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Old 21-02-2017, 18:04   #16
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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I have a family friend that sailed a TransPac49 between Galveston and the Bahamas a couple times per year for many many years. The Dry Tortugas were always a high point. Enjoy the trip, and watch out for squalls.
i bet they've got some good stories. We haven't experienced squalls yet or more than 30kt winds. But we're upgrading equipment and learning as we go.
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Old 22-02-2017, 05:02   #17
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

How about charts? I have an older Raymarine chart plotter, iNavX on my iPads and I print my own charts. I hear Explorer has accurate ones but I don't want to buy them twice.
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Old 22-02-2017, 05:27   #18
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

I like to clear customs in cat cay. Good weather is a priority, limited good protection in bad weather in tortugas, watch the boundarys if you fish. some of the secluded places in andros shelters people smugglers, not too friendly. I was told by an elder one time to leave the island now as ther is going to be a lot of activity, i asked no questions. Anchor with other sailboats is my advice, have fun. Wait for the weather.
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Old 23-02-2017, 04:56   #19
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Thanks for the heads up KenZ. Didn't know about smugglers.
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Old 23-02-2017, 05:48   #20
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Ken. Early on I cleared thru Cat Cay and it cost $150 more vs Bimini!! Private island and all.... Nowadays I pull into the new Bimini Sands Marina resort and clear there. Exceedingly nice place, reasonable, a customs agent nearby, and no strong currents to deal with. Good fuel too.

Smugglers et al: There is a tacit agreement among governments, n'oer-do-wells, and cruisers/tourists. Bad guys stay away from cruising anchorages and resorts. One would really have to leave the beaten bath far behind to find bad guys. The arrangement seems to work. In the days of Carlos Lehder a few cruisers were murdered near his smuggling base at Normans Cay. Tourism money dried up in the Bahamas for a spell. US and Bahamas authorities took down Lehder and since then everyone tries to peaceably stay out of each other's way. Seems to be working. Basically the locals run off the bad guys as they are bad for business. If you spot a fast vessel without markings, keep moving (smile).
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Old 23-02-2017, 06:09   #21
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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i bet they've got some good stories. We haven't experienced squalls yet or more than 30kt winds. But we're upgrading equipment and learning as we go.

Only time I have been knocked down was not too long after dark on a moonless night about 100 miles north of the Dry Tortugas, we got laid over on our side, Genoa in the water, I don't think the spreader though anemometer when I looked was 45 to 50 kts
Hint, if you suddenly get a nice cool breeze, REEF.
The inexcusable thing is, I know better
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Old 23-02-2017, 08:02   #22
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

For that trip I'd go;

Pensacola to Hospital Key (figure 3-1/2 to 4 days in your boat);

Hospital Key to Key West (likely up-wind making a stop at the Mooney Harbor Key in the Maruesas necessary/wise, 1 very long day or likely 2);

Key West to Marathon (1 day);

Marathon to Rodgriguz Key (1 longish day);

Rodgriguz to Gun Key/Cat Key and check in at Cat (another long day);

Cat Key to Morgans Bluff (Andros if that's your preference) via North West Channel (2 days with a night on the Banks);

Morgan's Bluff to Allens Cay via White Bank (another long day).
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Old 25-02-2017, 06:07   #23
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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For that trip I'd go;

Pensacola to Hospital Key (figure 3-1/2 to 4 days in your boat);

Hospital Key to Key West (likely up-wind making a stop at the Mooney Harbor Key in the Maruesas necessary/wise, 1 very long day or likely 2);

Key West to Marathon (1 day);

Marathon to Rodgriguz Key (1 longish day);

Rodgriguz to Gun Key/Cat Key and check in at Cat (another long day);

Cat Key to Morgans Bluff (Andros if that's your preference) via North West Channel (2 days with a night on the Banks);

Morgan's Bluff to Allens Cay via White Bank (another long day).
Thanks, I'm plotting it out on iNavX. I'm going back to Westmarine today to go over this route with a guy that's made the same trip numerous times.
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Old 26-02-2017, 08:33   #24
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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Well, after many months of getting to know the boat and making a few basic upgrades we're going to head the other direction in 2018 after hurricane season.
We'll head back to Pensacola first, say our goodbyes to friends and family and then set a course to the Dry Tortugas. After that we're planning to head to the Bahamas. .
So how are you planning to go from Corpus to Pensacola? In October? We did this in October 2015, taking the boat from Kemah to Pensacola. Went the ICW route from Bolivar to the other side of New Orleans. Then dropped down into the Gulf and sailed to Pensacola, then back to Orange Beach where we left the boat at a friends house.

Came back in March, south down around the Everglades, crossed to Bimini, then thru Exumas to Georgetown, etc. Couple of months later, crossed back and brought the boat around to Ft Myers, where I swapped out wife for a couple of guy friends and we took the boat across the Gulf to Grand Isle, LA, then back offshore to Galveston. From LA to TX, we only stayed about ten miles offshore and did the rig dodging. Worst platform-density section was from Grand Isle to the other side of Port Fouchon, LA, which we timed to do in the daylight. THen there were fewer and fewer platforms as you get closer to Texas. We depended a lot on 4G radar, and frequent crew changes (fresh eyes). We found a few platforms that were not on the new charts, but a lot of platforms showing on the charts that have been removed.

We are probably heading back to Pensacola (from Port A) in October of this year, with the same plan of leaving the boat, and coming back in March 2018 and heading to the Abacos. (We didn't get to see Northern Bahamas on 2016 trip.)

Anyway, am toying with heading east offshore from Texas to FL this time, rather than the ICW route thru LA.
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Old 26-02-2017, 08:44   #25
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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Ken. Early on I cleared thru Cat Cay and it cost $150 more vs Bimini!! Private island and all.... Nowadays I pull into the new Bimini Sands Marina resort and clear there. Exceedingly nice place, reasonable, a customs agent nearby, and no strong currents to deal with. Good fuel too.
Bruc, is this the same as the Bimini Big Game Club Resort and Marina? That's where we cleared in March 2016. Dock use is free for clearing in, customs is on site, and immigration is a short walk down the street. Very nice people to deal with.

Bimini Big Game - Bahamas Customs & Immigration Clearance
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Old 26-02-2017, 16:39   #26
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

sailjumanji. Not the same. Bimini Sands is on south Bimini. Pretty new and a narrow cut just before heading in after crossing. Big game is well into the harbor and has been there forever. I'm not sure if the Sands will let you dock for free while clearing. I just get a slip for the night and relax. There's a small store there with sundries, a restaurant, and a freshwater pool. Ahhh, just what's needed after a long slog across the stream (smile). Best to radio ahead so they can give an up or down on available slips. Hail them on 16
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Old 26-02-2017, 18:05   #27
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

First thing to do after you come up with a first pass route is come up with a Plan B, and maybe even more letters of the alphabet.

The wind direction is a huge factor in which route you should take and no one knows what it will be when you cast off. I would be flexible about my first anchorage in the Keys being anywhere from Boca Grande Key (the real Boca Grande 15 nm East of the Marquesas not the one near Charlotte Harbor) to the Dry Tortugas. In a pinch you might need to go even more to the East into the back country; Content Key is a good option.

I don't suggest Key West unless you are forced to duck in there; there is no protected anchorage or mooring field and shopping may well require a taxi. Marathon is a much better option, especially if you can get in Boot Key Harbor and the City Marina. You can easily walk to stores and there is a friendly atmosphere where folks will offer advice on crossing. My advice is cross from Anglefish to Bimini. Bimini Sands is on South Bimini in Nixon Harbor; an easy place to anchor if needed compared to going to the Big Game Club which requires going in what can be a little trickier channel to get to Alice Town and the Big Game Club. There are several marinas there as well as the Big Game Club with cheaper prices; check Active Captain for names and updated prices. You will take a taxi from Bimini Sands to the airport to check in and the marina knows the drill and will help you; it is a simple walk from the Big Game Club but prices there are high and you may not find a free tie up to check in. Some folks anchor, in Nixon Harbor or off Alice Town, and take a dinghy to shore to check in; something that can save money. Bimini Sands is the easiest access, has wifi, and to me is the least work.

My advice would be to spend some time in the Keys before crossing. I left Boot Key Harbor, went to the Dry Tortugas, and returned to Boot Key; taking three months to do it. Once you get past the Northwest Channel (West of Key West) there are lots of places to anchor with decent protection; especially if you are willing to listen to CH2 every morning and if needed move to the lee side of the key for an expected wind change. There is a lot to see and do without the hassle of leaving the good old USA.

I like to dive and conventional wisdom is in the Bahamas 25 days a month the viz is good for diving while in the keys West of Key West 20 a month the viz is good. The thing is you can get the weather on CH2, even in the Dry Tortugas. At Boca Grande you can get cell phone coverage and Sea Tow covers that area as well. Not saying it is the adventure the Bahamas is but you are still in America with less paperwork and American prices.

What ever you do get good ground tackle; this means two good anchors with plenty of chain and if you have a good cell phone get Drag Queen. You may also need a cigar lighter plug in with an USB out to run the cell phone all night.
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Old 26-02-2017, 18:06   #28
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

[QUOTE=sailjumanji;2334220]So how are you planning to go from Corpus to Pensacola? In October? We did this in October 2015, taking the boat from Kemah to Pensacola. Went the ICW route from Bolivar to the other side of New Orleans. Then dropped down into the Gulf and sailed to Pensacola, then back to Orange Beach where we left the boat at a friends house.

We went from Pensacola to Corpus in Aug/Sept of 2015. From Pensacola we headed to the Chandeleur Islands. We went into the MS River through the Baptiste Collette Bayou. We stayed overnight at a Marina on the river to affect repairs sustained from the tail end of a tropical storm. We ended up taking the SW pass oit into the Gulf and then made a bee-line to Corpus. We diverted to Sabine Pass for fuel, showers and water as we ended up being becalmed for several days and had to motor sail. After that we just took a direct route to Corpus.

On the way back I'm definately not doing the MS River but have plotted a course that keeps me in in the Safety Fairways off shore and to the south of the MS River. My advise is to stay out of the Chandeleur and Breton Sounds. It's really shallow and there's a TON of stuff to run into. My chartplotter seemed to be really accurate and most of the capped well heads were plotted, still, if you go, it's definately a daylight only trip through that area.

During my one and only trip across the Gulf, I kind of enjoyed the rigs, the sounds they made, the lights at night, watching the people working on them during the day broke up the monotony of a becalmed ocean. At night you can't tell if it's a little thing right off your bow or a rig the size of a small city several miles out......keeps you on your toes.
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Old 09-03-2017, 08:44   #29
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Hey SSgtPitt we will be making the same trip at about the same time. Retiring in Aug of 2018. Hopefully we can meet up along the way!
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Old 09-03-2017, 11:08   #30
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

It's a date. I'll be the naked guy with the big grin and sunburn.
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