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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sailors,

I plan to sail east to Bimini from Miami and although I've done it once I still have some questions.

We plan to leave this Friday night to make it to Bimini during daylight.

Our concerns:

1. Channel entrance and depth we have a 7 feet deep keel.

2. Which marina to stay with?

3. What is needed to clear customs and immigration.

4. How to properly choose a bearing to beat the Gulf stream and not over sail south or north.

Any other tips are much appreciated.

Thanks, Alvaro!
 

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Master Mariner
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Common correction for Lauderdale to Bimini, which should work for Miami as well is to assume an average current of 2.5 knots northward for the expected duration of the voyage, IE: ten hour trip figure 25 miles.
Of course his is only a guesstimate, but worked well for me on numerous trips long before gps was available.
 

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I know nothing and I'm newer than new but I would think that someone leaving on FRIDAY would have all this sorted out and would know the answer to these questions....????

I mean it's not like you can see Bimini from Florida, right..?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I know nothing and I'm newer than new but I would think that someone leaving on FRIDAY would have all this sorted out and would know the answer to these questions....????

I mean it's not like you can see Bimini from Florida, right..?
Its about 43 nautical miles away and I've sailed it before about a year ago.

As a refresher I'm asking for additional tips and recommendations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's a great informative video, thanks!

Would anyone have information pertaining more to the Gulf Stream itself though?
 

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1. Channel entrance and depth we have a 7 feet deep keel.
The channel into AliceTown is relocated by blasting through the coral bed. Its deep and well marked; but watch your drift in this channel if a 'rip' is running. Use your EYEBALLS in this channel as the markers have changed probably since you were last there.
Dont do this channel at night until you are very familiar with it.
Be aware that there is now a high-speed fast-passenger ship that goes between Miami to the Bimini Bay resort on N. Bimini .... see the schedule on the Bimini Bay Resort website and time yourself not to be in the entrance channel when this ship is also there.

2. Which marina to stay with?
There are 3 smaller marinas 'just inside' AliceTown near the ferry terminal: Browns, Bimini Blue Water & Seacrest ... I prefer Seacrest but it really doesnt matter. Of course there is the Bimini Bay Re$ort

3. What is needed to clear customs and immigration.
US Passport and either $300 (or $150 if ~35 ft or less in boat length).
Animals need a Bahamian Import cert. $10 ??? and a Certification of Health from a US vet.
Beware of the dog pits there, so keep your dog WITH YOU at all times.

4. How to properly choose a bearing to beat the Gulf stream and not over sail south or north.
To Bimini, I typically add ~20° to the compass heading until I start to be 'released' from drift then straight to the Bimini entrance channel to AliceTown. Dont sail a straight-line waypoint course across the GStream; but, add that 20° early and then 'adjust' when past midway. This will cause you to sail a 'soft S' course to Bimini.

The chart listed 'anchorage' just to the south of S. Bimini is now scoured out; but, shallow drafted catamarans do still anchor there quite close to shore.

Best weather info to cross the stream is Chris Parker @ Caribbean Weather on Single Side Band (listen in)
SUMMER: (March-October):
4045 USB 6:30am AST / EDT, 1030 UTC
WINTER: (November into March):
8137 USB 7:00am AST / 6:00am EST, 1100 UTC
4045 USB 7:30am AST / 6:30am EST, 1130 UTC
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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Do not do this on a schedule. Check the weather forecast then decide if you go.

Do not go with any North in the forecast even if you think you have a tough boat and a tough crew.

Finally time your arrival in Bimini to be between 10 am and 2 pm, you need to be able to read the water as you enter.
 

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That's a great informative video, thanks!

Would anyone have information pertaining more to the Gulf Stream itself though?
Click on Passage Weather, there click on the Sector Map for Florida-Bahamas and when that opens it will include a Tab that reports predictions for the Gulf Stream for about 5-6 days forward. The site's weather and GS predictions seem to be very accurate in the near term (4-6 days) and we rely on it all the time for our travels in Florida/Bahamas.
 

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When crossing the Gulf Stream DO NOT SET and DRIFT once you see over 1.0 knot of current. You will be in for a long ride. ALWAYS cross the Gulf Stream at 90 degrees to the current. ALWAYS in a sailboat. That heading is somewhere around 110 degrees in most of south Florida. Once you get to the north end of Bimini, work your way down the coast. At 7' draft is going to limit you pretty severely in the Bimini chain. Do not enter South Bimini island resort unless they have dredged their small channel.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk - now Free
 

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When crossing the Gulf Stream DO NOT SET and DRIFT once you see over 1.0 knot of current. You will be in for a long ride. ALWAYS cross the Gulf Stream at 90 degrees to the current. ALWAYS in a sailboat. That heading is somewhere around 110 degrees in most of south Florida. Once you get to the north end of Bimini, work your way down the coast. At 7' draft is going to limit you pretty severely in the Bimini chain. Do not enter South Bimini island resort unless they have dredged their small channel.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk - now Free
Your prescription makes no sense and would have one's track over the ground equivalent to sailing along the hypotenuse of a triangle and then down the vertical leg. By taking into account set and drift from the get-go, one will sail somewhat south of the rhumb line initially, and then above for awhile, down to ones destination, inscribing a lazy horizontal S figure about the rhumb line but covering the shortest distance over the ground and taking advantage of the lift from the stream in the process (unless the rules of geometry and vector analysis have changed since I last looked). Your suggestion also ignores the prevailing wind and would have one hard on the wind which would make it pretty tough to carry a heading transverse to the axis of the stream which is somewhat east of north. By moving south for a departure point, say from No Name Harbor, one can more easily sail a close to middling broad reach with prevailing waves on the quarter, also giving one a bit of a lift.

FWIW...
 
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1. Channel entrance and depth we have a 7 feet deep keel.
The channel into AliceTown is relocated by blasting through the coral bed. Its deep and well marked; but watch your drift in this channel if a 'rip' is running. Use your EYEBALLS in this channel as the markers have changed probably since you were last there.
Dont do this channel at night until you are very familiar with it.
Be aware that there is now a high-speed fast-passenger ship that goes between Miami to the Bimini Bay resort on N. Bimini .... see the schedule on the Bimini Bay Resort website and time yourself not to be in the entrance channel when this ship is also there.

2. Which marina to stay with?
There are 3 smaller marinas 'just inside' AliceTown near the ferry terminal: Browns, Bimini Blue Water & Seacrest ... I prefer Seacrest but it really doesnt matter. Of course there is the Bimini Bay Re$ort

3. What is needed to clear customs and immigration.
US Passport and either $300 (or $150 if ~35 ft or less in boat length).
Animals need a Bahamian Import cert. $10 ??? and a Certification of Health from a US vet.
Beware of the dog pits there, so keep your dog WITH YOU at all times.

4. How to properly choose a bearing to beat the Gulf stream and not over sail south or north.
To Bimini, I typically add ~20° to the compass heading until I start to be 'released' from drift then straight to the Bimini entrance channel to AliceTown. Dont sail a straight-line waypoint course across the GStream; but, add that 20° early and then 'adjust' when past midway. This will cause you to sail a 'soft S' course to Bimini.

The chart listed 'anchorage' just to the south of S. Bimini is now scoured out; but, shallow drafted catamarans do still anchor there quite close to shore.

Best weather info to cross the stream is Chris Parker @ Caribbean Weather on Single Side Band (listen in)
SUMMER: (March-October):
4045 USB 6:30am AST / EDT, 1030 UTC
WINTER: (November into March):
8137 USB 7:00am AST / 6:00am EST, 1100 UTC
4045 USB 7:30am AST / 6:30am EST, 1130 UTC
This is good.
just figure out your estimated boat speed as accurate as you can and then plot your different headings relative ti bimini arrival point as boat speed changes. You do this before you leave of course with dividers, paralell rulers and a maneuvering table (print off goog
for instance, if i leave from west palm beach and want to get to west end marina then first i plot my course whicch is 95 degrees true for a distance of 55 miles. I add in the variation for the chart I am using to the current year.
Next i say "i think from past sailing in these conditions and this angle of sailing that i can make 4.2 knots towing the dinghy."
so then you divvide 55 miles by 4.2 knots (nautical miles) and your estimated time enroute is 13.09 hours. Yet your not done.
as was said your crossing the gulf stream with a 2.5 knoy current estimated and and estimated direction of 5 degrees from your departure point.
Now you bring out the maneuvering board.
1. From the center of the board is your departure point. So with your ruler make a line from your departure point to 95 degrees true which is your course to steer.
2. From the departure point to 5 degrees true draw another line representing the direction of the gulf stream.
3. Make a tick on the course to steer line at 4.2 which represents your boat speed. Do the same on the line for the gulf stream at 2.5 which represents its estimated speed.
4. Take your ruler and place it so that its border is just on the two ticks you made. Now slide the ruler without moving it from its angle to the departure point and trace a third line to whatever angle the ruler states. For this example your heading will be 122 degrees true. So now add variation for the chart and date and that will give you the magnetic course to steer the boat whille your underway.
Last to figure the speed and estimated time enroute use your divders and open them up to the distance of the two ticks you made representing speed. Keep one ***** on the current speed of 2.5 knots and put the other on the heading line of 122.5 and you have your new estimated speed with current set and drift calculated in. So now hope you can sail faster than 4.2 knots because otherwise your velocity made good will only be around 2.4 knots making your wstimated time enroute more than 21 hours!!

This brings me to the last piece of reiterated advice. Make sure you take as much fuel to motor the whole way if need be.

P.s.- dont try it with any wind from the north or east with a northerly direction.

Good luck!
 

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Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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Your prescription makes no sense and would have one's track over the ground equivalent to sailing along the hypotenuse of a triangle and then down the vertical leg. By taking into account set and drift from the get-go, one will sail somewhat south of the rhumb line initially, and then above for awhile, down to ones destination, inscribing a lazy horizontal S figure about the rhumb line but covering the shortest distance over the ground and taking advantage of the lift from the stream in the process (unless the rules of geometry and vector analysis have changed since I last looked). Your suggestion also ignores the prevailing wind and would have one hard on the wind which would make it pretty tough to carry a heading transverse to the axis of the stream which is somewhat east of north. By moving south for a departure point, say from No Name Harbor, one can more easily sail a close to middling broad reach with prevailing waves on the quarter, also giving one a bit of a lift.

FWIW...
Quote "Your prescription makes no sense and would have one's track over the ground equivalent to sailing along the hypotenuse of a triangle and then down the vertical leg" That is true and correct. It makes sense when you apply VMG vector charts
This is from both my experience and the Explorer Charts preface in crossing the Gulf Stream at 90 degrees. My first time I did a set and drift and it took me over 14 hours from No Name Harbor. Subsequent crossing I average around 9-10 hours. I agree sail south of the rhumb line until you get into the Gulf Stream usually around 5-8 miles of shore in the Miami and Bimini area. You cannot beat a 3-4 knot current and get any VMG (velocity made good) by set and drift going around 5-6 knots boat speed. Furthermore, you do not want to spend any more time in the Gulf Stream than you have to due current and most important the short choppy waves that normally prevail. It is not called a "Dirty Patch of Water" for nothing.
The Gulf Stream(GS) is around 43 miles wide here in the Miami area. Average boat speed say is 6 knots for this discussion. Rhumb line is 47 NM. The average time in the GS 7 hours straight line. 7 hours in the GS will equate to around 14 NM up stream (north) using 2 knot average. Depending on where you start your trip will depend far north you will be of Bimini. So let say worst case you are 14 NM north of Alice Town that is around 2:15 + 7 = 9.15 hours total trip time.
If you set and drift your VMG will only be around 2.5-3.5 knots depending on the GS current strength. (38-50 degrees X-track). Simply math says it will take around 16 hours (average 3kts). Sixteen hours in the GS.. Not good.
The prevailing winds here are from the East. So sailing to Bimini unless you want to take 24 hours tacking into the Gulf Stream is not doable. Like I said the heading to Bimini is around 110 degrees. So this makes it a motorsail at best. Every time I hold this course I end up at the north end of Bimini island. 45 -60 minutes later I am in Alice Town.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk - now Free
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Do not do this on a schedule. Check the weather forecast then decide if you go.

Do not go with any North in the forecast even if you think you have a tough boat and a tough crew.

Finally time your arrival in Bimini to be between 10 am and 2 pm, you need to be able to read the water as you enter.
I see many of the concerns are sailing with northernly winds. I understand that wind against the current creates waves, but the forecasts all show less than 2 feet of wave height and since I'll be sailing in a ESE direction to beat the stream it'll be more or less a beam reach.

Are the waves really that bad or is there something else?
 

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I see many of the concerns are sailing with northernly winds. I understand that wind against the current creates waves, but the forecasts all show less than 2 feet of wave height and since I'll be sailing in a ESE direction to beat the stream it'll be more or less a beam reach.

Are the waves really that bad or is there something else?
It gets NASTY!:eek:
 
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