I used to live in Western Florida
and have cruised the Bahamas. As others have pointed out, deep draft will limit your routes and destinations in those waters, but does not make them totally off limits. I switched from a mono with 5.6' draft to a cat with 3.3' while living in Florida and "wow" that made a big difference -- 5' depth
instantly converted from a shoal to avoid to a potential anchorage!
Have you considered a power cat? I saw a couple along our cruising route this past season.
In recent years, I have mostly been cruising the NW & SW Caribbean
. You can cover most of the popular cruising routes and destination
in these areas with a 6.5' draft. Northern Belize
is quite shallow, so that could be a real challenge, but deep water
becomes more common as you move south in Belize
. I used to run charters on monos drawing 6' in Belize with no significant constraints (another 6" would have made no practical difference). Honduras
has plenty of deep water
(thus the name) as does the usual route, and stops, "around the corner" to Panama
. Plenty of deep water in Panama
too. You can also get over the bar in the Rio Dulce with 6.5 if you time it right.
Most of the Eastern Carib is deep too...so you can cover a lot of ground with a 6.5 draft.