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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Mega Jerks & skates in the water
02/15/2009, Bimini Bay Resort/Marina Lat & Long: N25*44.815 x W079*16.787 (from 5pm last night) 3rd T-Head#12 14 ft at dock.

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Wow, we're in the middle of nowhere... I just typed in our location of Bimini lat/long and called it up on Google Earth and we're a little speck in an ocean of blue... Incredible. It's in the 80s here and the sun feels hot, hot, and hot. This is quite a nice facility but a bit expensive. It's supposed to be $2.50/foot and they're charging us $2/foot so I shouldn't complain. While I love the ability to connect on and off to the Internet, we haven't been able to connect to shore power to charge up, they must have an adapter or something for the power cords, and water here is $.50 a gallon. It seems strange, coming from the Great Lakes, to have to pay for water usage. I understand it completely, but am just not accustomed to it.

Denny and Brigit from Aurora (pretty little blue boat) dinghied over to say hello while we were having our second cup of coffee in the cockpit. They were the blue boat that followed us into Bimini yesterday (they noticed we were from Michigan) and then beat us as we ran aground LOL. They 're berthed over at Blue Water Marina (where we were originally trying to get in last night only nobody answered our hail). What a small world - they were originally from Michigan - kept their boat over on Portage Lake area near Wayne's sister and I think she taught in Manistee. They now live in Florida. It was nice of them to come by and say hi!

Right after that "the Princess" turned up his music kind of loud. Wayne commented that the local fisherman that was fishing nearby must have loved that - it probably scared the fish away. I heard him yell a little while later to the fisherman - "Hey, the fishing any good?" I wondered if he was serious or being snide and felt really bad for the fisherman and hoped he didn't think all Americans were like this guy. I was glad to see he turned it down a bit about a half hour later.

Later in the morning, Wayne got the dinghy down and the motor on it and dinghied over to customs and immigration in Alicetown. He also checked out Blue Water Marina too to see if we needed reservations to get in there or what (no). He said there were plenty of spaces and after talking to the girl there said all we needed to do was show up. We vacillated back and forth as to whether to stay here or go over to Blue Water and we'd decided to stay here tonight. After talking to the guys here, they were going to fix us up with power so then I'd have power and the Internet.

We started going over the charts and weather - a front is moving in tomorrow night so we may be here for a couple of days - and were waiting for our power cord adapter when all of a sudden the Princess started cranking up the music quite loudly this time. I mean this time it hurt the ears and they were right under the speakers so I don't know how they stood it. But the speakers faced us and were blasting us so I couldn't think straight. Wayne tried waving desperately to get their attention to see if they'd turn it down but they were ignoring us then started dancing. Finally the woman spotted Wayne and started waving at him. He was trying to signal, "could you turn it down a little", as was I, and they laughed and cranked it up all the way (silly me I thought it already was!). She yelled at her husband or whoever he was to her while they continued dancing "Hey - the sailboat doesn't like us". Wow... They continued turning it up, down a little then louder still. Nice. Classy. Thoughtful folks. We tried hailing the office and could barely hear them or ourselves as we tried to hail them to tell them what was going on. Finally we called them back on the VHF and told them we'd changed our mind - it was tooo noisy here and we'd like to leave before it got dark. They said they'd be right down to help us but after 20 minutes and it getting darker, we said forget it and just left. As we passed the "MegaJerks" I heard them turn down the music and someone said - Oh look, they left... Like we should stay and subject ourselves to their abuse? What on earth makes people like this!?! You'd think they thought they were the only people in the world or something and that they were so cute that everyone would admire all their actions... While I normally like country music - I don't like it hurting my eardrums and reverberating throughout my body. I could never see purposefully trying to hurt someone else or aggravating them - like these guys were. I can see where poorer nations think of all Americans as A@@holes if these people are representative of what they normally see. It makes me feel sad to think that these people that live here might think that we're all like these morons. Do we all show this arrogance that I've encountered here in the last 24 hours? I'm embarrassed and feel like I should apologize to "D" and the poor fisherman trying to make a living for his family for the "ugly Americans" that they need to deal with in order to survive... Unlike us - where we just pick up our anchor and go elsewhere, the locals live here. They shouldn't have to put up with such rude behaviors though...

Once we got to Blue Water and called in, the girl said someone would be right out there to help us as we pulled in. There was nobody there, but at least she had answered our call this time as we approached. We circled out front twice, and then pulled in to the front T Dock. Don't know where the guy was that was going to help us, but it didn't really matter. The boat in front of us caught a line for us and told us the electric at that spot didn't work, and they'd move up a little so we could moved up one more behind them and access the power stand. Their boat hailed from Chicago, IL but they were from New York down here chartering (2 couples with kids) and fishing. Nice people.

We went to the office to check in but they had left for the night. Wow - when it's closing time it's closing time LOL... Walking back to the boat I saw a large skate in the water and followed it as it swam along under the dock. The girl from the boat behind us said it was there yesterday too. Maybe I can get a picture of it tomorrow... Time for dinner before it's to dark out to cook - Flank Steak, mushrooms/onions, hard crust bread and Black Raspberry Merlot... Dinner tasted incredibly good tonight. The Merlot was the perfect choice for the meal.

I heard a Frenchman singing tonight after Wayne fell asleep. He sounded like he was enjoying himself. It was much nicer sounding than the soon to be blown out speakers of that drunkard aboard Princess Marie Ann. Mellow and pleasant. He has a nice voice and it just sounded like he was serenading life. Somebody else had a harmonica and joined in, it reminded me of Joey. I haven't heard a harmonica in a longggg time. I'm charging up my computer batteries and the handheld VHF and listening to the Frenchman. My Sprint broadband keeps giving me an error so no Internet access for me here without wireless. I tried the same trick as last time when the techie got it to work in N. Carolina but to no avail... I keep getting the Error 651 message. I have a good signal on it but can't get it to work

Bimini - Part III
02/14/2009, Bimini Islands

3:00pm Position: N 25*42.647 W079*20.030 Wow the color of the water is changing to an amazing variety of light blues and turquoises. It's so clear and looks so shallow. You can see coral heads sticking up under the surface of the water. I can see why they say to come in during this time of day so you can pick your way through with the sun lighting up the path. Time for Wayne to hoist our quarantine flag (a yellow flag that we need to fly until we check into customs)

I'll have to learn to read the colors of this water better. Going into Bimini I was trying to keep the red markers on my right and before I knew it... bump, bump, bump... the water got shallower and shallower. Luckily it was sand and we managed to turn around and get back off it. A friendly soul in a smaller boat came by and told us the path to take to come in to the channel. So we went from 4.3 ft to 12 ft. We tried hailing Blue Water Marina over and over but they never responded to us as we circled and circled so we went further down and hailed Bimini Bay Resorts. Channel 16 is evidently not the hailing channel here and someone came on and told us that they answer on channel 68. Right they were - Thank you thank you! So at 5pm we were tied up with all the large mega yachts and motor yachts at Bimini Bay Resorts. What a place! It's gorgeous. New and huge and gorgeous! They sell condos, houses; have their own island facilities, stores, restaurants, etc... We're also the only sailboat here and people keep looking at us. We're parked on the 3rd T-Head #12, behind a motor yacht (mega yacht) on the 2nd T-Head, called Princess Marie Ann - registered in Road Harbor BVI. Yikes he's huge and keeps looking over here.

The young man that helped tie us up is very friendly and gave us the papers we need to fill out for immigration and customs and then pointed us towards the office and sent us with a younger fellow (around 11 yrs old?). This place is amazing - very upscale! The grounds, buildings, floating docks, stores, shower facilities (I don't need my flip flops in these showers), and Internet access 24 hours a day. They have a customs office on the premises so we headed over after checking in at the office only nobody was there. We were told that he'd be there until 6pm and since it was only 5:15 figured he'd be back. Another man came in and said all his stuff was gone off his desk so he was probably gone for the day. Oh well. Quarantine flag will stay up until tomorrow. After we settled on the boat for drinks - the same guy apologized and said after we left that he (the customs guy) returned, so Wayne scurried back over since it was 5:50pm but to no avail... He wasn't laughing though

We toasted our landfall with my "Bosca Verdi" Spumante. Even after a long day, running aground, and having and facing a lack of humor - I still felt we needed to toast our first crossing - Even if the mood fell through - Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy... I need to smile and feel up beat. We thought about doing this for a long time and have taken that large leap. I want to feel good about it....

We had pizza at Amicci's Pizzeria & Gelateria this evening. Not like ours back home but very good. We wanted one with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions but they had no mushrooms tonight so it was just pepperoni and onion. They charge $2 a topping and I couldn't figure out how they came up with $24.00 until it occurred to me that they consider cheese a topping too - aha! The guy that made our pizza (I'll call him D) was a beautiful young man - one of those guys whose whole face lights up when he smiles. Dr. Holman (Dentist) would love his teeth - dazzling white and perfect.

While we were eating our pizza the cashier that had taken our order had left so "D" was working solo - taking orders at the counter and cooking too. Two kids (from one of the mega yachts) came in that I'd recognized skateboarding on the docks near a large motor yacht and were looking at all the ice creams. "D" was eyeing them speculatively and being patient, waiting to see what they wanted. I thought - they're going to bug him for samples or something and sure enough they wanted samples of the various ice creams so "D" indulged them. They savored the samples in their mouths while staring at each other and you could just tell they weren't going to buy anything. They shook their heads and said "Nahhhh" and left... Right... and as I looked at "D" I could see that he knew all along that they weren't going to buy anything either. He went back to his station and sat down. I wondered how many times he went through this kind of thing with a quiet patience and I thought about the kids and their treatment of him like he was their personal hired help. It made me feel sad that the kids felt they could do this. I wondered at their parents. I wondered if they did this a lot. The kids acted like they owned the docks and the computer room too. They'd come in banging around on the keyboards when I was in there earlier. I wondered if Bahamians viewed all of us cruisers like I viewed these kids - like rich, spoiled Americans (?) who owned boats registered in the Cayman Islands. It made me sad...I'd be ashamed to say those were my kids, if I were their parents, but I've seen so many parents that teach their kids that it's alright to be arrogant.

There appeared to be a wedding or something going on in the main restaurant (it turned out to be a Valentine's dinner celebration) as we walked back to the boat and when we got to the boat the Princess had these brilliant blue lights in the water and their name was all lit up in a green/blue color with loud country/rap music playing pretty loud on two wide screen TV's facing our boat on the outside outer decks (upper and lower). What a treat - we can watch their music videos! This surprised me because the owner appeared to be on the older side of middle age and his young lady friend wasn't so young either. Maybe they're hard of hearing or something. Anyhow, they did appear to be enjoying their evening cocktails.

Saturday, February 14, 2009 Valentine’s Day Part II
(49.7 miles to travel) with a S wind 5-10mph & West Wall of the Gulf Stream ~8 nmiles E of Port Everglades
02/14/2009, Miami Beach, FL N25*47.570 W80*08.759 to Bimini

I had a problem sleeping last night - jitters maybe or noise around the area? Around 2:30 in the morning I was just laying in bed listening to all the happy drunks coming home or leaving the bars along the pier until I heard the alarm go off at 3am. Then it was time to get up and put on the coffee to start our day. After flipping on the weather and checking out the wind, wave, and pressure charts, we secured the remaining items and listened to the Coastguard to verify whether we'd be able to transit Government Cut or not. It was a "not". There were 4 cruise ships in port so we had to use the next channel around Dodge Island to get out. You're only allowed to transit Government Cut if there are one or less cruise ships in port. There was a dead calm in the Bay as we headed out and with the water flat the indication was that the Gulf Stream would friendly towards us. By the time we got under the West Venetian Causeway Bridge and around Dodge Island in the dark, it wasn't until 5:30 that we exited the channel. The approximate location of the Gulf Stream is 8 nautical miles from Port Everglades and we have about 24 miles of a current pushing us northward. I'm told it's normal to be apprehensive to cross the Gulf Stream because it can really churn, but we've picked our window very well from what I've read and heard. Exiting the channel in the dark was a little nerve-wracking. I could see a cruise ship coming in from the Atlantic and as we passed it in the narrow channel I felt like an "ant" next to it. We're so small and as we pass it I realize the trouble we could be in if we don't stay vigilant for freighters and cruise ships. It was huge! I could see people up top and disco type lights in a large area on an upper floor.

Around 6 am as we'd exited the channel and entered the Atlantic, I heard Surprise (the Island Packet near us at the Venetian Causeway anchorage) come on the radio asking for info on the Government Cut Channel - whether they could transit it or not (no). So they were also still leaving this morning. I hailed them on the radio and we chatted briefly. It sounds like they may anchor off Bimini the first night, then along the Bank somewhere before heading over to Chub Cay and Nassau. We'll look for them along the way. I called Wendell (thought he'd be up going to work) and Penelope between 6:30 and 7:00 as we left shore and left a message with them then tried to call Nathanial back too (he left a message last night). Once we leave the coast behind, our cell phones won't work anymore.

7:00am Position: N 25*46.051 W080*08.759 - Beautiful Sunrise this morning - I love sunrise. I've never seen water this color before. It's like a deep royal blue-purple and seems unreal like somebody dumped a purple and blue color pallet into the ocean and dyed it this strange and wonderful color. It's hard to describe the color - a deep indigo? The winds are stil nil - so to speak with waves of 1 ft or less on long period swells. Wayne's stomach was getting a little queasy so he took some Dramamine and I gave him some oatmeal cookies and cracker jacks. I've always found that something sweet or tomato juice helps my stomach and I don't think tomato juice helps his so we'll try the sweet route.

8:00am Position: N 25*46.583 W079*57.940 - not much has changed out here - I watch Miami, Miami Beach, Hollywood and Ft. Lauderdale shrinking along the horizon and can see one or two keys further south. The water is still strangely indigo blue/purple. I'm not sure why but I wonder what color the water on Mars would look like if it had oceans open to the air...

8:30am. Our speed has dropped off from 6.1 knots to 4.2/3.9 knots. I'd say we're definitely in the current of the Gulf Stream! Miami is getting smaller to the west each time I look for it. Wayne went below to make sure our pump out is working. If it's not - we'd have to head back for a pump out and a quick fix since there are no pump outs to be found in the Bahamas.

8:45am. Alls well, Wayne's napping. I was looking at the water and saw something shiny and transparent floating towards us. I thought - oh oh, somebody lost a plastic pop or water bottle and figured, as it got closer that if I could snag it I'd get it out of the water. As it got closer it looked more like an inflated shiny transparent balloon with spines or fins outlined on it. It took a minute or two for me to figure out that it was a Man O War jellyfish out sailing on the breeze and I had to laugh! It reminded me of the old blow up balloons we used to make as kids - where you put a wad of plastic on the end of a straw and blow it up, then wrap it on the end to seal in the air. This guy was shiny transparent on top and a heavier bluish black towards the bottom where he was floating on the water.

9:00am Position: N 25*45.882 W079*52.375 The waves are a little larger but no big deal. The Man O War's keep sailing by - some the size of grapefruits and some of them are wee small quarter sized - all blowing along the ocean skimming along looking for their meals. I can still see Miami but it's getting difficult to pick out my familiar buildings.

10:00am Position: N 25*45.164 W079*47.559 somewhere between 10 and 10:30 I was looking around I couldn't see any land. Miami has disappeared - it's now just an imprinted memory in my mind. There's nothing on the horizon in any direction. It's hazy with cumulus clouds building in the sky. Big puffy white cotton balls on a turquoise sky with satiny gentle waves a deep royal blue in color.

11:00am Position: N 25*44.178 W079*42.687
12:00pm Position: N 25*43.073 W079*38.026

01:00pm Position: N 25*42.723 W079*32.460 The water is now a beautiful sapphire blue. This was a beautiful day to cross the Gulf Stream. I can barely see trees on the horizon. They look like little blobs along the horizon. Our depth here, according to the charts, is 2693 meters at 1:30pm.

2:00pm Position: N 25*42.705 W079*26.636 High tide in Bimini was 11:25am (2.3 ft) and low tide is at 5:37pm (-0.2 ft)

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