Bimini in June 2018

StayinLazyStayinLazy Posts: 335 Deckhand

Hello to all, Matt here. I usually post in the NE section as I'm from Jax. Figured I would try and start a thread here to try and get some pointers, tips and guidance from anybody who feels so inclined....it would be much appreciated and I would be more than happy to return the favor for anybody heading up my way.

So my hopes and plans are as follows... I've got a 1995 Mako 231 with a new motor, all new wiring and electronics and I just fininshed replacing all hardware and thru hulls. I feel pretty confident in my boats ability to get us there. 5 people aboard my boat. Another boat, 22' Angler with 5 more people. Thinking tentative dates of June 13th-17th. Trailer to Ft Lauderdale, stay the night and wake up the next morning and make the cross to Bimini. Check in with customs then be on our way. We were thinking about staying at the Big Game club for three nights. Wake up Sunday morning the 17th and head back. I know there is a lot of things between depart and return I need to have covered. I'm a new when it comes to this and would like to make sure I have everything I need and don't end up in Bahama jail. We are wanting to have a mixture of things to do, fish, snorkel, sandbar hop, sightsee.

I have done a ton of reading and research and feel like I have a decent handle on everything I need, but would love any other ideas or contributions from you veteran crossers. As far as safety gear, I believe I am covered and then some. Epirb, Handheld VHF and GPS, stocked ditch bag, first aid supplies, sunscreen and so on. As far as checking into customs, what papers will i need and where can I get some ahead of time to fill out? Whats the proper procedure for flying the Q flag and the Bahamian flag? Just for the sake of keeping things simple, I don't plan on bringing any dive tanks or spear equipment that has a trigger. Strictly snorkel gear and slings. What can I expect to catch fish for during June? Are mahi around? Deep dropping possible? Other pelagic or bottom fish? Any to do's and NOT to do's? I'm sure I am forgetting many things to ask about. Any help would be appreciated.

Also, what weather site/app should I use to check the seas and weather and how far out should I book the rooms?

Tight lines, Matt

Replies

  • probate-rprobate-r Posts: 252 Deckhand

    Matt,
    PM me with any specific questions. I'm happy to lend guidance, as I am sure others here will. Here are my random thoughts:

    • You plan seems fine, just be mindful of the weather and be smart enough to go early or come back late if you have to. I always plan on having a free day on both ends of the trip so I don't feel the pressure of having to come back in bad weather.
    • Being that you are on a CC, don't take a firearm. You won't need it and its going to be a hassle for you. You didn't mention it, but I would say don't even think about it.
    • There are several checklists in this forum. Read them and do your best to take all the various spare parts and spare fluids that you could possibly need. Fuses, plugs, filters, etc are all important and often overlooked.
    • If you are staying at big game, I'm sure they will take good care of you. But you should know where to go to get spare parts and odds and ends (like Brown's Hardware). Get a number for the local Bimini mechanic that services your engine (if there is one) just in case.
    • Make sure you have a SeaTow policy (or Boat US) that covers you through the Bahamas. Its good for peace of mind.
    • Get your paperwork and fill it out before you go. There are some links on this forum to .pdf versions, or you can stop by the Bahamas Tourist office in Plantation (suburb of Ft. Lauderdale) as they have all the forms including the carbon copy immigration forms.
    • Get your LBO number from US Customs and Immigration. Make everyone going with you get it as well. You can go fill out everything online and then do your in person interview at the Port Everglades Customs office. Takes 5 min, and well worth the time.
    • Chip in and hire a local as a guide for a day or two. They will come on your boat, show you where to go, what to be careful of, etc. Its worth the cost (figure $100-200/ day) to help you get up to speed around the island. Its nothing (in terms of costs) compared to the rest of the cost of your trip and is priceless in helping you make the most of your first stay. In my experience, fishing around Bimini is not as easy as you might think unless you know where to go and how to do it. It takes time and has a learning curve like anywhere else, but a local guide can help you proceed quickly along that learning curve.
    Intrepid 370 - "My Favorite"
  • StayinLazyStayinLazy Posts: 335 Deckhand
    probate-r said:

    Matt,
    PM me with any specific questions. I'm happy to lend guidance, as I am sure others here will. Here are my random thoughts:

    • You plan seems fine, just be mindful of the weather and be smart enough to go early or come back late if you have to. I always plan on having a free day on both ends of the trip so I don't feel the pressure of having to come back in bad weather.
    • Being that you are on a CC, don't take a firearm. You won't need it and its going to be a hassle for you. You didn't mention it, but I would say don't even think about it.
    • There are several checklists in this forum. Read them and do your best to take all the various spare parts and spare fluids that you could possibly need. Fuses, plugs, filters, etc are all important and often overlooked.
    • If you are staying at big game, I'm sure they will take good care of you. But you should know where to go to get spare parts and odds and ends (like Brown's Hardware). Get a number for the local Bimini mechanic that services your engine (if there is one) just in case.
    • Make sure you have a SeaTow policy (or Boat US) that covers you through the Bahamas. Its good for peace of mind.
    • Get your paperwork and fill it out before you go. There are some links on this forum to .pdf versions, or you can stop by the Bahamas Tourist office in Plantation (suburb of Ft. Lauderdale) as they have all the forms including the carbon copy immigration forms.
    • Get your LBO number from US Customs and Immigration. Make everyone going with you get it as well. You can go fill out everything online and then do your in person interview at the Port Everglades Customs office. Takes 5 min, and well worth the time.
    • Chip in and hire a local as a guide for a day or two. They will come on your boat, show you where to go, what to be careful of, etc. Its worth the cost (figure $100-200/ day) to help you get up to speed around the island. Its nothing (in terms of costs) compared to the rest of the cost of your trip and is priceless in helping you make the most of your first stay. In my experience, fishing around Bimini is not as easy as you might think unless you know where to go and how to do it. It takes time and has a learning curve like anywhere else, but a local guide can help you proceed quickly along that learning curve.
    Thank you for all the info, most of what you said I had planned on.  Extra days on both ends of the trip, no gun, spare parts and so on.  I'm glad you mentioned a guide, as I was wondering about that.  Seems it would be very beneficial being that I have never been there.  Where might I find a guide over there?  Also, when should I book the room?  I want to now but not sure how quick they fill up.
  • Lu 1967Lu 1967 Posts: 276 Deckhand
    Customs at BGC will supply all forms needed to clear.Make sure you physically see everyones passport while on the boat right before you shove off.Better  yet have them give them to you.(You'll need to have them anyway) This is important!!!! Yes yes yes on the deep drop.
  • probate-rprobate-r Posts: 252 Deckhand
    Matt,
    I'd book sooner rather than later.  Also, there are a few guys on this site that rent our their rooms at bimini sands. Depending on what type of atmosphere you are looking for, you may want to consider the sands. Its quieter, more protective dockage, etc.  Both are great places to stay so you can't to wrong with either 

    Just a note on Lu's comments about forms.  I agree they usually have them BUT I was there twice last year whentheydidnthave the carbon copy customs forms.  If they have them they are happy to share
    Intrepid 370 - "My Favorite"
  • capt.gregcapt.greg James Island, SCPosts: 11 Greenhorn
    Sure you know, but Harbour Town Marina is the place to put in, extremely safe to leave vehicle.  I wouldn't spend the night before, had a buddy have his boat stolen from the hotel parking lot June 2017.  divespots.com had 15 or so dive sites and coordinates, but it seems not to exist anymore.  I have most of them on my chart plotter, will try to retrieve soon and post.  They are all great places to bottom fish.  I don't dive, but I assume they are great for that as well.  Ocean side of turtle rocks (they stick out, south of South Bimini, you can't miss them) is a great snorkel site, as is the Sapona and Honeymoon Harbor.
  • StayinLazyStayinLazy Posts: 335 Deckhand
    Lu 1967 said:
    Customs at BGC will supply all forms needed to clear.Make sure you physically see everyones passport while on the boat right before you shove off.Better  yet have them give them to you.(You'll need to have them anyway) This is important!!!! Yes yes yes on the deep drop.
    Thank you Lu.  I definitely plan on deep dropping for sure.  
  • StayinLazyStayinLazy Posts: 335 Deckhand
    probate-r said:
    Matt,
    I'd book sooner rather than later.  Also, there are a few guys on this site that rent our their rooms at bimini sands. Depending on what type of atmosphere you are looking for, you may want to consider the sands. Its quieter, more protective dockage, etc.  Both are great places to stay so you can't to wrong with either 

    Just a note on Lu's comments about forms.  I agree they usually have them BUT I was there twice last year whentheydidnthave the carbon copy customs forms.  If they have them they are happy to share
    Hopefully somebody will chime in if they have a place at sands.  What happens if they don't have the carbon copy forms.  Are you just SOL?
  • StayinLazyStayinLazy Posts: 335 Deckhand
    capt.greg said:
    Sure you know, but Harbour Town Marina is the place to put in, extremely safe to leave vehicle.  I wouldn't spend the night before, had a buddy have his boat stolen from the hotel parking lot June 2017.  divespots.com had 15 or so dive sites and coordinates, but it seems not to exist anymore.  I have most of them on my chart plotter, will try to retrieve soon and post.  They are all great places to bottom fish.  I don't dive, but I assume they are great for that as well.  Ocean side of turtle rocks (they stick out, south of South Bimini, you can't miss them) is a great snorkel site, as is the Sapona and Honeymoon Harbor.
    I actually had no idea about Harbour Town, so thank you for that.  I will look into it.  If you happen to find those coordinates that would be amazing and much appreciated.  I have heard of a couple of those places.  Does anybody have any guide recommendations? 
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,069 AG
    You'll need to bring your own bait and chum. There are dry chums now that saves that hassle.

    Big Game has a nasty current when the tide's changing so have a guy meet you at your slip, have all your lines ready and brief your crew on who's to do what when you are pulling in. Don't feel that you have to back in the slip. Pulling in bow first gives you more control in your type boat. 

    We like Sea Crest in Bimini. Ask for rooms that look down on the docks for easy unloading. Right in the heart of downtown too. Slip Patrick a $20 and he'll store your bait, etc in his freezers. He also sells ice right there. Rooms are clean and AC is cold. No pool. Patrick also rents golf carts for running around.

    Approaching the island, use the Range Markers that are on the beach (of South Bimini). Line them up 1/4 mile out and run in almost to the beach, make a 90 left turn and enter the channel into North Bimini. At the Markers, you'd be about 3/4 mile from Big Game. You'll pass Weech's/Brown's marinas first, then the Govt Dock/building, then Sea Crest, then Bimini Bluewaters, then BBC. Bluewaters has a fuel dock. 

    YouTube Bimini and watch them until you get blind!

    Get a nice Waterproof (name brand) chart of the area so that you can get a feel on where everything is. 

    Have fun and I love your model Mako!
  • ColdBeerHereColdBeerHere Posts: 10 Greenhorn
    :# Duval resident as well.  We are headed over June 7-14 as well, Harbor town Marina to B.Sands.  I have 23' Sea Fox single engine, been out to Elton many times with no concern so thinking if weather is right it should go well.  Maybe we'll see ya out there. 
  • probate-rprobate-r Posts: 252 Deckhand
    probate-r said:
    Matt,
    I'd book sooner rather than later.  Also, there are a few guys on this site that rent our their rooms at bimini sands. Depending on what type of atmosphere you are looking for, you may want to consider the sands. Its quieter, more protective dockage, etc.  Both are great places to stay so you can't to wrong with either 

    Just a note on Lu's comments about forms.  I agree they usually have them BUT I was there twice last year whentheydidnthave the carbon copy customs forms.  If they have them they are happy to share
    Hopefully somebody will chime in if they have a place at sands.  What happens if they don't have the carbon copy forms.  Are you just SOL?
    When you clear into Bimini there are actually 2 different parts ... Customs and immigration.  At Big Game, Customs is located on the property, and Immigration in a 2 minute walk north in the pink police building.  Immigration will have the carbon copy forms there worst case, but most likely the dockmaster at Big Game will have them for you as well.  The carbon forms have to be signed by each person on the boat so its a pain to walk up to immigration for the forms, back to the boat to fill them out, then back to immigration to get them stamped, then back to the boat ... all when your sweating your butt off and excited to be there.  When Sands has their immigration office open, you can do both in the same building.  BiminiBrad here on the forum is a great resource and a great representative of the owners at the Sands if you ever have any specific questions related to the Sands.  I think he told me that the Sands has to have a certain number of incoming reservations for them to open the customs/ immigration office on site, so it isnt always open.

    I have 2 guides that I have friends that use regularly.  I'll IM you their info.
    Intrepid 370 - "My Favorite"
  • biminibradbiminibrad Posts: 373 Deckhand
    If u wind up at sands, we have customs and immigration every friday memorial day thru laborday. Thry will also clear you after hours with 24 hours notice at no charge if stsying at sands. Customsbiminisands@gmail.com
  • zmajka12zmajka12 Orland Park IL.Posts: 2 Greenhorn

    Harbor town marina to park the truck. Let them know at the boot, the guy on golf cart will pull up and take the payment.

    Safe place to park truck and trailer. Stay over night at the Bahia Mar Marina.

    Go with this guys, they will help you do the forms, and get there and back. Plus you will have nice dinner night before, you and your crew, included cocktails.

    https://www.bahamas.com/faq/boating-flings

  • Unnivaho89Unnivaho89 PattersonPosts: 2 Greenhorn
    Hi everyone , I have an important question. My lil daughter is always cry while I go fishing or hunting. I guess she's a mini vegan lol. Thats a joke of course. But suddenly we made a breakthrough and she was helping me and was so excited! So now she is crying if I go without her. So to make her happy, I’m looking for the same waders as mine https://under-the-open-sky.com/best-fishing-waders/ but with a small size. Her growth is 52. pls let me know if u have some info! Thank you!
  • zmajka12zmajka12 Orland Park IL.Posts: 2 Greenhorn
    Who is going, I may go June 20-30?
  • Frosty1Frosty1 Posts: 103 Deckhand

    I'll be heading over, June 20th thru 24th, staying at Bimini Sands. Leaving from Harbour Town that morning. One other thing you may want to add to your check list is to get an insurance waiver for the Bahamas. I insure my boat through Boat US and it costs about $15 for a month. Well worth the phone call. You'll want to get all of your customs and immigration paperwork done prior to leaving, you can find it on most of the hotel websites. Hope you have a great trip, Bimini is an awesome place

  • StayinLazyStayinLazy Posts: 335 Deckhand
    Does anybody have suggestions of a good reliable name brand chart of the area?
  • StayinLazyStayinLazy Posts: 335 Deckhand
    :# Duval resident as well.  We are headed over June 7-14 as well, Harbor town Marina to B.Sands.  I have 23' Sea Fox single engine, been out to Elton many times with no concern so thinking if weather is right it should go well.  Maybe we'll see ya out there. 
    Hey cold beer, my dates have changed to June7-10.  904-536-6645  Give me a call if you don't mind.  I'd like to pick your brain on a couple things

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