For Frank Taylor, boating safety columnist with Lakeside News, crossing the Gulf Stream to Bimini on a jet ski was a long-time goal. This summer, he finally made the trek, joining other jet skiers from across the country.
“I’d been wanting to do a crossing since 2002 and I finally got a jet-ski that was perfect,” he said. “And during COVID, I actually stumbled on a Facebook group called Gulf Streamers based in South Florida that did a jet-ski crossing every year, so I said, ‘why not?’”
Taylor researched the group and discovered that they were organized and safety-minded. “It wasn’t their first rodeo,” he said of the group. “They sent me their dates and communicated quite a bit for months before the event, so I felt really comfortable joining them.”
The administrator of the group is Raul Delamelena; he’s done the crossing numerous times. Planning included checklists, suggested packing items and recommended supplies.
When the date came, he trailered his jet-ski to Fort Lauderdale, bringing various safety items and a small waterproof bag, some shirts, shorts and flip flops.
The crossing took place on June 6, with the group leaving Harbour Towne Marina in the early morning hours before sunrise. The trip took 3.5 hours and fairly uneventful in terms of weather and sea conditions.
“The worst part of the trip was the sea grass floating on the ocean,” Taylor said. “We’d just have to jump in the water and clear it every so often.”
In all, there were 26 jet skis and 29 people; some people rode tandem. For most, it was an extended vacation in the Bahamas. Group events were planned, including a barbecue, snorkeling and diving trips.
“People came from all over; some from Memphis, and two groups from Delaware, and an assortment of other places,” he said. “For some, it was their first crossing; others had been before.”
Most of the group didn’t know each other before the trip but spending time together on this type of adventure made for quick friendships.
He said the trip back to Fort Lauderdale was a bit faster because the seas were smoother.
“I’d always wanted to see the sun rise over the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream,” Taylor said. “It was definitely a trip that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
For information about crossing the Gulf Stream with the Gulf Streamers, visit the Facebook page at Gulf Streamers.
Photo: courtesy Frank Taylor