|Local hunting conch in Bimini...|
About seven miles out, I decided to put in the North Bahamas chart chip so that, you know, I would be able to see the channel clearly and enter without any problems.
Now where did I put that silly little chip? It's always in the nav table. Always - well, except for now, when I need it. Seems that when I sold the old chartplotter, I left that chip in it. Darn. Someone got a deal there.
Fortunately, I've got my paper charts...
In any event, the entry to Bimini is very easy and well marked, especially now that the casino is here - can't be having the guests roll the dice before getting to the tables, can we?
How many of you remember the range markers - a couple of stakes - we used to use to get into Bimini - line them up, turn left about 20 yards off the beach, and follow the pretty blue colour into the harbour. I honestly wonder how many of the boaters I see here now could actually manage that?
Fast forward to about 500 yards from the channel markers....and the sound of the exhaust changes. What's this? No water from the exhaust? Not good, especially this close to shore. Turn the boat around and head back out towards sea...
Duck below to check out the engine and whew! - it's just a hose clamp at the top of the engine that's broken, the hose coming loose. Easy fix. Stick it back on, and run the engine slowly to keep the pressure down so it's not blown off again. Being so close in, I didn't want to take the time, unless forced, to find and install a new hose clamp if this would work.
And why didn't I just raise the sails? Love the concept, but there was no wind at all to use the 'emergency white things'...
That changed real quickly the next day though. The winds went into the east, the direction I'm heading in, and are anywhere from 10 - 20 knots...which makes for a miserable ride across the Bahama Banks in a slow sailboat. The waves are small, perhaps two feet, but short. Think Albermarle Sound here. Worse still, they will be staying out of the east until sometime next week and I won't be able to leave here.
So...what's changed in Bimini? The north end of the island has been developed with a resort and casino - lots of pretty pink houses, to quote Mellencamp, and they are doing the best they can to 'pave paradise' here, to quote Joni Mitchell. Don't you just love progress?
However, the rest of Bimini is doing fine. Sherry is still serving her great conch fritters on the beach, and her Goombay Smash is still pretty darn potent. Captain Pat at Seacrest is still as congenial as ever. Captain Bob's has new owners, and the menu prices are badly out of date, with a $10 meal ending up at $17. Eleanor is still Eleanor, hard at work in her shop.
My Three Daughters still has the best conch fritters in Bailey Town, and really fabulous conch burgers - at $5 for the fritters, and $6 for the burger. No kidding - someone should tell them progress is happening and they need to jack up their prices and drop their quality to keep up - ok, sarcasm meter just pinged the limit there. Oh, did I mention they have homemade ice cream for $5 a bowl? Yummmm.
I come to the islands to experience a different lifestyle than what I find on the mainland. Why people call it progress to transplant what you can already experience there is beyond me.
At this resort, they actually ship in crates of shells to build walkways and gardens, bring in palm trees - I'm serious - and build sand beaches on the harbour side when there is a beautiful sand beach just 200 yards away on the Atlantic side.
Except, no one goes to that beautiful beach, and it's empty even at sundown. These people are all hanging out at the infinity pool, telling one another how great it is in the Bahamas.
Fact is, they could be at any resort in any tropical area and it would be exactly the same. These people will tell their friends they have been to the Bahamas and I suppose that's true, but it's not accurate.
They may be traveling, but they aren't exploring, aren't discovering the real world, and they wouldn't understand what we do as cruisers, because they wouldn't be willing to put in the effort it takes to cruise.
They miss so much, and they haven't the slightest idea that they do. They may be living the good life, but it sure isn't the best life.
In any event, I'm happy to report that the sun still shines, the beach is still free and the water is warm. Life is very good. Now if only I could get 24 hours of anything but an easterly wind and get moving on to Chub Cay and then the Exumas.
Gotta run folks - there's a sunset awaiting on the Atlantic side that needs my rapt attention.
(Remember, you can find my location by following the 'Where's Wally Now' link here on LiveBloggin', at "Where's Wally?")