Our stay in the Bahamas hasn’t been long, but after all we’ve seen, it’s pretty clear that the Bahamas are underrated among the sailing community.  With so many islands (something like 700), and so few of them populated (something like 30 or 40), it’s a veritable paradise of remote, untouched beaches.  The water is clear, with both deep-sea trenches and large, shallow banks.  There are tons of coral reefs, great diving and fishing, and fun, friendly locals. We’ve spent the last week enjoying the Bahamas with family and taking it easy.

Before leaving Grand Bahama, we met a French/Canadian cruising couple on a 2000 47’ Privilege with 3 kids who were just starting out and are planning to do the Caribbean.  It’s definitely different being on the experienced side of the conversation and meeting lots of folks just starting out.  Jackson and Harper had fun playing with their kids, and they invited us over for snacks and drinks before we left for Bimini just before sunset.

After starting the passage with a sunset dinner, Lauren and I were reminded how accustomed we’ve become to the motion of the ocean.  The sun had barely set when Tim and Heather both started feeling sick.  The seas weren’t big, but they were mostly on the beam and a little confused.  Lauren and I would typically have been hoping for some more wind for better sailing and wouldn’t really have noticed the waves, but seeing Tim and Heather feeling the effects of the boat’s motion reminded us how it was when we started.  Luckily, the kids did pretty well and by the next morning Tim and Heather were in good shape for our landfall in Bimini.

On our first trip to the Bahamas, an old man who went by the name of “Gold Tooth” told us that Bimini was “a magical place, mon.”  We’ve certainly enjoyed it every time we’ve been there.  Ernest Hemingway spent a good deal of time there, and before it burned down a few years back, his house was both a Bimini icon and one of the best bars in the world.  Tim & Heather were engaged on North Bimini’s Radio Beach during a sailing trip, and our friends Brett and Aida who are now married got to know each other there after they met in Grand Bahama on a sailing trip with us (Brett left the US with us and Aida was a stowaway from Grand Bahama to Bimini).

Bimini was just as great this time around.  We spent plenty of time at the beach and at a couple of the current Bimini institutions: The End of the World Saloon (a.k.a. the sand bar) and Sherri’s bar and restaurant at Radio Beach, which is also full of personality and has a great view of the sunset.  Bimini is so small that the gas station is just a couple of pumps at the side of the road with just a small spot to pull off in front of them.  Many people use a golf cart as their primary vehicle and we joined the crowd one day by renting a golf cart and touring the island.  We drove North Bimini end-to-end in well under an hour, including a stop at Charlie’s house for his famous home-cooked Bimini bread.

DSC_0529 The kids loved the beach where Tim proposed to Heather.  Doesn’t get any prettier than this.

After a couple days in North Bimini we headed down to South Bimini to take the kids to the shark lab.  The shark lab is a research station started by a Miami professor to study the lemon shark. There are three lemon shark “nursery” areas on Bimini, where mature female lemon sharks return to Bimini every other year to give birth.  The young sharks stay in the Bimini area until they reach maturity, about 12 years later.

DSC_0615 Young lemon sharks

DSC_0607 Bubbles in the clear, shallow water made star shapes on the sandy bottom

After a dip in the pool at the Bimini Sands Beach Club, we headed out to snorkel and dive the Sapona, another Bimini tradition.  The Sapona was a WWI ship transport built by Henry Ford.  After only one Atlantic crossing, the war ended and it was being used as a rum runner during Prohibition when it was wrecked on the bank south of Bimini.  Its hull is mostly above water, and it makes for an awesome shallow-water snorkel and dive.  There were literally hundreds and hundreds of fish, including some really cool ones we’ve never seen.  Some of our favorite sightings were a giant crab, a large stingray that we nearly swam over, a hogfish, ocean and queen triggerfish, a large, poisonous spotted scorpionfish, an eel, and a good-sized shark.

DSC_0627 The Sapona

DSC_0630 The little guy loved his first lobster

DSC_0640 Our last sunset in paradise pic