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May 18, 2013

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North Biminiis a world-famous sportfishing base with a large sheltered harbor.

Alice Town still has good, sweet Bimini bread besides restaurants, supplies and a beautiful empty beach just across the island. Customs and Immigration offices (separate but close) are not far from any of the marinas. In fact, in Alice Town, NOTHING is really far from the marinas — walking can be your best mode of transportation. A ferry and water-taxis connect to South Bimini, the airstrip and other facilities.

South Bimini has Bimini Sands Marinas & Beach Club with two facilities. The entrance to the Bimini Sands Marina has been cut through the beach almost due east of where you cross the bar via the (relatively) new marked channel and is flanked by stone jetties. (The dredged channel to North Bimini bears more to the northeast.)

CAT CAY, south of Bimini, is a private club with most of its beautiful facilities limited to members and guests. But transients are welcome at the docks (space permitting) for clearing Customs (for which there's a $50.00 fee, though it will be credited to your dockage if you stay overnight) and stays of up to three days.

Whether you stop at Cat Cay or Bimini depends on what you're looking for during your overnight stay. Bimini offers a variety of activities ashore; Cat offers greater serenity — and has a clinic, which is good to know should any medical emergency arise.

Between Bimini and Cat Cay you'll find numerous anchorages and many interesting snorkeling sites. Prime among the former would be “Honeymoon Harbour” on the northwest side of Gun Cay; best among the latter: the waters around the wreck of Sapona, known locally as “the concrete ship,” in 15 feet of water just a couple of miles south of South Bimini.

WEST END, logically enough at the west end of Grand Bahama Island, is 56 miles east of Palm Beach and thus the  next-closest Bahamian port for boats departing from Florida. West End is both a sportfishing base and a convenient port of entry for boats enroute to Freeport and Lucaya or the out-island cruising grounds of the Abacos. Customs and Immigration Officers are on site.

Old Bahama Bay has marina services and a hotel. There's an increasing list of available shoreside activities. The new entrance — the only way in — is the channel that for years was called the “commercial” entrance. There's reportedly very good depth here: 13 feet in the new entrance (which is also reported to have lighted range markers for ease of entry, even after dark); eight to ten for the remainder. Customs Clearance is also available adjacent to the fuel dock.

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND literally offers something for everyone, from the Las Vegas-style pleasures of Freeport to the beach-resort life-style of Lucaya on the south shore to areas along the northern and eastern shores that are as remote as you can stand.

Freeport Harbouris primarily a commercial port although dockage is available for limited times. You can clear Customs here, but yachts are not a priority. Most of the time you'll want to avoid Freeport Harbour. The exception: when you need repairs or service. (See Boat Yard listings.)

The major yachting facilities are clustered farther east along the Lucaya waterfront and include Xanadu Beach and Ocean Reef Yacht Club, with Bell Channel Bay still farther east. Two rather large marinas inside Bell Channel Bay to starboard are Port Lucaya and Grand Bahama Yacht Club. There are restaurants and shopping in Port Lucaya Marketplace which is adjacent to the Marina. Freeport itself is a five-mile cab ride. You can clear Customs at each of these destinations, but there can often be a moderate wait. (Continue...)

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