Fast! Faster! Fastest!

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Key West to Bimini.

Joining the 200 mile Club

We finished our passage from the anchorage at Key West to the dock here in North Bimini in record (for us!) time.  The actual over ground distance we covered was 201 nautical miles, and we did that in 22 1/2 hours for an average speed of 8.9 knots! Wow.

Even in a boat this size you can sail for a very long time and not do 200 miles in 24 hours.  Now, we did cheat a bit (OK, more than a bit) traveling with the Gulf Stream that gave us a push from behind of 2 knots for much of the trip, but we were on a fast reach almost all the way, and routinely saw speeds through the water of 8.5 to 9.5 knots.  That was the good news!

Now there is a saying with certain types of sailors, “Fast is fun!”  I am sure they mean it, but they were not with us on this trip.  The waves were not big, I doubt we ever saw any over 6 feet.  Certainly, not the biggest waves we have sailed in, but this was the least comfortable sea we have ever spent this many hours on.

Because of the fast current, the waves were short, steep, and seemed to come from all directions at once. Moving around the boat was a constant challenge to keep our footing. We could never predict which way it was going next. Both of us were seasick for at least part of the way, and that doesn’t happen often! For those of you who might routinely sail in San Francisco, imagine sailing in the washing machine of waves that is the Golden Gate on a strong ebb tide–for 18 hours…

Normally the AMEL hull shape is very “sea-kindly,” meaning it has a smooth, gentle motion through waves.  Normally.  On this run, about every 15 minutes or so we would come down off one wave, and crash into the next with a great thud, and water would pour across the deck.  Fortunately, we were warm and dry under the dodger, but it is not often we see green water pour over the dodger windows!

Surf to the Left of Me, Surf to the Right…

Arriving for the first time at the entrance to the harbor in North Bimini with significant surf running is… interesting.  You see on the chart where you are supposed to go, but what you see from offshore as you approach is a continuous line of breaking surf…  Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 12.00.07

You have to run straight into what looks like a solid wall of breakers, then make a sharp left, just before you run up on shore, to run the channel behind the shallow bar where the waves are furiously churning. The chart tells you that all around is “Shifting sand” that you know has not been surveyed since well before Hurricane Irma stirred up these waters. Just to add to the fun, there is a powerful tidal current flowing in, so pretty much once we commit, there is no good way of turning back.

As we were circling, trying to make sure we understood what the chart and buoys were telling us, we had the good fortune to have a local tourist dive boat come out of the harbor.  Watching him gave us the confidence that the approach we were planning really was the correct one.

The final challenge was getting the boat into the marina slip, while fighting a current of 2 knots.  Even that came off without a problem, although I have to admit my first approach had to be aborted when I didn’t get the current judged quite right.

Welcome to the Bahamas, Mon!

Karen took our paperwork to customs and got us checked in.  We have our cruising permit, fishing license, and are good to stay in the Bahamas for the next three months.

Bimini is still a bit rough after the hurricane, many of the local businesses are still rebuilding, and lots of buildings are torn up, but basic services are functioning. Speaking of basic services, “Bailey the Lobsterman” came down the dock this morning and greeted us offering his wares.  A dozen fresh caught local lobster for:  $50. Good thing we have room in the freezer 🙂

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