By Tom Neale, 4/19/2005
TOM NEALE ON BOATS HAS MOVED!
Tom Neale's logs have a new name and home on BoatUS Magazine. We know Tom has a loyal and devoted readership, so we wanted to share his tips and insights with an even bigger audience! For the latest articles, click here for Onboard With Tom Neale.
Narrow streets in Alice Town
But that wasn’t the only way we traveled in Bimini. There’s also the taxi/water taxi. That’s how you get from South Bimini to North Bimini. In case you’re wondering why you’d want to do that, it might help to know that the airport is on South Bimini. Alice Town, where most of the action is reputed to be, lies on North Bimini. Lots of good people live on and visit South Bimini, but every time a plane lands, lots of other good people are lined up and anxious to get to the northern island. So they get in vans and bounce along until they get to the water. There they get into a flat bottomed boat which heads down a long and winding canal.
We were in Bimini doing something very unusual for us. It was an OPB trip (Other People’s Boats). It’s a great way to go. It’s like a vacation because someone else is doing the worrying about what’s going to break next. Being accustomed to running my own boat, I was very glad to be riding in the water taxi. Like much of the Bahamas, the water is very clear in Bimini and, even in this murky canal, you can see the hulks of old wrecks lying in watch ready to catch you if you don’t zig and zag at the right time. It was clear that the water taxi driver had been doing a lot of street driving in Bimini because he had no problem zigging and zagging.
Soon the canal breaks through the rocky shore and you see North Bimini across the narrow inlet. If you had come by boat instead of plane, you’d have come through this inlet assuming you found the deep water. These days it’s pretty easy to find the deep water because a new channel has been scooped out from the ocean and there are actually markers there. Never mind that one of them recently found itself washed up on the shore, and never mind that this will probably happen again, and never mind that somebody’s going to have to keep dredging that new channel or keep the old original channel open.
Southern Beach on North Bimini, with rusty wreck of island freighter ashore
But the water taxi just crosses the inlet inside the harbor. You may get splashed or you may not depending on the weather and whether you’re standing behind the curtains that they sometimes remember to put down. When you unload on the quay at the government dock, you get to hop in your golf cart, climb into a car, walk, shuffle your feet, or do whatever else you want to do to transport yourself.
We used all these types of transport when we were in Bimini, but our favorite came at the end when we left Bimini. It wasn’t our favorite because we were leaving, we love the place. It was our favorite because of what it was.
It was a 104 foot Broward megayacht. You’re probably like me. You’ve seen plenty of megayachts and they’ve amazed you, but you never have a thought that you’d ever get to ride on one—at least not in this life and you knew you’d never be good enough to ride in one in another life. I never had a thought I’d ride on one either. Not a clue. It was like one of those things that you know are there in the world with you but are far beyond the realm of your reality. But as a friend and I were shuffling along the docks of the Bimini Big Game Club we stopped to admire the “Summer Nights” tied alongside. It was under charter and the charterers were friendly and kind and quickly struck up a conversation, during which we learned that the boat was heading back to the coast with only the crew aboard “the day after tomorrow.” Somehow the subject came up that I’m a coward when it comes to flying (not to mention a few other things) and that I’d just as soon swim back as to get on that plane the next morning as I’d planned.
Summer Nights water toys crossing the Gulf Stream
“Why don’t you ride with us,” said the captain. “We’re going anyway, it’ll just be the crew, and there’s plenty of room—as long as you have your passport.” I blurted out that Mel and I not only had our passports, we had “Local Boater Option” numbers and were happy to do anything Customs and Immigrations might want, no matter how bizarre. Two days later we were standing in the main saloon of the “Summer Nights” feeling the huge engines come to life, well muffled deep in the engine room. A few minutes later we were up on the flying bridge with Captain Chip Adams, steaming out that inlet. Ahead was the Gulf Stream and beyond that THE COAST with all its hassle, civilization, stresses and congestion.
Summer Nights back in Ft. LauderdaleJPG
But for around 4 hours we were in our own world, relaxed and at ease on a perfect Gulf Stream crossing. It wouldn’t have been perfect in “Chez Nous” because it would have been a bit lumpy, especially toward the western edge of the Stream. But on this boat a lot could be happening at sea and the crossing could still be great in my book. The boat had accommodations and toys like I’ve only seen in movies. These included a hot tub, two jet skies, a large hard bottomed inflatable and a 25 foot fishing boat under tow. Captain Adams also owns Yacht Match (954 610 7757) which performs various services such as project management, maintenance and deliveries for yachts. I was very impressed with the boat and how he ran it. If you’ve got the bucks (lots) or you and your friends have the bucks you can charter yachts like this through agencies such as International Yacht Charter Group. (866 492 4768 or www.internationalyachtchartergroup.com )
There are many ways to travel on this planet, even if you aren’t in Bimini. But I don’t know any better way to travel than by boat. We run anywhere from three to five thousand miles a year in ours. But even if it’s a canoe or a kayak (we have two of those also), if it’s on the water, it’s a good way to go.
Copyright 2004-2008 Tom Neale