While waiting in N. Bimini
for a weather
window, I thought I would post some notes for those going this direction from a first-timer to Bimini
First of all, this was also the first time for us crossing the Stream in this direction and I learned a few things -- first, from the Florida
side, make your southing as close to shore as you can. Second, go at least 10 miles further south than you think is reasonable! We left from Ft Lauderdale and went to Government
before turning east. Not Far Enough! It was a slow slog across. Should have gone at least to Key Biscayne, shoot even Key Largo!
At Bimini, there are now two entrances to N. Bimini. The "old" south entrance -- still shallow; and the "new" entrance, dredged to no less than 8'. For the new entrance, you can trust the waypoint in the current
(25 degrees, 42.60' N; 79 degrees, 18.50'W) which will put you about 1/2 mile due west of the entrance. However, the entrance markers shown on the chart do not exist. Neither do the second set, however the lone red marker at the north end of S. Bimini is there. (I was told that there are range markers, but despite both of us looking for them, we never saw them. Turns out they are green with white stripes -- located in some trees! Don't count on seeing them.)
So, after you arrive at the waypoint, proceed at 90 degrees for about 1/2 mile -- you are looking at the north end of some condos, directly at a rock pile just to the north of the last set of condos. You're on track. Watch for the breakers to your port and there's also shallows to your starboard. Your depth sounder
should have regained a fix by now and you should be able to see the lone red to your port. When you hit about 9' at low tide, take your turn to the north on a heading of about 35 to 40. After making the turn, go about 50 yards and start to cheat a bit to the east (toward shore) and you should be staying in 9 to 12'. You don't want to go too far east when still at 90 due to shoaling in front of that big pile of rocks. As you come up to the lone red, you should be seeing 12' or more.
By the way, while it probably goes without saying, don't even try either entrance with strong onshore winds/seas. Visual Piloting Rules definitely apply. There's a nice rusting hulk of a small freighter just to the north to remind us of why. Also, about an hour after we came in, there was a really nice ketch
that grounded when trying to take the "old" more southerly entrance. Fortunately, a power boat
was able to help them get off, but it was touch & go and they were almost in the breakers.
Hopefully, we'll get a bit of a break from these fronts and we can get out of here and on to the Berrys!