Friday, April 22, 2016

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude: 25.72590
Longitude: -80.23654
GPS location Date/Time: 04/22/2016 17:03:06 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.72590,-80.23654&ll=25.72590,-80.23654&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude: 25.64734
Longitude: -80.05862
GPS location Date/Time: 04/22/2016 14:02:40 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.64734,-80.05862&ll=25.64734,-80.05862&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude: 25.65052
Longitude: -79.83499
GPS location Date/Time: 04/22/2016 12:02:34 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.65052,-79.83499&ll=25.65052,-79.83499&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude: 25.65087
Longitude: -79.62048
GPS location Date/Time: 04/22/2016 10:01:05 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.65087,-79.62048&ll=25.65087,-79.62048&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude: 25.71757
Longitude: -79.30056
GPS location Date/Time: 04/22/2016 06:36:41 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.71757,-79.30056&ll=25.71757,-79.30056&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Friday, April 15, 2016

Arrival in Bimini

As we approached Bimini in the dark, Brian and I discussed what we knew about the entrance channel. Many sailors will not attempt it after dark for fear of running aground on the shifting shoals that would be clearly visible during daylight in the clear Bahamian waters. They would anchor off the beach on the southwest corner of North Bimini and wait for dawn. But we were tired and wanted the endless day to be over, motivating us to push on regardless. And besides, our chart plotter featured a dotted line through the channel that I was sure I could follow.

Darkness on the water is disorienting, especially on a moonless night. What at first we took to be blinking lights on the outermost channel markers turned out to be police boat lights. Welcome to the Bahamas! But they were not interested in us and slowly motored on. I quickly spotted the relatively dim channel marker lights blinking off to the east and made the turn. With Mike and Brian out on the bow, yelling and pointing directions, and Nan back with me in the cockpit, squinting at the boat's image on the chart plotter's dotted line and playing the steering like a video game, we made slow idle-speed progress, with only a few sandy bumps along the way.

It was almost 11:30 by this time and not much was happening ashore. We motored slowly past Browns Marina and then Sea Crest Marina, which I knew from Google Maps was right before Blue Water Marina, where we had reserved a slip, but there was no obvious sign and we were more than a hundred yards offshore. Brian and Mike flashed spotlights around and managed to get the attention of two people on the pier who yelled to confirm that we were at Blue Water, whereupon we promptly ran aground. With much forward-reverse and varying throttle, we managed to get the boat off the shoal in about ten minutes and headed toward Blue Water, coming in with the bow facing back the way we had come to avoid having to make another turn over the shoal when we departed. The two people on the pier turned out to be Cedric from Trillium Wind and the marina's night security guard, and they gave us a warm but incredulous welcome at our somewhat daring late-night arrival. Congratulatory drinks went down and sleep quickly followed.

Early the next morning, I checked in at the marina office to announce our arrival and then gathered up everyone's passports, along with the entry forms I had filled out from the official Bahamas website, and went off on foot to clear us in at Customs and Immigration, while everyone else waited at the boat as required. Customs in now at the Big Game Resort, not in the pink building down by the Government Dock, as reported on NoonSite.com. Check-in was relatively quick and easy, except that it cost $320. For that amount, we get to return to the Bahamas within 90 days free of charge. Not likely. Immigration was farther up the main road on the other side of the street. The official there asked me for our tourist visas, which I did not have. He showed me the form and said the marina office should have given them to us when we checked in. I hoofed it back to the marina office to request the forms I should have been given earlier, had everyone complete them, and then returned to Immigration. Stamp-stamp, rip-rip, and we were cleared in to the Bahamas. The first order of business back at the boat was to take down the "Q" quarantine flag and run up the Bahamas courtesy flag. Then it was off to breakfast at Capt. Bob's, followed by a leisurely walking tour of the area, which took less time than you would think. Bimini is a small place.

The "S" Curve

If you followed the Spots we sent out with our positions through the day as we sailed from Miami to Bimini, then you know that our course was not exactly a direct one. We needed to sail almost due east, but the northward Gulfstream current of 3-4 knots requires more of a southeast heading, which was exactly where the wind was coming from. We wanted to use the sails instead of the engine, so we pinched up as tightly as we could into the wind for a few hours, giving us a slightly north of east heading, and then added the engine for better "easting" when we saw how far north of Bimini we were drifting. As you can see in the image to the left from Brian's GPS (click it for a full-size view), we ended up about 18 miles north of Bimini and needed to motor south long past dark to reach our destination, finally arriving at 11:30 PM, 18 hours after our 5:30 AM departure.

Bimini is about 45 miles east of Miami, but our "S" curve route added up to about 80 miles, which explains why it took so much longer than the 10-12 hours most sailors expect. The lessons we learned are obvious ones: wait for wind out of the southwest quadrant, which was not possible due to crew members' schedules; and understand that the only way to flatten the "S" curve is to go much faster than the Gulfstream current, which we were not able to do either sailing into the wind or motoring at a careful 4-5 knots due to fan belt issues.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude:25.72471
Longitude:-79.29758
GPS location Date/Time:04/14/2016 23:48:06 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.72471,-79.29758&ll=25.72471,-79.29758&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude: 25.98508
Longitude: -79.42352
GPS location Date/Time: 04/14/2016 18:01:18 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.98508,-79.42352&ll=25.98508,-79.42352&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Whispering Jesse

Whispering Jesse
Latitude: 25.84279
Longitude: -79.81940
GPS location Date/Time: 04/14/2016 12:00:09 EDT

Message: This is the crew of Whispering Jesse checking in. All is well. Click the Google Maps link to see where we are:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.84279,-79.81940&ll=25.84279,-79.81940&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1