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Old 19-02-2018, 20:11   #1
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Bahamas Rookie

My wife and I are planning to cross the gulf stream for the first time from North Palm Beach to the Bahamas. Plan is to get to Harbor Island and have friends join us by flying in. Leaving mid March. Our boat is a Nordhavn 62 called Emmanou (see blog on Emmanou.com). Any advice would be very welcome.
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Old 20-02-2018, 03:20   #2
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Thach.
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Old 20-02-2018, 04:23   #3
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

Hi Thach and welcome to the forum.

A few ideas and suggestions.

1. Get the Explorer chart books for the areas you plan to cruise. They're simply the best.

2. Get guide books as well. There are several. I think Steve Dodge's book for the Abacos is good. Dozier's Waterway Guides editions for the Bahamas are very good. Lots of info on harbors, facilities, customs, etc.

3. Practice or learn eyeball navigation. Water is crystal clear, lots of areas poorly charted so learn to judge depths by water color. Always try to enter or leave harbors or navigate tricky spots with the sun high and behind to minimize glare. Also get a good pair of polarized sun glasses.

4. Food and supplies can be expensive with limited supply and choice in some areas, especially fresh food. Stock up on favorites or essentials before you go. If you're so inclined, beer is expensive but rum is cheap.
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Old 20-02-2018, 04:59   #4
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

I second everything Skipmac said, but I would add that CF must have thousands of threads on going to the Bahamas. Lots of valuable info to read up on!
Two more thoughts....
When you think you have loaded up on provisioning, go back to the store and load up again.
Don't attempt a Gulf Stream crossing if there is any north wind component
Enjoy!
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Old 20-02-2018, 05:40   #5
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

Thanks guys for the quick response. We are making sure to have polarized sunglasses, ordered the guides and charts on Amazon, and plan to stock up on plenty of beer and food. Is there a good weather outlook source you rely on for a gulfstream crossing? I was looking for prior CF Bahamas strings but am still new at this.
Cheers, Thach
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Old 20-02-2018, 05:49   #6
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

For a 62ft power boat you should not really have any serious issues once across the stream until you get to the Devil's backbone, the northern entrance to Harbor Island. Our Garmin plotter was accurate for this as was the Ipad version of blue charts. Active Captain also has useful guidance on this area and the anchorages and marinas. You can google devils backbone for more info as an example see attached



At times it seems that the boat is awfully close to the reef or the shore line. Pilots are available from Spanish Wells for a fee. This should not be attempted in large swell from the north. We did this on our own in calm weather and no cloud cover. While we were waiting for a weather window at Meeks Place just south of Spanish wells the large Bahamas Ferry got hit by a wave doing this passage and had the front windows stove in.

There is a more round about southern entrance, but we have not been through there.
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Old 20-02-2018, 06:37   #7
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

Thanks. Our draft is 6.5 feet. Certainly plan to pick up a pilot from Spanish Wells. Looking at Navionics, looks like we need to stay South of Russell Island to get to Spanish Wells. Coming from West End it looks like we would have to go around Egg Island because the channel between Royal Island and Russell Island is too shallow. The Navionics automated route send us straight into the Devils Backbone from the North. Trying to pick up a pilot at Spanish Wells would add a day to the trip but I guess it's prudent given it's our first time. Are there pilots available out of Ben Bay?
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Old 20-02-2018, 06:49   #8
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

Thach, for weather I use Predict Wind (it displays 4 computer models) and Chris Parker. Chris Parkers' daily emails give specific reference to the Gulf Stream crossing in addition to weather in the Bahamas.
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Old 20-02-2018, 07:52   #9
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

Thanks! Predict Wind looks great. I've been using Windy. Also looked at Chris Parker. The sample email looks quite hard to understand but I guess I'll learn to decipher...
Cheers, Thach
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Old 20-02-2018, 13:15   #10
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thach View Post
Thanks. Our draft is 6.5 feet. Certainly plan to pick up a pilot from Spanish Wells. Looking at Navionics, looks like we need to stay South of Russell Island to get to Spanish Wells. Coming from West End it looks like we would have to go around Egg Island because the channel between Royal Island and Russell Island is too shallow. The Navionics automated route send us straight into the Devils Backbone from the North. Trying to pick up a pilot at Spanish Wells would add a day to the trip but I guess it's prudent given it's our first time. Are there pilots available out of Ben Bay?
Yes if you enter via Spanish Wells, go south of Egg Island. If the weather is high wind or big swell is from the North you can anchor in Royal Island Harbour or South of Russel island or if they may have a slip or mooring ball, in Spanish Wells itself. If you come from the North in settled weather you can call up a pilot on Chanel 16 their call signs are "Bandit" A1" and "Lil Woody" per Active Captain Ph +1 242 333 4695. Don't think pilots operate from Ben Bay, they zoom over from Spanish Wells. We did not use a pilot so really can't comment further.
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Old 20-02-2018, 15:42   #11
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Re: Bahamas Rookie

For weather Windy, Predict Wind and this one https://earth.nullschool.net/ are all useful. But don't forget the NOAA weather on your VHF.

As mentioned anything more than moderate winds from the north it can get very bumpy in the Gulf Stream. Bottom line, poke your head out of the inlet and if you don't like it turn around. Remember it gets worse in the middle than close to the coast.
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