Arrival in Bimini - June 5, 2020
This afternoon we made a safe landing in Bimini in the islands of the Bahamas. The Bahamas are absolutely gorgeous, the waters are beautiful, the people are great and everything is wonderful, but there are some SERIOUSLY SHALLOW PASSAGES that are real nail biters. Every time we come here, my first thought is I LOVE the Bahamas! We HAVE to spend more time here! And then after a few days, it’s, “Damn, this is treacherous and stressful! Let’s go back to the Virgin Islands!” but with all of that said, you get what you pay for. In other words, it’s gorgeous, but it doesn’t come without a bit of a price in terms of stress and risk. Isn’t that always the way it is?
On the way to Staniel Cay, we stopped at Castle Island, a gorgeous, deserted island in the Southern Bahamas on the South end of Crooked Island. We wanted to take Gurty for a little play ashore to stretch her legs and burn off some energy (though we are really not supposed to be going ashore). The place was completely deserted, so we launched two paddleboards, put Dirk on one, loaded up the pup and then I followed on the other. We had about a third of a mile paddle from the boat to the beach in 2 – 3 foot waves, which was pretty sporty. We got about half way there, and then we both turned around just to test the waters and make sure we felt like we could get back to the big boat OK, and we felt pretty good about going back upwind, so we turned back around and proceeded to the beach.
We landed and Gurty hopped off the paddleboard and had a great few runs up and down the beach, playing with us and coconuts and whatever else she could find. We only had about 30 minutes to play as we needed to time the rest of our passage through the shallows while we had good afternoon light, so we wrapped it up and headed back to the boat. We paddled back through the 2 – 3 foot waves with Gurty hanging twenty and made it back to the boat with relative ease (she fell off the paddleboard on the way in to the beach, but Dirk scooped her up and she was not too bothered by it). When we got back to Catatonic, we had a dog covered in sand so before we got on the boat, we had her get in the ocean and take a little swim to remove the first layer of sand, and then once she boarded, we gave her a little shampoo on the sugar scoop to get the rest of the sand off. For a dog who does not care for water, she is very tolerant with the sand removal processes!
We had a great overnight sail and then arrived at Staniel Cay, which has a very tricky entrance, but we made it in fine, and docked at the Marina. We have been to this marina before and it’s always been quite lively. This time it was almost completely deserted. We docked just for an overnight rest and to take on some fuel in the morning. Once we docked, another boater invited us to the bar for a drink. We said, we’re not really supposed to get off of the boat, and their reply was: “Well, the boat extends to the bar, so come on over!” So we finished up a zoom call we were on with some of our Florida friends and went over to the bar. We met a few people on other boats and they were very nice and asking us where we were coming from, and just at that time, the people working the bar came out and said they had to close down, as they had JUST gotten new instructions that they were not allowed to open for a few more days. So we came back to the boat and had happy hour on our own (given that we were finally docked for the evening) and we had a nice dinner of home made lasagna with garlic bread and dark chocolate for dessert.
In the morning, we fueled up (after a minor scare when the marina told us we might not be able to take on fuel, but that worked out, so no worries) and then we set sail for Bimini, a 32 hour sail over some very deep water (5,000 feet plus) and then partly over some really shallow, nail-biter water (10 – 20 feet) that we really had to be on our game to navigate.
Once we were sailing in the deep water, we turned off both engines and had a fantastic sail for at least 6 hours and then it was time to change course and put the sails up, so we turned the engines on again. Or tried to. Port started up just fine, but the Starboard engine was not interested in turning over. This is one of the times when we are very thankful to have two engines so that we have some redundancy. We worked on getting the starboard engine started and the “level 1” fixes did not help, so we completed our sail through the deep water and just as we got to the shallow water, we dropped the anchor so we could be (somewhat) stationary and tried some “level 2” fixes. Bottom line is that nothing worked, so we raised the anchor and proceeded across the bank on one engine and our sails. We were fine and landed in Bimini without issue, but it’s always better to have two engines as opposed to one (hmm, but remember that time we intentionally sailed all the way from St Thomas to NYC with only one engine, yeah, don’t remind me.)