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Old 21-09-2017, 13:07   #1
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Best route from Tampa to Nassau

Thanks to this so usefull forum.

Sorry, but this will be our first open sea cruise in this region, I am more "fluent" in Greeks Islands.

Next January we will have to move our Lucia 40 from Tampa to Nassau and try to find the best route... 2 options ... Fast and Slow !

Fast ? : I tried to find a passage through Keys, is it one a 4ft draft cat can pass, or do we need to sail around Key West. Is it good to avoid Straits of Florida and Gulf Stream with an Allizea on the nose, speed with current but slaming short waves that stop, need to tack ... I know this very well in St-Lawrence Gulf and would not do that again... I am relax now.
What is the short time to plan doing that route ?

Slow ? : One on the option is to forget the "speed" and take time to sail around west Cuba and go in the Jardines de la Reina, then east Cuba, Turks, Exumas, Nassau.

In that case what could be the number of weeks for that route if we take our time with short legs ? No current ? Alizea on the nose ?

Any comments will be appreciated
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Old 21-09-2017, 13:32   #2
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

What is your air draft? If you can go through the Okchobee (sp?) waterway to Stuart you have the option of then running south down the coast and over to the NW Providence channel to Nassau or take the senic route through the Abacos down to North Bar channel, then down past Hole in the wall to NE Providence channel to Nassau. Can't figure WHY anyone would want to go to Nassau though!
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Old 21-09-2017, 14:15   #3
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

Go thru the Keys or around Key West , as long as ya do not get a Norther the Gulf Stream will add several knots to your speed . I believe when crossing the Gulf Stream , start as far South as reasonably possible . Ain't a lot wrong with going across the Lake if your boat will fit !
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:24   #4
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

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Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
What is your air draft?
Needed lot of researcj because I did not found it on FP site...
it is Air draft: 63’4″.
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Old 21-09-2017, 15:33   #5
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

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Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
What is your air draft?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
What is your air draft? !
I had a Google Earth look at the canal... I would be very much surprised if a sailboat can pass under bridges ... Did not saw any opening bridges.
This is for "orange barges" I think

Planning to cross from KW and sail fast to Cuba to get out of the current as proposed by Wandering rober.
Thank you ... you confirm my thoughts
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Old 22-09-2017, 08:32   #6
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

Your boat cannot fit under the bridge on the Okeechobee Waterway so you will have to go around. To save time you do not have to go all the way around Key West but can cut through between the Keys farther north.

Coming south from Tampa and then crossing from south FL to the Bahamas you will have a favorable current so no bashing against the current. In winter you will have to watch for a cold front that brings north winds and will produce steep waves in the Gulf Stream. You will however be going against the trade winds for the trip unless you get a cold front that isn't too strong and will allow sailing with fair winds.

For Nassau and with your draft you should be able to cross from the northern Keys to Bimini or Cat Cay and then cross the banks to north Andros and from there to Nassau.
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Old 22-09-2017, 08:51   #7
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

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Originally Posted by Falbala60 View Post
Next January we will have to move our Lucia 40 from Tampa to Nassau and try to find the best route
===

We have done this many times from the Ft Myers area so just add Tampa to Ft Myers as your first leg. We go south through the Keys, usually via the Yacht Channel and Channel 5 bridge. Possible stops are Big Marco Pass and Little Shark River. From the Keys we exit Hawk Channel near Rodriguez Key and go east to South Riding Rock channel onto the banks, and then onto North West Passage and Nassau. We generally clear in at Nassau.

You can wait at the Rodriquez Key anchorage for better Gulf Stream conditions if necessary but we've never really had a problem.
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Old 22-09-2017, 09:00   #8
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

Cutting through the Keys at Marathon saves over 100 miles over rounding Key West as long as you can get under the 7 Mile Bridge (55'). Easy navigation to the Gulf Stream and will be a good place to over night again after a few months to clear IRMA damage. For now I would avoid any harbors in the Keys or SW Florida coast and anchor off shore. You should be OK in January but I would both call ahead and expect uncharted shoaling.
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Old 22-09-2017, 09:04   #9
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

Several thoughts:

Nassau for checkin at most. NOT safe there for cruisers of late, unless you join a crowd of cruise ship folk, and in the day.

From Tampa, you could, with your water draft, easily do either Marathon or Key West.

It's a bit convoluted in both cases, but not at all impossible.

Starting that far south opens nearly anything on the western side of the Bahamas to you.

But if you are legal for Cuba, that would be a great trip, and from Cuba, you can go to nearly anywhere in the Bahamas. Ragged Island previously was a great stop, but until they rebuild, it's totally devastated. Other northern-from-there islands are mostly recovered from past hurricanes, if you want to explore the Bahamas as opposed to just get east to the Caribbean or something other than exploring locally.

But in any case, which had we done so (we didn't know about it at the time), we'd have avoided a wreck on the way to doing the same trip as you (Tampa to Nassau), before we even got to the passes for Marathon, subscribe to Chris Parker if you have a means of communication (SSB or satphone or when in some area which has it, WiFi, whether over the air or your own hotspot - we REALLY like our BTC data-only plan).

He will keep you safe, or give you routings to best deal with unexpected weather, and, at minimum, keep you informed as to what to expect.
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Old 22-09-2017, 09:52   #10
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

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Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
Cutting through the Keys at Marathon saves over 100 miles over rounding Key West as long as you can get under the 7 Mile Bridge (55'). Easy navigation to the Gulf Stream and will be a good place to over night again after a few months to clear IRMA damage. For now I would avoid any harbors in the Keys or SW Florida coast and anchor off shore. You should be OK in January but I would both call ahead and expect uncharted shoaling.
7 mile bridge is 65 ft, not 55. I've been under it many times with a 63ft air draft. The OP should keep in mind that at Marathon the Gulf Stream runs ENE and that the wind opposing current issues there are prevalent on an east wind, not a north wind. The North wind issue becomes prevalent above Key Largo as the stream turns north. If the wind is from the east at Marathon it is wise to stay in Hawk channel until north of Rodriguez. Also the name of the channel to clear the banks to Nassau is Northwest Channel, not Northwest passage which might make it easier to find on the charts.
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Old 22-09-2017, 10:08   #11
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

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Originally Posted by Falbala60 View Post
Needed lot of researcj because I did not found it on FP site...
it is Air draft: 63’4″.

The Seven Mile bridge is listed at 63' at MHW, might be able to make it at low tide but the current can be very strong.

I assume you can get South to Ft. Myers/Naples on your own. I like to anchor at Middle Cape to break up the trip to the Keys. From there if I was worried about going under the Seven Mile bridge I would head West to some place like Boca Grande (the real Boca Grande listed on charts from the 1700s till today) and anchor there or in the Marquesas and then on to the Dry Tortugas. At that point you could head East to Cuba (there are entire threads about sailing in Cuba) or head to the Bahamas on several routes. I will assume you are not going to Cuba so that leaves how you will get to the Bahamas.

My choice would be to head to BKH on basically two or three day sails. From BKH you could head to Riding Rock and across the banks. I would check in at Morgans Bluff, but Chub Cay or Nassau are other options. Or you could head East to Anglefish or Rodriguez and cross to Bimini/Cat Cay for check in. Then across the banks to Morgans. The advantage of the second option is it is basically day sails in daylight while the Riding Rock/Morgans/Nassau is a long haul; but you could anchor on the banks if you get tired.

The biggest variable you need to consider is cold fronts rolling South. It is common for boats to wait at BKH, Anglefish, or Rodriguez for two weeks or more for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. Same is true if you check in at Bimini, you might have to wait to cross the banks till a front passes. Another consideration is you are leaving at the height of the tourist season which means slips or mooring balls may not be available any place you stop. Not to mention damage from Irma has reduced the supply.

One other note on fronts. They start out blowing like stink from the North which means crossing the Gulf Stream is no fun at all. Still some folks still do it. Then the wind clocks around. At some point it starts blowing out of the South shifting to out of the West. This is the weather window you want to cross the Gulf Stream in. In fact sometimes there is no wind at all and the water is almost like a mirror; which means you will have to motor in dead calm seas for a quiet easy passage.

Not sure just why you want to include Nassau in your trip as lots of cruisers avoid it at all costs. Maybe an explanation would help answer some of your questions.
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Old 22-09-2017, 10:52   #12
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

I just did this trip this week from Fort Myers to Jacksonville via Seven Mile Bridge. Note that the water levels are way different than the charts right now (higher) and all the channel markers are gone through the keys that I saw.
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Old 22-09-2017, 12:35   #13
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

If you're just in a hurry cutting through at Marathon makes sense but I'd check out the Dry Tortugas & Key West on the way to the Bahamas. I'd also avoid Nassau if possible.
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Old 22-09-2017, 20:18   #14
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Re: Best route from Tampa to Nassau

Fab,
The uncertain part of your trip is not necessarily the route you choose but rather the unreliability of your charts due to destroyed ATON's, debris in the water(boats, trees, furniture, lumber, etc.) and newly formed shoals and sand bores. This will be a problem both here in the States as well as in the Islands. My advice is to avoid night sailing at all costs and be confident in your "eyeball navigation" skills. My route would be to harbor hop from Tampa to SW Florida(Little Shark) and wait for a good weather window with East through South winds and leave at first light for Key West. You have two bailout points along the way if conditions change: Big Spanish Key and Johnston Key with reasonable anchorages. Take a mooring at Key West and wait for a good weather window to Marathon or Rodriguez Key and from there head for Nassau via Cat Cay, then Morgan's Bluff. Keep a sharp lookout Good luck and safe sailing.
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