Bimini
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bahamas yacht chartersA Quick Get Away
Sometimes you just need to get away. Have to get away. Can’t stand thinking of spending another weekend doing errands, watching videos, staying at home. Sometimes you just gotta go. But you don’t have time to take a whole week. You can’t face spending a whole day traveling to a destination and another whole day to come home again. You want to get away to sun and palm trees and white, sandy beaches, crystal clear blue waters. Just for a few days. With a loved one and maybe a couple of friends, a chance to relax and rejuvenate and maybe catch some fish, get a tan, eat fabulous foods.

Time to come to the islands. The nearby islands of the Bahamas. More to the point, to Bimini and its neighboring islands. So close to Florida that you can see the glow of the lights from Miami at night. A well-kept secret, closely guarded by the local population of South Florida, who are more likely to visit during the summer. So close, but yet, a different country, a different attitude. Winter or summer, it beckons you to come and relax. Located less than fifty miles from Florida, it is a quick easy jaunt, whether your choice is to go by power or sailing yacht charter. More suited to smaller vessels, due to the shallow waters, even larger charter yachts can be found tied up to the docks at Cat Cay, just south of Bimini. Plenty to do in an area of 20 miles dotted with islands set like jewels in a sparkling sea.

Evidence of the first inhabitants indicates that the islands were occupied as early as 300 to 400 AD. The Lucayan Indians followed the earlier dwellers and numbered about 40,000 by the time Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. However, they did not respond well to enslavement and soon the population dwindled to nothing.

Though not exactly a historical fact…the Lost City of Atlantis is reputed to lie in the shallow waters off North Bimini. The symmetrical slabs known as the Bimini Stones are said to have been the road leading to Atlantis. Okay, maybe you will have to stretch your imagination on this one, but since they are located in only fifteen feet of water, the are fun to snorkel and you can make your own assessment of the legend.

North Bimini is separated from South Bimini by a narrow channel. The channel is only a little over six feet deep, so larger yachts can not enter the inner harbor. The current sweeps through pretty quickly, and sea planes use the channel as their landing strip, these factors will all contribute to turning your captain’s hair a bit more gray! Alicetown, the main (and only) town in Bimini is on North Bimini, as are most of the marinas, shops and restaurants. One of the most popular places for everyone to hang out and play the ring game is the Compleat Angler.

Famous for its collection of Hemingway memorabilia, the Compleat Angler was the first fishing club in the Bahamas when it was built in the 1930s. A cool, dark retreat, it’s walls are lined with pictures of beaming people standing beside their trophy fish, yellowing newspaper clippings from days gone by and famous people with their boats.

This was Hemingway’s favorite hangout when he visited Bimini. Two of his novels were written during the time he frequented the islands. Sitting in the dim quiet of the lounge area of the Compleat Angler, gazing at the large sketches that illustrate “The Old Man and the Sea”, you almost can feel his presence there with you.

If you can drag yourself away from this cool haven (go back in the evening when it positively jumps) you can take a leisurely walk around Alicetown, rent a scooter and explore the rest of the islands, or stroll over the top of the small hill to the beach. Sugary white sand stretches in both directions. The backdrop for many charter yacht brochures, it as beautiful as the pictures relate. Lie in the sun, go for a swim in the inviting crystal clear water, or just wander along the beach to see what the tide has brought in. After winter storms, you might just be lucky enough to stumble on sea glass, shards of glass tumbled smooth by the sea and the sand, a perfect souvenir.

Time to get in the water! One of the favorite sites for snorkelers is the wreck of the concrete ship, the Sapona. Located between South Bimini and Cat Cay, you can see the hulk for miles. Built by Henry Ford, it has acted in the capacity of private club, rumrunner’s storehouse in the 20s, and bomb-practice target for the U.S. Navy during WW II. The SCUBA divers of the group are going to be in heaven. Where they enjoy coral reefs with spectacular coral formations, drift dives or wall dives, it is all here. With the close proximity of the Gulf Stream, the marine life is always varied and exciting.

In fact, the Gulf Stream and the large fish using it like a super highway during their migration runs is what Bimini is known for…fishing tournaments! Tournaments run almost continuously from Spring until Fall, with a wide variety of fish being sought, including marlin, tuna and wahoo. The shallower waters yield grouper, snapper and mackeral. The really shallow water is home to the wily bonefish, catch him if you can!

About 10 miles south of Bimini is Cat Cay. Cat Cay is a private island and is owned by its members. Visiting yachts are allowed to tie up at their docks, and non-member yachtsmen are allowed limited access to facilities adjacent the marina, including the well-stocked Boutique! Once you visit, if you find you absolutely have to be a member, bear in mind that candidates must be sponsored by one member, seconded by another and investigated by the Board of Directors. If accepted, a non-refundable payment of $25,000 is due, along with prepaid annual dues of $10,000…all which sort of keeps out the riff-raff! But the island is beautiful, the landscaping magnificent and the beaches exquisite.

There are several nice, quiet anchorages to the south of Cat Cay with good snorkeling and swimming in their protected waters. Perfect for relaxing, watching the sun set across the ocean, smelling the fresh fish grilling and listening to the gentle lapping of the waves as they caress the boat. The perfect quick get away, short miles from “civilization”, but long slow smiles from the cares and stress that made you decide to run away to paradise. The only problem now is deciding if you really want to leave after only 3 days, or stay just a while longer!

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