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Old 02-01-2009, 12:52 PM   #1
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Default Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

Anyone ever make that ride?
I've beed invited to tag along with a 30 Fountain and a 36 Outlaw ( I think)
I have a 24 footer with a 9 6" beam.

It's 52 nautical miles I am told, but we have to cross the Gulf Stream.

It's my first big water trip on my own boat.
Any thoughts? Cautions? tips?
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:44 PM   #2
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Default RE: Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

Did you intend to post this in the Gulf Coast forum?
We've made this trip every year for quite a while. Assuming you'd be trailering from LA-
Take I-75 down the West Coast, it turns East, becomes I-595, and will take you right to Dania. The traffic's better than I-95, and it's simpler & cheaper than the Turnpike. We've started fueling the boat before we cross from the West Coast to avoid having to find gas in the downtown Dania area.
Unless the guys you're going with have plans already set up, plan to leave from Harbourtowne Marina ( ) in Dania. They have around the clock security, so you can leave your rig there without worry. Be aware of the tide, when it's too low you may have trouble launching or retrieving.
The Gulf Stream is going North @ ~5 knots, just something to be aware of if you break down.
Plan to leave as early in the day as possible, both coming and going. The water's calmer, fewer thunderstorms, and you may avoid the longer lines at Immigration & Customs.
We usually stay at the Seacrest Hotel ( in Bimini. They don't have a restaurant, and that part of Bimini may be short of places to eat now that the Big Game Club has shut down. Immigration & Customs are both very short walks from there, it's right next to the Customs dock.
I'm not aware of anyone in Bimini who does outboard repairs, there's a hardware store that has some stuff. Make sure your boat and engine(s) are in top shape, take spares for whatever you think might be needed that you could repair yourself, and join SeaTow if you aren't already a member.
Did I say you need to have a current SeaTow membership? In one trip a few years back I spent enough in towing fees to pay for a lifetime of memberships.
Before crossing do a radio check with all those traveling with you, and stay in contact.
The seas can get really big, but that doesn't necessarily mean bad. When we made our first crossing there were big, slow, rollers in the Gulf Stream. Each time we would disappear from sight the kids on the buddy boat thought we were sinking, but not too uncomfortable.
Do some searches on THT in the Florida & Georgia Forum, and on the Florida Sportsman forums. Lot's of information there.
We go over to dive, most people going to Bimini go to fish. We're thinking of going to Grand Bahama this year to have some activities available for those who don't fish or dive.
If you've got specific questions fire away, I'll try to answer or refer you to someplace where you can get the answers.
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

perfect. I was looking for a local guy.
we are in the planning stages now and your information is going to be a great place to start.
I'll get with you on the board with any future questions.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

It is a great trip in the summer. In the winter, you will have some seas. Your boat may not be able to keep up with the bigger boats, so make sure that you know them well and that they are not going to "loose" you. It gets tought when everybody has plans and someone makes a decision that keeping their plans is more important than stay as a team. The Gulfstream crossing is some times very interesting as you may see high seas and it will move you well off course. A good GPS, and a spare GPS, good "corrected" compass and spare compass.

Even though you are traveling with a group, assume that you will get let by yourself and be prepared to deal with that.

Bring spares for everything.... fused, spark plugs, shear pins, props, extra 20 gallons of fuel in well sealed containers. Bad fuel from Bimini is not all that rare and running out of fuel is no fun.

I have been to the Bimini in a sailboat and not been able to make it to the inlet as the seas had picked up such that waves were washing over the shoal that parallels the shoreline. It was a very disappointing and dangerous trip. When we left Miami, it was calm with a calm forcast. This was back in the days of RDF and a GPS was not invented yet. In the dark, a GPS sure would have given me more confidence.

Consider that when the first Gulf war occured the US government shut down our access to GPS. Consider that a sun spot/surge could do the same thing. Always have alterntive navigation devices and current charts. Note that your GPS is not a certified navigation chart, and the fines are stiff if you don't have current paper charts. The Coast Guard on both sides will write you a ticket if you don't have them.

After you make the crossing in your boat, you will want a bigger boat...... I did.

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Old 02-05-2009, 09:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

If I had never been there before, I would be having second thoughts after looking at these posts.
Don't let any of this discourage you. You'll have a great time, and the key to the whole thing is proper preparation. Not just on your part but also by those responsible for the buddy boats. Watch the weather, before you go, and while you're there.
Last year we got fuel at Andros Island that was brought to the dock in plastic 55 gal drums. We've never had gasoline problems with Bahamian gas. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it happens in the US too.
I'm also not saying that this doesn't happen, but I've never heard of anyone being hassled about charts. We have been boarded by the Coast Guard, and overflown by their choppers. They have never asked for or about charts. We've never had an encounter with Bahamian authorities, but my bro in law has. It was at night, they looked at his registration & ID, and let him go. It was kinda spooky for them at night getting stopped, they weren't sure if they were good guys or bad guys. They didn't ask for charts either.
And I'd love to have a bigger boat, but I can't imagine pulling anything bigger down there behind my truck, so I'm very happy with the boat we have even after 3 trips to the Bahamas in this one.
This year I talked to my wife & kids about other vacation options, none of them were interested in any plan that didn't include taking the boat to the Bahamas. We may go to Grand Bahama this year, which we haven't done before, but the youngest (9 year old girl) loves Bimini and wants to go there.
This sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime, don't miss out on it.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

Just how bad is the Gulf Stream? Anyone have some pictures of it? I find that interesting. I will also Google it. Thanks.
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