Originally Posted by RichH
Definitely enter Bimini during daylight. The entrance channel has been moved (blasted) and many charts and plotters wont have this new entrance correct. Bimini entrance can have strong current/rip if you hit the tides wrong.
If you arrive before daylight, & do decide not to enter the Bimini entrance cut until daylight ... you wont be able to anchor to wait off/south of South Bimini ... its now all scoured out and only has ~1" of coral sand over rock and marl and most 'charts' still show it as an 'anchorage' ... even the shallow drafters are now anchoring VERY close to the south end of S. Bimini.
Difficulty with KW direct to Bimini is the immense amount of commercials doing the almost exact same course, especially those bound for the EU will aim for West End in the Abacos .... and thats going to be on the exact same track you. This can make a night crossing from KW to Bimini 'interesting'.
Plan on Gun / N.Cat Cay as an alternative if you cant get to Bimini in daylight.
The 'usual' jump off from the southern keys to Bimini is Rodriguez Key
If you go further into the Bahamas from there, the only 'good' charts are the "explorer charts" or a (recent) Garmin Plotter with 'explorer charts' already uploaded.
Bimini is a great place, enjoy.
Completely agree with Rich and SV/Hylyte. I just spent the last summer there.
I would take the inside (ie, no stress) and potentially stop at Marathon. You can stop there at night. You can anchor off the west side of Marathon and stay protected (typically) that time of year. Also, food, fuel, ice, and lots of other stuff that is WAY cheaper than the Bahamas is there. THere is a cool liitle restaurant that I paid way too much money to that is on the second story over the gas dock just inside the cut... crap, can't remember the name. Ugh! Anyways, you canot miss it. As you go in, you will pass mangorves on the right and it is right there past the first canal on your left. You can sit up in the bar and watch the boats go by and have a few cld ones to get ready for your next leg.
You can also take the outside route to Marathon and come in near the light. I suggest staying to the west side and outside of the buoys.
There is actually a lot to check out in Boot Key harbor (marathon) I would not miss it if you have never been there. You could even go straight to Boot Key/Marathon, rent a car to drop off family (cheap taxi ride to airport), then have a more relaxing trip.
The run from Marathon to Rodriguez Key is very low stress. When you go to anchor on Rod Key, go all the way around the east side and give it some berth (I noticed some shoaling there on the east side summer 2011, fyi) and crep up behind the shoaling and the key. It has good holding and some protection from teh easterlies/seasterlies. Water depths never got below six for us. From there you can really plan your weather to jump across.
On a side note, as also mentioned above, we found a LOT of commercial traffic and they move fast heading south and west. Biggest eye opener was a cable laying ship. You cannot see that cable until you are close and would be poorly mistaken not to give that vessel a very wide berth off his stern. At night, it would have really been an eye-opener. I am sure there is some special lighting pattern for laying cable, but I don't have that memorized (though I have a cheat sheet). You might want to take one too.
On fishing, we had the best luck with a pink diver and a sppon that we put a green skirt on. I prefer the skirt/spoon method. Not because we caught more fish, but because it doesn't hurt the pocketbook as much when the little buggers pull it off my line!!
All the best. Take lots of pics and post them!!
Skin Diving in Marathon with kids...
Tied up at Marathon Marina (the place to stay IMHO)...
Any local Key's (esp Key West folks) want to guess who this singer is with my kiddos??