WARNING – There are a ton of pictures here :)
Escaping East from the so called “real world,” the first blip on the radar is a tiny little pair of islands poking out of the water like the lone illuminated sign of a truck stop on a long Texas highway. Like a truck stop, this place is often populated with travelers making their way one way or another, but this isn’t exactly your typical Wawa or 7/11. Here, you won’t find cheap laxative-infused burritos and stale coffee. You probably won’t even find Peanut M&Ms or beef jerky.
Oh no. Here, in this delightful little place, you’ve finally found the first piece of Paradise.
Bimini is everything you’d expect from a little spit of sand in the middle of the ocean. Other than a bunch of small marinas, a few restaurant/bars, and a conch salad shack here and there, there isn’t much to remind you how close you are to the hustle and bustle of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Only about 45 miles away, you can almost see the glow of the big American metropolis on a clear night. Over the last two years, the mega corporation Resort World has invaded and built a big casino and hotel complete with a cruise ship dock, but even though its just a few minutes’ golf-cart ride away on whats practically the only road in town, its easy enough to avoid if you want to maintain the authentic island-time experience. Its also easy enough to get in and take advantage of the huge new pool! Regardless of where you spend your time on the island, you’ll find Bimini to be an extraordinarily friendly, easygoing, and welcoming place.
We docked Contigo at the quaint Brown’s Marina after a 30 hour run from Marathon Key. Other than a brief scare about a rumored stormy forecast overheard on the VHF, it was a peaceful albeit exciting trip. This was the first time I’d sailed across the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, and let me tell you that thing is a phenomenon not to be taken lightly. That current was strong enough to push Contigo along at an extra couple of knots if we cooperated with it, and there is no doubt the waves take on an entirely different personality when rolling through the Stream.
We tied up just after sunrise, made ourselves a few stiff celebratory drinks, and crashed out like the tired salty sonsofbitches we were.
^ You have to watch that video on a computer, cant watch it on a mobile device. I added a copyrighted song and YouTube caught me :/
… And at last, we’d found our friends. Four months behind schedule, Contigo and her crew was finally reunited with Brian and Cassandra of the Miss Informed, whom we’d intended to meet at that same dock for New Years. Their trip through the Bahamas was nearly over and ours had just begun, so we took advantage of the remaining time we had together and enjoyed the island.
^ Sorry Brian I stole that from your Facebook….
We rested up, bought as much cheap Cuban rum as we could carry from the liquor store just across the street, and got to work indulging in the hard knock life of an island hopping sailor. Since we didn’t have cell service, it was a fine epiphany to have when it hit us how easily we could disconnect from the “real world,” and disconnect we did. The problem was that our friend Bob was about to land in Bimini and I was careless enough not to give him details on our exact location, rendering him a lost, luggage-touting wanderer for a few hours. Sorry Bob, but I’m glad you met some people while waiting for us to realize I screwed up.
Speaking of meeting people, two awesome new friends entered the picture during our conquest of Bimini. One day, while Xavier and I were sitting on the porch of the liquor store drinking some ice cold Kalik Gold (a fantastically drinkable 7% Bahamian beer) we’d just bought, some particularly sketchy dude on a fittingly decayed golf cart that I couldn’t believe was still running approached us trying to sell some… herbal medicine. Dorian, whom X and I immediately renamed “D,” came out of the store and saved us from an embarrassing encounter with Mr. Sketchy. Street cred acquired, we thanked D and invited him to BBQ that night for rum infused political and ethical discussions and some delicious food. Thanks again D.
Another night, while all of us were kickin’ it in the cockpit trading sailing stories with Brian and Cass, a curious half-Cuban gal was walking up and down the dock reading boat names out loud trying to lose some Miami “The Situation” wannabe guido dude that was following her around.
Girl – “Contigo!!!”
All of us – “Aquí aqui!! We tenemos mucho rum-o!”
Between fits of wild laughter, she introduced herself as Lauren Lavender, which is of course the coolest name anyone has ever had other than perhaps James Bond, and she goes by Lala. We hit it off from the moment they came on the boat to the moment Guido randomly decided to leave after a a half-hour of awkwardly sitting there in the corner ignoring the conversation. I guess he finally realized he wasn’t getting any that night, or maybe he just wasn’t familiar with being on the boat because he tried to disembark by climbing up the lifelines like they were a ladder. Swinging around with a terrified, dumbfounded look on his face for what felt like a full fifteen seconds of hilarity, he was perched on the wagging white cables like an overweight infant trying to climb out of a playpen. Launching himself toward freedom, he nearly got himself killed when he almost fell forehead first on the hard wood dock. He even tried to steal the Captain’s hat she’d been wearing and childishly threw it down when Lala called him out as he was walking away like a spanked dog who’d gotten caught tearing up a trash bag. Had we not been laughing so hard, we might have felt bad for the poor guy.
Liberated from the creeper extra from a knock off episode of Jersey Shore, the party kept rolling.
^ I can’t stand posting blurry pictures, but some of these are just too good not to post. I think it more accurately depicts our state of mind anyway.
Brown’s Marina was such a fine place to stay, and Bimini was such a great place to meet people. Check out this video of a very cool fishing guide we met cleaning fish not twenty yards from our boat named Shammy Sammy! This is a fantastic video.
(Sorry about the profanity in this one… if you’re in public, turn the volume down. Also, I cant get Youtube to put up a thumbnail but its worth watching)
Just before we left town a few days later, we also spent an afternoon visiting the Sapona shipwreck just South of Bimini. I probably have a hundred brilliant photos of that awesome old concrete barge, and if anyone ever has a chance I highly recommend snorkeling the wreckage.
Both D and Lala immediately became part of the crew, and you’ll see a lot of them as I get through the rest of the adventure. I could go on and on about how much fun we had playing French Darts (explanation and pictures at the bottom) and roaming around Bimini like a pack of wild drunken buffoons, but I think a whole bunch of pictures will do the trick better than I could.
Oh yeah one more thing. This guy pictured below is named Humphrey and was the dock master for Brown’s Marina while we were there. He was a hilarious dude who epitomized the Bahamian island-time lifestyle as he spent his days hanging out in the marina’s bar (its not stocked he always asked us for booze) watching TV and reminding everyone that “Humphrey doesn’t hump for free!” Apparently he passed away not long after we left, so this entry goes out to Humphrey!
French Darts: Also known as Polish Horseshoes, this game has nothing to do with France, Poland, darts, or horseshoes, and is perhaps the most fun game on the planet other than…. okay no its definitely the most fun game on the planet. The idea is to set up two sticks about 25 feet from each other and set an empty bottle of Kalik on top of each stick. We use PVC pipe with a round flange for a flat surface on which to set the beer. Then, each team of two people, each with a drink in one hand, has to throw a frisbee at the opponents stick trying to knock over the bottle. If the bottle hits the ground it counts for two points, and if the receiving team drops or doesn’t catch the frisbee (provided its thrown above the knees and within arms reach) thats worth one point. The receivers can’t catch the frisbee before it gets to the target, but they can try to prevent both the frisbee and bottle from hitting the ground by catching it after contact is made. The first team to get to 21 points wins the game. Brian is absolutely nuts at playing defense that guy can catch a frisbee and bottle in one fluid move with one hand. Pablo, as it turns out, used to be an ultimate frisbee player and he can throw that thing like Peyton Manning can throw a football. Anyway, its a great game I highly recommend it.
Thats it! See ya at the next entry!