Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Back where we belong ...

Our home BYC Yacht club burgee flying over Bimini
By shear happenstance Kintala checked into Bimini exactly one year after she had first checked in at the West End. We actually got to Bahamian waters the day before. We had a plan for an overnight run from Miami to Bimini, but a last check of the weather showed waves of 3 to 4, occasional 5, on a four second period; all being pushed by a 10 to 15 knot wind directly on the bow. Not dangerous, but not fun either. We elected to wait until daybreak, though upon exiting the Stiltsville Channel into the Atlantic we found those 3 to 4 foot waves, occasional 5, on that four second period. With the wind directly on the bow Kintala was a power boat with a tall antenna. The call was to push on for a bit to see if deeper water would bring better conditions. If not, it would be a quick downwind sail back into Biscayne Bay. Things slowly improved and by late morning we had enough angle on the wind to fly the main sail very, very close hauled. It gave us an extra knot which pushed the average speed just above five. We were happy to motor sail through the day, still crunching through 3 and 4 foot waves, and watching Miami slowly fade below the horizon. By afternoon the ocean had settled to 2 foot gentle bumps and all was well with our sailing world, though there was one minor flaw in the going.

We loves us some Mantus. Our anchor buried deeply.

Much of Bahamian water is pretty skinny; that in the Bimini channel is downright anorexic. The reason for making an overnight run was to approach the channel entrance at high tide. Pushing the departure to early morning had the buoys coming into view at exactly low tide. After some debate and a chat with the harbor Master the decision was to not press our luck on the first day in the Islands. A few miles away lay a partly protected anchorage. Kintala was the only boat taking up residence, flying the yellow "Q"to let anyone interested know that we had yet to process into the country. The anchor fell into clear water and we set it hard due to a report that the holding wasn't all that great. Later we checked the set just by looking down, as Kintala had drifted over her hook. The Mantus was buried half deep in the sand, the winds were gentle all night, and except for some surge rocking the boat now and then, our first night in the Islands this year was a fine night indeed.

A bull shark visits the marina for a meal. Glad it wasn't me!

Come morning we puttered around a bit as high tide wasn't until just after 1200. Once under way, at about the second buoy inbound, there was one spot that showed just barely a foot under our keel. There is a three foot tide in these parts. While other people made it in, I think it an even bet at best that we could have gotten in without a problem. We felt pretty good about deciding to wait. Later we talked to a crew we had first seen in No Name. They made the overnight passage that we had passed. The winds had actually picked up a bit after sundown, so they ended up bashing their way eastward though a dark and bumpy night. Hearing of their ride we felt pretty good about that decision as well. We heard the tale while at an impromptu pot luck Bimini here at the Blue Water Marina, where we will be for a day or so getting phones squared away, finding some LP gas, and stocking up the rum locker.

South Bimini - The Bimini Beach Club

There are several boats here that we first saw in No Name, and one that crossed today hooked a 35 pound Mahi-mahi along the way. They offered it up as the main course as it was way more than their family of 5 could eat. Welcome to the Islands! It was actually their son who hooked the thing, and I believe it weighed more than he did. That will be a family story for many a year.

Kintala on the dock at Bimini Blue Water Marina

There was only one downer on the day. Last year I remember loving the fact that there was no military presence here, no guns, and few cops. But as we approached the Island an American war ship shadowed us for the last few miles. Come morning the easy sound of a working harbor coming to life was shattered by a pair of US military helicopters thundering over the Island from East to West, flying directly above the marina. Then, this evening, another US military helicopter made a circle around marina row, down low with the gun door open. Did the lunatics in DC declare war on the entire planet in the weeks since I quit checking the news? Imagine the outcry if the Canadian, Mexican, or Cuban military started running similar ops over Buffalo, Brownsville, or Miami. The US would start tossing nukes around.

Maybe they don't hate us because of our freedom. Maybe they hate us because we aim great big guns at them all the time.

The anchorage at South Bimini bight


Robert Sapp said...

I believe there are several areas in and around the Bahamas where the US Navy conducts exercises with the full knowledge and permission of the Bahamian government. Perhaps what you saw was part of a training operation?

Steaming and flying into harm's way is a dangerous job. It would be even more dangerous if our Sailors didn't have a chance to practice often in friendly waters.

Alex Rooker said...

I agree with Robert. Many smallwr countries are badgered and bribed to allow our military to intemadate ( where's spell check) citizens. Do a search on Google to see how many military bases are on other country's soil.

Scott said...

Welcome home! Be safe...and have fun!!

TJ said...

Robert, when you think of the military you think of those doing the fighting, the bleeding, and the dying. I make no argument against them training in order to keep the bleeding and the dying to a minimum.

When I think of the military I think of a bloated, inefficient enterprise based on greed and power, with an endless pathological need to siphon tax dollars away from social programs and into the pockets of Generals, Admirals, and the CEO's of the corporations that build them their weapons.

The US military is not making us stronger and safer, it is making us weaker and more vulnerable. Nor is it a “global force for good” (as some of the recent propaganda claimed) but an out-of-control war-making machine that threatens everyone on the planet without compunction or care.

I know they claim they need to keep buying ever more lethal weapons in order to prepare for “future wars”. But I am afraid that is a self-defeating and ultimately fatal flaw of human nature. Very soon war will simply be too violent, too destructive, for anyone on either side to survive.

That is already the case if the nukes get deployed in masses, something that is inevitable so long as we continue to accept war as a valid policy rather proof positive that the leadership was inept and criminal, and that their policy had failed.

In the very near future the next “future war” will be the last.
We are “training” for our own destruction. And while the USA is not the sole protagonist in this disaster, we have a military that is larger than the next 10 countries COMBINED, have been continuously at war for most of our history, and are now fully committed to a “war on terror” that has no endgame, no measurement for effectiveness, and no hope of succeeding.

Whenever I see the “military” in action, I see the future of my daughters and grand children fading into disaster, suffering and death. I would just as soon not watch them practicing, for someday the people I love most in the world will be part of the BDA.

And so will yours.

Robert Sapp said...


Human beings have warred on each other for all of their history, and since the best indicator of future behavior is past actions, it is virtually certain that they will always do so. Trying to wish that away would be about as effective as wishing the sun won't set tomorrow. In light of that inescapable fact, I'm among those who believe if war is inevitable, I want to make sure we're the biggest badasses on the planet for as long as possible so that the fighting and dying can occur in someone elses front yard and not ours. In short, let's just say I'm going to have to agree to disagree with you on this one. Still love and respect you guys though!


Robert and Rhonda