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Bimini To Nassau

We left Blue Water Marina in Bimini on Monday, January 24th for Nassau after a successful replacement of our mast-head wind sensor. We had decided we would see how the condition was on the Bahama Bank, then determine if we would sail overnight to Nassau or maybe anchor somewhere on the Bank, if we got tired. We thought about stopping at Chub Cay, but it would be after dark, so this was ruled out. We were also looking at a major cold front ( Cruisers call them "blows") that was scheduled to arrive in a few days. Our goal was to be in the Exumas by the time of the blow, so we were wanting to get there as soon as possible.

J.R. at Blue Water Marina in Bimini was both friendly and helpful during our stay

The Bahama Bank was simply beautiful during our passage. It is hard to imagine that a body of water this big, could be so shallow. This particular section that we crossed was no deeper than 20 feet, and had large areas that were consistently in the 10 foot range. We had 12 knot winds early-on, with some chop on the water. Late in the afternoon, the wind died down below 8 knots so we motor sailed with one engine. Even though the winds died down, the Bank still had too much chop to anchor on comfortably, so we sailed on. We acquired a weak cell signal upon entering the Western Channel, which I used to reserved a slip at the Nassau Yacht Haven marina for two nights.

The color of the water in the Great Bahama Banks is, well...Breathtaking !

We discovered that the Northwest channel on a dark night is a challenge if there is other boat traffic. Commercial vessels in the Bahamas are not required to have AIS ( Automatic Identification Systems), which meant we were having to watch for vessel lighting and the radar screen very closely through the channel. It was surprisingly busy with commercial traffic that night. Once we made it through the bottle neck at the start of the channel leaving the Bahama Bank, we were ok. I was majorly stressed with that part of the passage and have vowed never to do that at night again.

We arrived at Nassau around 8:00 a.m. on what was my Birthday. Needless to say, I was feeling older after the overnight passage. Before entering Nassau harbor, one must get permission from Nassau Harbor Control via VHF radio. We noticed there were two large cruise ships coming near the harbor as we neared the entrance. The harbor control folks instructed us that we could not enter the harbor until after the two cruise ships entered. So we waited outside the harbor for about 30 minutes, then we were granted clearance.

Entering Nassau Harbor

We made our way through the harbor and hailed the marina via radio to help us by grabbing the lines as we docked. It was great that we had assistance with the docking for the tidal current in Nassau Harbor is very swift. We were assigned to a T-Head on the very outside of the marina. For some reason, the Nassau Harbor does not have a “No-Wake” zone. In The Bahamas, that means that tour boats will be speeding through the harbor at wide-open speeds. This, we would find out later, is a normal occurrence in the Bahamas. There are very few “No Wake” zones in the entire country, unless it is a private area. We rocked a lot during the day at this T-Head , but we did manage to take a badly needed nap after getting Namid secured.

My only foot wear in the Bahamas up to this point. Artistic moment, no doubt.

After the nap, we were finishing up washing Namid when a small catamaran that was backing out of a side T-head perpendicular to us made contact with our port sugar scoop (Rear steps). They did not compensate for the strong current that exist in Nassau harbor. Fortunately, no damage was done to Namid, but it was concerning and took some time to make sure everything was ok.

We were down below in the Salon a few hours later when we heard a BOOM ! We came up from below to see another catamaran made contact with our port bow. The current was now in the other direction, and again the catamaran was coming into an adjacent perpendicular slip and did not make adjustments for the current. This boat was actually a nice couple we met in Bimini. Thankfully again, no damage was done to Namid. All this drama had me thinking that I should have a T-shirt with ‘It’s my birthday…Hit me !” printed on it. Both boats that hit us had damage, but Namid held strong and had no scars.

Dinner with my beautiful wife for my birthday ( Thank you, Baby ! )

We enjoyed a nice birthday dinner at the famous Poop Deck restaurant (Yep that is the name) Since I have not been man-enough to catch us any fish thus far in The Bahamas, we ordered, This was the first restaurant dinner we had since we left Florida, so we really "ate it up". And to top this off, Sandra made me a cake. It was a great birthday, even with the boat drama. After dinner and dessert, we were exhausted. We slept like rocks that night !

Nassau Yacht Haven Marina in the evening

The next day we went grocery shopping at a large, modern grocery store. We still had sicker shock from the prices, but were happy to have such a selection. The stores in Bimini were small and had little fresh produce or Milk.

Yep, that price is for $3.49 for each green bell pepper. Bell Peppers must be a delicasy in The Bahamas, for where we could find them so far, they were pricey. Strawberries in the Bahamas are consistently price over $10 everywhere we could find them. This was for a container that we generally get in the States for under $4. Oh well, you've got to pay to play ! We vowed to do more anchoring ( Not marinas) to make up for the grocery bill.

After running the groceries back to Namid, we did some sight seeing. Nassau is a beautiful place with a lot of history. It is a very busy city, nothing like the Bahamas we had seen thus far. There is a lot of interesting history in the city that is worth researching online, if you feel led to do so.

Fort Montagu is a small fort on the eastern shore in Nassau. It was the sight of the American Marines' first successful amphibious assault in 1776, which was against British forces in the American Revolutionary War. The Americans seized this fort and Fort Nassau for two weeks, basically gaining nothing since there was no gunpowder stock left in Nassau. They basically left, with nothing. Well, at least we got some provisions.

We ate out again that night at a local small cafe with authentic Bahamian food. It was really good, and we were soaking up the culture,. We were exhausted and hit the sack early that night in anticipation for our coming passage. We were pumped to finally be near our ultimate dream….The Exumas !! Woo Hoo !!


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