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Old 22-08-2016, 08:51   #1
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Bahamas via the northern route

Our boat is weathering out the hurricane season in Beaufort SC. In early 2017 were going to go south along the ICW to a staging port then cross to the Bahamas. What is the most northerly demarcation port and route that will give us a short run to Freeport? We don't want to go any further south in Florida than necessary.
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Old 22-08-2016, 09:44   #2
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

I think I left from the Jupiter inlet and it was a short trip over to West End. There is an anchorage near the inlet for a early departure.
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Old 22-08-2016, 09:54   #3
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

What type boat do you have and avg speed. A big difference a 5KT boat sub 30ft'er sailboat and 42ft fast trawler. The difference of leaving from the north is how long you want your crossing. There are several good treads on CF and remember all Fla inlets aren't the same. If you come out of a place like Ft Pierce, you could sail down the coast, catching the north current that sometimes runs down the coast and then angle across from West Palm. If the weather gets bad tuck back in.
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Old 22-08-2016, 09:57   #4
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

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Originally Posted by Mainstreet View Post
Our boat is weathering out the hurricane season in Beaufort SC. In early 2017 were going to go south along the ICW to a staging port then cross to the Bahamas. What is the most northerly demarcation port and route that will give us a short run to Freeport? We don't want to go any further south in Florida than necessary.
===

We've left from Ft Pierce inlet a number of times and find that it works well for going to the Abacos. We usually go straight across to the pass 10 miles north of Memory Rock and clear in at Green Turtle Cay.
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Old 22-08-2016, 10:19   #5
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

There's no one answer to this question, right? I mean, you could sail directly to Freeport from Beaufort with a northerly...

Under ordinary conditions, i.e., the conditions you will find 7 out of any 10 days, I would suggest that anywhere north of Lake Worth (West Palm) is likely to force you to tack your way back to Freeport. To be honest, if I was planning to sail to Freeport I would plan on leaving from Port Everglades (Ft Lauderdale). You can do the math on the gulfstream pretty easily, call it an average current of 2.5kt, wall-to-wall, heading almost directly N in that region. Vector in a prevailing E-SE wind and you'll see the problem. Like I said, it is POSSIBLE from anywhere, but the likelihood is higher the further south you get.

Of course, motoring or motorsailing change the landscape dramatically, I'm referring to sailing across.

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Old 22-08-2016, 14:38   #6
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

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Originally Posted by puffcard View Post
What type boat do you have and avg speed. A big difference a 5KT boat sub 30ft'er sailboat and 42ft fast trawler. The difference of leaving from the north is how long you want your crossing. There are several good treads on CF and remember all Fla inlets aren't the same. If you come out of a place like Ft Pierce, you could sail down the coast, catching the north current that sometimes runs down the coast and then angle across from West Palm. If the weather gets bad tuck back in.
We usually sale at 6 to 7 kts on a beam reach in 10 to 15 kt wind. We motor at 6 kts.
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Old 22-08-2016, 18:48   #7
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Why do you want to go to Freeport? Freeport is really, really low on the places to see in the Bahamas list.
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Old 22-08-2016, 19:15   #8
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

If you depart Lake Worth in 10-15E with 3-5ft seas and a 4 second period, you may end up making incredibly slow, uncomfortable progress and getting carried far enough north to actually miss the banks entirely
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Old 22-08-2016, 19:23   #9
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Freeport sucks. If a displacement vessel and headed for Grand Bahama recommend departure from Port Everglades because of the Gulf Stream, want to use it, not fight it.
If headed to Abacos, then Lake Worth to Green Turtle works, overnight in Great Sale.
Alternative is from Fort Pierce to North edge of Abaco and come in on one of the cuts around Green Turtle or West. Tons of options.
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Old 23-08-2016, 01:42   #10
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Thanks everyone for your thoughts & ideas. Much appreciated. The Bahamas are unknown territory for me. I selected Freeport only as a port of entry because it seemed to be the closest large town/city. I've piloted the course through the cut above Memory rock to Green Turtle Cay. Can anyone tell me the bottom composition of the banks between the cut and Green Turtle Cay? Rocks?Coral heads Etc?
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Old 23-08-2016, 04:17   #11
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Its mainly sandy bottom, not that deep but ranges 10-20 ft. No coral heads to speak of that you will have to spot. Its fairly shallow but mainly flat. Stay on the chart-marked waypoint course. We sailed Ft Lauderdale to West End where we checked in. Then headed via Memory Rock to Great Sail and meandered down to Green Turtle taking our time. It is a bit shocking to sail out of a couple thousand feet of depth into 12-14 ft by Memory Rock! But we had a great time in the Bahamas with a 7ft draft...had to be careful but not a great problem.

We asked Bahamas guru and friend Pam Wall to give us a chart guided tour of the Bahamas before we left! Invaluable.
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Old 23-08-2016, 06:23   #12
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Get Explorer chart book, has all major routes marked. Also check out active captain.
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Old 23-08-2016, 07:17   #13
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

I believe that the Bahamas discourage recreational boaters from using Freeport for Customs check in. West End or Lucaya are nearby and both cater to boaters. Lucaya has more affordable options.

They apparently are becoming less tolerant of deferred check in, according to local reports. Best to check in as promptly as possible once in Bahamian waters.
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Old 23-08-2016, 08:04   #14
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

Quote:
Originally Posted by bvander View Post
Freeport sucks. If a displacement vessel and headed for Grand Bahama recommend departure from Port Everglades because of the Gulf Stream, want to use it, not fight it.
If headed to Abacos, then Lake Worth to Green Turtle works, overnight in Great Sale.
Alternative is from Fort Pierce to North edge of Abaco and come in on one of the cuts around Green Turtle or West. Tons of options.
This is all solid, good advice.
Fair seas. Bahamas are great.
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Old 23-08-2016, 08:22   #15
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Re: Bahamas via the northern route

We have enjoyed the Abacos for the past two winters. Consider leaving early pre dawn from Lake Worth and sail to West End at the tip of Grande Bahama. 48 nm and they have a good customs clearance office. Then you can slip thru Indian cut if your draft is 6 feet or less. On to Great Sayle and then Green Turtle. It is a well traveled route. Anywhere north of there to depart makes it a lot longer and if the stream is uncomfortable you don't want to go that route.



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