guard and once by the Bahamian Defense Force (their version of the Coast Guard). In all honesty, we really don’t mind them checking us out. The boarding parties have always been super polite and friendly. We always thank them for their time and service to their country. We have the utmost respect for these people. If we ever get into serious trouble, they are willing to risk their lives to save ours. And, they had a good laugh at my baggy pajamas.
I say we are just barely in the Bahamas because we are on North Bimini Island. As you can see from the Google Map at the bottom of the post, this Bahamian island is located about 50 miles east of Miami Beach. Our crossing of the Gulfstream was uneventful, a good thing. The Gulfstream is a fast current that flows south to north off the Florida coast. When winds have a northerly aspect, this causes the waves to build very quickly and can cause horrid conditions. Even the most seasoned sailors respect this area. We timed our crossing to have light easterly winds and motor-sailed (sailing with the engine on for added speed) the entire way. Speaking of motor, the engine ran like a champ (thank you Paul).
It took us about 11 hours to make the crossing arriving at about 2pm. Upon arrival, I checked us in with Customs and Immigration. I got the passports stamped, the boat cruising permit and a fishing license. The boat cruising permit allows our boat to stay in the Bahamas for up to one year without paying import fees or duty on Cream Puff. The fishing license for me is an absolute waste of paper. I have yet to catch anything in the Bahamas. I stink at fishing! The check-in process on this island is very simple. The people are friendly and welcomed me with big smiles. The Government offices were just a short walk from our marina. Once the official paperwork was done we hung out on the boat fighting the urge to go to bed. We were both tired from the early morning alarm and didn’t manage to nap along the way. It would have been easy to tuck in at 6pm but then I’d be awake again at 2am. At about 9pm, we gave in and went to bed.
Our first full day back in the Bahamas consisted of a walkabout in Alice Town. And no, I do not know who Alice was and why she has a town named after her. We needed to buy a Bahamas SIM card for our cell phone. We use our cell for a Wi-Fi hotspot when in range of the cell towers. This is the easiest way we have found to get weather updates and email in the Bahamas. We have unlocked GSM Android phones and the process of getting the card installed and running is fairly simple.
It is great to be back in the beautiful clear turquoise waters again. We are now looking at a great weather window this weekend to keep moving onward to the Exuma Islands. More to come soon…..