Four days after arriving in Bimini we welcomed our last set of guests onto our boat before heading home to South Florida- Darrell, Alicia and Jamie. As we waited at the Bimini Sands Resort Marina for over an hour after they texted to say they had arrived at the Marina, we realized that there are indeed two different Bimini Sands Marinas. A short shuttle ride and a few confused texts later they finally arrived at the boat loaded down with bags of goodies! It was like Christmas in March! First we got to meet a new friend, Alicia- gift number one! Then they proceeded to unpack their Santa bag: water enhancers (aka “squirts”, Cheezits, Goldfish, trail mix, Pringles, top-shelf steaks, customized tumblers with each of our names and our boat name and logo, and lots more!! That was awesome! The only thing they didn’t bring was 90 gallons of fresh water to fill up our water tanks. We were suppsed to do that when we docked at Bimini Sands to pick them up but come to find out the Bimini Sands management decided it would be prudent to drain their saltwater swimming pool and refill it with the precious fresh water, trucking in thousands of gallons from the desalination plant on-island. So as you can guess, the water that should have gone in our tank went into their pooland we were left with 20 gallons for 5 people for 5 days! Yeesh! Oh well, we got the goodies and the guests. We’ll worry about water later. Off we went for Honeymoon Harbor.
On our way to the overnight anchorage we dropped in our guests for a little snorkel/conching time. They came up with so many we had to leave a bunch on the bottom! Before they could sink the boat with their loads and loads of conch we anchored in Honeymoon Harbor and whipped up some dinner on the boat- cracked conch! After dinner we headed to shore for our typical guests-welcoming bonfire, this time complete with smores and rum!
The next day, after a breakfast of homemade pancakes Darrell and Jamie went spearfishing around Honeymoon Harbor. After about forty-five minutes we figured we should take the dinghy out and check on them since they both tend to attract sharks. Jamie we found immediately safe and sound, though we did arrive just in time to snatch a hogfish off his spear before he could attract a hoard of sharks. Darrell, on the other hand, never showed up. We looked and looked for him for about 20 minutes and finally gave up. Where was he when we got back to the boat but waiting on the boat… minus his dive knife. Come to find out, while we were searching in vain for him, he was on the other side of the island having a heated debate with a shark over who got to claim the fish Darrell had just shot and stabbed with his knife…. the shark won. Darrell got…well… he got no fish and no knife. This being what seemed like the hundredth knife he’d lost in the past couple of years to sharks/fish/the ocean in general, he left that debate rather…. frutrated. I guess us pointing out his empty sheath at every chance didn’t cheer him up so to make him feel better we all went tothe Sapona to throw ourselves off the ledge.
The Sapona is a partially submerged shipwreck that is famous in Bimini. You can snorkel the underwater part and climb a rope up to the deck about 15 feet from the surface. We all leapt to the water below, some more willingly than others, but the guys all had to jump from the highest point, about twice as high as the “usual” jumping point…. scary… but we got great photos!
The last night in Bimini we went out in “downtown” north Bimini (Alicetown). First we hit up Sherry’s on the Beach, our favorite beach bar/restaurant where they serve fried lobster and the specialty Bahamian drink, Sky Juice. Sherry wasn’t in that night but her daughter was, and what a night! Sherry’s daughter came out on the beach-front deck, lined up all the patrons, and led a Bahamian dancing lesson. Now that was entertaining and provided photos that could be used for blackmail. We followed Sherry’s with more dancing and $5 beers at another water-front Bahamian bar/club and drug ourselves back to the boat no earlier than 2am! That’s 6 hours past our bedtime! As if that wasn’t enough partying, we kept the fun going with game after game of Bullshit and any other game we could halfway play. What a great last night in the Bahamas!
The next day we sailed out to the Hens &Chickens, a group of rocks/reefs that are 30 miles away from Bimini and out of the way of any normally travelled route. We’d heard the fishing was on crack and the reefs were beautiful. On the way out we were joined by a pod of dolphins that must have had at least 25 individuals. They swam with us for half an hour, jumping and playing. It was the most beautiful display of dolphins I’ve ever seen!
Despite the 5 foot seas and rather sickening chop when we finally arrived in the late afternoon at the Hens & Chickens, we anchored, much to the despair of a seasick, bed-bound guest. As the sun dipped below the horizon we all reconverged on the boat and exchanged stories and cleaned fish. Everyone came back with a catch: hogfish, mackerel, lobster and conch. The conch was my catch so I spent the next 4 hours on the back of the boat cleaning conch (over three and a half hours longer than it took anyone else to clean their catch). I’m not exactly a Bahamian when it comes to cleaning conch so it took waaaaaay too long for my taste! But I cleaned them all to be sure I had conch to share with my family. I’m so glad I got to bring home some of my favorite food to share!
The rest of the night was an easy sail/ motorsail across the Gulf Stream back to South Florida. After a night of Daryl and I getting 1 hour of sleep each we sailed through the Palm Beach inlet just as the winds began to pick up. Fifteen minutes later the wind was gusting at 40 knots, flipping the dinghy twice, losing the paddle and blowing our floor mat off the lifelines where it had been drying. Thank goodness Daryl is such a good planner with weather and crossings because in the Gulf Stream that would have been uncomfortable, to put it nicely.
With the help of Chris, Richard, and Brandon on the dock at the Yacht Club we docked without a hitch. Home again! After some hugs, stories, and anchoring out in the Intracoastal we crashed at Chris’ place. That night we had a welcome-home dinner at Flannigan’s, complete with beer, monster burgers with blue cheese and fried onion rings on top, and french fries. It was such a great welcome- there must have been at least 20 people there and nobody got more than a few hours notice! We love our friends at the Yacht Club! Welcome back to Paradise!
Author: Jessica Anderson