Day 1: First Crossing West Palm to Bimini

We took a trip for our 10th anniversary (also celebrating the Hub’s 1 year cancerversary) by taking our 28 foot fishing boat across the Grand Banks to the Bahamas. Many have asked how our trip was so I thought I’d publish my diary entries from the week. I hope you find it even remotely as thrilling as I did.

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Getting into West Palm, FL
Getting into West Palm, FL

We had arrived at the West Palm Marina around 9 pm on Friday night- 4 hours later than expected. We were exhausted and beaten down from the long drive and still had the task of launching the boat in an unfamiliar marina now in the dark. The marina office had long since closed so we were left to our own devices to get our bearings, launch the boat, and find our way to a dock slip. These are the moments when I thank God that my husband is a boat dealer. I am also reminded that as independent and self reliant as I am there is still much in this world that I don’t know and could never begin to navigate on my own.

I perched on the side of the boat feeling useless as he scurried around me flipping switches and turning knobs. He was rigging the fishing poles in preparation for the crossing on Saturday. I tried to stay out of the way- being as still and small as I could make myself.

We crawled into the berth around midnight after a moonlight stroll on the docks ogling the huge yachts parked all around us dwarfing our 28 foot Pursuit we lovingly call “The Gravy.” I awoke around 6 hours later surprised to find I hadn’t even moved positions in my sleep. That’s a testament to how tired I was I guess. I laid in the berth staring through the salt crusted skylights for an hour or so before I drifted back to sleep for a bit.

“WAKE UP! LET’S GO TO THE BAHAMAS!!!” he excitedly shouted at me shaking me awake somewhere around 8:15.

I shook the sleep off of me and jumped up busying myself making coffee in the brand new 6 cup electric Percolator I had bought especially for this trip. I poured our coffee and packed my bathroom bag to make the trek to the marina restrooms which, according to my FitBit, were about 3000 steps away from where we had parked in the night.

I met him on the gas docks after my shower and after pumping out the boat and getting fresh ice for the cooler and we were off. We stopped in the harbor to buy live bait off of a mobile bait shop set up on a boat just at the mouth of the channel.

We trolled for fish for about 2 hours or so in the sweltering heat. I dragged one of our marine beanbags up to the bow and busied myself reading my book- the second one of the trip as I had finished book number one on the 12 hour drive to West Palm. 

Bow reading
Bow reading

We could still see the high-rises of West Palm, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale as we slowly trolled. My sunscreen began melting off my face and dripping into my eyes. As I wiped my face with my beach towel I made a mental note that mascara was overrated and vowed to not wear any makeup for the rest of the trip.

After a few hours (and no fish) we pulled the lines in hit the gas heading toward Bimini. I laid in the beanbag in the stern still reading my book thrilled that I was getting time to read. I rarely get time to read and even when I do I have a hard time quieting my mind long enough to focus on the story line and I find myself re-reading page after page until I get frustrated and reach for my phone to check Facebook or something that requires less brain power.

It took about 2 hours of nothing but water before we saw the sandy beaches of Bimini yawning before us in the blue expanse. As we got closer we could make out the hotels and resorts dotting the coast of the tiny island. He, of course, decided he wanted to fish some more. I slowly faced the realization that I may have agreed to a week long fishing trip. Fishing isn’t really my thing but I guess it’s just as well- he could fish and I could lie in the sun and read book after book.

The heat beat down on us as he readied the bait and the lines and it became too much to bear. I grabbed the throwable and dove into the crystal blue water. I floated there for an hour or so watching the fish eat the bait off the hooks right below me- maybe 30 feet down. He finally caught something- what it is we didn’t know but we kept it anyway and threw it into the live well beneath the jump seat. And then another of the same unknown species! 

By this time it was approaching 5 or 6 pm and we decided to head into the marina to check in and get our slip for the night. Brown’s Marina is the first on the left coming into Bimini Bay and boasted air conditioned restrooms and showers, a tiki bar, a beach area lined with lounge chairs, and an outdoor grill area. I had checked their website and had spent the last 5 days poring over the pictures eager to get to paradise.

When we arrived we were greeted quickly by dockhands named Jeffery and Cheesecake. I wondered if that was really his name or if I had had one too many beers while on the water. Nevertheless he smiled and answered each time my husband called “Cheesecake!” with 7 yellowed and rotting teeth spilling out of his lower jaw. I’m pretty sure those were the only teeth he had left and they were just as desperate to escape his mouth as the ones that had rotted out before.

We tipped the dockhands with our mystery fish and they hungrily ran off to clean and cook them. We decided to go search for a restaurant on the island called “Flora’s” that a friend had recommended. We figured Alicetown isn’t too big and we didn’t need proper directions so we just began walking down the road towards town with no idea where we were going.

Less than a block away from the marina a British woman and her two dogs in a golf cart pulled over and asked if we would like a ride. I shook my head no and said thank you as my husband jumped into the backseat of her cart. I didn’t have time to protest before he pulled me in behind him and we were off. He told her we were going to Flora’s and she zipped down the street zigging around stray dogs and zagging around pedestrians. Maybe 25 blocks down she came to a halt and told us to have a nice night refusing to let us pay her for the ride and she was gone.

We turned around to see a dive of a bar called “One, two, three, floor” and realized that in fact, this was not Flora’s. We asked a man loitering on the stoop of the bar if he could give us directions but he had never heard of the place. So we turned around and began walking back toward the marina. We asked every passerby where we could find the restaurant but no one had ever heard of it. A few blocks in it came out that our friend who recommended the restaurant hadn’t been back to Bimini in the past 10 years. I think it’s safe to say that Flora’s is no more.

We finally made it back to the marina after weaving in and out of the local neighborhood and ended up at the restaurant next to the marina called “Big John’s”. I ordered conch fritters, fried plantains, bahamian rice, and sweet potatoes and he ordered the catch of the day with fried plantains and fries. The food was decent albeit extremely overpriced. I guess that’s what happens when you land in a tourist trap right next to the marina.

After dinner and too many drinks we made our way back to the boat and crawled into the berth to be rocked to sleep by the rollers thrown off from boats coming and going in the bay.

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Made it to Bimini!!!

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