10 February 2016 | Alice Town, North Bimini
North winds have had us trapped in Bimini... boo hoo say our northern friends!!! Days within the channel are sunny and warm with light winds so we have time to sightsee and dink around the flats. Nights the wind starts to howl, and combined with the swift tidal current, givs us bumpy sleep-deprived nights. On the Atlantic side of the islands the wind and waves show off their strength all the time. Few have ventured out in the past few days. Even the commercial lobster and fishing boats came in to dock several days ago and haven't left yet.
But we have a plan. The winds today have moderated such that we can actually see the channel markers at the harbor entrance. In an hour or so we plan to head out with two other boats, head north five miles upwind, then turn off the wind to anchor in the east side of North Bimini, out of the WNW winds. This gets us out of the harbor in daylight with favorable tides. At dark o-clock tomorrow we'll have a clear, straight path to the Berry Islands, all 72 miles of it. With the winds still NW at 15 or so, we plan to make anchorage outside Bullock's Harbor before dark. It SHOULD work. We'll let you know how it works out the next time we get WIFI.
In the meantime, we have spent ten days at Brown's Marina with newly made friends on both power and sail. We rented a golf cart to tour the north island. There is a fancy resort at the northern end and it is a 180 degree difference from the lifestyle of the natives in the southern half, where we are. North is like Miami, south is small town anywhere (except for the palm trees, colorful houses and Kalik and Budweiser bottles strewn everywhere).
Two days we snorkled in the 'flats' east of the marina. We didn't catch any lobster or pick any conch but we did see lots of small fish and a pretty good sized manta ray. We also swam into something that gave both of us a nasty, burning rash for a day. There are plenty of small fish in the marina as well as a six foot bull shark that visits nightly when the fishermen clean their catch. Bill tried his luck at fishing and caught a number of small Shad, but he gave them away rather than spend the tedious time cleaning them. We will troll for something bigger when we cross the Bahamas Bank tomorrow.
Yesterday we visited the Dolphin House, an Alice Town landmark. Imagine our surprise when the owner/builder/tour guide announced he attended school at UW-Madison! The house is a labor of his love of the islands and his artistry in turning found bits and pieces into art. The house is two stories going on three of concrete block covered in artwork from recycled materials - shells, beer bottles, sea glass, driftwood, coins, marbles, stones, license plates from all the states, pottery, tiles - whatever ends up on the beach or at the dump that can be reused. The dolphin motif repeats throughout the house, as do mermaids. Ashley B. Saunders is also a teacher, historian and author of two volumes of Bimini history. And he is related to half the people on the island.
The days have moved by quickly.... but we are ready to move on to the next adventure.