7-Day Miami To Bahamas
Day 1: Biscayne Bay
If you are arriving this morning, we will check you out on your boat and you can get your provisioning complete. This afternoon, you could take your boat out for an afternoon sail to get comfortable and then return to our dock for an enjoyable evening in Miami. Alternatively, you could sail down to Biscayne Bay and anchor out by Key Biscayne in the evening.
When heading out for Biscayne Bay, motor out of the Dinner Key Channel. In the Intracoastal Waterway, the red markers are always between you and the mainland and the green markers are between you and the ocean. (Remember “Red Dirt, Green Sea”!) There are a couple of anchorages around Key Biscayne. Just south of West Point you will see green markers “1” and “3” leading you into a comfortable anchorage on the western side of Key Biscayne. This has good holding ground and a beautiful view at night of Miami’s modern skyline. You could also continue a little further south until you see red “4” and “2”. Leave these to port and then follow the coastline around the southwestern side of Key Biscayne; to “No Name Harbor” which is part of Bill Baggs State Park. There is a small fee for anchoring here which park personnel, will collect, and a nice view of the renovated Cape Florida Lighthouse. The next morning, you can get an early start.
If you are leaving for Bimini this morning, you will have an extra day in the Bahamas to enjoy the crystal clear water and deserted islands. Your sailing directions are explained in Day 2.
Day 2: Bimini 44 NM
The Bahamas have no aids to navigation so you must arrive during daylight hours in order to see the few landmarks available. You need to allow between eight and twelve hours to make the fifty-mile crossing to BIMINI. Leaving from Miami we suggest you leave the dock at the crack of dawn. As you depart heading south out of the Marina exit, you will go through Stil. Your course to Bimini will be approximately 125 Degrees Magnetic. (Suggested course only-Skipper is responsible for all navigation).The suggested Waypoint in the Explorer Chartbook is 25-42-01N / 079-18-80W for the outer entrance to South Bimini, the prudent skipper must double-check these waypoints.
When you are a couple miles from your outer waypoint raise your QUARENTINE FLAG on your starboard flag halyard. Start paying attention to the flow of traffic. Larger boats have to follow the same entrance as you. As you near the outer waypoint you should visually be able to pick up the two white range markers on the beach. Get one of your crewmembers on the bow of the boat to read the waters for you. Line up on your range markers and head towards the beach. Explorers next suggested waypoint is W25-42-17N / 079-18-23, which will bring you approximately 100 feet of the beach that is where you should make your turn towards Alicetown. Head towards the stone jetty, you should see 13 to 9 feet of water under you keel. You will see a shoal area at the northwestern end of South Bimini…at this point, ease toward the southern tip of North Bimini and then parallel the eastern side of North Bimini. We recommend Bimini Blue Water Resort. Motor slowly and watch your depth sounder carefully. If it gets too shallow, simply stop and back out quickly. There is also an anchorage just past the Big Game Club, but we do not recommend anchoring in the Bimini Harbor. Please be aware that there is a very strong current in this harbor and caution should be taken when planning your approach to the dock.
The dockmaster at your marina will give you all the Customs and Immigrations paperwork to fill out. The Skipper of your boat takes all the forms, plus the boat documents, and passports to Customs and Immigration to get your Bahamian cruising permit. The cruising permit now costs $300.00 for the first 4 crewmembers, and additional crewmembers are an additional $15.00/person, cash only. There is no charge for Immigration unless you check in after business hours, on Sundays or holidays. When you are finished, you should lower your Quarantine Flag, and replace it with your Bahamian Courtesy Flag on your starboard flag halyard. Your thirsty crew can now get off the boat and celebrate your Gulf Stream crossing!
You will find friendly people, quaint shops, several bars and restaurants and a beautiful deserted white sand beach on the west side of the island. The Anchorage Restaurant across from the Bimini Blue Water Resort is a great place for dinner or if you would like a spectacular sunset with your meal try the Bimini Bay Restaurant. Call the Bimini Bay Restaurant to make a reservation, tell them where you are staying and they will send a courtesy van to pick you up.
Bimini Blue Water Resort – 1.809.347.2166/2291
Bimini Big Game Club – 1.809.347.3391/3393
Day 3: Anchorage 8 NM
After leaving Bimini Harbor, turn to the northeast for about three and half (3.5) miles to the rocks just off the hotel marked on the chart. There are wonderful underwater sights to see for all the snorkelers and divers on board. If there are mooring buoys, pick one up, if not, take care not to drop your anchor on any rocks or coral. You do not want to damage any coral and a fouled anchor is not much fun to pull up either!
For your evening anchorage, sail northeast two and half (2.5) miles to North Rock and then turn southeast for another two and a half (2.5) miles. From this point motor into the shoreline until you are in eight to ten (8-10) feet of water for anchoring. You may feel like you have the world to yourself while walking this beautiful deserted beach and exploring the mangroves by dinghy.
Did you get a fishing permit while in Bimini? Did you catch tonight’s dinner while you were sailing today? Even if you brought it with you, why not fire up the barbecue for a grilled dinner tonight! This anchorage is for calm weather only. A strong wind from the north through the southeast would be uncomfortable and possibly dangerous.
Day 4: Turtle Rocks 16 NM
Today you are going to backtrack your course from yesterday and then continue another two (2) miles south past the Bimini Harbor entrance. Between ROUND ROCK and NORTH TURTLE ROCK you will sail east and southeast clearing the shallow area just east of Turtle Rocks. You will be able to see the wreck of the SOPONA, a concrete ship, from quite a distance and this is your intermediate destination today. Anchor anywhere around the ship putting out plenty of anchor rode, as it is not the best holding ground, and take turns so the boat is never left unattended. The brightly colored fish love to congregate here and if you swim around to the west side of the wreck you can actually snorkel inside the broken hull! Be aware the current runs swiftly through here at times.
From the Sopona sail almost due south until you are just off the rocks north of GUN CAY about three and a half (3.5) miles. At this point, motor along the eastern edge of the sand bar and Gun Cay. The secret to successful anchoring here is to find a sandy spot, drive over it and drop you hook just a head of the sand. Your anchor should drag through the grass and hold in the sand. Two anchors in case of a night squall please! This is a very popular anchorage so you will often have company here. Gun Cay is an uninhabited island always awaiting a shore party!
Day 5: Gun Cay 7 NM
This morning why not turn on Bahamian time and have a lazy morning swimming and sunbathing. If you would like a more active morning – try taking the dinghy around to HONEYMOON HARBOR, the white crescent beach at the north end of Gun Cay, for a walk and shell gathering. Anchoring FYC yachts overnight here is forbidden due to the poor holding.
To depart Gun Cay anchorage, motor around the southern tip staying close to the island. Continue around the tip until you can turn west with the lighthouse on your stern. You have a couple of choices today. If you would like a night out “on the town” you could head back north to Bimini and pull into a marina for the evening. On the way, try stopping at some of the rocks for an afternoon of snorkeling. If you enjoy fishing, sail back along the edge of the Bahama bank where the fish are hiding.
If your preference is deserted tropical islands, turn southeast after clearing the shallow water around Gun Cay. Your destination this evening will be DOLLAR HARBOR at SOUTH CAT CAY. After passing RABBIT ROCK set a safe course off the southern end of Cat Point and then motor north into Dollar Harbor. Stay fairly close to the island as you can see it gets very shallow if you go to far east. A strong current moves through this anchorage so be sure your anchors are well set. On your way today, try stopping close to the shallow areas for a snorkeling expedition. South Cat Cay offers a long rocky and sandy coastline along the western side. You can walk up around the northern tip of the island where there is a white sandy beach.
Day 6: South Cat Cay 10 NM
If you spent the night in Bimini, you could sail down to Dollar Harbor at South Cat Cay today or stop again at the anchorage in Gun Cay. The distances are short so you have plenty of time to have breakfast ashore this morning if you would like.
Distance – 10 Miles to Gun Cay
Distance – 14 Miles to South Cat Cay
If you are already in Dollar Harbor, take your dinghy or your boat out to WEDGE ROCKS for another afternoon of snorkeling. You can either stay at Dollar Harbor tonight or run back to the Gun Cay anchorage. Either location puts you in a good position for your departure to Miami tomorrow.
Day 7: Gulf Stream 43 NM
You should have enough light in the sky by 6:30 a.m. to be able to see your way out of the anchorage. Dollar Harbor or Gun Cay both have straightforward exits from the anchorage. From either point, once you have cleared the shallow water you can set a course of approximately 265 degrees magnetic. (Once again a suggested course.) When you are within ten (10) miles of the Florida coast the Gulf Stream should have pushed you to almost the same latitude as Miami. You can adjust your course to just south of green “7” sea buoy if this has not happened. Trying to adjust your course much earlier will probably result in your getting swept north of the Miami Harbor entrance. Explorer Charts suggested waypoint is 25-45.299 N and 080-06-892W, again the prudent skipper must verify these waypoints as they are suggested only. When you arrive at the fuel dock, call us and we will assist you with docking your boat. Hoist your yellow quarantine flag until you have cleared US Customs and Immigration. PLEASE REMEMBER THE CAPTAIN IS THE ONLY PERSON ALLOW OFF THE BOAT TO CALL CUSTOMS. NO ONE CAN LEAVE THE BOAT UNTIL YOU HAVE BEEN CLEARED IN. Allow extra time to clear customs and immigration in your travel plans.
Day 8: Home
You have the morning to pack, clean up and turn the boat back over FYC. An associate will bee you at 10:00 AM to give a debriefing. If you are not able to stay and go through the debriefing you may opt out for the Express Debriefing.