Old Bahama Bay
Just a little update...I just checked into Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End and no bugs! Maybe it's just the time of year but it's quite nice. My wife and daughter are flying in to meet me tomorrow so after that I'll give a little note on the restaurant here. Made the crossing alone but in a non-conventional way. I was waiting for a weather window in Miami and since the gulf stream was forecast to be 2-4 for only a little while I decided to make a mad dash to Bimini since it's the shortest from Miami. Well, first half was 1-3 feet with 15-18 knots wind (made 7 knts average with partially furled 135 and lightly furled main) and second half was up to 7 feet with wind up to 20kts. So, not a bad crossing except that I cut off part of my finger on the refrigerator toploading door edge while trying to make a sandwich--that pretty much ruined the good feeling I was having. Anyway, made Bimini near dark so anchored in Nixon Harbour rather than risk the channel entrance--extremely easy to navigate in at night. There is no channel just a wide entrance between rocks either side into sand. Pavlidis says grass with poor holding but I saw mostly sand and anchored in 10 feet with two anchors that set like they were in concrete (you don't need two--I had no tidal current swing in two days).
This was my first check in to the Bahamas so don't make the novice mistake I did--I anchored the first night, then dinghied in and took a taxi to the airport to customs/immigration. You do have 24 hours after arrival to clear in but you have to bring your boat to a port of entry, not just yourself--this isn't clear from a number of sources. And leave your dog on the boat--don't take it to the airport. The poor customs lady is afraid of dogs--but she was sympathetic and gave me a year clearance and fishing license anyway.
The next step was getting to West End. I couldn't find any routing information on going from S. Bimini to West End so I created my own route. It worked well except that I went too far offshore and got back in the Gulf Stream a little which was OK for the boost it gave going north but the wind was wrong--NE at 15-20. So, stay close in to get away from the current. As I thought, once I got well past the Great Isaac shoal area, the gulf stream faded and a little westerly current from NW Providence kicked in. This gave a bit of a drift but really smoothed out 5-7 feet into 2-4.
We're going to chill a little here for a couple of days before heading onto the bank. I've been using my Interphase Twinscope for several years so I'm curious if it will help on these shallow bank crossings. Still haven't decided on Indian Cay or Memory Rock yet but I will definitely use a rising tide to my advantage for the skinny routes, Comaraderie.