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Old 02-06-2009, 07:58   #1
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From Tampa - Planning Trip to Bimini

Hi... I'm brand new to this forum and sailing across the gulf stream so some of my questions might be really easy to answer.. I live in tampa and have sailed my fair vessel on a few trips from davis island to cayo costa or to manatee river or fort de soto.. and have done a few races that were as long as 60 nm so now I have started planning something bigger.. sailing to bimini. We will trailer my boat all the way to Maimi then put in and shoot across when the weather is right.. basically these are my questions - where is the best place to leave from?? (key largo, maimi/biscayne bay, Angelwood Creek?) I know that the Gulf Stream is flowing north so I figured we could leave further south around key largo. And where is the best place to arrive in bimini?? I'm sorry these questions are really simple.. I will continue to research and probably answer some of my own questions but I figured I would start here.
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:30   #2
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If the boat is small enough to trailer, that might be something of a trip for you but if you're up for it, you could trailer to Crandon Park Marina on Key Biscayne to launch and rig the boat, wait for your weather window at no-name harbor on the southwest end of Key Biscayne and when your opportunity presents itself, zip across from the south end of Key Biscayne to North Bimini. Overall that's about 60 miles and the stream will give you a life to the northeast. Of course, by going farther south, say Key Largo, you'd have somewhat more of a reach in the prevailing southeasterlies, but the increased distance would likely obviate any advantage (in my view).

FWIW...
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:11   #3
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yeah.. my boat is 24.5' loa and I think we can handle it.. we're going to be very careful about when we cross. Where should we atttempt to land in bimini in order to have an easy time with customs and immigration?? I've read that you have to fly a yellow quarantine flag and they come to you.. one of the people going doesn't have his passport.. will we have any problems if he just has a birth certificate and driver's license??
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:34   #4
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Riverking05,

You could go launch at Homestead Bayfront Park (and marina) Park and Recreation then leave by Angelfish Creek. Remember you also have to come back .... you might consider leaving the Bahamas from around South Riding Rock then hopefully you'll make landfall in the states around Miami then you would have an enjoyable sail down Biscayne Bay to you auto and trailer.

Good luck and have fun, Bill A.

ps: you might look at this previous tread on the subject: Launch Site to the Bahamas
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:49   #5
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Just plan to make as much speed as possible, motoring the whole way in necessary. With the current carrying you north at 3 to 4 knots, you want to minimize your time in the gulfstream.

Upon arrival in Bimini there is a range marker on South Bimini you need to line up, that will bring you in to the shore. Once you are near the shore will you head north into the harbor. Charts and cruising guides will provide the detail you need. Bluewater Books is an excellent source for both.
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Old 13-06-2009, 09:49   #6
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No Passport!!

Do not leave this country with out a passport. You must have it to return.
Also, the captian must go to customs and immigration alone to clear the boat before the crew can leave the boat. They don't come to you.
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Old 13-06-2009, 10:30   #7
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The range marker is not necessary any more. There is a channel almost directly coming into the Texaco sign on the south island, and marked well with markers. They don't come to you in Bimini. At least after over a dozen times they never came to me. Maybe I am missing something. It's only a block walk, and the two buildings are within a stone's throw of eachother.....have fun.......i2f
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Old 13-06-2009, 12:51   #8
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We took a course with water sailing">Blue Water Sailing out of Fort Lauderdale and did this crossing late Dec 08. We were on a 51 (more LWL than you) but we left anchored off the State Park on S. Key Biscayne and departed around 11pm to time our arrival with good light.
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Old 16-06-2009, 13:09   #9
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Aloha and Welcome aboard!
It's good you are getting advice from experienced people. The passport thing is important.
Kind regards,
JohnL
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Old 22-06-2009, 15:27   #10
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Thanks everyone for the comments!! So my crew and I have all got passports and are prepared to pay all the applicable fees in order to do this whole trips legally. We are also going to rent a SPOT reciever for safety purposes. I do have some more questions... it seems like it would be smart/fun to pair up with another boat that is doing the same trip.. do you guys have any suggestions on how to get into contact with another boat/group that may happen to be going over at the same time as us?? and lastly, we will have vhf radios and the SPOT as forms of communication, can we also expect our cell phones to be of much use?? I have heard of some cell towers near FL's coast that have a 25 mile range and I have no I idea about making calls while in Bimini...
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Old 23-06-2009, 06:16   #11
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You can buy a cell phone card in Bimini, and it will work throughout the islands. You can also buy an internet card too......i2f
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Old 23-06-2009, 07:54   #12
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riverking...

you won't need a SPOT. the u.s. coast guard monitors vhf 16 all the way across the gulf stream, thanks to an antenna high up on a building in miami. you will also get vhf weather from them.

your cell phone will work during the crossing until it stops working. when you reach bimini, put your cell phone away. go to any store and buy a phone card - they come in several denominations up to $20. (by the way, the bahamian dollar and the u.s. dollar are interchangeable - they're worth exactly the same). then use any public card phone - and there are enough of them in bimini - and call the u.s. for 50 cents a minute. a lot less hassle than trying to get your cell phone to work there, especially if you're only staying a week or so. be sure to dial '1' before the area code and phone number; '1' is the international phone code for the u.s.

bimini is a nice town to visit for a week - not as nice since the compleat angler burned down, but still nice. take a short side trip to the concrete ship for some nice snorkeling. it's also about the cheapest place in the bahamas as far as dockage and food goes.

particularly with a trailerable boat, WAIT FOR GOOD WEATHER before crossing. start from the south, at least as far south as key biscayne, use your compass and gps to get you across.

and remember that if the crossing just gets too rough you can always turn west and reach someplace in florida....
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Old 23-06-2009, 09:36   #13
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I have made the trip 20 times mostly from Biscayne bay and the further south you start the better. This time of the year the wind is out of the east and you finish up motoring. Take a nice trip down Hawk's Channel and leave from Largo, Islamorada or even Marathon.
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Old 24-06-2009, 11:58   #14
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I am leaving Rickenbacker Marina, Key Biscayne, July the 3rd 6:00 am to Bimini. I am also form the Tampa Bay area
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Old 24-06-2009, 12:21   #15
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I'm sorry.. I guess it would have helped to mention dates.. we plan on leaving on July 26th.. if the weather is right.
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