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Old 08-04-2019, 06:08   #1
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Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

Wife and I planning to cross to Bimini/Gun/Cat early May with final destination the Exumas hopefully. I crossed over to West End from Lake Worth and then the Abacos two years ago, but have never crossed to Bimini and have some questions. I did the last crossing at night with my son, and this time my wife will cross with me and she only wants to cross in daylight hours.

Boat is a 40í Island Packer SP Cruiser with small sail plan added (400 sq ft) and used mostly used for stabilization, so always cruising under power. 4í draft. Normal cruising speed about 6.5 knots but can push it up to 7 knots for a crossing.

Was thinking about crossing from the Angelfish Creek area but wondering where to anchor there to stage for an early morning departure. Read a few people anchored just outside the creek to stage for early departure and because they didnít want to cross the bar to get into the creek. This looks completely unprotected however so donít know about this. Is a stupid place to anchor?

Is there a well marked channel through the reef to the Gulf near Angelfish Creek? I see a dotted red line on my Garmin Blue chart but it doesnít show any markers. Depths look good along this red line. I also have the big explorer chart book but is not with me right now.
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I also read that anchoring off Rodriguez Key and crossing from there is another possibility. Is that a better/more protected spot to anchor? I donít see any marked channel for going through the reef there either however, but generally looks like good depths to get through the reef to the Gulf? Iím obviously totally unfamiliar with this reef area and how to cross it and a little worried about crossing it at first light and poor visibility and having to dodge shallows and crab trap floats. Leaving from Rodriguez would be a longer crossing also so thatís something to consider.

About entering the Bimini/Gun/Cat, is it difficult? Since we only want to cross in daylight will I make it to Bimini with enough light to enter? Where exactly should I enter? I think I can cross in about 8 hours so that would put me in the Bimini area around 3pm or so.

Is it possible to just anchor somewhere around Bimini/Gun/Cat (Honeymoon Harbour?) and check in later at Chub maybe? Or is it worth exploring Bimini and checking in there?

Also wondering about anchoring on the bank and spending the night halfway or so from Bimini to Chub to break up the long 75 or so mile trip. I could do this in one long day I think, but donít know about entering Chub so late? Is there a reasonable chance of success anchoring out on the bank in May? Wife is a little suspect of anchoring out totally unprotected like that and I donít want to make her cranky so early in the trip.

Sorry, that was a lot of questions. Any advice is appreciated!
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Old 08-04-2019, 06:42   #2
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

We always anchor in no name harbor (or outside if it is too full) and leave at 5:00 am, and head straight to Cat Cay or Bimini. The pass at Gun/Cat Cay looks worse than it is, but if it makes you nervous, just go straight to Bimini (or the really easy way, just straight into Bimini Sands) or cut through between Barnett Harbor and the Sapona wreck (which can be done safely with wind from any direction) then head south to Cat. We have never found the Gulf Stream to be enough of a factor to negate traveling the shortest possible route. Yes, you crab a little but as you pass through it, but so what? We also don’t mind paying the $100 at Cat as it’s an easy place to clear, and we always get the full six months there. Plus, we are over Bimini, it’s just too run down these days (and, you can get trapped there with a strong west wind).

And, you know, taking the usual weather precautions, (no north wind component and 15 knots from anywhere else limit for us).
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:50   #3
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Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

Cool, thanks Group9.

Anchoring outside of no name definitely looks more protected for sure. Iím coming from Marathon so thatís why I was thinking of starting more south. That and I wanted to limit the crabbing, but maybe this distance is so short Iím over thinking that?

Looking at my iPad chart (old Garmin Blue Chart) the Barnett Harbour entrance looks nice and wide, and I like the idea of anchoring behind Gun or Cat. Is it cool to not clear in until later at Chub or wherever, or will they frown on that? I did that last time crossing at West End and anchored near some little island just past that, but it was inhabited. Wife may be tired of me at this point however so might want to stop at a marina, so if thatís the case Iíll obviously check in.

Roger that on the weather. Will def wait on settled weather. Donít want to screw up this trip right out of the gate for my wife with a bad crossing.

Any problems with that narrow-looking cut from Cat going out to the banks? This chart shows 6.5í through there.
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Old 08-04-2019, 08:16   #4
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

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Cool, thanks Group9.

Anchoring outside of no name definitely looks more protected for sure. I’m coming from Marathon so that’s why I was thinking of starting more south. That and I wanted to limit the crabbing, but maybe this distance is so short I’m over thinking that?

Looking at my iPad chart (old Garmin Blue Chart) the Barnett Harbour entrance looks nice and wide, and I like the idea of anchoring behind Gun or Cat. Is it cool to not clear in until later at Chub or wherever, or will they frown on that? I did that last time crossing at West End and anchored near some little island just past that, but it was inhabited. Wife may be tired of me at this point however so might want to stop at a marina, so if that’s the case I’ll obviously check in.

Roger that on the weather. Will def wait on settled weather. Don’t want to screw up this trip right out of the gate for my wife with a bad crossing.

Any problems with that narrow-looking cut from Cat going out to the banks? This chart shows 6.5’ through there.
We’ve also cleared in at Chub (the marina there charges to clear in, too, I think, now) and at Nassau. Chub is not bad, although I think it still only has a Customs agent at the airport last time I was there (who while he can theoretically only grant a three month visa, once gave us a seven and a half month visa that no one blinked an eye at, at Immigration later when I had to fly out and come back later).

Nassau can be easy, or a pita, I won’t do Nassau clearing any more. Others may have a different opinion.

I’ve taken five feet and had plenty of water from Cat Cay to NW channel through that pass and never got nervous! Much more than that and you might want to play the tides for peace of mind. But, it’s just sand..

But, the pass near Nixon harbor, (North Turtle Rock pass) I haven’t used in thirty years, so I don’t know about that one. I hear it has shoaled some.
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:44   #5
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

Coming from Marathon, overnight (in settled weather - you shouldn't be going if it's not!) at Rodriquez Key. No problem. Leave at first light (or maybe 1/2 hr before) and head to Bimini/Cat/Gun. It's best to get on the bank while the sun is high overhead so you can read the water. Our preference is to clear at Bimini or Cat to get it over with and then anchor either behind Gun or farther out on the bank. But, if you don't want to clear in at Bimini or Cat, keep going and anchor anywhere out of the "shipping" lane on the bank once the sun starts going down. Just make sure you show an anchor light and maybe a deck light too. We've don't this several times without incident. We've also crossed the bank before at night... there's nothing out there other than maybe a few anchored sail boats.
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:01   #6
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

Nothing like the plaintiff cries of a wife to put a kabash on things.. I hear you man. Keep a well stocked boat, and encourage novel reading. Take it easy on windy days, bring beer.
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:12   #7
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

Lots of beer! Or lots of money!!!

And, we like anchoring (and, sailing at night) on the banks, too. Star city! Just get well off the magenta lines so the mailboats don’t have to go around you!
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:17   #8
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

If you hit Bimini at the wrong time, anchoring outside the harbour is fine then enter in daylight. Clearing in there is a breeze as well, then itís a nice cruise across the Bank to Nassau and on to the Exumas!

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Old 08-04-2019, 10:51   #9
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

I crossed from overnight anchoring in behind Rodriguez across to Gun/Bikini a bunch of times: I always figured it gave the best "slant" for a speedy sojourn in the stream.
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:10   #10
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

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I crossed from overnight anchoring in behind Rodriguez across to Gun/Bikini a bunch of times: I always figured it gave the best "slant" for a speedy sojourn in the stream.

How long did that usually take you to cross from there? Enough daylight to go through one of the passes around Bimini/Gun/Cat?
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:52   #11
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

I seem to recall a crossing in 1978 with a pretty strong southwest wind blowing in which I was anchored up behind cat cay around 4ish in the afternoon, after having departed Rock Harbor/Rodrigues at dawn. About perfect sailing conditions, with the Aries vane gear darn near sailing the boat right through the passage onto the bank. I thought spending Christmas in Bimini would be fun: I was about the only soul there and it was depressing. If memory serves, I couldnít even find a store open to buy rum. It was a fast comfortable crossing in a 33í boat, though.
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Old 08-04-2019, 17:16   #12
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

If you anchor at Angelfish, you will depart at night,,,,,,,,right after sunset when the noseeums and mosquitoes overwhelm your vessel!
Oh yeah, and it is narrow and shallow

https://www.waterwayguide.com/nav-al...ngelfish-creek
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Old 08-04-2019, 19:11   #13
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

I was talking about anchoring outside the inlet. Not going in.
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Old 08-04-2019, 20:01   #14
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

Cardude, Have you looked at Caesar's creek. Its a marked channel From Oceanside to Bayside. There is an anchorage by Reid Key or you can anchor in the bay. Gives you a nice angle to Cat ,Bimini. Broad creek is also marked. Not to bad but a bit of current, but easy to navigate.
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Old 08-04-2019, 20:19   #15
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Re: Crossing from the Keys to Bimini

I was talking about anchoring outside the inlet. Not going in.
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