When last we left you, we were anchored outside of the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. We were waiting for the marina to open so we could pull in and start processing into our new home country for a couple of months. On the list of stuff to do were clear immigration, customs, get SIM cards for our cell phones and figure out what to do next.
Jan and I got up at about 0845, rolled out of bed, got a cup off coffee and enjoyed looking at the gorgeous blue, clear water. We pulled anchor and headed to the entrance to Bimini. The markers are sparse. Like we can see exactly ONE marker and it appears to be in the middle of the ocean, not at the entrance to a channel. And it doesn’t look like what is on the chart plotter. Discretion being the better part of valor, we decide to bob about in the water until we see a boat exit the harbor and then the channel becomes clear. The markers are there, but they are teeny-tiny and spaced far apart.
We head into the harbor and try to hail the Blue Water Marina on Channel 16. No answer. And while we have our cell phones, I’m too cheap to pay ATT roaming costs in the Bahamas, so we aren’t calling. But we can see the fuel dock and watch a sail boat pull away leaving us an opening–we pull up and tie off. We figure that if we block the fuel dock, someone will provide us a slip. I walk to the office and ask about a temporary slip and the ‘nice’ lady there tells me that I shouldn’t be on the fuel dock, that I need to find the dock master, that they cannot provide fuel until I clear customs/immigration and that she cannot do anything for me, I need to find the dock master. Blue shirt and shorts. Hooky Dookey. I wander around the dock until I find the dock master, JR, who is awesome. He welcomes us to the Bahamas, provides us fuel, a slip and the paperwork for immigration.
We fill out the paperwork and I head off to immigration where I discover that bureaucracies are the same everywhere. I have paperwork, but don’t have the CORRECT paperwork, so heavy sighing from immigration lady as she passes me the forms which I fill out. All is made well by the transfer of cash ($300) from me to the country of the Bahamas. I get three pieces of papers that are a receipt, a cruising permit for 100 days and a fishing license. Then out the door, take a right and walk another block to customs where I get our visas for 100 days.
Then back to the boat and AJ has already found kids. He is in a pack of four kids and three adults heading off to a pool just down the road. Jan and I are exhausted from the long day yesterday and figure we should keep moving, or like sharks, we will fall to the bottom of thee water and expire. We recover the boat from the trip and then head down to BTC to get the SIM cards for our phones. Data. We need data. It costs $35 for unlimited data for each of our phones and in case you ever visit the Bahamas, ‘unlimited,’ means 16GB. At least one of us will have to limit his data use (cough AJ cough)
The town has exactly two streets running north/south. The main street is narrow–wide enough to fit two subcompact cars or golf carts and that is about it. Not much room for pedestrians to walk, so we get to play a game of Frogger as we walk around. The buildings are small ones and two story buildings built right next each other and right up to the road. The cars drive on the wrong (left) side of the road and seem more focused on other vehicles on the road than, say, pedestrians. But the drivers are, and all the people, are super nice and smile and wave when they try to run you down.
The second street is along the Florida side of the island and has a gorgeous white sandy beach on one side, houses/cottages on the other. We didn’t see much more on this day than the town from the marina to the telephone company, but we will explore more.
We went into a grocery store to get some lettuce and it is really small (the store, not the lettuce). Like the size of a small living room with a couple coolers and shelves. On this day the produce was gone, but as we stood there an over loaded pickup truck pulled up and provisions were off loaded; store would be full soon. We got two heads of iceberg lettuce (aka ‘green water’) for $5.50. Penalty for not getting lettuce before we left.
Back at the boat we sit down and look at the weather coming up and try to solidify our plans. Another cold front/northerly wind of slightly less than epic proportion is moving through Sun-Wed and we want to be set someplace. We could leave in the morning, go all day, find an anchorage and then go all day on Saturday and be in Nassau for a week. Which has high crime, is expensive if we don’t anchor and seems like way too much effort. And would require us getting up early, sailing all day, anchoring and sailing all day again. And we are freaking tired. Or we can stay here. We decide to stay in Bimini until at least Wednesday to wait out the front.
Decision made, we turn to more pressing issues. Dinner. We don’t want to make it, so we gather up AJ and meet up with the crew of Mahi and head to the marina next door for dinner. Back at the boat we lay out our list of stuff we need to do before we next leave. It is quite long, but we have some time. We retire to bed early–whooped from our trip the day before.