Planning a Bimini Trip

I am in the EARLY stages of planning a summer Bimini trip and need resources/advice on where to stay, clearing customs, easy way to find a buddy or two for crossing......

I was on a trip to Freeport once, but it was not my boat and it has been awhile so I feel I am starting from scratch. Any help is appreciated!

Replies

  • Boca KrisBoca Kris Posts: 126 Deckhand
    Bimini Sands is really nice, easily accessible, all the amenities you'll need, but a bit pricier. Big Game Club also has everything you would need, and you can clear Customs there (not sure about Bimini Sands?). Last time I made a crossing, we stayed st SeaCrest (http://www.seacrestbimini.com/) Very rustic, kinda bare bones charm, but sufficient for my crew. Staff was super nice.

    To clear customs, I grabbed everyones passport and walked up the road (past the charred remains of the Compleat Angler) to Bimini Big Game and filled out the paperwork, then across the street to finalize everything at the police station and my crew was good to go.

    I got the local boaters option from Dept of Homeland Security, but no one else on my vessel had it, so not sure what good it does? Maybe someone else on here has more experience with that? Supposedly it's good to have?

    Good luck on the crossing! Be safe!
  • Plastered2850Plastered2850 Posts: 1,229 Officer
    For sure get the LBO # EVERYONE ON BOAT NEEDS ONE
    all you do is make a call to clear when you return.
  • Sick DaySick Day Posts: 260 Deckhand
    Helpful! Thanks! Maybe I can find crossing partners as summer gets closer.
  • ScottNKerrieScottNKerrie Posts: 81 Deckhand
    For sure get the LBO # EVERYONE ON BOAT NEEDS ONE
    all you do is make a call to clear when you return.

    I agree. No LBO no ride across
    Bluewater 2850
    Bluewater 2550 sold
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  • JWPBJWPB Posts: 149 Deckhand
    There will be threads on here and the hull truth where people announce their trips and dates and coordinate crossing partners. Still a little early for next summer but you can read last year's reports.

    If crossing to Bimini most people I know head to Pompano or south before they cross over but many others go diagonal against the gulf stream. Depends on your boat, weather, fuel burn etc.
    Jupiter 29FS
  • AftershockAftershock Posts: 166 Deckhand
    I went across 2 summers ago with my wife. I was really surprised that it didn't seem overrun by S. Fl folks super nice beaches and some cool places to snorkel and check out. We stayed on South Bimini, agree Bimini Sands is really nice and has an awesome pool on the beach. We stayed at a house on a canal in South Bimini - you might want to check out VRBO. It was only $1,500 for the week (cash only on arrival).
    It was late July and fishing was very slow although some did well spearfishing to the north. We had a great time, recommend you check it out. Photo of my boat docked at the house on South Bimini and a popular wreck just south of the island.
  • JWPBJWPB Posts: 149 Deckhand
    I agree. No LBO no ride across

    I've taken people who don't have LBO and no issue for me. They have to go check in at customs but did not interfere with my return by boat. Maybe I messed up but was serious storms in Riviera during return so stopping in the lightning was not a great option.
    Jupiter 29FS
  • Osprey45Osprey45 FT Pierce/ Boonton Twp NJPosts: 986 Officer
    If you have the LBO card you can file a float plan. In the float plan you list all crew on the boat, whether or not they have a LBO card.
    When you return you call in the float plan, the ones without LBO cards now have 24 hrs to check in with CBP.
  • Serenity NowSerenity Now Posts: 427 Deckhand
    Osprey45 wrote: »
    If you have the LBO card you can file a float plan. In the float plan you list all crew on the boat, whether or not they have a LBO card.
    When you return you call in the float plan, the ones without LBO cards now have 24 hrs to check in with CBP.

    This and like the above as well. No need for the float plan but it helps. Daughter couldn’t be with us when we did the LBO. Have made several trips where me, wifey and son call in and she goes in person. It really speeds it up for those without an LBO too. They are given a number upon return on your vessel. They show up and give the number and their passport. They verify the number and info and off they go.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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  • Boca KrisBoca Kris Posts: 126 Deckhand
    Does anyone know what happens if you don't check back in with Customs upon return? Just curious...
  • Sick DaySick Day Posts: 260 Deckhand
    JWPB wrote: »

    Good stuff! If I trailer to S. FL. Where do you put in and store the rest of your rig while gone?
  • KaimanaKaimana Posts: 231 Officer
    Boca Kris wrote: »
    Does anyone know what happens if you don't check back in with Customs upon return? Just curious...

    If you get caught, I'd imagine there is a fine and you get your name on a special list that will cause you headaches every time you have to deal with customs for the rest of your life.
  • JWPBJWPB Posts: 149 Deckhand
    I called 1 night and the system was down. Took me a few days to call again and was no issue. I was stopped by a sheriff boat while still not cleared but think that was a coincidence, not that they ran my registration and stopped me as they did not board and never mentioned it.
    Jupiter 29FS
  • JIMinPBJIMinPB Posts: 1,872 Captain
    LBO is now called Small Vessel Reporting System. You can register as a person or as a vessel master. Vessel masters can file float plans for boats that are registered in the program. You do not need a boat to register as a person. It is easy to add a new boat to the registered list on the internet after you have your personal number registered to you.

    You no longer get issued a card. They just give you a number that you write down.

    In order to register, you fill out a form then make an appointment for an interview. You bring your passport with you to the interview. Expect the whole thing to take a week or two.

    As was said, if some people on the boat are registered in the program & others are not, the boat is not held up at all. Only the non-registered people automatically need to go check-in in-person after arrival. The rest of the people are covered by the phone call most of the time. Some times, after you call, they tell you to check in anyway.

    The easy version of the call in option only works if you have a valid float plan filed for the trip. Otherwise, it's a longer, more drawn out process giving a bunch of detailed info to CBP

    The Florida Small Vessel Call Center (SVCC) can be reached at 1-800-432-1216 or 1-800-451-0393.
    To make a formal notification of arrival on a float plan filed in SVRS, call 1-877-330-7327.
  • JIMinPBJIMinPB Posts: 1,872 Captain
    Boca Kris wrote: »
    Does anyone know what happens if you don't check back in with Customs upon return? Just curious...

    I guess that you become an illegal immigrant...
    ....with all the rights, privileges & special treatments that status imparts.
    :wink

    Jokes aside, someone I know failed to check in after a trip to the Bahamas. Her next international trip was to Europe, probably a month or so later. When she got back from Europe, she got pulled aside & got the full treatment from CBP at the border. They had a record of her being badly overdue. She's a little more careful about checking back in correctly now.

    I found this posted on the internet:
    https://www.allatsea.net/customs-and-border-protection-offers-local-boater-option/
    What happens if I don’t participate in the LBO?
    Nothing. Participation in the LBO is voluntary and free of charge. However, if you fail to report your entry into the US, either in person or over the phone, the result can be penalties ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, seizure of your vessel, and jail time. The LBO offers an easy way for you to comply with the law.

    This seems to give you a pretty good run down of what to do - http://boca-marina.com/boating/local-boater-option.asp

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