Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Slip ….Sliding Away to North Bimini, Bahamas

So…….Here we sit in Miami waiting for a good weather window to cross over to N. Bimini. We’ve had two days of 20+kts winds from the North. The forecast for the sea state is 8-10 ft swells with a short period. I really do not even want to back the boat out of the slip with 20 its on the stern! Sunday has a better forecast for 10-15 kts out of the East and dropping to 5-10 its Sunday night/Monday morning. The good news is this is extra time for boat maintenance. The temperature gauge for the engine has stopped working. Yesterday I inspected the connection plugs from the engine wiring harness and the connection plug behind the gauge panel. They were firmly connected and seated. Stanley at Beta Marine has send me a new gauge overnight.

The new gauge has arrived and we don’t leave until tomorrow. Judy helps me install it since someone is needed in the cockpit to hold it in while lay on my back in the crawl space under the cockpit to thread on the retaining ring. It goes smoothly. We fire up the engine and after 20 minutes no change! Dejected, I decide that I have all day to do this in a methodical fashion. I drag out the wiring diagrams for the engine and instruments. Next, I ground the temperature sending unit and confirm that so I can trace it thru the harness and each of the connecting plugs (2) to the temp meter on instrument panel. I slide back the rubber boots on the starboard engine connector and use my ohm meter on both sides of the connector. Beeps and beeps from the meter. This connector is OK and the signal is headed to the connector in the crawl space beneath the cockpit. One beep on the first side of this connector but none on the other side!! I take the plug apart and there it is……..the little copper connector, there are 11 of them, for the temp meter is pushed back slightly! I pushed it forward. Problem solved. The temp meter now works. Nice to have the better part of the day to do this. I check the weather and we’re good to go on Sunday. The distance to North Bimini is 60 nm as the crow flies, but we will be crossing the Gulf Stream. With currents of 2.5 to 3.5 kts the standard advice is do not go straight across. Rather go south as long as possible on the western edge and when approaching the central part head north with it and towards the eastern edge. The turn south again while on the eastern edge. Its described as an S course. Our course was 15nm of SE by 30 nm of NE by 15nm of SE. We decided to leave about 13:00 hrs on Sunday to arrive off N. Bimini at first light on Monday.

1300 hrs 12/23/2012 Miami Beach Channel

After doing the ups (fueling, watering, eating, resting) we headed out government cut into the channel on a light wind 600 day. Four miles out to the save water buoy.

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Miami Beach from Government Cut as we enter the channel

1503 hrs @250 44’.824N 0800 03’.982W

We turn southeast on a course of 1370 M to head into the Gulf Stream for approximately 15 nm before turning northeast. Winds and seas at the moment are very light. I pull out the genoa to see if we can sail for a while. After 30 minutes of moving the boat about in the wind the closest into the wind is SW (hello FL. Keys) or NE but far too early if we want to go to Bimini. I started the diesel and we motored at 2000rpm and 4.5kts. The next several hours were instructive about the Gulf Stream on a good weather day. As we motored into the early night over the next 4 hours our SOG slowed to all of 1.5kts. I maintained 2000 rpms on the motor. Close enough to our way point so I changed fro 1370 M to 0510 M and sure enough we rocketed up to 6.2 kts. Additionally our COG prior to the turn was 1370 but our heading was 1600. Basically, we were slip sliding sideways into the GS. The GS is a powerful and difficult force and between it and the winds weather windows are complex.

2000hrs @ 250 42’.377N 0790 52’.057W in the Gulf Stream

Judy staggers up to the cockpit since we’re rolling and takes over the helm for her 8pm to 2am shift. We exchange info about the last 4 hours i.e.: traffic, course, course changes, sea state. I recount that all the cruise ships (5) came out during the evening and two freighters. The cruise ships are like floating palaces with christmas tree lights all over. At night you can see their lights above the 7 mile visible horizon when they are over 10 nm off. Radar and night vision are great assets at night. Judy maintained our course as I went below got out the lee cloth on the stbd settee so I could sleep in a confined area and not roll back and forth. This was nice seas with only 4-6 ft swells on the front port bow quarter of the boat. The problem was they had about a 6 second period. Too steep and close together.

0200 hrs 12/24/2012 @250 47’.304N 0790 27’.870W off N Bimini

I come up in seas that are quieting down to see the lights of Bimini on the horizon. We’ve crossed the GS wonderfully and can now back off and wait for sunrise. I have 5 hours to tour the coasts of N & S Bimini before we head into the channel. I wait for sunrise while touring the coast.

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Sunrise off the Bimini Coast (the coast is to the left of the sun on the horizon)

0700 hrs 12/24/2012 @ 25040’.562N 079021’.352W

I’m done shuttling along the coast. I go below to fix coffee for Judy and then back to the helm. one hour later and we are 1 mile from the channel.

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Approaching N. Bimini and channel

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In N Bimini Channel LOOK AT THAT WATER! 10FT DEEP……GEORGEOUS!

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NORTH BIMINI HARBOR

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SEACREAST HOTEL & MARINA

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BIMINI HOME

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@ THE BIG GAME CLUB N BIMINI

We tied up, I took the boat papers, passports etc to customs & immigration and were good for 90 days as cruising permit. Bring cash for the permit ($300.00) since its cash only. Great little place, warm people we’ve been wished Merry Christmas and happy Boxing day often.

Thursday 12/27/2012 we hope to do an overnight to Little Stirrup Cay about 70nm NE off us. Belated Merry Christmas to all from us…….Pat

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