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Old 08-12-2010
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Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

Was thinking about hopping over to Bimini from Fort Lauderdale next week for a few days if Stream and weather looks good. Been to Grand Bahama and thru Abacos but not Bimini. Most likely stay at marina if possible. Any thoughts on the passage and where to go & what to see? Kids have summer college break for a week so just looking for short trip to chill and if weather window closes while there flying them back. We are 46' and draw a little less then 6'. All thoughts appreciated. Thank you.

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Old 08-12-2010
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it's an easy trip as long as the current cooperates. We went over for the 4th of July weekend. Stayed at the Big Game Club and we very happy with the place etc. The only hard thing was getting over there due to the current. The stream was running very close to shore and at 3-4 knots and we ended up motoring along the beach in less than 40 ft to stay out of it then cutting over once down around Miami. We chose our course based on VMG per the GPS and it still took a long time. The good news was the trip home was a breeze averaged 8-10 knots most of the way.

There is a new channel if you have not been in a while and it is marked. The current Explorer Charts have it correct.
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Old 08-12-2010
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Go to the explorer charts website to MAKE SURE that you have the 'new' entrance correct. I was there earlier this year and the new channel was unmarked - supposedly new buoys were added later this spring.

Welcome to Explorer Chartbooks then go to "free updates" in the sidebar. This new channel was cut into 'rock' so you want to follow it 'precisely'.
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Old 08-12-2010
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2 years ago the new channel was marked, so they must've disappeared? I would get as low as Gvt. Cut, or lower to start, and let the current help instead of fighting it. BEST WISHES, I am truly going to miss the Bahamas......i2f
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Old 08-12-2010
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I did this trip over Memorial Day. We left Port Everglades at around 7:00 PM and took a hard right as soon as we cleared the second red/green to make our southerly leg, trying to stay in 40 feet of water. Its important to stay fairly close to shore....there is usually a south eddy close to shore so take advantage of that. We stayed practially right on top (and even inside of) the mooring balls setup for day stays at John U Lloyd Beach Park.

We continued to make our south bound leg trying to maintain 6 knots....motorsailing in order to make progress. We were planning on going all the way to Government Cut before making our left turn, but there was a significant favorable wind shift so we made our turn at Haulover.

Most people motorsail or motor to cross the Gulfstream...just because no one wants to be caught out in the middle of the nowhere. Our mainsail jammed in the roller furler, so we motored. It was no fun trying to lash the main 1/2 way out in the middle of the ocean...but you adapt!

Some people will try and take a rhumb line straight to Bimini...but this can be dangerous if the Gulfstream is moving. You may find yourselves pointing practically south to make any easterly progress because the stream can be up to 3-4 knots north. I wouldn't recommend that...

The approach we used was to maintain a compass heading (90 degrees) and drop the hammer so to speak and make it as fast across the Gulfstream as possible. You'll find yourself drifting northeast....and you may wonder if you're going to miss the island altogether. This is because the stream takes you north while you try and maintain east but its better to be across the stream asap and then make a lazy south leg near the Bimini banks and do some nice fishing rather than finding yoursel fighting the current to maintain your rhumb line.

If you plot your course across the trip, you'll find yourself making an "S"...with the first south leg....a drift northeast across the Gulfstrean then another south leg as you get close to the island and outside of the Gulfstream.
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Last edited by night0wl; 08-12-2010 at 08:27 AM.
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Thanks all - most grateful for the excellent info. Safe to assume a 15 to 18 hour trip from Port Everglades to via off Miami Inlet (charts on boat so I'm assuming that's Gov Cut) to Bimini ...with somewhat reasonable typical SE winds? And then 8 hrs Bimini back to FLL?
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Old 08-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by night0wl View Post
If you plot your course across the trip, you'll find yourself making an "S"...with the first south leg....a drift northeast across the Gulfstrean then another south leg as you get close to the island and outside of the Gulfstream.
Damn good advice.
Assuming 'normal' flow in the Gulfstream, I find I head from Miami at '~15° more southerly on the compass' my S-curve is automatic, just following a 'compass course', not a GPS course.
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