The Paper Chase

The Bahamas has instituted a relatively new online check-in procedure. You enter all the data they need, make payments, pretty much everything except get the final approval stamps which we still have to do in person.

After we got the negative results from our COVID tests, we entered that information and within an hour or two got our Health Entry Visas approved. That information has to be moved over to the Customs forms, along with all the boat and personal information for all people on board. The whole process took about 2 hours to sort through the pages, pay the various fees, and print the various forms we’ll need to hand to Customs officials when we arrive in Bimini. When this was done on paper forms at the Customs office it took 20 minutes. And it will STILL take at least 20 minutes at the office to get our final approvals! Progress. 🙄 Note to our fellow cruisers: More and more of the world’s bureaucracy works with the assumption that you WILL have access to working printer on board. What used to be a handy tool is not QUITE to the level of necessity YET, but it is getting close.

We have been staying anchored outside “Noname Harbor” at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. This island, although a separate political entity, is actually the most southeast of Miami’s neighborhoods. Very exclusive, with multiple gated communities and expensive condos and apartments. We managed to get our last shopping done, and stock up our medicine chest with prescriptions that we figured will be easy to get here, and might (or might not!) be easy to get along our way.

This is a popular place for boats to wait for the perfect weather to cross over to the Bahamas, being about as close to Bimini as you can get. Many boats wait here a LONG time, missing the point that the perfect can be the enemy of the good. Tomorrow will not be a perfect day for our crossing, but it will be good enough! And by this time tomorrow we’ll be tied up at Brown’s Marina in North Bimini.

About 2 miles further south, out in the bay, are the remains of one of Florida’s more unusual communities, Stiltsville. As you would guess from the name, houses were built over the water on pilings. There is no land anywhere nearby. Although dramatically reduced by Hurricane Andrew years ago, there are a few of the original structures still standing in the shallow water on either side of the Biscayne Channel. A few of them are ruins, but a few still look habitable. Once a thriving community of eccentrics and artists, it is now little more than a curiosity for local history buffs.

One of the remaining homes in “Stiltsville.”
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