|Feature Log Entry|
|Copyright 2001 the Buccaneer's Home Port, Inc.|
Dale Kipp and I took off in the Prince of Amber (POA) for a trip to the isle of Bimini in the Bahamas. This was to be the first overnight trip for the POA.
Prince of Amber is a 1977 30' Bayliner Buccaneer 305 sloop. I've had her since November of 1994. She has been a project boat. I bought her for $500 when she had been in drydock for a year, then spent another year in the water at the yard. The mast went up in late 1996.
Before this trip I spent 2 weeks working on POA. I installed a boarding ladder, marine radio, navagation station, speedometer sender, multimeter instrument display and a fresh water system. I rewired most of the boat including installation of a new 110v breaker box.
I worked on the boat uptil 7:30 PM of the day we left port. Dale took a 1/2 day off from work and arrived at 1:00 PM to help. We worked on final cleanup of the boat and storage of gear. About 3:00 PM we went to lunch at Dirty Earnie's for conch chowder and BBQ sandwiches. On the way home we stopped at McDonalds Hardware for some plumbing fittings. We loaded 30 gallons of diesel on board and took a last hot shower on land.
We left the dock at 7:50 PM and made it out of Port Everglades by 8:50 PM. We headed past Miami on a course toward the blinking red light of Fowley Rock. When we were 8 miles North of the light we headed East for Bimini on a heading of 127 degrees. We later changed out heading to 165. I tried to do some fishing but had picked up some weeds and didn't know it. No bites.
Before the trip I had my penn International reel serviced at carl's Bait & Tackle. They put on new 40 pound test and fitted the rod to the reel. I picked up three lures there and the total bill was about $130. The reel was found at a yard sale about 15 years ago for $25. I recently bought the rod new at this years Nautical Flee Market in Dania for $80.
We had a good crossing and motored at 2000 RPMs, which pushed us along at about 5 knots. We took 3 hour shifts and it was a long, tiring, but thoroughly enjoyable night. At Midnight I fixed turkey sandwiches and we ate 2 each. They were great!
We arrived at Bimini at about 11:30 AM. The approch to Bimini is fine. The channel through the sandbar is about 1/3 of the way up from the south end of South Bimini. The range markers on land are found between a gray house to the North, and a pink house to the South. You line up the two range markers and follow them in to the beach. Then hug the beach and watch you depth gauge.
We found a spot in Bimini Harbor and set an anchor. We Saw Horizon, Malaca, Con Brio and Commotion at anchor. I took the dingy in to clear Customs & Imigration, which went quickly. The cost is $100 and includes a fishing license and a total of 4 people (including the captain). We had anchored before going to Customs and that was a mistake. They told me I was supposed to dock first and then clear Customs before anchoring in the harbor.
|Prince of Amber's First Voyage
Fort Lauderdale to Bimini, Bahamas
|Part one of a two part series, by Dan Murphy|
| I bought a loaf of coconut bread and two coconut rolls on my way back to the dingy. I ate mine along the way. We were drifting too close to another boat so we hauled out anchor, motored further out and set two anchors 180 degrees apart. I dove on the anchors and set them by hand to be sure. The bottom is hard flat coral and looks like concrete. We were holding on one anchor and when the tide changes the boat should pivot around and the other anchor should pick up the load.
I cooked chili fo dinner and we each had a beer. The butane gas stove works great. it has a self igniter and it always fires up instantly. The flame burns very hot and heats things quickly.
The dinghy worked well going out to Customs, but handling it took some getting used to. After I got back, some of the crew from the other boats were going ashore. We followed a bit later and caught up with them at the Complete Angler, now a bar and once the home of Papa Hemmingway. There is a small museum there with many pictures of Hemmingway with marlin, sharks and a tommy gun. We had a Kalik and played the ring game. Dale and i walked up and down the harbor road and over to the beach along the other road.
| After dinner we used some of Dale's soft soap body wash to take a salt water bath. We followed this with a fresh water rinse and it felt great! Unfortuneatly the shower fittings were too small, so we could not use the pressurized water system I had installed in the previous days. I did install a shutoff valve in front of the pump. So I disconnected the pump and we used the gravity pressure in the tank to push water out of the shutoff valve. We were easily able to fill buckets and jugs from the fresh water tank in this way.
After we both changed, I fixed us both a drink. A mix of rum, coconut rum, ruby red with tangerine juice and lots of ice. It was liquid paradise. The sunset was bright red and after dark we heard a strange racket on the shore and Dale asked what it was. "It's Junkanoo" I said, and we decided to check it out. I jumped in the dinghy and fired it up while Dale held the painter to the boat. If fired right up, but didn't sound right. Then I said "Never mind, let's go!" We got about 1/3 of the way to the dock before the engine died the first time. I couldn't get it started and we were drifting fast in the current. Bimini was drifting away!
I pulled and pulled on the rope starter as Dale paddled us (arms over the side...we didn't think about oars) to one of the last boats in the harbor and we grabbed its anchor rode. It took a long time, but I finally got the engine started and we headed back to POA. It dies again a short time later, but I got it restarted. We got to within about 15 or 20 feet of the boat when it died for the third time. I started pulling on the starter rope and Dale started paddling furiously toward the boat. We made it by the skin of our teeth and Dale managed to grab our boarding ladder. That was aobut how long our fresh water rinse had lasted. Dan & Tracy Whalen stopped by on their dink and helped us get our outboard started. We decided to call it a night and we slept like the dead. The anchors held fast through the night but Dale never got to see Junkanoo.
|Sunday Morning- Bimini
We got up, enjoyed some fresh coffee and cereal. We had decided that the outboard moter problem was fuel (either low with waterin it or just empy). So we filled the tank and hoped. We took the dink into town and it worked okay. As we walked through town again I took some pictures and had a daigquiri. I bought a bottle of coconut rum. We left Bimini harbor for the concrete wreck. We headed out of Bimini and hugged the beach past the South tip of South Bimini. It is very shallow outside of this unmarked channel, so a close eye on the depth gauge is recommended. Past the tip ob Bimino we took a course of 165 to a point due North of the wreck and changed course to 180 to preceed directly to the wreck.
Along the way I learned NOT to tow a dinghy faster than 2.5 knots. It turned turtle with the engine still attached. Dale and I got it righted quickly, in about a minute. I fired it up right away and let it run until it got warm. When we anchored at the Sapona I took the dink around the wreck to test it out. I stopped at Pat Nannery's boat "The Office" to introduce myself and vist a bit. Pat and I had talked over the phone prior to the trip coordinating radio checks and course headings. We had never met face to face. Pat is a member of The Gulf Stream Yacht Club and one of his guest is a member of The Sailing Singles Club. They both encouraged me to join their respective clubs. I had a nice visit and stopped by the raft-up of Con Brio and Horizon but most of the crew were out snorkeling.
By now I am wearing gloves in the dink to protect the broken blisters on my right hand, the result of pulling the starting cord on the dinghy motor. Additionally, we had loaded the dink with an anchor, bailing sponge, waterproof light, foot pump and flippers to paddle with. In my haste to get away, I left the dinghy paddles at home....BIG MISTAKE!!
The Sapona was a ferrocement ship, no wrecked near Bimini. Much of the wreck is still above water and the bow has separated from the rest of the ship. What is left underwater has made a nice home for a host of fish and the snorkeling is great.
Dale snorkeled around the wreck while I sercied the outboard. I took off the cover. I sprayed the engine and electrical wires liberally with ED40 and put it back together again. Dale really enjoyed the snorkeling ans we wend out again so that I could snorkel some. Dan Whelen called to us and invited us to drop by after our snorkel. We snorkeled fo ashort while and dinked over to the raftup of Horizon and con Brio. We were greeted with Jello shots and partied a bit with everyone. Steve brough up his boat, Malaya, to join the raft up. we went back to POA for a shave, shower and a change of clothes. By now a powerboat had joined alongside Malaya. We had drinks and socialized a bit. After a while the BBQs fired up and we went back to our boat where I fixed some brown rice and canned mackerel. I had never tried the canned mackerel before and it was pretty aweful. Dale was polite and finished his plate, but even liberal doses of Tobasco sauce cound not help the situation. We sat and talked and drank until about 11PM when the wind suddenly picked up. We quickly broke up the raft and found individual anchorages. We seet out two anchors again at 180 and they did well. We also cleared out decks expecting a storm. I saved a position on the GPS ans after we sttles it showed us .04 nm away from out mark. When we awoke we were .06 nm and we had pivoted 180 degrees during the tidal change. It blew well all night and the anchors seemed to hold well. Ther was a bit of slack in the second anchor, but it eventually caught and held well.
Monday Morning, Wreck Sapona
After our usual coffee and cereal breakfast we stowed out dinghy and motor. I put 1/2 quart of oil in the engine and we headed out to sea at about 9:30AM. We looked up a heading of 269 at 5 knots. we started out steering 270 and tried to sail. It looked good for awile and we were doing 4.5 knots with the engine at idle. After about an hour, the wind dies to about 2 knots and we revved up the iron genny. After about 3 hours we dicided we were going too far south. We changed our course to 310 and this kept us a bit South of the rumb line. This heading seemed to work well during Dale's watch. # hours later it was my turn and I steered a bit closer to 300 and this looked really good on the GPS, we were still below the line. We fished but had no bites. the seas were flat adn the sky hazy with scattered cumulus clouds.
About 20 miles from Port Everglades we started to make out buildings on shore and our course looked good on the GPS. As we got closer i used Dale's bearing binocs and picked out the stacks of the Port Everglades power plant. The GPS said our destination was on a bearing of 318, when I swung the binocs to 318, the stacks leapt into view. We were really excited to be right on course sufficiently South of our destination with the Gulf Stream taking us North as speeds over ground well over 8 knots. What a sleigh ride the Gulf Stream can be! At a point 25 miles from our destination we had estimated our arriaval to be about 7 PM based upon our average speed to that point. Our arrival time was just after 5PM. Much to our delight the gulf stream shaved nearly 2 hours off of the trip time.
Dale took up into the port and he dropped and flaked themain in the turning basin while I took the wheel. We called U.S. Customs and the gave us an 800 number to call. I took us up the New River and we docked at home. We offloaded out gear and rinsed the boat. I calle the Coast Guard agian but no one answered. Dale called his wife to tell he that we had returned safe and sound. We shaved, showered and went ot the Downtowner for dinner. Dale had the prime rib and I ate an entire rack of ribs. Better than canned Mackeral! I tried the Coast Guard one more time with no luck. When my head hit the pillow I was out like a light. What a great trip this had been for me in the Prince of Amber. The Buccaneer performed extremely well during our crossings and it's shallow 3' draft made it easy to navigate the Bahamian coast. It is a very stable and sturdy boat, roomy and comfortable and it takes the seas well. Another great trip ends and a good time was had by all.