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Bimini, Bahamas: Family Crossing 6/06 – 6/11 2011 (a lot of photos)

Big Bend BrianBig Bend Brian Posts: 1,443 Officer
What a way to start Summer Vacation: With the thought that life lessons don’t all come from school we took the kids out of school 4 days early before their school year ended. No problem with getting my 4th grader out of school early with her end of the school year work, however, there was no budging on the middle school allowing my 6th grader to take his finals early (he had to make them up after our trip).

In the event that someone else is interested in a Bimini trip here’s a short synopsis of a neat family trip to start off our summer school vacation. We had an OUTSTANDING 6 day trip in Bimini!

Sunday, June 5: We were supposed to crossover today but Sunday’s weather forecast wasn’t as favorable as Monday’s so we all decided to leave one day later. Crossing over in a small boat like our 24 foot Boston Whaler Outrage the weather dictates your crossing timetable.


Monday: Leaving Ponte Vedra at 2:30 a.m. we trailered the Bare Necessities to Ft Lauderdale (5.5 hrs) where we met up with some Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club (GOFC) friends with their two boats. Lou Graf, a good friend & GOFC member had gotten us all together for this GOFC trip & crossing. Two of the three boats were staying at Weech’s but since we had children we planned on staying at the Bimini Big Game Club mostly on account of the pool and more luxurious accommodations (family trip). Lou had already crossed a few days before and was waiting for us in Bimini.

After launching at 8:45 a.m. we left our vehicles and trailers at Harbortown Marina for $8/night in their secured facility. Walt, the day/night security person was pretty helpful in telling & showing us where to go. The 55 mile crossing took about 2.5 hours in 2-3 foot seas coming out of the northeast and we consumed 30 gallons of fuel. The kids slept the entire crossing in the new E-SeaRider bean bag chairs (good purchase…had to justify them somehow).

Arriving in Bimini we were greeted by beautiful water promising many upcoming adventures. The water was just gorgeous. These photos don’t do the water color/clarity justice.

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North & South Bimini

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Charlie & Grace’s 26 foot Mako, December.
It looks like their Mako is suspended

After docking at the Bimini Big Game Club (BGC) I walked over to Customs and cleared without any problems although the Fish & Cruise permit was recently raised to $170 instead of $150. After checking in at the BGC we got our gear into the cabin and walked around. It’s a very nice resort and Guy Harvey has done a nice job! Having only 1 hour of sleep the night before we had an easy day just relaxing and walking around Bimini.
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BGC

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Pool area

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Pretty relaxing (the wifer in the background has already discovered the hammocks)

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Dinner that night was triggers & burgers!


Tuesday: First stop was to snorkel the S.S. Sapona, which I have to say was pretty neat. This concrete ship was used for running booze in the Prohibition Days and after that was used as a bombing target. It was pretty cool swimming in an out of it’s interior. Thumbs up!

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Bare Necessities getting ready for the day

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S.S. Sapona: Highly recommend snorkeling this concrete ship

Over the next few days we did some fishing but never connected with the pelagics. We zigzagged from 1200 to 120 feet with not even a sniff. Birds were working the area but no strikes. Others in the marina reflected similar offshore findings with no one bringing in any dolphin. With the weather a little sloppy due to winds we settled in for near-Bimini reef fishing instead of running either further south or north to get away from the pressured near-by reefs. We never slayed the yellowtails but the kids caught a lot of triggerfish-which were quite dependable (and tasty).

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Kaitlyn’s yellowtail

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Casey with a beautiful Queen Trigger

Replies

  • Big Bend BrianBig Bend Brian Posts: 1,443 Officer
    Continued:

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    Not to be out done: wifer & Kaitlyn

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    Casey’s Rock Hind

    In the afternoon we went south to Honeymoon Beach and watched as six large stingrays were circling around being handfed cracked conch. A few nurse sharks were milling around too but not as social. The kids quickly got into this and we all hand fed the stingrays while snorkeling. Very coo!! At some point Casey discovered a herd of bonefish and tried playing with them despite not really having any bait. He did have some bonefish jigs but these bonefish weren’t interested in a bare jig. With no luck he vowed to return……better prepared. At the end of the day Casey stated that “This has exceeded my expectations!” After hearing that my wife & I just looked at each other. Wow! He’s growing up! Too funny.

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    Feeding the stingrays

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    Totally docile rays


    Wednesday: The girls slept in so Casey & I slipped out to fish. On the way we stopped at Bimini Sands in South Bimini to check it out . It was pretty nice although removed from the more social North Bimini fun atmosphere. On the reef after a dozen+ ocean tallys and queen triggers, grunts, and big wrasses we headed back in to the BGC to get the girls (it was beginning to get a tad rough).

    Walking down to the Straw Market we watched a lady selling food out of the back of her van. The food looked outstanding so we enjoyed Sister Jean’s cooking (very nice lady!).

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    Sister Jean and her home cooking (she does this everyday-get the pork chops!)

    Walking back we stopped at the local beverage store and bought a number of Bahamian coconut & dark rums to bring back to the states. We had people tell us about some outstanding pizza so dinner was pizza at Edith’s (kids turn to choose). With a phone call Edith’s daughter picked us up at the BGC and we all piled into the back of the pickup to get to their restaurant in Bailey Town. The pizza was outstanding with my kids saying it was the best pizza ever – my lobster & sausage pizza was pretty good too.

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    Edith’s Pizza


    Thursday: We returned again to Honeymoon Beach to re-visit feeding the stingrays. This time Casey was prepared with a bag of frozen shrimp. It was hilarious watching him as he’s wading up to his neck with a mask and snorkel on, watching the fish with the rod & reel above his head (most of the time…….) looking for the bones. I couldn’t help but think that this was truly SIGHT FISHINGING. He did hook up with a bonefish while we watched but he didn’t quite get to land it as a cuda decided he wanted it more than Casey.

    Back at our cabin we left the kids reading their new books (they love to read) as the wifer & I walked around taking in The End of the World Saloon, Sherrie’s Place on the beach, and enjoying a number of KALIK’s, Coconut Rum, and a lot of cracked conch. As an FYI, fuel at Bimini was at $5.10/gallon although we didn’t need any during our stay.

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    End of the World Saloon

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    End of the World Saloon conch pen (their cracked conch was the best IMO-I ate it everywhere)

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    Dinner at BGC


    Friday: Winds were 20+ knots and two of the three boats in our group had planned on leaving today but with the winds honking they decided to stay another day as the forecast was better for Saturday (we planned on leaving on Saturday). So we made it a land day. We rented a golf cart for $60 and saw the entire island (don’t let your kids try to drive at Bimini Bay-they won’t let young kids drive). Things that were worthy of doing included visiting the Dolphin House, Bimini Museum, looking around at Bimini Bay, and eating dinner at Sarah’s (I had green turtle which was excellent).

    In the afternoon as I was walking to our cabin I saw 2 guys sitting on the sea wall that were obviously stressed out. As I talked with them I learned that they had just made the crossing in their 2009 Grady White 306 CC and had a harrowing crossing. They stated it was 6-8 foot seas out of the northeast and that their newly installed Garmin open array radar unit had busted off its mounting-nearly missing one of the guys as it fell. When they stopped to figure out what had happened they noticed that their stern was lower than it should be and when they opened a hatch they saw water pouring in the bilge. They quickly got “rags & crap” to stuff in the hole. They said that a through hole transducer plug had popped out with all the pounding. Who would have thought that a new boat (2 yrs old) would have problems like that? As the owner of a small boat that served as another personal reminder that you can’t treat these crossings lackadaisically.

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    Conch pile at Joe’s Conch Shack. Joe is a GREAT guy!

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    Bimini Museum: Really cool Bimini photos!


    Saturday: In stark contrast to Friday the winds were light. We were planning on returning today but Sunday’s weather was forecasted to be even better with a forecasted 5-10 knots and 2 foot seas on Sunday. It wasn’t a hard decision to stay another day to allow the winds and seas calm down a bit more. With the best weather & seas since we arrived we ran south to Cat Key and reef fished. We caught a couple more rock and red hinds and a lot more triggers.

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    Casey’s Longspine Squirrelfish

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    Mother & daughter with red & rock hinds

    Sunday 7:45 a.m.: Winds were light and out of the northwest. Seas were the predicted 2 footers and our crossing was excellent. Five miles east of Fort Lauderdale it was lake-like and a perfect ending to our crossing. Crossing back to the Ft Lauderdale we used 27 gallons. Having enrolled in the Local Boater Option (LBO) helped us in clearing although had I submitted my Float Plan I had completed (but not activated……) that would have expedited our check-in.

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    Returning to Ft. Lauderdale

    What an outstanding family trip! I’d highly recommend taking this trip if you’ve never done it. We came back with quite a lot of reef fish and brought back quite a bit of conch too (friends brought back conch for us-only 10 conch per boat allowed). We ran a total of 270 miles and after refueling we put in 119 gallons (of our 195 gal) (2.25 mpg). Since these new Yamaha 150 four strokes and gauges are new to me I thought it was pretty neat that the Yamaha gauges indicated I consumed 127 gallons when in fact we used 119 gallons. After 13 years of owning this Whaler I’ll finally have a good handle on how much fuel is in the boat.

    Hoo Yah!! We had an OUTSTANDING TRIP! Hope to go back lobstering before the 90 day permit expires.

    TripleNet sorry we didn’t hook up. Maybe next time.

    Brian

    ********EDIT

    Updated this thread with a short You Tube Video of hand feeding the Stingrays at Honeymoon Beach, Bahamas plus added a favorite Bimini song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9dfg3C0mCw&feature=youtube_gdata

    Brian
  • ScarabChrisScarabChris Posts: 39 Deckhand
    Awsome report! No matter how many times I have been over there, and its a lot, that water in once you hit 30 feet always amazes me.
    I'm heading over Saturday for the July 4th weekend.
  • SpellboundSpellbound Posts: 21 Greenhorn
    Brian, Great report!!!!! Nice meeting you and your family and the other folks in your group. Thanks for letting us tag along.

    Jeff

    Spellbound
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • copout@castaways[email protected] Posts: 5,779 Admiral
    Awesome report & thanks for sharing.
    A trip I look foward to doing once the family & boat are ready!
  • brettfitzbrettfitz Posts: 438 Deckhand
    Excellent report and photos!
    Making our first trip to Bimini late in July, you've just mapped out our weekend. Thanks!
    "A 'real' fisherman is one who thinks like I do. There are more of us around than you might suspect."
    -John Gierach
  • Full ThrottleFull Throttle Posts: 151 Deckhand
    Awsome trip, gets me even more excited to go we are heading there august 4th
  • Big Bend BrianBig Bend Brian Posts: 1,443 Officer
    ScarabChris: Chris, today is the 4th of July and I bet your having an outstanding time (I’m envious). We went to Bimini the weekend following Memorial Day and a couple of Bahamians said that they were worried that the island might sink due to so many people on the island! Have fun buddy!

    Spellbound: Jeff it’s great to hear from you. We had an outstanding time in Bimini. It worked well Crossing Over with you both ways. Thanks to for giving some good insight into where to fish too. We’ll have to stay in touch. It was nice meeting your family! I sent you a PM.

    bretfitz be sure and post a report. Have fun.
    Brian
  • isla21isla21 Posts: 2,115 Officer
    Man the water looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us. I cant wait to make that trip:beer
  • dolfanjoeydolfanjoey Posts: 1,174 Officer
    Great report, I can't wait to go there myself this summer.
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    Trip of a lifetime! I've been taking my kids to the islands since they were 3/5 and I know that they will remember them forever. I know I sure treasure my trips that I took when I was young. Great report and excellent post! I'm very envious of your fuel consumption!!
  • islandbum001islandbum001 Posts: 67 Deckhand
    Great trip! I got into the bahamas at 11years old with my old man on a friends boat so your kids have something great to look forward to.

    Nice job on that whaler! I wish mine held ~200gal. The little grady will be in bimini later this summer.

    Where in Ponte Vedra do you live? I grew up in that area, swam at the club.
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    Walker's Edge
  • 001001 Posts: 4,292 Captain
    Looks like you had a great time. I was there 2 weeks later and had a blast as well. The seas were ok, but not great for my trip. I burned the same amount off fuel as you on my 5 day trip to Bimini from PE. It is nice to not have to refuel.
  • Big Bend BrianBig Bend Brian Posts: 1,443 Officer
    ********EDIT

    Updated this thread with a short You Tube Video of hand feeding the Stingrays at Honeymoon Beach, Bahamas plus added a favorite Bimini song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9dfg3C0mCw&feature=youtube_gdata

    Brian




    Where in Ponte Vedra do you live?

    We live in Palm Valley on the ICW just south of the SR 210 Bridge (Palm Valley Bridge). Been here only 2.5 yrs now. Pretty neat area for sure.
    Brian
  • niknik57niknik57 Posts: 4 Greenhorn
    Hi Brian I sent you a private message. several questions about your boat performance

    Thanks
    Nick
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