Bahamas Crossing : From South Florida to Bimini
If you are a boat owner in the South Florida area, slipping away to a tropical playground full of fishing, diving and relaxation is a piece of cake thanks to the popular and nearby out island destination of Bimini, Bahamas. From a variety of locations off of Florida’s coast, you have the opportunity to start crossing the Gulf Stream after breakfast and pull into a marina slip in paradise by lunchtime. Known as the gateway to the Bahamas, Bimini, which has a latitude of 25° 43′ 59.99″ N and a longitude of -79° 14′ 60.00″ W, is comprised of two main islands, North Bimini and South Bimini as well as numerous cays. It’s westernmost district location makes Bimini a totally boater-friendly chain of islands ideal for newer boaters wanting to get their feet wet with a first-time Bahamas crossing. When charting your course to Bimini from Miami you are looking at a distance of only 48 nautical miles, setting sail from Ft. Lauderdale your nautical miles will clock in at around 50 and from West Palm Beach the distance totals 70 nautical miles.
Depending on your boat’s fuel capacity and power, the trip to and from South Florida can consume as little as one tank of gas, making it a truly efficient trip to an exotic foreign port. Of course, larger diesel boats will have no problem making the round trip on one tank of fuel. Summertime is generally the calmest time of the year for a boater to make the crossing over to Bimini and anywhere in the Bahamas. The one catch, however, is the development of infamous afternoon thunderstorms that build up over Florida’s mainland and head out to sea. Staying a step ahead of the weather is important on your crossing and any time you are on the water, so always scan for the development of these pop up storms. Because the Gulf Stream flows northward along the Miami to Bimini route, any day with substantial winds out of the northerly quadrant should be ruled out as a crossing day. Typically, these conditions are associated with the cold fronts of fall, winter and spring that can churn up offshore seas to risky heights. Your best bet is to pick a weather window when seas are considerably calm or feature light winds out of a southerly or southeasterly direction.
Even though Bimini is a relatively short distance from South Florida, there is no excuse to get lax with your advanced planning and boat preparation. You’ll want to focus on everything from float plans, flotilla organizing, boat and engine checks and prep, accessory/redundancy extras like prop hubs and spark plugs, to full safety equipment status, updated navigational charts and of course, a comprehensive pre-crossing weather check. Filing a float plan is easy to do so that your departure and estimated arrival is known to someone on land. Crossing over with other boaters in a flotilla is always a good idea for added safety if you can accomplish it. Your first idea of landfall to Bimini will be signaled by the presence of boats trolling offshore. You will make your way through the Bimini Inlet and proceed to clear Bahamian Customs and Immigration.
Part of your Bimini crossing planning should include pre-arranging your dockage and there are several excellent options for you to choose from. Resorts World Bimini’s Fisherman’s Village Marina features 136 floating boat slips that accommodate vessels up to 128 feet in length. It is also home to the resort’s retail marketplace, where guests can explore an array of restaurants, stores and amenities, including a fitness center, Dockmaster’s office, restroom and shower facilities, and The Healing Hole — an open-air sports bar providing guests with an array of cold beverages, casual cuisine and live entertainment. Resorts World Bimini also offers a Mega Yacht Marina which includes 94 slips, boasts a controlling depth of 12 feet, and can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. Bimini Big Game Club Resort and Marina offers 75 slips, capable of accommodating yachts up to 160 feet with a controlling depth of 9 feet as well as a variety of amenties such as a bar and grill, shopping center and swimming pool.
Bimini has maintained a long-standing reputation as the big game and bonefish capital of the world with exceptional marlin, wahoo and bluefin tuna fisheries that have beckoned fishing enthusiasts and angling legends such as Ernest Hemingway to both its deep waters, and to its flats. Celebrities and public figures such as Jimmy Buffet and Martin Luther King Jr., have also spent a great deal of time reveling in Bimini’s charm. It’s not all about fishing in Bimini if you don’t want it to be as there are plenty of other exciting activities awaiting visitors. The snorkeling and diving over the Bimini Roads reveal what some say are the remains of Atlantis. Another famed, must-experience diving and snorkeling site in Bimini is the S.S. Sapona shipwreck which boasts an incredible history from rumrunning to World War II training and now is home to an abundance of stunning tropical marine life. On land, there is much to do and see including walking through the straw markets, soaking up the sun on stellar white sand beaches and sampling the freshest seafood at beachside bars like Stuart’s Conch Shack. Some might say it would be a crime to go to Bimini without ordering an epic conch salad or two! Don’t forget to seek out a few warms slices of the island’s namesake guilty pleasure, Bimini Bread. A true taste of heaven, you’ll probably want to take a few of these loafs back home to share with friends and family.
Each year HMY Yacht Sales hosts the annual HMY Bimini Rendezvous where we invite owners and their friends and families to join us as we share our love for boats, yachts, the water and socializing in paradise. This year’s summer boat trip is being held from June 22 – June 25, 2017. Space is limited so contact us today to RSVP for this unforgettable three-day event in gorgeous Bimini!