North Bimini, W anchorage

24th-28th April and 1st-2nd May 2023

Approach and anchoring is easy – we anchored in 5m depths close to what looked like a fun section of beach. Holding was excellent in deep sand, but we hear its varied elsewhere. With the wind in any direction other than East, there’s a fair amount of swell in the anchorage (which builds more quickly than usual, perhaps because of the Gulf Stream not far offshore). That’s OK in our catamaran but looked very uncomfortable for a nearby monohull. On the plus side, the swell makes the beach more fun to play on…

This was our first visit to the Bahamas, so we had the usual formalities. Charlotte dropped me off on the beach to go and complete check-in – I found customs at the Big Game Club and immigration slightly further up the road at a municipal administration building. It was easy and fast, so I was calling for pickup on the VHF while the kids and Charlotte were still eating, but they soon found their way to the beach. We just stayed on the beach and played, and when Hector was tired and it was time for the adults to prepare dinner we left Arthur and Theo to come back on their own on the paddleboard (before dark). That was a theme of the next few days…

The shops have a decent supply of fruit and veg on Thursday and Friday. By Tuesday you’ll be able to find the odd apple and orange, not a lot else.

We also visited the aptly named Dolphin House, arriving a little before opening time we ran into the owner, Ashley Saunders. Ashley is, to understate things, an interesting guy – he has spent the last 20+ years building this house by hand out of cast offs (bottles, broken tiles) and the bounty of the sea (conch shells, which make excellent building material). It’s both beautiful and robust, as it needs to be having been through a few hurricanes already. He took us upstairs to the work-in-progress on the third floor and to take a look at what will become a roof terrace, in time. Ashley’s love for the sea and, particularly, the dolphins he swims with regularly offshore was inspiring. And I can’t help mentioning his library/museum, which is as eclectic as it is well-considered. We didn’t even get into his poetry, but the lyricism comes across in his everyday speech anyway. Go visit if you like books, conch, interesting people, the sea, or the island (his book, History of the Bimini Islands, signed, is now on our shelves).

The second time we stopped was to collect some parcels from Seacor – shipping from Florida was very reasonable indeed (c. $300 for approx 50kg in 9 parcels including $100 consolidation at a Florida address). Bahamas customs fees were less reasonable, but I should have checked those out in more detail in advance so I can’t complain. And at least processing was significantly faster than it would have been in Belize!

We’d been around the corner at the NE of the island to hide from some Westerly winds. In two days the beach had completely changed character – I went ashore with Arthur and Hector for a while, and we found the sand had been stripped from the shoreline and deposited up the beach by the Westerlies, leaving pebbles underfoot at the point the water and beach meet. Plus, a new blowhole in the rocks near the rusting wreck, which was fun to see.