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Old 23-08-2016, 08:22   #16
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

I much prefer Port Everglades departure for sailing vessels. The positive current vector makes a huge difference in comfort and (usually) one must wait for the wind direction anyway so the bridge factor is relatively meaningless. But why Freeport? West End makes much more sense for clearing into the Bahamas and is more "user friendly."
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Old 23-08-2016, 08:52   #17
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

We will second or third the Memory Rocks route. We left Ft Pierce early and motorsailed across then motored to Great Sale Cay. We cleared in at Spanish Cay and it was great. Customs agent meets you in the bar and takes care of everything over drinks The resort charges a convenience fee but totally worth it in my opinion. On route across the banks we saw an average depth of 15ft with a few areas of 10 to 12, very flat sand over coral rock.

Enjoy
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Old 23-08-2016, 09:25   #18
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

West End super easy to clear in and gives you option, Ft Pierce, St Lucie, etc all good :-)
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Old 23-08-2016, 09:38   #19
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

The Abacos leave a lot to be desired. People wait weeks in Lake Worth waiting for a good wind. Remember you can't go across in any wind with a component of which is from the north. Since the wind is prevailing Northeast the window of opportunity is small. Since the wind and the current are in this case running against each other, the waves in the middle of the Stream are called elephants.
Most people elect to not go during July, August, September, October is iffy.
Some say November is the best month.
Another consideration is that during the winter months there are so-called Northers which are cold strong winds that show up once or twice a month.
By the time one reaches George Town,the Northers have lost a lot of their punch.
IMHO Lake worth/North Palm Beach is the most northerly port to leave for the Little Bahama bank.
If you are coming from the north the ICW has few bridges under 65 feet and most of the others are "on demand", but after Stuart there are many bridges enroute to Miami and the keys.
My current plan in early November is to leave from Lake Worth and try to catch the northerly close shore current down to Government Cut,where there is a good Anchorage immediately south of the Julia Tuttle Causeway.
Then to head for Bimini. One plus is that Gulfstream is weaker at that latitude. Most people after clearing in, cross the Bank to Chubb key and then by a variety of routes go to the Exuma's.
There is no best solution for going from Florida to the Bahamas.
Even though it is very short passage one must plan very carefully. Many people have wretched crossings even when they have planned well.
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Old 23-08-2016, 11:13   #20
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Thanks for clearing things up. As others have said you do not want to go to Flea Port if you are a real cruiser. If you are comfortable offshore hop off out of either Ponce or Canaveral and come on the bank by Walkers Cay and clear in at Grand Cay. If not comfortable offshore you really should come down as far as Lake Worth inlet. Good spot to wait for a weather window with a lot of other boats
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Old 23-08-2016, 11:25   #21
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Pete33458's suggestion of saling direct from BeUfort to Feeport in a northerly is bad bad advice. A northerly wind in the Gulfstream is trouble trouble . Lots of threads on this
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Old 23-08-2016, 11:54   #22
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Check the Gulf Stream currents, might be a factor.
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Old 23-08-2016, 12:54   #23
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

My wife and I have a 40 foot catamaran we keep/charter in Marsh Harbor. Generally always leave from FTL to West End which is an easy and generally smooth sail. Once there like most of the other have commented,, Green Turtle, Guana, Treasure Cay, Hopetown, all the way down to Pete's pub (and lots of other places), the Abacos is great sailing, lots of fun, and lots to do.. I would not go to freeport.
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Old 23-08-2016, 13:19   #24
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Cape Canaveral is a good spot to leave from if the weather is right.
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Old 23-08-2016, 13:45   #25
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

I vote for West End and skip Port Lucaya- the marina there is in the middle of the tourist trap shopping district where the cruise ships dump their passengers. The marina at West End is very friendly, if remote, but if you've got serious shopping to do, or need an auto parts store, you can catch the van down to Freeport.
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Old 23-08-2016, 13:51   #26
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

I'm very greatful for and frankly amazed at all the knowledgeable responses this thread has illicited. I have a bit of a follow up question, what are the best guides and / or chart books to use for the Northern Bahamas? Can you buy small scale paper admiralty charts and it so where? I have a chip on my chart plotter covering the area in detail but for voyage planning I think paper charts and chart books are much better.
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Old 23-08-2016, 15:11   #27
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Primarily get Explorer Chart Near Bahamas chart book. Both chart kit and a cruising guide, tons of excellent information for newbie. Has all the main routes marked and has a high degree of fidelity. Welcome to Explorer Chartbooks

Other great guide for Abacos is Steve Dodge's Abaco cruising guide, updated annually and again lots of good detail. https://www.amazon.com/Cruising-Guid.../dp/0932265952
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Old 23-08-2016, 15:25   #28
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Excuse an opportunistic mini-hijack?
How would the advice/warnings/preferences here change in the case of a small 6 kt power boat? I am working my life toward just such an adventure in the not-too-distant future. Does Bimini fit into this picture?
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Old 23-08-2016, 17:03   #29
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunsetrider View Post
Excuse an opportunistic mini-hijack?
How would the advice/warnings/preferences here change in the case of a small 6 kt power boat? I am working my life toward just such an adventure in the not-too-distant future. Does Bimini fit into this picture?
Given your cruising speed which is almost the same as my (a sailboat) cruising speed I would marine that the same information would be relevant to you also..
I assume you have long range fuel tanks and draught is less than a typical sailboat. If so then "welcome aboard!"
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Old 23-08-2016, 17:04   #30
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

The above advice would work for a small, slow motorboat, too.

I usually keep working my way south until the weather turns favorable for a crossing. The farther south you are, the easier it is to fetch your way across. Miami is not too far south. The upper Keys really aren't too far south. I've tried crossing twice into 15 kts. of East wind. One time I left from Miami and made it over (although it was not fun). The other time I left from Port Everglades and eventually turned back, realizing I was going to get swept north of the Abacos.

Wait for Southerly, Westerly, or calm if you can. And keep going South as you wait.
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