Bimini is part of the Bahamian
Islands and is 50 statue miles East of Miami Florida. Bimini
is composed of three small islands - North Bimini, South Bimini,
and East Bimini. Together, they are only a "dot" on the map.
There are two ways to get to
Bimini - pleasure boats and private or commercial aircraft. There
is a commercial seaplane service from Miami and commuter type
air service from a few South Florida airports to the Bimini airport
located on South Bimini.
Clear water is the reason you
go to Bimini. The clear water provides opportunities for fishing,
skin diving and snorkeling. The water is clear because the
islands are in the Gulf stream. One fourth of a mile from
the Western shore of the islands is a sharp drop off to over
a thousand feet. This ledge in the ocean contains a large
variety of fish.
Boaters in South Florida all
have a dream to take their boat across the Gulf stream to the Bahamas.
That is what I did with a group of 20 other saltwater fishing boats
ranging in size of 20 to 31 feet. On my boat was the First
mate, my 26 year old Son and his girlfriend. The First mate
and I knew the dangers of the trip and spent weeks preparing.
My Son and girlfriend only got anxious a day or so before the trip
but the weather and sea forecast looked good - "it was a GO".
The trip was worse than I expected.
Seas were forecast at two feet or less on the 87 mile outbound trip.
The truth was seas were 4-6 feet in the middle of the Gulf stream.
Seas were forecast 2-4 feet on the return trip but were 6-10 in
the middle of the Gulf stream. On the outbound trip we set
a direct course from the Palm Beach inlet (home port) to Bimini
which put us in the middle of the Northerly flow of the Gulf stream
for most of the trip. We were going at a speed that would
be 30 miles an hour (mph) in waters without currents or waves but
our actual forward progress was 20 to 24 mph in that environment.
The four hour trip was the worse this captain and crew had experienced
in any mode of transportation. Our bodies were actually bruised
from the pounding and bouncing. The return trip was better
even though seas were higher because we went directly to Ft. Lauderdale.
That route allowed us to be in the middle of the Gulf stream for
only an hour.
Upon arrival at Bimini we spent
a couple of hours waiting and clearing Bahamian customs at
Alice Town, North Bimini. It took a long time because there
was so many boats and people in our group. I didn't care because
I was at least standing on Mother Earth.
After doing the paper work and
paying the fees, we had to get back on the boat and go to South
Bimini where our hotel was located. It was only about three
miles. Once checked in at the hotel (no keys and no
locks), it was nice to relax and contemplate the day.
My son and girlfriend slept on
the boat that night. However, they were in the hotel room
at daylight because of mosquitos. Very hungry small black
mosquitos! Oh well, the purpose of the trip was to fish.
We were awake so we went fishing.
As soon as we got near the drop
off in the ocean, you couldn't keep the trigger and angel fish away
from your bait. I guess a true sport fisherman would be mad
about the bait thieves but at least there was a lot of action.
After a couple of hours, we decided to go to Alice Town, explore
the town and refuel for the return trip. We didn't realize
that we had already seen all of the town when we were doing
customs the previous day. The town is four blocks long and
the main street is more like an alley. Fortunately, there
are not many autos. Golf carts are the main mode of transportation
other than walking. There is one of each type of store.
No bargains on anything.
The best thing is the washer
and hook game you see in the bars. There is a hook on the
wall and a washer tied to a string attached to the ceiling.
You try to find a position to release the washer that will cause
the washer to hook on the hook on the wall. Simple game but
very difficult! Don't sign up to "washer/hook" sharks.
You will lose your money. We enjoyed dancing the limbo to Bahaman
music which is the typical Caribbean reggae.
After getting our fuel at $2.65
a gallon (a bargain if you think about it) we went back to fishing.
With the Sun high in the sky, my Son said he can see the bottom
- what is the depth? The depth finder said 70 feet.
Hum, that is what I call clear water! I even accidentally
caught a yellow tail snapper that won third place in the fishing
contest. We all had fun catching fish.
Bimini is truly a water world where the people are totally dependent
on the sea. Bimini communications are via VHF marine radio.
Bimini's 1600 residents are very nice. Bimini and the Bahamas
is the nearest foreign country to South Florida but so far away
because of the Gulf stream.
Go there, it is a bitter sweet
adventure you will never forget.
Read Waterway Guide - Southern
edition if you are planning to go. It is published annually
and is available in most boat supply stores. There are many
pages on the net about Bimini and the Bahamas.