Woo hoo – we made it! Bahamas Baby! I can’t believe we are finally here – it has felt like forever ago that we left Rock Hall, MD in anticipation of our trek to the Bahamas. In truth, this is the one place I hoped to make it to via sailboat. If our adventures stopped here, I would be satisfied!
Checking Into Customs
When arriving to a new country by boat, there is a bit of a process one has to undertake in order to check into said country…and every country has different policies. Some make it quick and simple while others make it a huge pain in the booty. You must raise the yellow quarantine flag on the boat, which indicates you have not checked in. No one can leave the boat other than the “captain” (although in some countries the authorities board your boat to complete this process).
The Bahamas check-in process was not too bad. Our marina provided all of the paperwork necessary so we could easily fill out the information (basically it includes passport info, boat registration info and any firearm registration if you have any). Jake had to go to two different places in Bimini. The first; The Big Game Club. They reviewed all of the documents and then sent him off to the Police Station where the passports were stamped. And waa-laa. It took him all of about 30 minutes to do all of this, which really isn’t too bad.
I was left to the deal with Bosco. Her entire topside was coated in salt and grime, including all of the instruments and gear we had in the cockpit. Down below was like the aftermath of a tornado. I was simply too exhausted to clean things up just yet, so I took care of the big ticket things like wiping down instruments with fresh water and clearing out the “living room,” or salon, of the cabin below. I grabbed a cold brew from the fridge and plopped down on the couch, and passed out. It felt like only seconds before Jake came back.
Once officially checked in, we raised the Bahamas flag and now I was free to vacate the boat. It was probably around 3 or 4pm by now and Jake was feeling a lot better so we went for a tour of the marina and surrounding town. The water here is so crystal clear we could see a whole mess of sea life – tons of really pretty striped fish (still not sure what they’re all called) and even the resident nurse shark. We walked a short way to a little outdoor cafe to grab some fried fish and sausage sammies and sat out by the beach for a bit.
It was so pretty but we were so tired we bailed and went back to the boat, and promptly passed out for good.
13 hours later…
New Years Eve was upon us. And we’re in the Bahamas! It felt really awesome to be here and to ring in the New Years on such a high note. We actually accomplished our goal to be here before 2016. So now what do we do?
Really the only thing on our agenda was to get our internet / cell situation figured out. There is a BTC store on Bimini that we planned to visit later in the day. BTC is the cell phone company (its actually called BatelCo). I had been reading that it can be difficult to acquire SIM cards outside of the front range of islands since many of the BTC stores elsewhere are never open. So we were determined to figure it all out before leaving this island.
We opted to take an easy morning, cleaning up the boat for real, getting in some showers and doing a load of laundry (there was no laundry at the marina so we did the old-fashioned way of buckets and soap and sun). We didn’t actually make our way out into town until almost lunch time. The BTC store was only a few blocks from the marina. It was packed when we got there. I guess it is one of the only places in town with air conditioning haha. But we probably had to wait about 30 minutes before we could talk to anyone. We were all ready to check out with SIM cards and phone card in tote, when their credit card machine broke. Shoot. And we only had $50 in cash on us. And they were about to close early for the holiday. And they weren’t open tomorrow (Friday). Double Shoot.
So we bought one card and added as much to it as we could (about 35 bucks) so that we at least had SOMETHING as a phone. Upon leaving, we realized we forgot to have them cut the card to fit the phone, and now they are closed until possibly Saturday – so of course we can’t use this new card. Basically a gigantic waste of time arggg….
We were a bit frustrated by this turn of events and such poor timing (go figure). Oh well – at least we’re in the Bahamas. This made our decision to stay one extra day a no brainer – we originally were planning on leaving Jan 1 but opted to stay in hopes that we could take care of this internet / phone thing.
So the rest of the day we spent exploring Alice Town and South Bimini. We walked to the Ministry of Tourism (which were super helpful in telling us all of the things around town), a few shops, a beach and a ship wreck.
We also hit up a grocery store (today was freight day – we learned all about that when we went to Tangier). This was a VERY different experience than grocery in America. Food is really hard to come by, especially fresh food. You have to be really careful to check the dates and prices on everything. We bought 5 things and it cost us $25. In America, the same 5 things would probably be less than $10. Its a good thing we stocked up on so many non-perishables.
Its clear that much of Bimini is very poor. You will often find garbage thrown about, mostly because there’s nowhere for people to put garbage on the island. Other than that, it was really a very cool and quaint place. People are all SUPER friendly. It also a really party-esque place. There is always music playing in the street or at a local bar (and VERY loudly). I’m sure that with New Years upon us, that only made it worse.
We were still pretty tired from the last few days so we didn’t do much to celebrate New Years other than eat a really yummy homemade “loaded baked potato” pizza (homemade crust, mashed potatoes, chili, brocolli and cheese – seriously its the BEST pizza ever). We tried to stay awake but made it to about 11PM before passing out. It was a party outside though, music was blaring until the wee hours of the morning and people were out and about all night.
Friday, Jan 1 – Happy 2016! We were feeling more refreshed than the last few days, finally able to catch up on sleep. Today we rode our bikes up through north Bimini and the “resorty” part of town. There was a gated entrance to visit the northern part of the island, which is almost completely resort area. There are also some very nice condo’s and homes (think southern-Florida-style). We shmoozed our way passed security and rode all the way to the Northern tip of the island, and to the most spectacular white sandy beach we’ve ever seen!
It was fun to walk around and pretend we were richy-riches who would actually stay at a resort this fancy. We spent a good hour or two before we made the trek back to the marina. The rest of the day we worked on boat jobs, and prepping things for our departure tomorrow. We decided that whether or not the BTC store is actually open (we heard it may not be open on weekend from fellow boaters), we were going to leave Bimini for Great Harbour Cay, about 45 miles east of us. There was a series of strong storms headed our way and we wanted to be in a new place before that time (so we weren’t stuck in Bimini for another week).
That evening I decided to try my hand at a little astrophotograpy (a hobby that I started before leaving Colorado). I don’t have all my sweet fancy gear so I had to make due with less. I knew the results wouldn’t be as good but I am still really happy with some of my shots.
That night was little sleep because the music was bumping and grinding until the wee hours of dawn. We were so ready to leave Bimini, but had to wait to at least see if BTC would be open – which it wasn’t 🙁
Maybe we’ll have better luck in Great Harbour Cay.