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Bimini Crossing and pictures

December 21, 2012

A friend from Montreal hoped on my boat while I was in Virginia Key. I was anchored in front of the Marine Stadium. If you ever have to anchor near Miami, you should know that the view of the city of Miami from the Virginia Key bay is unbelievable.

In the morning we sailed from Virginia Key to the end of Key Biscayne. We anchored at No Name Harbor. It’s a National Park with an anchorage and a lot of services. It’s also an easy walk to the most expensive grocery store in the US.

I had chosen to move to Key Biscayne since it was 10 miles south. I knew that starting further south helped cross the Gulf Stream.

The Gulf Stream is a strong current that goes north. It’s caused by the warm water escaping the Gulf of Mexico and goes all around the Atlantic. The 2.5 knot current can make you miss your target and make you turn back in what must be a very miserable experience. In a slow sailboat it’s necessary to aim 30 to 40 degrees south of your destination to counteract the current.

We left at 4 in the morning. I navigated the shallow waters that led to the Atlantic with the help of my GPS and Anne Louise who used a flash light to spot unlit buoys.

Once on the Atlantic, the wind was light but it pushed us for a while.

At first, I did not mind the light wind since the last thing you want when you cross to Bimini is a storm. The island is 53 miles away. A lot can happen during a crossing and not much help is available. Eventually though, the west wind diminished and I had to use the engine as well as the sails to fight the Gulf Stream.

I dragged a lure. It was a pink and blue thing with a large hook. I bought it because I was told that trolling in the Gulf Stream was part of the experience. Sure enough, I got a mahi mahi as soon as the color of the water changed, indicating the beginning of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream water is blue, almost mauve. I later caught a larger mahi and a skip jack about 30 miles from Miami.

By the time we passed the midway point the wind was too light to keep the sail open and the seas were confused: waves came from all directions. I eventually took the main-sheet down because it swung dangerously and the boom threatened to wreck my stays. I kept the Genoa out to limit the rocking of the boat. We ended up motoring most of the way.

I got to Bimini at low tide. The entrance looked like rapids and the channel was really shallow. Fortunately my GPS had a magenta line to keep me away from the shoals. A few times I saw the sand pattern but I never hit the bottom.

I pulled in Brown’s Marina. The very one that Ernest Hemingway used. Life was grand.

From → Photography, Sailing

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