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Old 29-11-2012, 10:14   #1
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Early Planning for trip to Bimini

New to the forum. Great info here. I would like as much info as can be provided for my first trip from Dania Beach, Fl to Bimini. I am planning the trip the first week of April 2013. I have a 29' cruiser with single i/o. I have purchased several books/waterway guides that have provided a lot of info but I want to make this an experiance of a lifetime with good memories. I also bought charts for my GPS. What should I know as far as food, gas, customs to and from, documentation? Are there any boaters reading that are in the Ft Lauderdale area that will be going between March 30 - April 5 time frame? I would love to have someone else going in case of emergency. I will be cruising between 20-25mph. Any info would be great and thanks in advance.
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Old 29-11-2012, 11:47   #2
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

Welcome aboard, Time Bandit! You'll have a great time there. Fees will be $150 for your boat, including fishing permit. Lots of marinas, mostly inexpensive, some with nice amenities...I've stayed at most of them. You're biggest problem is your "plan" -- you should never try to cross the gulf stream when there's more than 5 knots of wind from the NE, N or NW, so you should be prepared to delay the crossing over and back accordingly. Have fun!
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Old 30-11-2012, 13:22   #3
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

Welcome! Everything is expensive in the Bahamas including food and fuel. Never attempt to cross the stream with North as any component of the wind. We've waited as long as 3 weeks to cross safely, so, your schedule needs to be very loose. Finally, I wouldn't go to the Bahamas without Explorer charts both paper and electronic.
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Old 30-11-2012, 14:11   #4
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeBandit View Post
I would love to have someone else going in case of emergency. I will be cruising between 20-25mph.
Hi

My advice may be a little different from others.

Ft Lauderdale to Bimini is a very short passage... 60 nms. It's one I have never made, nor likely to. And I don't have a boat like yours, I have a sailing boat.
That being said the experience I do have suggests you can do this passage easily by yourself without having another boat going at the same time.

Yes, it may feel easier if you are buddy boating, but if this is your first longer passage it would be a great one to do by yourself. No only because you can and are capable of doing it by yourself, but the rewards will be much higher. When you slide into this first foreign port it will be you and only you that's navigated it and worked with every wave, course change, speed alteration and landfall.

I think we learn more, and have more confidence instilled in ourselves when we have successfully completed a task by ourselves. That extra confidence is going to be great when you decide, next vacation, to go even further afield.

At your speed on a flat calm day you could be there in 3 hours. It's not rocket science... So plan and IMHO go yourself. (I would probably slow down a lot and enjoy the day!)


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Old 01-12-2012, 08:05   #5
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, TimeBandit.
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:46   #6
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

Thanks to all for your advice. I love hearing from everyone. MarkJ, you are exactly right. I made the 160 mile trip from my home to Cape Hatteras with my brother in law. I made the trip this year without him and the feeling was great. I will make the trip alone if I don't hear from anyone wanting to make the trip.
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:36   #7
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

Hi TimeBandit,

I have made that trip in a 25 Wellcraft a couple of times as well as other similar power boats. As MarkJ pointed out, it's a short hop and on a good day shouldn't take but 2-3 hours.

A couple of things to consider. This time of year if you have a cold front blowing through it can get really nasty in the Gulf Stream. You will have to be flexible in your schedule to make a safe trip across. Lots of people have gotten into trouble trying to stick to a time table, usually because that's the week they have off from work. Have a backup plan if your schedule is fixed. If the Gulf Stream is too rough go down to the Keys instead.

I also highly recommend the Explorer charts and a couple of guide books to the Bahamas. They will tell you everything you need to know to clear in and out, down to the street and color of the building where the customs office is located.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:07   #8
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

As mentioned, avoid a Noreast wind against the Gulfstream. Every once in a while the wind clocks South then West and that's a great time. However, you should have some flat calm days in April. I've crossed a couple of times in April when it looked like a glassy calm lake. With your boat, watch the weather report the day before and if the water 's flat-ish GO! Not like you're going to be out there 8-10 hours like us sailors.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:25   #9
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

One other caution. I have crossed the Gulf Stream several times when the weather was pretty good leaving FL but kicked up quite about halfway across. Don't be afraid to turn back if you aren't comfortable with the situation.

Also, be aware that you could get to Bimini and not have good weather for the return. Even as late as April you can see a cold front. I even had to cancel a trip in June once due to high winds and a short vacation break.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:53   #10
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

With a single source of propulsion "single I/O" I would find a buddy boat. Lots of things to go wrong on a gas engine. Even being a mechanic you can't fix without parts. Even a kicker that could run off the main tank would keep you from being totally screwed.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:13   #11
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

Yes, most of these guys do seem to have a kicker, but good point.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:45   #12
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

A VHF radio on your boat with a good antenna can help a lot in the case of a breakdown. A SPOT beacon linked to TowBoatUS better yet. They'll go up to 25 miles offshore to fetch you, I think.
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Old 03-12-2012, 13:41   #13
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Re: Early Planning for trip to Bimini

It may be a short hop, but the conditions of the gulf stream should not be under estimated. My best advice is to be sure it's a weather window you are comfortable with, no matter how long a wait that requires.
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