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Old 19-10-2017, 22:24   #1
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Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

Im planning on heading to Abacos (GTC) next week. I am looking at doing a crossing directly from Ft Pierce inlet, if I get the correct weather window, which it looks like I could.

Should I head straight for Memory Rock doing a 24hour jump all the way to Great Sale Cay to anchor for the night (next night), or should I go to West End and stopover.

My first question is wether I can with my draft (5'7) go through the Indian Rock entrance to Great Sale Cay. According to the charts, I should be able to ... but, it's tricky.

I prefer rested and a bit tricky than tired after an all nighter and all day of going through Memory Rock. So a portion of me would favor going for West End. It's still an almost all nighter, but then you can arrive and rest.

This would be my first time, with any of these options, or the Bahamas alltogether.

Thoughts? Comments? Recos?

It's me and my dad.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 20-10-2017, 00:06   #2
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

Everyone has their own opinions, but from Ft Pierce I would aim for Matanilla shoal as the entrance to the Bahamas. There are two reasons....1) it is a wide entrance with no hazards - just keep well clear of White Sand Ridge. 2) you cross with the least counter-current of the Gulf Stream (the further south you aim, the worst is the impact of the Gulf Stream current).
At about 7 knots (motor sailing) and leaving at first light, I cross and get to Great Sail just about as it is getting dark.
The transit over the banks to Great Sale is much calmer than the Gulf Stream crossing, which allows the crew to relax some. There are no depth issues.
There is plenty of room and good holding at Great Sale so anchoring with limited light is not an issue, just keep clear of other folks.
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Old 20-10-2017, 06:32   #3
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

Indian Cay channel is a bit shallow. I'd avoid it with your draft. However, I usually hit West End as a first landfall to clear customs. It's the easiest and most convenient place to clear. Tie up to the dock 2 steps from the office. From there head up to Memory Rock to cross the bank. In good weather you can anchor for the night just off the NE corner of West End. Nice way to break up the trip.
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Old 20-10-2017, 08:08   #4
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

We draw 56 and clear at West End, then go thru Indian Cay Cut. Just time it for half tide or better.

The waypoints in the Steve Dodge book have been spot on for us.

If you join the Royal Marsh Harbor YC youll get discounts at West End and many other places in the Abacos.
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Old 20-10-2017, 08:43   #5
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

Quote:
Originally Posted by gaucho View Post
Im planning on heading to Abacos (GTC) next week. I am looking at doing a crossing directly from Ft Pierce inlet, if I get the correct weather window, which it looks like I could.

Should I head straight for Memory Rock doing a 24hour jump all the way to Great Sale Cay to anchor for the night (next night), or should I go to West End and stopover.

My first question is wether I can with my draft (5'7) go through the Indian Rock entrance to Great Sale Cay. According to the charts, I should be able to ... but, it's tricky.
===

We draw 5 1/2 ft and generally go via Memory Rock to Green Turtle Cay. The passage from West End is doable with a bit of tide but from Memory Rock it is easy all the way. We once anchored at Mangrove Cay but I don't really recommend it unless conditions are light and stable.
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Old 20-10-2017, 10:05   #6
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

We draw 5' 6" and Memory Rock is no issue. Get Explorer Charts and stay on the recommended routes, and you'll be fine. As for West End vs Sale Cay and on to GTC, it depends on how your crossing is. Honestly, I would start from further south if you are headed to either Memory Rock or West End. From Ft Pierce, you will possibly be fighting the Stream current, and I can tell you that sucks. If you start from West Palm it should be an easier crossing. My plan last time was West Palm to Great Sale with a 11PM departure, but the wind did not cooperate so I bailed and went to West End because we otherwise would have been sailing the Bank in darkness. Coming back I went Memory Rock to Ft Pierce, and we really had the Stream pushing us with our northwest course - at one point I recorded 10.2 knots SOG, and we're a 36 foot sailboat.
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Old 20-10-2017, 10:08   #7
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

JMO.... Weather permitting, leave Ft. Pierce before dawn and sail southeast for five or ten miles then head east northeast to take advantage of the steam. As mentioned, check in at West end is simple and quick. Rested or super alert, tricky is tricky through Indian Cay. Little longer but much less stressful to go up and round Memory even with failing light. Stop at Mangrove or push a little further to Great Sale. Finding good anchorage around West End is not easy in my experience, anyway. Reservation at West End marina is a good idea if you want to stop or/unless their facilities have been affected recently.
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Old 20-10-2017, 10:49   #8
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

+1 what Sosumi said about anchoring near West End. Not good.
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Old 20-10-2017, 11:26   #9
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

In the past, I've sailed/motored from Beaufort SC to West Palm (3 days), rested/refueled and headed off ASAP (even the next morning) for Memory Rock. I stop at Mangrove Cay for the night, before going to GTC. I would NOT try for Memory/West End direct from Ft. Pierce in a sailboat. I would be fighting the current.

This year I am considering turning 'left' when I'm off Fort Pierce. If the wind is in my favor, I'll go southeast for as long as possible. When I hit the Gulf Stream, I'll turn to run perpendicular to the current, or even slightly with it if the wind doesn't work. My 'theory' is go as fast as possible until I get out of the current. Once out of the current, I'll adjust course to cross the bank at Mantilla shoal. From there, I'll head to Great Sale (50+ miles). The wind direction/strength will make it either fast (about 17 hours)and relatively easy, or a hard slog, in which case I'll continue to West Palm.
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Old 20-10-2017, 11:29   #10
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

Why either. I sailed out of Ft Pierce for years and yes headed toward Memory but due to the stream usually was far north and came across the banks in 15 plus feet of water. You have a very large window there coming onto the bank. Once well in the banks I could drop sail, drift (nothing within 5 hours) and sleep. I would head north of Great Sale to Double Breasted and enjoy diving that island as Great Sale is baren.
Also drawing 5-9 I bumped going thru Memory Rock passage on two occasions albeit at very low tides. One time it was reading so low that I raised all the sail I could and being healed over made it. I don't recommend that. Indian passage is deeper than charted but tricky, have your waypoints well in advance and do it at before high tide in daylight.
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Old 20-10-2017, 12:00   #11
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

if going from ft pierce, just go out to the banks. easy to cross on to the banks in many places. If you are slow, like I, just go off the rumb and anchor or heave to and rest.

night traveling on that part of the banks isn't bad at all. Then go to Great Sale. Don't bother with west end. Nothing there but VERY expensive overnight dockage. HORRIBLE holding just off the beach. Id rather keep moving.
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Old 20-10-2017, 12:56   #12
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

Several comments that I would make already above.

We regularly go FTP-GTC or Grand. Go as far south as it's convenient to go when you get out of FTP. Point your boat due west in order to spend as little time as possible in the stream once you bump into it as you head south.

Enter the banks north of Memory for widest non-shallow opportunities. We're 7' and have never touched. If you go to WE, you may well get weathered in and stuck there for a time...

If you can't get far enough south to make Memory, go in over Mantilla or anywhere else there's enough water. We are entirely comfortable with sailing over the banks at night, until we get past Great Sale. It's rarely more than 20' deep, and you have to hunt really hard to find anything less than 10' deep (we spent half the night our first time, coming in over Mantanilla trying to find - in the explorer charts, no less - something under 20' in water charted as 10'). You could drift, if you're off the Explorer chart rhumb lines, but we prefer to anchor.

However, we have found that anchoring close to the edges of the Banks is very lumpy, so if you chose not to stop at WE, you should go well in from the edge. If you're going well in (say, 20 miles), if you have more than just you, you might as well keep going.

As to checking in, while Walkers is no longer available, Grand has replaced it, though the stamp says Walkers. If you want a great fishing and snorkeling area, check in there. Or, if you're heading down to Marsh Harbour, just run the Q flag until you get there. Or stop at Green Turtle. If you would otherwise use a marina, you could stop at Spanish, but they will ding you horribly if you are just coming there to check in.

So, enjoy your time. If the wind cooperates, it's a fantastic trip. Look at your charts for the wider space with adequate depth near, but not directly at Memory Rock if you're nervous. If you're going in December or January, we may be going with you (we will be there the last week in January for sure so will take the first window after our Christmas concerts we're singing in)...
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Old 20-10-2017, 13:40   #13
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Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

These are all great. Im all for not stopping at WE. Straight to Great Sale.

I was thinking it made more sense to leave 4-5pm so after the 12 ish hour passage Im getting to the banks in daytime. It just seems more reasonable to cross open Ocean at night. Any reason why so many of you suggested the opposite?
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Old 20-10-2017, 13:49   #14
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

To my mind, night and day are alike until you get over the top of Great Sale; I would not hesitate to be on the banks at night, or crossing gulf stream at night.

As to Great Sale, unless you are going to go on southward, and there's an east wind, there's no particular reason to stop there. There are good east shelters all the way southward, too, but including Grand, if you wanted to check in there.

If so, park near the wreck of the barge and dinghy in, keeping the shore immediately to the right as you make the corner of the whimsically named (but I am not at my charts and don't recall what it is) north entrance to the harbo(u)r. Continue until you see the large collection of docks and Rosie's on the west side; that's where you'll find Customs.

Chat up the locals, too; they are most accommodating to visitors. Don't miss the "decision tree" north a bit, with a large bench around it, where you'll find locals nearly all the time. Visit Coop's bar just down the hill from the decision tree for $2 beer and $1 cokes...

You can get gas and diesel (and water) at Rosie's, depending on whether the fishermen have run him dry, as occasionally happens...
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Old 20-10-2017, 16:01   #15
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Re: Bahamas Memory Rock or Indian Cay

Indian Cay on a cloudy windy day? You better have an I/O or outdrive, there is no room for error, drift or missing markers.........others chime in if the poles have been replaced since Hur Matthew hit last year.

Memory Rock can be tricky too, unless you have good weather. Early poster was correct - Mantanilla Shoal is easy peasy. And many others have given you good tips, dont cross from Port Fierce, keep running south before you cross, Jupiter is OK but WPB/Worth Inlet is your best departure. Anchorage at Peanut Island is good place to wait out a weather window.
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