Key Biscayne to Bimini, Bahamas January 12 - 15, 2006

Click on the above thumbnail for a map of points visited during this time period.

We crossed...

On Thursday, January 12th, the three Krogens - Tusen Takk II, Seaclusion (Ted and Pat Edmunds) and Dream Weaver (Paul and Karin Schneider) steamed out of No Name Harbor at sunrise and headed east to the Bahamas.  It was a good day for crossing as we all had stabilizers and could easily handle the three to four foot seas we found in the middle of the Gulfstream.  Seaclusion and Dream Weaver put out their trolling reels and fished most of the way over but didn't have any luck.  Instead of heading to Bimini we had decided the night before to head to Cat Cay.  We all checked in to customs and immigration there.   The agent was a pleasant young man, with an accent that was nearly not understandable.   Fortunately, Chuck put a $20 bill into his "tip" jar, and maybe that was the reason that the agent granted us Chuck's request for a 6 month stay, even as he explained that the usual duration is for 3 months, which would normally therefore require that we return to a port of entry and request an extension.   Rumor has it that no such deviations from standards are available at Bimini, which is one of the reasons we went to Cat Cay in the first place. 

Cat Cay is a beautiful private island run for the benefit if its members.  Near the first class marina, they have a clubhouse for members, a  restaurant for non-members, a small boutique and a small commissary or grocery store.  They emphasize how "exclusive" they are, but there frankly didn't seem to be much to puff about -- expect their prices. We enjoyed our evening there but when it became clear the next morning that the weather was going to turn bad by Saturday and we would be socked in for days, we decided that Cat Cay was not where we wanted to be stuck.  So we headed for Bimini. 

It was only about a ten mile cruise up north to Bimini, so we all took the opportunity to do some fishing by trolling.   While on Cat Cay we had finally installed our rod holders on Tusen Takk II, so we were able participate in the fun this time.  Well, there is such a thing as beginners luck.  As we were approaching Bimini, Chuck got a strike and pulled in a small blackfin tuna.  It was only 18 inches -- but still a catch.  Of course, we weren't prepared to catch anything as we have no net and our gaff was tucked away in the lazarette somewhere, and Barb couldn't find it.  Luckily, Chuck was able to swing the fish up onto the deck.   Paul caught a barracuda and Ted a lot of seaweed.  After briefly circling with the other boats in a vain attempt to catch another, we decided it was time to head to the Bimini Big Game Resort and Marina.  We discovered that Bimini has been doing a lot of dredging so the entrance into the town of Alicetown on North Bimini was not the problem that we had expected.  We found the marina to be quite nice and a lot cheaper than Cat Cay.  A Bahamian fisherman came by our slips numerous times offering us something, but we could not understand him and so said "no thanks".  Eventually we learned that he was selling Bahamian lobster tails.  We turned our response into "yes thanks".  He was selling 12 large tails for $25.  We collectively bought two dozen, so each boat got eight tails.   Did we ever have an excellent dinner that night after we gathered for cocktails on Tusen Takk II! 

At the cocktail party, Ted presented Chuck with an award (fashioned by Pat) for catching the first fish during our "Great Bahamian Adventure".   (The small blackfin tuna also turned out to be delicious.  On two separate occasions we had yummy fish sandwiches made from the fillets from that modest fish.)

We saved one of the lobster tails we had made for dinner and used it for lobster omelets the next morning.  Yum!   In between dinner Friday night and breakfast Saturday morning the front came through and boy oh boy did we get bad weather.  We had torrential rain and winds gusting up to 40 mph.  By morning the rain was gone but the wind continued.  The forecast is for strong winds for days and high seas for a couple of days after the winds die down.  Thus, we could be here a while.   The town is pretty rundown with every other building being a restaurant, bar or cafe.   The night before we arrived the famous "Compleat Angler" burned down and the night watchman was found dead in the building.   Everyone is pretty sad for the watchman and for the museum/bar that was so popular.  The locals express extreme dismay about the loss of life and the loss of the priceless pictures (of Hemingway, among others) that graced the institution.  There is nothing left of it now.

We have discovered that liquor is cheaper here than in the States but not beer or wine.  Also, the stores are not oversupplied, but one can get all the basics here.   Chuck ran to the north end of the island and reports that there is a large beautiful development being created up there. 

Pat and Ted had us all over for pizza Saturday (1/14) night.  Pat  has a pizza maker that does an outstanding job.  Pat vacuum packed some of our lobster tails and has convinced Barb that she needs one of those machines as well as the vacuum canisters to keep things from going stale.  It's on her list to buy either in Nassau or when we get back to the States.

Next to us in the marina is a Mainship cruiser rented by six guys from North Carolina who came over here for a fishing vacation on Thursday.  None of them really know how to drive the boat (or, evidently, how to consult weather forecasts) and they just about crashed into us when trying to get into a slip.  They had to leave the boat on the outside dock because they couldn't get it into a slip.  We feel bad for them as it looks like they are going to spend most of their vacation sitting at the dock awaiting the wind and seas to die down.   It will be interesting to see if they are all still friends after staying in such close quarters for a week.  They have to have the boat back to Florida by the end of the week, and hope the weather cooperates so they can get it back.   One of the guys has arranged to fly out of here on one of the Chalks seaplanes (like the one that crashed in Miami a month ago).  By the way, it turns out many of the people who died in that crash were children from this island as well as the dock master of the Big Game Marina -- our marina.  Sad!

Sunday we all gathered up our bikes and took the ferry across to South Bimini and then rode down to the Bimini Sands Resort, where we had lunch.   Afterwards some of us rode on down to the airport.  On the way back we stopped at the Bimini Fountain of Youth, where Barb took off her sweatshirt for a picture, and thereupon left it there.   She didn't realize until we had returned to North Bimini and done a little exploring.   After some agonizing we decided to abandon the sweatshirt even though it was from the Cheers bar in Boston.  :-(.   

As this is written, we have just consumed a batch of Norwegian waffles, washed down (by some of us) with beer and Aquavit.   Perhaps inspired by thought of Vikings, we have decided to arise early in the morning and head out toward Nassau.   Since that is a two-day trip from here, we will either anchor off on the banks near the "North West Light" or near Chub Cay, before continuing the next day to Nassau.   At this point, it looks like a.  our last chance for a while, and b.  the anchorage tomorrow night will not be the most comfortable we have ever experienced.

Seaclusion and Dream Weaver crossing to Bahamas with us

Gun Cay Lighthouse on way into Cat Cay

Cat Cay Marina

Three Krogens at Cat Cay

Cat Cay Clubhouse

Chuck fishing on way to Bimini

The fish he caught

Cleaning his fish

Ted presenting award to Chuck -- "1st Fish Award on the Great Bahamas Adventure - Chuck Shipley 1/13/06"

Barge cleaning out Bimini harbor

Bimini Beach