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Marathon, FL To Bimini, Bahamas

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

After being there for almost a month, we left Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, FL to cross the Gulf Stream on January 14th . Before we departed, we used the Bahamas online service to complete all of our documentation to clear into the country. This required us to complete a rapid Covid test in Marathon and submit the negative results on the Bahamas website. We received approval from the Bahamas government prior to leaving Marathon.

The last evening in Boot Key Harbor


The morning we were departing, I wanted to make some water with the water maker while we were still in Boot Key Harbor to make sure it was ready to go, since we had not been using it in the harbor. The system would not prime, and appeared to be starving for sea water. Really ?? I had to dive into the cloudy Boot Key Harbor water and clear out the intake. I had read that bull sharks like to hang out in Boot Key Harbor, so this was going to be a “rush-job”. Once down below Namid, I could see that the water in BKH was creating some build-up on the bottom of the boat, particularly on the through hull intakes. It wasn’t barnacles, but more of a slimy material. I was able to clean all intakes the through-hull intakes quickly, and get the water maker primed.


About to get into the murky Boot Key Harbor water,

Hoping and praying there are no bull sharks !


This set us back a couple of hours from our desired departure time. We had originally planned on doing a day trip to Gonzales Key near Key Largo to stage for the Gulf Stream crossing early the next morning. Once we got underway, it was apparent that we would be arriving at Gonzales Key after dark, which we didn’t want to do. We decided at that time to do an overnight passage directly to Bimini.


Last shot of our mooring ball ( #R5) at Boot Key Harbor



Sister Creek ( Exiting Boot Key Harbor) Marathon, FL

Crossing the Gulf Stream can be a big deal. Many people talk about starting the trip across, then turning around because the seas were beating them badly. Planning the crossing is crucial. We were fortunate in that our friend Ed was sending us forecasts from Chris Parker, who is a well-known expert on Gulf Stream, Florida and Bahamas weather. The forecast for our crossing wasn’t a sure-thing for a comfortable crossing, but it did look favorable. We would not be able to sail all the way. I typically like to plan to sail completely on a passage, but I will take using the engines for a comfortable Gulf Stream crossing over using the sails and getting beat to death, any day.


Enjoying the relatively calm conditions as we enter the Gulf Stream


As predicted, we had good wind for about an hour and a half after leaving Marathon, then it started to die off. We started motor sailing using only one engine at a time to make slower time so we would arrive in Bimini during the daylight hours. We could always start up the other engine if we needed a boost. We were seeing some rather large, rolling waves once we entered the stream, but they were tolerable compared to what we saw in the Gulf Of Mexico. These waves were spaced 8 seconds apart, whereas the Gulf waves seem to always be a maximum of 4 seconds apart. This makes a huge difference in comfortability.


Once we got in the Gulf stream, I recalculated our heading to make up for the current we were seeing. Basically, you have to target South of where you want to land on the other side of the stream to make up for the northern current of the stream. In doing the math, we targeted 20 degrees south of Bimini in the offset, and adjusted along the way. This target turned out to be perfect, not because I know what I am doing ( haha) but because we were very fortunate and blessed to have resources available ( on the Internet) to assist in the decisions we made. I just had to do the research.


Our Real-Time track to Bimini courtesy of our Garmin In-Reach


The big rolling waves died down around sunset. All the anticipation and preparation for crossing was much warranted, but in the end, our Gulf Stream crossing was one of the easiest overnight passages we had done up to this point. The only challenging moments in the crossing was when we had to adjust our heading to stay out of the way of some big ships. We saw a lot of big ships that night, including 4 big cruise ships. Keeping an eye on the AIS ( Automatic Identification System) was crucial. Ships coming from the South were moving fast into our path.


Ship traffic in the Gulf Stream. Notice the depth indicator is blank ?

We were in deeper water than the depth sensor is designed for


Sunrise in the Gulf Stream... C'Mon Bimini !!



Finally...Entering North Bimini.....THE BAHAMAS BABY !!


We raised our required yellow quarantine flag as we arrived at Blue Water Marina in Bimini at approximately 0800 the next morning. We were obviously tired, but felt really good about our crossing and were totally excited to see the beautiful blue water ! We celebrated a dream come true…..we were actually in the Bahamas, baby….WOO HOO !! The years of dreaming and planning were now a reality.


Blue Water Marina North Bimini, Bahamas



Radio Beach in Alice Town, North Bimini


Small Interior Stream/Pond In Alice Town, North Bimini


Since only the Captain ( umm..I guess that's me ?) of an arriving vessel can leave the boat until vessel and crew gets checked in, I walked to both the customs and Immigration offices, which were only about a 10 minute walk away from the marina. Since we payed the required fees and completely all paperwork online, this process went very smoothly. Also, since we were required to take a Covid test within 2 days of arriving, we decided to stay at the marina in Bimini until the test was completed. Then, we could leave for the much anticipated Exumas. We pretty much explored all of North Bimini, either by walking or by rent-a-scooter. It is a beautiful island with beautiful people. We also acquired an Internet Hot Spot that covers the Bahamas.


Our Rent-A-Scooter transportation. Not cheap, but fun !



This was a Bull Shark that would swim the marina just about every day.

Let's Go Snorkeling, shall we ?


We were planning on leaving Bimini for the Exumas the day after our required covid test, but Mother Nature had plans for us to stay in Bimini longer. There was a big northern front that came through the day of our covid test. This storm brought with it some lightning, which is the worst enemy of a sailboat due to the fact that most sailboats, including Namid, have metal mast sticking up (in our case 60 feet ) above the water. Well, you guessed it….there was a big lightning strike that hit within the marina that damaged our wind instrument, which sits on top of the mast. We were fortunate that we did not get a direct strike, so only the one instrument was damaged. But, this still caused a rather large change in our plans.


The calm before the Storm !


The mast-head wind instrument that was damaged by lightning


I needed to get a new instrument. Getting anything shipped to the Bahamas is not only a challenge, but can be very expensive. Here comes something that is so cool and occurs frequently within the cruising community. Cruisers always help other cruisers! When our friend Chris in Fort Lauderdale heard about our issue, he sent out a message on a Bahamas Facebook cruisers’ page to see if any cruisers were planning a trip to Bimini. Here is how this went down…..Chris found a really nice couple on a power catamaran ( Roger and Omra) that agreed to help. I ordered the part and had it sent to Chris. He met Roger and Omra when they were passing through Fort Lauderdale on their power catamaran. (and in the middle of a rain storm) . WOW !


In the meantime, while we were waiting for our package to arrive, Sandra and I visited Cat Cay and Gun Cay. Having crystal clear water now, we were able to snorkel under Namid and clean (scrape and brush) the entire bottom. I also replaced some anodes on the sail drives. This was our first time doing this, so it was a learning experience. We found it to be rewarding to perform these tasks ourselves, but I must say, it was exhausting. Oh, and one other thing I had to do, I am embarrassed to say that when I backed down to set the anchor at Cat Cay, I forgot to reel in my fishing line that I was trolling with. This is a BIG no-no. The fishing line got wrapped into the starboard prop. I had to remove the large anode to remove the string. All in all, it took us two partial days to get all this work done.


About to start cleaning the Boot Key Harbor Funk off the bottom of the boat


Sandra cleaning it. YOU GO GIRL !!



Here I am removing the fishing line that I let get wrapped around the prop. DOH!



Replacing an anode for the propeller


Once we got that work completed, we took a dinghy ride to play with the stingrays at Gun Cay. These guys would swim right up to you wanting food. It was incredible.









Roger and Omra crossed over to Bimini the next day and met us near Gun Cay. This was so incredibly nice of these friends to help out. Now it’s our turn to “pay if forward” to someone else in the future ! We are looking forward to that very opportunity. They called us on the radio when they arrived and anchored next to us. We met with them and chatted awhile and got our mast instrument....A very cool couple they are ! Again.....We could not thank them enough! And of course I can't thank Chris enough as well. He's the mover and shaker that instigated what I will call..." The Great Delivery "....


Now with the instrument-in-hand, we headed back to the Blue Water Marina to go up the mast to swap out the instruments. The waters at the Gun Cay anchorage were too rough for me to go up the mast.



Sandra raised me to the top of the mast with the winch and assisted in swapping the sensor using a small rope. This is definitely a team effort !..YAY..SUCCESS !

We had good weather the next morning after we installed the new instrument at the marina, so we left for the Exumas. We were ready an excited to explore the beautiful islands, and were anxious to see all different shades of the blue waters of the Bahamas. Let's Go !!


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