I’m sure by now that you are aware of our recent trip to the Bahamas, so if you are impatiently waiting for more details, then please allow me to deliver just that.
Who’s Idea Was This?
Sometime last year, Facebook recommended a page to me by the name of Florida Jetski, and on that page was an event called the, “2017 Bimini Bahamas from Miami Florida Jetski Rally Getaway.” I knew immediately that this was something too extreme to pass up…. so I marked myself as “attending” before I even owned a jet ski.
Fast-Forward a year later to the night before the trip, and we are in Miami Beach meeting the handful of other crazy, adventure-seeking individuals who would be crossing the Gulf Stream with us the next day. We worked out some last minute details, put faces to the names, and cheers’d to what could potentially be our last supper.
It’s the morning of, we are getting our gear situated before launching the ski, and I am running around looking for the two individuals who volunteered to bring our extra fuel for us.
With us having two people on one ski, it was too unstable to carry extra fuel, but we needed it for the way back since we run 93 octane premium fuel, which isn’t sold in Bimini. We located rider one, Randall, a crazy adrenaline junkie who was happy to take our 5 gallon can.
As I go to hand our second 5 gallon jug to rider number two, he’s handing me his in return. Apparently there was miscommunication and we both thought the other was volunteering to carry extra fuel. I thought I was pretty clear in the group chat, but there was no time for “who said what,” because we are launching momentarily.
Randall offers to take both of our 5 gallons tanks, and Raul, the group organizer confirmed he had an extra 12 gallons of 93 octane for the group. That should be good enough… so, off we went!
It’s GO TIME
At about 7am, we make our way through the intercoastal towards the inlet, stopping a few times for the group to make quick corrections. I begin to get a little worried at the amount of adjustments being made in the first mile of the trip and the calmest waters.
Once we crossed under the bridge, and the Atlantic Ocean was in sight, I gave myself a quick pep talk. It went a little something like this…
“Okay Will… It’s game time, this is nothing new compared to your conditioning in the choppy Gulf of Mexico. Two to three-foot seas is an easy day, so lets get to…” – SPLASH!
We are instantly soaked, and bobbing into six-foot rollers as we exit the inlet. Making it past each single wave felt like a huge milestone.
While down in the trough of the wave, the sun and the horizon disappeared, and all you could see was a wall of water about to come down on you. Tiff and I try to laugh it off because we know that inlets can be bad, but what we saw next had us almost ready to turn around.
Whenever we made it to the crest of a wave, we could see the group. Each time we were on top of a wave we saw something different.
Here is a breakdown of what we saw:
– Ski to our right with two riders
– Ski up ahead with its cargo rack hanging off into the water
– That ski to our right with no one on it
– Another ski coming to help keep the cargo rack and gear afloat
– Two riders struggling to board their ski
– Another jet ski chasing down its cooler that came unstrapped
– The rest of the group progressing into the ocean…
At that moment I felt like I had volunteered for amateur hour at the water circus. I was more scared about the mishaps occurring with our group, than I was about battling the ocean.
Well, stopping in the inlet wasn’t an option, so I continue forward out of the rough waters to make a determination of whether I would continue or not.
Losing The Group
We are now about four miles offshore and into the Gulf Stream, and the water just hasn’t seemed to let up. The group is extremely spread out, so we decide to hang behind a boat with a group of two skis, so they could cut down some of the chop for us.
The bulk of the group was about a mile ahead to the South East, and there are some stragglers about a mile behind us still battling the inlet. I knew that in these conditions, a three-mile spread is dangerous for accountability, and the group we are following didn’t seem as if they were keeping an eye on us.
To make matters worse, the passenger was blowing chunks over the gunwale of the boat, and they were headed straight into a storm. So we took this as an opportunity to make our way over to the main group where Raul, the actual group organizer, was located.
As we gather up to take a headcount, we notice that we are down to 10 skis and two boats, when we started with 15 skis and four boats. We learned that the riders who fell off in the inlet returned to shore with two skis, and we assume the other skis/boats are with the group that’s headed into the storm.
Losing Our Fuel
We noticed that the rider carrying our gas can was still here, but only has one gas can. OH CRAP. Is it ours?
We get closer to see, and thats when we noticed. The results were in and we…. were NOT… the owner of that gas can.
In fact, the owner of that gas can was one of the ones who returned to shore, meanwhile, our gas can is in the abyss of the Atlantic Ocean. I was in disbelief that we left home with 10 gallons of spare fuel, yet here we are in the middle of the ocean with none of our supply.
How did we get to this point? We were not happy, to say the least.
After regrouping, we realize we are more than two hours into our trip, but only 15 miles offshore. To put this into perspective, we were anticipating this being a 2-3 hour trip for a total of 55 miles or so.
The fact that we are now two-hours in and can still see Miami is not good. We knew we were in for a long one.
Here’s our 15 miles offshore recap:
– We haven’t been able to plane yet, so we are certain to have a fuel crisis
– Avoiding squalls (storms) is sort-of fun
– Are those birds or fish? Either way we just landed on top of one
– Wearing this soaking wet face shield is like being water boarded
– After a while the salt water starts to taste like regular water
– Did you know your lips can get pruney?
That Deep Blue Though
We progress forward another 8 miles over the course of an hour before we make a stop for fuel.
During that stretch we caught the tale end of a squall, and while I didn’t think it was possible to become more wet, the water needles being thrown at us from heaven added another dimension to our wetness.
At this point we are completely immune to slamming down into waves every 4-5 seconds, as the engine screams for water while we are aerial with an average hang time of two seconds.
A massive Coast Guard ship hailed us on the radio to make sure we knew what the hell we were doing, and we weren’t smuggling drugs.
Believe it or not, three hours in and a little less than halfway, we can all attest to the amazing sense of peace you have out there in the middle of the ocean.
While we were eagerly awaiting the turquoise waters of the Bahamas, I was completely content with the deep blue surrounding us. In fact, I actually felt bad for all of the people on land who weren’t able to come experience this with us.
Is That Land?
We go another 45 minutes, and find ourselves at the front of the group since it felt more comfortable to ride faster and be able to plane over the waves.
At what felt like stop #20, we do another quick fuel up, and make the decision to risk shark attack and jump in to relieve our bladder from the 5+ hours at sea.
Meanwhile, the group spots a massive cargo ship, and people are beginning to ask if it’s land. Not just one or two people, but like five different people asked if it was Bimini.
As much as we would’ve liked it to be, we are still more than 15 miles away, and I know land doesn’t come into sight until about the 10-mile mark.
On we go and FINALLY, we see land on the horizon!
Along with another jet ski that hung out up front, we pick it up a bit and head towards the island. It must be said that these riders, Kyle and Sara, looked amazing on their ski. It was pretty much like watching a pair of pro jockeys riding a Raptor as it jumped hurdles in a swimming pool in slow motion.
Don’t let the fact that we are fatigued, have inhaled several gallons of ocean water, and have been baking in the sun for seven hours distract you or take away from this mesmerizing moment. I promise we weren’t hallucinating, we both saw it and they were riding like pros.
It turns out that we both have amazing creature comforts on our jet skis that helped along the way, such as a trim feature that allows us to keep our nose out of the water and from stuffing into waves.
We also have cruise control features that allow us to pull the throttle all the way back, and maintain a steady speed as opposed to having to try to manually tether the throttle to maintain speed while pounding into the seas.
To take it a step further, their Sea-Doo has a special suspension that absorbs the shock of the rough seas, so you can see it adjusting to the conditions. Meanwhile, our bones are absorbing the shock of our ski.
Welcome to the Bahamas!
Both of our low gas warnings are sounding, and the group is quite a ways behind. Waiting or turning around for gas isn’t an option, so we chose to make a dash for land and hope we can make it.
The average speed for most of the trip had been 9-12mph. In the last 10 miles we picked it up to 20-22 mph, and on the last 5 mile stretch we rode at 30 mph.
Before we knew it… the color of the water was changing from beneath us, and all of the pain, pounding, splashing, gassing, drifting, etc. was instantly a thing of the past.
As Kyle and Sara head into the Bimini Sands Resorts for fuel, we stop to take a celebratory selfie. In true Wiff fashion, as we turn around and begin to head into the port… *SPLASH!*
NO there was not a wave, we tipped over and fell in. For us to have just completed a rough passage to the Bahamas, I felt like a complete amateur as we tumbled in.
Tiff says I gave up too easily while she tried to fight going in. Ah well, who cares.
WE MADE IT TO THE BAHAMAS!