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Old 15-11-2018, 19:25   #1
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ocean passage to Bahamas?

Has anyone sailed from Charleston SC directly to the Abacos, Bahamas?
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Old 15-11-2018, 20:31   #2
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

No, but seems a strange thing to want to try and do? Going offshore/direct you'd be mixing it with the Gulf Stream on and off the whole way, unless you remain west of the Gulf Stream and cross to the Abacos from Florida. We have sailed Cape Fear to Fernandina/Fernandina to West Palm Beach/West Palm to Abacos; no reason you couldn't do similar non-stop, it's hardly an 'ocean passage', but would be good practice for when you are faced with one.
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Old 15-11-2018, 21:33   #3
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

We’re planning to head out from Charleston for Abacos in a few weeks. I was also interested why nobody heads out east of Gulf Stream and then down and into one of the cuts to Abacos. Consensus is definitely head down inside the stream and then across from appx West Palm to West End or Memory Rock. Outside has a clear risk of E or NE wind preventing entry into Abacos through raging cuts.
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Old 16-11-2018, 07:40   #4
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

Thanks. We have always either used the ICW and/or outside from Beaufort NC via Charleston to WPB inside the Gulfstream. Sometimes had a 1 kn current with us.
Now this idea came up when looking at the gulfstream charts. We would not go much against it, but cross it and then go south to the Abacos, to Whale Cay passage.
I will try to include a picture. The distances are not precise.
This app is strange. It wants a URL for my picture. I insert it as a video
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Old 16-11-2018, 08:08   #5
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

We have done the trip twice, albeit under power rather than sail. We arrived in Marsh Harbor direct from Charleston last week - we crossed the Gulf Stream as quickly as possible and then went south east of the stream all the way to Man O War passage.
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Old 16-11-2018, 12:50   #6
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

thoreed, How long did it take at what speed?
Any more details on route and location of gulf stream?


Once East of Gulf Stream a coldfront would be good sailing, but I admit entering the Abaco cuts in prolonged storm is a problem. Need a good forecast, Chris Parker. If weather not good stay E of gulf stream and enter at the NW on Little Bahama Bank.
Its all a matter of timing and weather
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Old 16-11-2018, 13:24   #7
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

I’ve done this trip twice.
In the right winds, it’s lovely. This time of year I’d suggest you monitor weather carefully. If in doubt hire a weather router.
Once, came through Powell Cut and checked in at Spanish Cay.
Second time, went through ManJack entrance and checked in at Green Turtle. That’s a better option. Marsh Harbor also good but busier.
My boat generally runs 7kts or better on a passage and I’m patient for a good weather window. It’s a two+ day trip for me.
Cross the Gulf Stream as quickly as possible, avoiding any north component to the wind, and then head south.
Make sure that the forecast for your entrance to the cuts to the sea of Abaco is benign. With a two-three day forecast window this should be manageable. Any winds greater than 20kts out of the NE for any period of time and the cuts get somewhere between bouncy and dangerous.
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Old 16-11-2018, 14:13   #8
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

Thanks, planning this around mid April 2019. From Charleston 125 NM E, that's partly with the gulf stream (as it flows now), then S 300 NM partly southerly current. Sailing well with E to NE wind, motorsailing with SE wind. Calculating 6 kn, That's 3 days, but have also done 7kn. Fuel lasts for 3 days or more at 6 kn. Chris Parker has guided us well.
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Old 16-11-2018, 18:19   #9
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

I have made this trip 3 times in November, May, and June. It takes me 3-4 days in an Island Packet 380, single-handed. I wait for a cold front to pass through Charleston and afterwards the generally NE winds clock around so that I can cross the Gulfstream when there is no north component to the wind. That is, I start off with SW winds on a reach approximately SE, so I cross the Gulfstream perpendicular to the current. Then I have a downwind run south to the Abacos. I go thru the cut at Whale Cay and check in at Green Turtle Cay. I average 5-6 knots. I return via Great Sale Cay and Mantanilla Shoal and ride the Gulfstream back north. Have fun, whichever passage you choose!
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Old 16-11-2018, 19:01   #10
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Re: ocean passage to Bahamas?

Don't listen to those who think an offshore passage for this route is somehow strange, odd, or difficult. It is the fastest easiest way to get from Charleston to the Abacos--assuming boat and crew are up to it.

Just for yucks, I just ran that trip through my weather routing software to see what it said if I was leaving tonight. Here are the best routes (by weather model) overlaid on a current map showing current speeds so you can see the gulf stream. As you can see, the fastest routes are ALL virtually rhumb line courses which take you across the Gulf Stream at almost 90 degrees.

As several have said, you do need to watch the weather, but it is only 2 or three days so forecasts will be accurate.

One thing to be aware of: Arriving in the Abacos when a large storm is running--even hundreds of miles to the north--can be a problem. Large, long period swell from the north or northeast can set up conditions that the locals call a "Rage" when they crash on the north facing reefs. Most, or even all the north and east facing entrances to the Sea of Abaco can be totally untenable even for very large sailboats under these conditions, and they can last for days. Have an alternative plan, and DO NOT attempt to enter at night. Listen to the morning Abaco Cruisers Net out of Marsh Harbor to get inlet reports.
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