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Old 17-02-2012, 20:14   #1
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First Timer ... Carribean Question

Sailing from Charleston, SC to Carribean...please advise on the best course to Bimini. Where should we cross? thanks! Excited, but nervous!
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Old 17-02-2012, 21:41   #2
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

What kind of boat, sail or power?

Shortest distance as the crow flies to Bimini is from Miami. But if you are in a sailboat or slower power boat, some like to leave from a little further south to help compensate for the northerly set of the Gulf Stream. Personally never had problem leaving from Ft Lauderdale which was my S Florida base for several years and crabbing a bit towards the south.

If you are in a faster power boat it doesn't matter that much.
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Old 18-02-2012, 07:34   #3
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What kind of boat, sail or power?

Shortest distance as the crow flies to Bimini is from Miami. But if you are in a sailboat or slower power boat, some like to leave from a little further south to help compensate for the northerly set of the Gulf Stream. Personally never had problem leaving from Ft Lauderdale which was my S Florida base for several years and crabbing a bit towards the south.

If you are in a faster power boat it doesn't matter that much.
Thanks so much. That explains a lot to a rookie! We have a catamaran...sails and a 27 hp engine. Very nervous, but eager!
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Old 18-02-2012, 07:48   #4
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

Well try not to be nervous. Crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas is not nearly as difficult as many people think. The #1 detail to make it easy and fear free is to wait for the right weather to cross. Do not get locked into a schedule or mind set that you must go at a certain time or date. Problems often happen when cruisers have a limited window based on vacation time they have scheduled and feel compelled to make the trip in marginal conditions.

I have made the crossing at least a dozen times and almost always ended up motoring across. Not as much fun as sailing but you can usually set a more direct course and minimize the time in the Gulf Stream.

I have changed Bahamas cruising plans before and just made a trip down the FL Keys because the weather was a bit rough for crossing.

Other than Bimini what are your plans and how long will you stay?
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Old 18-02-2012, 08:14   #5
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Well try not to be nervous. Crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas is not nearly as difficult as many people think. The #1 detail to make it easy and fear free is to wait for the right weather to cross. Do not get locked into a schedule or mind set that you must go at a certain time or date. Problems often happen when cruisers have a limited window based on vacation time they have scheduled and feel compelled to make the trip in marginal conditions.

I have made the crossing at least a dozen times and almost always ended up motoring across. Not as much fun as sailing but you can usually set a more direct course and minimize the time in the Gulf Stream.

I have changed Bahamas cruising plans before and just made a trip down the FL Keys because the weather was a bit rough for crossing.

Other than Bimini what are your plans and how long will you stay?
We only have eight weeks for sailing, so we're going to set out and see how far we can get before we need to turn around. We're retiring in May 2013, then time won't be a factor. Thanks again!
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Old 18-02-2012, 08:17   #6
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

I am planning on making my first crossing to the Bahama's from Florida in late March. I am looking to find a buddy boat to share the crossing. My plans are to leave Daytona Beach in early March, spend a week or two sailing the east coast and upper Keys, then make my way back to Lake Worth and wait for weather. Any suggestions on where and how to find buddy boats looking to make a similar crossing. I am flexible on time.

Thanks fo any suggestions.
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Old 18-02-2012, 08:49   #7
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

You'll find a few boats waiting to head over at No Name Harbor at Key Biscayne.
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Old 18-02-2012, 10:51   #8
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth G View Post
We only have eight weeks for sailing, so we're going to set out and see how far we can get before we need to turn around. We're retiring in May 2013, then time won't be a factor. Thanks again!
Well I am targeting a year or so later for retirement so hope to see you out there.

Going to the Bahamas one thing many first timers don't consider is where to go once you reach Bimini, or West End for that matter. The crossing from FL is +/- 50 miles but from Bimini the next closest stop in the Bahamas is across the banks to Chub Cay in the Berrys or North Andros, almost double the distance crossing the Gulf Stream. Unless the weather is very settled and you can anchor on the banks you are looking at an overnight trip and, like crossing from FL, will be dead into the wind. Of course you can hang around Bimini and Cat Cay for a while and have plenty to see and do.
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Old 18-02-2012, 14:48   #9
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

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Originally Posted by Beth G View Post
Sailing from Charleston, SC to Carribean...please advise on the best course to Bimini. Where should we cross? thanks! Excited, but nervous!
You've already gotten lots of good responses about planning the crossing, but something else to consider is planning your approach into Bimini.

The approach into Bimini can be a bit confusing if it is your first time (hell, sometimes even it is not your first time). It has shifted over the years and not all charts have it right. Last time I came into Bimini was 2005 and my C-MAP charts were way off. Fortunately, I had been there many times before and had already talked with friends about more recent changes to the channel so the charts being off were not such a big deal.

I watched a 50' Hatteras get it wrong in bad weather once...not pretty...total loss.

Get current info on the Bimini entrance before your cross.

Also the current can really rip through the Bimini anchorage and complicate your approach and/or departure to some of the docks. Watch for this and prepare your approach to docks accordingly.

Pretty likely that someone else on this forum has been in much more recently than me and can advise.
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Old 18-02-2012, 15:24   #10
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

Also, search the forums here, lots of discussion of this popular crossing.
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Old 18-02-2012, 16:09   #11
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Re: First timer...Carribean question

We usually cross from Rodriguez Key off Marathon, FL or from Cape Florida just south of Miami. Use the Gulf Stream to your advantage and NEVER, NEVER cross if the wind has any segment out of the north. We've waited as much as a month for a safe crossing in both sail and power boats. In fact, we're waiting to cross to West End right now.
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