For the first half of our cruise, we had some small waves – 2-3ft which made the ride a bit bumpy but nothing that concerned us. Once we got far enough into the crossing, the waters evened out due to some protection from Grand Bahama, so overall the trip was relatively smooth. We pulled in to the dock at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club and cleared customs with enough time for me to join my afternoon customer calls and wrap up the working day for me (David had the day off). Matthew and David headed into town on scooters to pick up some provisions and see if they could find SIM cards and a cruising/anchoring guide. For the evening we walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
The predicted wind storm was solidifying into a longer-term storm (Sunday through Friday) at this point. Matthew had to be back to an airport by midday Thursday to get back to the west coast, and with only having one day to get anywhere before winds came in, we didn’t really want to go all the way to the Abacoes in a single day to hang out in the wind and then hurry over 200 miles back to the US after a week. Our explorations had determined that there wasn’t much to do on Grand Bahama, so we decided to change things up and head down to Bimini to spend our week. We had a full Saturday with decent weather predicted, so we picked one anchorage to spend the day at before retreating to the populated island of Bimini for the week. Matthew had to change his flight from Freeport to Bimini, but it gave us the best shot at having more of a Bahamas-ish experience for the week of wind.
The next morning, we had another fairly early wake up, and headed out for our crossing. As we were passing Bimini where we needed to slow down a bit, we pulled out the ice-cream maker that was a boat-warming gift from David’s sister Anna. You put the ice-cream in the middle, fill it up with ice and salt and then tow it behind the boat for churning. We were a bit concerned that it wouldn’t work well given that the water was about 80 degrees, but we gave it a go anyway! It actually turned out to be pretty successful in thickening the recipe (nutella banana), so once it was done we stored it in the freezer for later that night.
We arrived at the anchorage, Honeymoon Harbour, just after lunchtime. It was beautiful – the water was so clear I could see the anchor hit the bottom and the chain lay out on the sand. Matthew and I immediately pulled out the snorkel gear and jumped in, while David set about flying the drone for some video/pics.
I usually am a bit nervous about snorkeling since I have a fear of fish, but it was just so warm and beautiful, I really enjoyed myself! We swam around the bow and took a look at the anchor to confirm we had a good hold and then we swam towards the beach and started to see fish and even a sting ray. I wish I’d thought about charging up the gopro batteries to get some underwater shots. I didn’t want David to miss out on everything, so we swam back to the boat and I encouraged him to get changed and jump in.
Once David had joined us, we swam all the way up to the beach where a bunch of day-boaters were partying. It turns out this is a well known spot to see the stingrays – because partiers feed them from the beach, so they swim right up to the beach when people are around.
After walking around a little, we swam back to the boat for a snack and a drink on the stern.
We enjoyed an amazing BBQ’ed flank stake fajita night with a beautiful sunset for the evening.
We knew that winds were predicted to pick up in the early afternoon the next day, and between us and Bimini there was a wreck that was supposed to be excellent for snorkeling. The wreck is the Sapona which was a concrete boat, so it’s pretty unusual. We pulled the anchor and started heading north. The winds started to pick up sooner than expected so by the time we reached the wreck we were in 1-2 ft swells; however there were a few other snorkel/dive boats at the wreck, so we decided to go ahead with the swim. After two failed attempts to anchor, we decided that Matthew and I would head to the wreck while David stayed aboard the boat and held off. We suited up with lifejackets and fins and swam over. There weren’t many fish around the wreck, but it was fun to swim in and around.
We had a quick swim back to the boat and a frantic pull out onto the swimpstep before the boat drifted too close to the wreck and then we were headed up to Bimini. The wind started picking up even more as we were pulling into the marina and it basically didn’t stop for the next 5 days.
After we had tied up and checked-in at the marina, we decided to explore a little, so we headed to the west side of the island to check out the beach. There was a coconut drink vendor, so we all got a drink and enjoyed the beach for a while.
The next day, Matthew and I decided we wanted to do some more swimming and there was a spit of land on the other side of the boat, so we suited up and hopped in the water.
When we were a hundred feet or so from the boat, we heard some people from shore yelling at us to get out of the water. I thought maybe there were trying to tell us that we were in a boating channel (we were), but I’d tied a fender around my waist so that we would be visible. I shouted “Why?!” and they responded “Sharks!”. Yikes – you don’t need to tell us twice!! We quickly swam back to the boat where David hauled us out of the water and then not minutes later, two enormous, maybe 5ft wide, spotted sting rays (supposedly dangerous) and a huge 6-7 ft shark swim by the dock right by our stern!!!!!!!!!
Okay, so I guess we’re not doing any more swimming for the week. We decided instead to hop on the local ferry from North Bimini to South Bimini to explore. We walked to the Sands resort, but everything there was closed. Someone told us about a nature walk that was a little further down the road, so we headed for that. Almost as soon as we entered the trees, David and I were instantly swarmed by mosquitos, so we quickly ran back to the road! We thought about looking for the “fountain of youth” but we’d been told it was a bit of a walk and ultimately just a well on the side of the road, so we instead decided just to head back to the boat! It was the superbowl in the evening so we headed to the local spot for watching while eating some amazing ribs.
The next day, in the morning the self-named “Lobster Man” visited the boat and sold us 6 lobster tails for a very reasonable price. In the afternoon, there was a huge rain storm, so we stayed inside the boat. David worked on a few boat projects while Matthew and I played board games.
Later that night, we prepared our lobster two ways – boiled and broiled, with some fresh corn and freshly made (by me) sourdough bread. What a feast! We liked the broiled the best, since we’d covered it in melted butter and garlic before putting it into the oven.
The next day, the rain had stopped, but the wind was still blowing. We decided to visit the “Dolphin House” a local treasure of the island. The house is built entirely by hand by one man, Ashley Saunders, made with materials that he finds on the beaches of the island. When he was unable to make concrete, he would even grind down conch shells to make it. One floor – an entire two bedroom apartment – is complete, and the second floor was still being constructed, so you could see the work in progress. It’s certainly one of a kind – it is entirely filled (literally every inch) with tile, mosaics, and motifs, even incorporating empty bottles and other beach flotsam.
After visiting the dolphin house, we waked to the north end of the island where there is a Hilton resort, which boasted several pools, hot tubs, and a swim up bar. After we had arrived, we paid our non-resort-guest entrance fee and headed out to the pool. Unfortunately, it was the windiest day so far, with winds 20-30kts so it was actually a littler cooler outside and the pool was not heated. We decided to order a drink at the swim up bar anyway (Matthew had never done one!) even though the bartender was literally telling us we were crazy! Since it is not the height of their tourist season, which starts around Spring Break, the pool was empty and they basically closed up the bar after we were done.
Matthew and I decided to swim the length of the pool, which turned out to be enormous since it spanned the entire length of the hotel, and then we decided to head up to the rooftop pool where there was supposed to be a hot tub. Unfortunately the hot tubs were all drained and it was even windier on the top of the building. We decided to cut our losses and head back to the boat.
The next morning would be Matthew’s last as he was to leave us before lunch to head to Bimini for his flight. In the morning, Matthew and I decided to walk to the southern point of the island, where we found a blowhole and got an amazing shot of Matthew.
As we were heading back to the boat, it started to rain, so we ran all the way! We then took Matthew back to the ferry since the airport is on South Bimini and said goodbye. It was so lovely to have Matthew on board – his first visit on Endeavour-Highwind. Despite some disappointment with the weather, we really enjoyed our time together!