Friday, February 25, 2011

Update: Miami Beach and Now the Bahamas

After a month anchored off Star Island in South Miami Beach hanging out with the likes of Billy “The Piano Man” Joel, Shaq, PDiddy, Madonna, Don J, Gloria E. and Sylvester S. it’s time to get out of Dodge so to speak.  What a great place and great experience. We are definitely in love with Miami and Miami Beach. South Beach has to be one of the coolest places. Have never seen so many Maserati, Porsche, Jags and short skirts in one place. Lincoln Street is an awesome place to have lunch outside on the mall and people watch. The palm trees, the Miami Boat Show, great food, the beautiful water and the beach. 

What else could you wish for ………….The Bahamas?

With a forecast of 2 days of awesome weather, we left Miami on Tuesday morning with two other sailing vessels. Destination, Nassau approximately 160 Nautical miles east. Our route would take us across the Gulf Stream to Bimini (42 nm) then across the Grand Bahama Bank (56 nm)  and the Tongue of the Ocean to Nassau. Our ultimate destination, the Exumas Island chain, begins 30 nm south of Nassau. It’s over a hundred miles long and consists of some of the most beautiful islands and water on earth. Excitement – oh yeah!

We weighed anchors around 6:00 am from behind Fisher Island and headed out of the Miami cruise ship channel (Government Cut) and into the Atlantic. The water was calm and awesome with clear blue sunny skies. Winds were out of the southeast and perfect for the crossing. 

We hit the edge of Gulf Stream about 45 minutes out and it was calm as forecast. We began to see Bimini around 1:00 pm and made it to our anchorage by 3:00 pm. With a brief 4 hour stop anchored behind Bimini, we pressed on overnight crossing the Grand Bahama Bank (56 nautical miles) to the Northwest Passage and the Tongue of the Ocean. We timed exiting the “bank” at day break and slack tide so we could see how to negotiate any nasty water through the narrow passage. The only issue we had crossing the banks was some shallow water on the Explorer Chart route from North Bimini to Mackie Shoal. 

The depths were more shallow than the charts indicated and we had to pick our way around the shoaling area. We encountered several commercial vessels and a few cruising sailboats as we made our way across the bank. 

The moon added another dimension to the passage as it rose around 10:00 pm. As planned we made the Northwest Passage Light at daybreak and were glad the seas were calm. Once we were in the Tongue of the Ocean we put the hammer down and ran at 7 knots in light wind and 2 foot swells all the way to Nassau arriving at the Harbor entrance at 2:00 pm.

We were on the dock at Nassau Yacht Haven Marina by 3:00 and there were a lot of smiles from the crews of our buddy boats. After clearing Customs and Immigration we all showered and enjoyed dinner at “The Poop Deck” restaurant. 

We all laughed at the restaurant name as we were all pooped from the passage. The food was great, spirits were high and the Z’s that came from our boats were pretty loud. What a great crossing. 

We couldn’t have had better weather or crossing buddies. Many great memories have been made with Bob and Janice on Sailing Vessel “Tsamaya” and Mike and Barb on sailing vessel “Goose Bumps”.

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