Having a Big Time in the Bahamas!
A MarineMax Getaways!® trip as big as the Big Deal Bahama Bash takes a lot of big time planning and MarineMax Stuart started planning months prior to the departure. Eventually, everything came together and with perfect weather, the participating MarineMax owners and their respective crews gathered early on June 15, for the Captain’s Meeting. Getaways! leader, Dan Aultman gave the group a synopsis of what the trip would entail and what to expect. Following the Captain’s Meeting, Dan went to each boat and installed the waypoints for the trip on the boat’s GPS, answered questions and concerns; then the fun started.
Heading to Bimini the seas were calm and the skies were bright and clear. The view from the MarineMax lead boat, a new Sea Ray L650, was stunning. Nothing but horizon looking forward and astern the armada trailed. Indefensible, an Azimut with Brent, Leah, Sutton and Parker Mills on board was followed by Bob and Barrett Brandt on their Sea Ray Sundancer named With E’s. Sean Flanagan, Brian, Chris and Devin followed on their Cabo HTX called GracieFullaTricks and lastly Michael Nolin and his captain Gian Jimenez on their Sea Ray Sundancer, Miss Understood, kept up the pace.
Arriving in Bimini’s crystal-clear water our group bumped into the Boston Whaler Bimini Rendezvous - an annual Rendezvous hosted by Boston Whaler for their owners and family members to join in activities and events such as fishing tournaments, snorkeling, exploring and more - at the beautiful Resort World Bimini and our MarineMax crew and other customers joined us at the dock for fish stories.
During the day the crew onboard GracieFullaTricks landed a large dolphin (Mahi) that the chef at the Big Game Club Restaurant prepared three ways; blackened, fried and grilled. To top the first day off, Michael Nolin and Captain Gian lit-off a fireworks show on the beach to start the Getaway!. Off to Nassau in the morning!
From Bimini to Nassau
Waking to 84 degrees and partly cloudy skies the air conditioners cooling water being pumped over the sides of all the boats created a fountain-like, peaceful sound. We departed Bimini and made a shortcut by the Sapona Wreck then behind Cat Cay to the Northwest Channel. About 15 miles to Chub Cay we encounter two storms with lightning and with a group decision on the radio we threaded the needle for safe passage.The “plan” was to refuel at Chub Cay. Once in radio range, we learned that the Chub Cay Marina was receiving fuel from the barge and they could not pump fuel until the morning. Miss Understood did not have the range to make it much further. So we made some on the spot changes and had Brent Mills lead the larger boats on to Nassau. He did a fantastic job getting the group cleared into Harbor Control and safely moored at Atlantis just before a major storm. Meanwhile Dan hooked up to tow with Miss Understood to the next nearest fueling station Morgan’s Bluff. Having the experienced MarineMax crew to help overcome challenges is why owners appreciate MarineMax Getaways! so much. The challenges actually create opportunity for fun and a chance to experience new adventures.
On Nassau, the group had many choices with the resort amenities such as the pools, water park, lodging or out on the dinghies catching starfish, visiting small islands, snorkeling or just relaxing.
The next day, Saturday, most of the group went to the resort on Paradise Island and played at Aquaventure Water Park. It is a one-of-a-kind park with thrilling water slides, swimming pools and a mile-long river ride with rolling rapids and standing waves. The most exciting was the “Leap of Faith” slide that offers a shear drop into a shark filled lagoon. The speeds are so fast that before you know it, you are in a clear tube surrounded by sharks. After sampling the thrills, many of us spent time floating around the quarter-mile Lazy River Ride.
In the evening some gathered on the MarineMax Sea Ray L650 and enjoyed cocktails, appetizers and a pizza, donated by the Mills, then hit the casino and spent the night gambling our money away.
From Nassau to Staniel Cay, Exumas
With Atlantis in our wakes, Sunday found the flotilla heading for Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas, Bahamas. As soon as we arrived we launched the dinghies and went to feed the pigs at Big Majors Cay home of the famous swimming pigs. Upon hearing our motors they came swimming to eat whatever we had to offer. The pigs especially loved Bob Brandt and chased him down the beach. The pigs ranged from the cutest little piglets to huge - 300 pound plus in size.
Just around Big Majors, huge yacht charters docked up around the island; it was like they had their own little ship town over there. Ships ranging in all sizes between 100 and 200 ft., their dinghy’s drifted ways away from their yachts. We sat back to soak in all of paradise and relax as we did not want the day to end.
Our crew on the MarineMax boat went to the Island by Jet Ski where four adults had a hard time keeping it upright when stopped, taking frequent dips in the emerald clear waters.
The next morning groups rented golf-carts to go exploring around the island. After a morning tour by cart it was time to explore the islands on the water. The group settled on their dinghies for a trip led by Dan to snake our way between the islands. The first stop was the Aquarium North of Compass to a beautiful reef island with plenty of tropical fish. At times Parker Mills gave Dan a run for the bragging right of who had the faster dinghy. This adventure gave everyone the opportunity to read the water and travel safely through reefs, sandbars, and grassy areas.
Tuesday we waved goodbye to Brent Mills and Indefensible. Work had called him back to the mainland. We all piled onto GracieFullaTricks and went fishing with Sean Flanagan. The group returned with plenty of fish stories after an incredible time together. Even with the rough seas we got the opportunity to experience the stability, power and fishability of GracieFullaTricks. After lunch we decided to take the dinghies out again to dive the wreckage of the Sepora, an airplane that sits in about six-feet of water, known for its colorful fish and gentle nurse sharks. Mike Nolin tried to pet a nearby nurse shark, but it swam away. That was probably a smart move for the shark.
Later that day we headed south to Black Point where we got a taste of how the locals live, stopping by local shops and a native bar. Walking around we encountered a lady selling handmade purses and fishermen selling their days catch of Conch and Tuna.
Heading back to the yacht club with storms on the horizon we stopped by Great Iguana Island. An incredible experience seeing so many large lizards running down the beach to check us out. A beautiful beach and a fun stop to live life.
After a fun swim we traveled bay side back ending the day back at Big Majors Cay to say goodbye to the pigs. We brought plenty of water and apple slices, the pigs' favorite food and drink. It was a nice way to end our visit to the beautiful and fun Staniel Cay.
From Staniel Cay - Nassau - Back to the States
The group planned to leave Staniel Cay early in the morning. Unfortunately, Staniel Cay's fuel pump broke so the Miss Understood crew stayed behind to help the locals transfer fuel up the hill to their gravity fed tanks. Miss Understood left Staniel Cay the next morning at 4am to meet the group at Hurricane Hole as we departed toward Chub Cay and to head back home.Traveling by boat to wonderful destinations is a great way to enjoy life and cement lasting friendships. A MarineMax Getaway! with a guide boat and support from like-minded travelers makes it easier and more rewarding. The Big Deal Bahama Bash wasn’t a just a Big Deal, it was HUGE!