There are those occasions, though few and far between, when a work trip happens to be on a yacht in paradise. And not just any yacht, but a Leopard 53 Powercat. This is just one of the many perks of working in the Yacht Sales industry. It makes it nearly impossible to fathom working in any other industry because you are selling (or in my case marketing) a product that you are passionate about. And when you get the opportunity to experience that product first hand, it reminds you of just how lucky you are.
Planting the Seed
It was not a difficult task to convince a couple of journalists to join Leopard Catamarans on board our newest motor yacht for a few days in the Bahamas. In fact, they were thrilled. First rule of thumb when working with the media is to stick to one publication at a time when pitching your idea. Fortunately for me, the first two publications selected said "YES!". The goal of the trip was for members of the press to experience what it would be like to own the vessel. And, considering most Leopard owners are quite privy to weekend, week long and even month long trips to the Bahamas, we thought what better way for them to experience the Leopard lifestyle than to spend a few days across the Gulf Stream.
All we needed to do now was start planning.
Preparing for Paradise
If you have ever prepared for a weekend trip aboard a boat to the islands, then you know it requires planning. Securing dockage, passage planning, fueling up, provisioning, the list goes on. The marina of choice for the group was Bimini Big Game Club. They have a number of slips that are suitable for larger catamarans and we were lucky enough to secure a spot for a few nights. For those wondering, the beam of the Leopard 53 Powercat is 25 ft 2 in. There are a number of marinas in Bimini alone that can accommodate catamarans of this width.
We used instacart to order provisioning online, and this turned out to be a breeze-- we had all food & bev delivered to our yacht at Harbour Towne Marina in Fort Lauderdale, FL an hour before departure.
As for passage planning, it is always your best bet to leave a little wiggle room for a weather window. Luckily the group had planned accordingly. Due to high winds and rough seas, we decided to wait a day to make the passage across the Gulf Stream.
Making the Passage
The passage over to the Bahamas was not what you would consider favorable. The wind was coming straight at us, blowing 15- 20 knots. The seas were more forgiving at 3-5 ft. For the sake of caring for the vessel we ran her at a moderate pace and the trip took just shy of 4 hours, averaging 12 - 14 knots.
It should be noted for anyone wanting to come into Bimini that the shifting sands on your charter are shifting. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you start the passage into Bimini during the day, when you can vividly see exactly where that shallow sand is. The markers for this are no longer there, so it can be a little dodgy.
When we tied up at the marina, we were ready to enjoy the day on the island.
Only One Way to Get Around the Island
After clearing in at customs and immigration ($300 for the vessel & $20 per person, excluding two people who may enter free of charge), conveniently located at the Big Game Marina, we organized a 6 passenger golf cart rental. And if you have been to North Bimini before, you know this is the way to get around! The island is about 7.5 miles long and .5 miles wide. The company who organized our cart brought it to our marina for an easy handover. We hopped in and were off to find the best conch salad on the island. We swung by Ebbie's Bonefish Club, where some of our media friends caught up with old friends while sipping rum n' coke and enjoying fresh conch salad. This bar is directly over the water and provides pristine views of the beautiful bay. The quirky wall decor makes for excellent conversation pieces.
Once we wrapped up here, we hopped in the cart and headed to our favorite spot of the trip, Radio Beach, where we paid a visit to Coconut Brian. Coconut Brian is a local guy who slays open coconuts with a machete, only to fill them up with light rum, dark rum, and all kinds of tasty beverages.
After the sunset, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Bimini Big Game. The restaurant was packed, the food was great, the drinks were flowing and the service was top-notch. Everyone enjoyed a nightcap on the flybridge before calling it a night.
SS Sapona and Cat Cay
The group got a goodnight's rest and we set off the dock around 9am to explore the stunning waters that surround the Bahamas. In true Bimini fashion, our first stop of the day was to pay a visit to SS Sapona Ship Wreck. This old ship ran aground in 1956 and it is a very popular dive and snorkel destination. If you find yourself in Bimini, this should be on your list.
From the wreck, we headed a little farther south and found ourselves anchored off of Cat Cay. The water was so calm and clear on this particular day that you could see the bottom of the ocean 20 ft to 25 ft down. We then decided to partake in some of the finer things in life: SUPing, swiming, snorkeling and sunning.
While Cat Cay is a private island, we decided to take our chances and paddle to shore. We had a relaxing afternoon sitting in the sand and looking for sea shells. We SUPed back to the boat, had some lunch, and enjoyed the view a little longer. Because the wind was so calm on this particular day we were able to capture some beautiful drone shots of the whole set up.
We lifted the anchor in the late afternoon, spent a little more time cruising around the islands, and then headed back to the marina.
Resort World and Coconut Brain Pt. 2
Two of the journalists in the group fell in love with Bimini years ago, and had not had the opportunity to see the finished Resorts World at the North end of the Island. So when we got back from a day on the water, we hopped in the golf cart and headed that way. After poking around the resort, checking out the stunning roof top infinity pool, and looking at the different restaurant menus, we opted to enjoy a cocktail at the casino bar.
Once we were finished people watching (it was Spring Break and the resort was crawling with college kids) we headed to our favorite place on the island: Radio Beach. And without fail Coconut Brian was there slinging only the finest of rum drinks on the island, and we ended our day the same way we had the previous day, beach combing with rum drinks and watching the sunset.
The Full Flybridge Experience
For dinner this evening we had a cookout on the flybridge, which was equipped with a full wet bar: grill, sink, ice maker and fridge. We enjoyed dinner and relaxed while we discussed what a spectacular day everyone had. Once we were done with dinner we moseyed down to the aft cockpit where one of our guests brought out his guitar and played the group a number of tunes while we enjoyed a glass of wine before calling it a night.
Back to Reality
After the journalists ran few tests on speed and fuel consumption, we set off for Fort Lauderdale around 10am. The wind and the seas were behind us and we arrive at the dock at roughly 1 pm. It was a smooth, comfortable and relaxing ride while we came down from the island life high and started to adjust back to the hustle and bustle of South Florida.
Finally the group said their goodbyes and we all went our separate ways. Back to the reality of the real world, but it is opportunities like this that keep the real world manageable for us folks in the yachting industry.