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Old 21-02-2017, 05:29   #1
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Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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. I'm looking for a route and first destination to check in. I assume Andros Island ? It looks like we'll be going with the current so should make good time.
I'm reading constantly trying to figure out the best routes, charts, weather patterns, and generally stuff not to run into. Anyone have a best route from the Tortugas to The Bahamas?
We're on a cutter rigged 1982 Cape Dory 36, 5' draft.
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Old 21-02-2017, 06:16   #2
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

It's a long pull across the Gulf, but you know that. After Dry Tortugas I'd head for KW to get fuel and water and get rid of trash, buy food etc. cause you have likely been out two weeks. Then on a guess to Miami via Hawk channel and go?
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Old 21-02-2017, 06:57   #3
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

The hitch is always the Gulf Stream. I've crossed it twelve times now. In a 36' Vessel I would wait for 3-5 swell max and wind in the southern quadrants before committing. Could take a week waiting, or more. There are many routes depending upon your chosen landfall. My preferred route is Anglefish cut just north of Key Largo to Bimini. There are many threads about Gulf Stream tactics. Be prepared. Once cleared in Bimini, head to wherever. Whatever route you choose, cheat the Stream by at least 15 miles. More is better. Be patient and wait for a decent window. Ciao
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Old 21-02-2017, 07:54   #4
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

It took us a week to go from Pensacola to Corpus Christi and we went down the Mississippi river for a little bit. It was about 800 nautical miles, so I'm not an expert by any means only having done it once.
I am not doing the Mississippi River again, I'd have to go upstream this time and Breton and Chandelier Sounds are really shallow and have hundreds of capped well heads sticking up all over the place. Most seem to be charted but they're not lit so you can't see them at night.
I can't seem to find much on routes from the Tortugas to Andros Island, which seems to be the closest.
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Old 21-02-2017, 09:09   #5
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

I see no reason not to ride the Gulf current when possible. Your problen is your draft. You have essentially two choices from Key West. (1) steer SE into the Nicholas Chanel and make a great circle to Andros. I would plan on no night sailing on that route. (2) and the one I would select is follow the gulf to Hilsboro Inlet, about 23 52.7N then steer SE into the NW Passage. A little less navigating required. Why Andros? There are easier Bahama Islands to get to.
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Old 21-02-2017, 10:22   #6
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Dry tortugas has absolutely no supplies so go to Key west and then head east. There are several great places to anchor out in the Keys. Andros is probably the worst place to check in and the marina has really strong currents. Start across the stream south of the cape of Florida and you will end up in Bimini, one of the easiest places to clear. Just watch the WEATHER
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Old 21-02-2017, 10:32   #7
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Regarding where to check in, it depends. First your long term plans and destination but also weather.

Coming from the west IE Dry Tortugas or Keys Andros direct really isn't the best option. South Andros there's not much there and the west coast of Andros is pretty much shallow and inaccessible to a sailboat. To clear in from that direction you would have to go a ways south of Andros then about 40 miles back up the coast to Congo Town for the closest customs office. If your destination is the SE Bahamas, Turks or onto the VI then south of Andros will be the most direct route but you will be going against the wind and current.

If you're just going to the N or NW Bahamas then leave the middle to northern Keys and set a course for Bimini. From there you can cross the banks to N Andros or Nassau or head through the NW and NE Providence channels to the Abacos.
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Old 21-02-2017, 10:43   #8
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
It's a long pull across the Gulf, but you know that. After Dry Tortugas I'd head for KW to get fuel and water and get rid of trash, buy food etc. cause you have likely been out two weeks. Then on a guess to Miami via Hawk channel and go?
If sailing I'd go out side unless you want to enjoy the Keys and the crab warps. Once above Marathon inside is OK. If you decide to use the Hawk channel in the lower Keys keep you engine off or be prepared to go swimming with a knife.
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Old 21-02-2017, 11:24   #9
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Thanks for the heads up. Andros just seemed to be the closest, but we're not set on it. After leaving Pensacola, we have to sail really close to the Tortugas so we figured we'd check it out and explore.
We're planning on a year for our first big outing and intend to stay in the Caribbean, working our way around to as many places as we can. We have no set agenda or destination.....just sail around and explore and meet new people.
If we like it, we'll go back home, sell everything and sail until we die or physically can't do it anymore or find something else we want to do.
We have an extremely strong well kept boat but little experience. We enjoy remote uncrowded locations the best, so we just need to "get legal" so we can go find some small islands to run around naked on, cook on an open fire and just enjoy being away from the daily grind.
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Old 21-02-2017, 11:51   #10
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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If sailing I'd go out side unless you want to enjoy the Keys and the crab warps. Once above Marathon inside is OK. If you decide to use the Hawk channel in the lower Keys keep you engine off or be prepared to go swimming with a knife.
I believe he is a full keel like I am, and while nothing is immune, we are well protected. I wish I had a nickel for every float I have seen pop up behind my bat at night lit by the stern light. Use to stress me out, now I think when it happens I'll just drop a hook and deal with it in the morning. If there is a decent wind out of the East I think the Hawk channel is worth it,


The Dry Tortugas are worth visiting, and you will be tired, take a few days to rest up, explore the fort and head on. Took me two years to make it there, but I was on a schedule, you know two week vacation.
Get there with an empty waste tank as there is of course no discharge, and I do not believe any way to get rid of trash. I have heard you can shower on the ferry but I have not tried. You can get Lunch on it, but its a cold cut make your own sandwich lunch or was when I was there.
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Old 21-02-2017, 12:10   #11
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Yup, Full keel and well protected prop. From what I've read most things should pass on by.....still, the stress of worrying about hooking a line might keep the Admiral in my ear.
Reading about the Tortugas from CF and the official website; if you want it, bring it, if you brought it, take it back with you.
I have 133g of fresh water so I should be good for about two weeks. We also keep drinking water seperate from that until we can afford a watermaker.
So...after leaving there with the Caribbean in mind, where should i go first?
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Old 21-02-2017, 13:00   #12
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

Go to Bimini, West End, Northern Bahamas
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Old 21-02-2017, 13:19   #13
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

I've made the run from Key West to Miami only once so I can't offer much about that leg, but I've crossed from various FL ports to West End, Grand Bahama 7 times. It's a nice overnight sail (if you follow the advice of the other postings to wait for a good weather/sea "window) letting you find the channel entrance to West End leisurely the next morning. We've experienced smooth customs clearance there and it's a great jumping off place for the voyage across the Bahama Bank (north of Grand Bahama) to the Abacos - a lovely group of islands with many snug harbors, quaint villages, great beaches, and marvelous snorkeling. With a 5' draft, enter/leave harbors there on a rising tide.
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Old 21-02-2017, 16:54   #14
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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The hitch is always the Gulf Stream. I've crossed it twelve times now. In a 36' Vessel I would wait for 3-5 swell max and wind in the southern quadrants before committing. Could take a week waiting, or more. There are many routes depending upon your chosen landfall. My preferred route is Anglefish cut just north of Key Largo to Bimini. There are many threads about Gulf Stream tactics. Be prepared. Once cleared in Bimini, head to wherever. Whatever route you choose, cheat the Stream by at least 15 miles. More is better. Be patient and wait for a decent window. Ciao
Ditto this. Best advice.
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Old 21-02-2017, 17:19   #15
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Re: Corpus Christi to Dry Tortugas then Bahamas

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.
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