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Old 03-12-2017, 11:05   #1
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Galveston to Nassau

My family and I are sailing our Potter 15 to Nassau from Galveston. I'm new to long voyages and am looking for advice on provisioning, actual time frame for the journey, and most importantly routes and wind info!
Thanks to any and everyone for helping!

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Old 03-12-2017, 11:26   #2
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

I would suggest put it on a trailer, pull it to Miami, then a freighter to Nassau.
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Old 03-12-2017, 12:09   #3
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

Ahhh but alas we are hoping to get more sailing experience... We're alright behind the wheel of the truck!
Thinking driving to Miami is going to be the back up plan for any time considerations.
Thanks for the message!
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Old 03-12-2017, 13:55   #4
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

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Originally Posted by Mrphbrew View Post
Potter 15 to Nassau from Galveston.
Potter 15.

Your best bet would be taking the ICW all the way from Galveston to Apalachicola, then hugging the coast (dropping anchor over night) gunk-holing around the arm-pit of Florida until you get to the entrance of the Okeechobee canal at Fort Myers (Okeechobee Waterway - Cruising Guide and Navigation Info). Many people simply cut across from Apalachicola area direct to Clearwater/Tampa-bay area (overnight leg), but you may want to consider the coast-hugging option. That said, there isn't a great deal of protection in the armpit of Florida if a SW wind comes in..
Once you've got to Fort Myers, you can then transit the Canal all the way to Stewart. Once there you can follow the ICW again down to Miami and await absolutely ideal crossing conditions (i.e. no wind whatsoever from the North against the gulf stream) and minimal wave action - to cross to Bimini. Note that the Bimini crossing will be the most challenging part of the entire trip considering your chosen vessel - however, if you're willing to wait for the right window, in the right season, you should be ok.

You'll find a hundred or so threads on this forum about different strategies about getting from Bimini onto Nassau etc. Same for the gulf stream crossing! The gulf stream crossing is something you may want to think through, as you'll be getting carried North at quite a pace while crossing the main part of the stream, so your Course-Made-Good in your Potter 15 will end up putting you much further North (of Bimini) than you may have anticipated - to combat this, you'll need a very good understanding of your sailing performance at various wind angles, so you can work out your most optimum initial heading (probably SE) to place you where you need to be on the eastern side of the stream.

Provisioning shouldn't be a major issue for most of the trip, as you'll find that public docks are available along most of the route (ICW) with access to supermarkets etc.

I think you'll find that the trip from Galveston to Miami will tell you so much about the capabilities of yourself, your crew and your vessel, that you'll be able to better plan on what to do about the Bimini hop... and onwards.

Do you have an outboard on your Potter?
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Old 03-12-2017, 15:13   #5
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

15' Potter + family + gulf stream = Yer a better man than I am Gunga Din
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Old 03-12-2017, 16:11   #6
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

Why Nassau? Why not trailer to the Keys, and do your sailing there. The Gulf Stream crossing can be really dangerous in a small boat. And the conditions when you pull away from Florida can be quite different than what you would encounter during the crossing, especially on a small boat that doesn't sail especially fast.

Regarding time, on our last trip we made it from Kemah to Pensacola in ten days. Took the ICW from Bolivar to Rabbitt Island - all motoring with several stops - then jumped offshore. Then hop to Biloxi, Dauphin Island, and then Pensacola. We stayed at Palafox marina there and played tourist in the historic district. Get a Skipper Bobs Gulf Coast guide to help you determine where you can stop, bridge openings, canal transits, etc. Might as well buy his Bahamas guide too. They are both cheap, and have some good info.

Left Pensacola and sailed overnight to Port St Joe, then overnight to Clearwater. Day sails to Longboat Key, Cayo Costa, Naples, then anchored offshore of East Cape (Cape Sable), then on to Islamorada - where we stayed for a few days doing final provisioning and waiting for weather to cross. We crossed from Snake Creek and then into Bimini - I think a distance of about 85 nm, that took us about 12 hours (overnight). That's about a week of travel time from Pensacola to Islamorada, plus add however much time you want to stay along the way. So that's 17 days of motoring and sailing to get from Kemah to Islamorada. We generally plan on three weeks to a month, accounting for some weather days, anchoring and exploring, and tourist days. For reference, we motor at 5.5 knots and sail at 7 knots to over 9-10 knots if we have really favorable wind.

From Bimini we went to Chub Cay. This is always a challenging run to do in daylight hours. Its 97 nm, and we had decent wind and made it in 12.5 hours. And it was rough, so anchoring on the Banks was not possible, so pushed on to Chub.

Next we left Chub heading for Nassau, but bailed out to Bonds Cay in Berry Islands because of unfavorable waves and direction (4-6 ft, with 7 footers). Next day have favorable 40 nm run to Nassau.

Not sure why the choice of Nassau? Our friends were anchored out on their first night, and scared away a thief who boarded their boat. We stayed at Nassau Yacht Haven marina, and they locked the gate at night and patrolled the docks. Nassau was a great place for provisioning, and we had some great food at food shacks, but I wouldn't spend much time there. From there we went on to the Exumas, and spent about a month there cruising all the way down to Georgetown and back.

We are heading out again in March, this time going to the Abacos. And we will plan to take about a month from Port Aransas to the Florida east coast crossing point. To be quite honest, the Texas to Florida trip is my least favorite, and if I had the ability, I would trailer the boat. But not feasible with our catamaran.

My advice: get your experience sailing on Galveston Bay. It can get rough enough for a taste of what moderate offshore conditions can be like. Then trailer your boat to the Keys, and spend your time sailing and cruising there. Or charter a boat out of Miami, and go to Nassau.
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Old 03-12-2017, 16:41   #7
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

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Originally Posted by sailjumanji View Post
Why Nassau? Why not trailer to the Keys, and do your sailing there. The Gulf Stream crossing can be really dangerous in a small boat. And the conditions when you pull away from Florida can be quite different than what you would encounter during the crossing, especially on a small boat that doesn't sail especially fast.



Regarding time, on our last trip we made it from Kemah to Pensacola in ten days. Took the ICW from Bolivar to Rabbitt Island - all motoring with several stops - then jumped offshore. Then hop to Biloxi, Dauphin Island, and then Pensacola. We stayed at Palafox marina there and played tourist in the historic district. Get a Skipper Bobs Gulf Coast guide to help you determine where you can stop, bridge openings, canal transits, etc. Might as well buy his Bahamas guide too. They are both cheap, and have some good info.



Left Pensacola and sailed overnight to Port St Joe, then overnight to Clearwater. Day sails to Longboat Key, Cayo Costa, Naples, then anchored offshore of East Cape (Cape Sable), then on to Islamorada - where we stayed for a few days doing final provisioning and waiting for weather to cross. We crossed from Snake Creek and then into Bimini - I think a distance of about 85 nm, that took us about 12 hours (overnight). That's about a week of travel time from Pensacola to Islamorada, plus add however much time you want to stay along the way. So that's 17 days of motoring and sailing to get from Kemah to Islamorada. We generally plan on three weeks to a month, accounting for some weather days, anchoring and exploring, and tourist days. For reference, we motor at 5.5 knots and sail at 7 knots to over 9-10 knots if we have really favorable wind.



From Bimini we went to Chub Cay. This is always a challenging run to do in daylight hours. Its 97 nm, and we had decent wind and made it in 12.5 hours. And it was rough, so anchoring on the Banks was not possible, so pushed on to Chub.



Next we left Chub heading for Nassau, but bailed out to Bonds Cay in Berry Islands because of unfavorable waves and direction (4-6 ft, with 7 footers). Next day have favorable 40 nm run to Nassau.



Not sure why the choice of Nassau? Our friends were anchored out on their first night, and scared away a thief who boarded their boat. We stayed at Nassau Yacht Haven marina, and they locked the gate at night and patrolled the docks. Nassau was a great place for provisioning, and we had some great food at food shacks, but I wouldn't spend much time there. From there we went on to the Exumas, and spent about a month there cruising all the way down to Georgetown and back.



We are heading out again in March, this time going to the Abacos. And we will plan to take about a month from Port Aransas to the Florida east coast crossing point. To be quite honest, the Texas to Florida trip is my least favorite, and if I had the ability, I would trailer the boat. But not feasible with our catamaran.



My advice: get your experience sailing on Galveston Bay. It can get rough enough for a taste of what moderate offshore conditions can be like. Then trailer your boat to the Keys, and spend your time sailing and cruising there. Or charter a boat out of Miami, and go to Nassau.


This is some sound advice. Note about the timings: Sailju is on a 33' cat. I'm guessing the hull speed of a Potter 15 would be close to 5.5-6knots? So what you'll be able to achieve w.r.t. distance in day light hours is going to be limited. To make the longer legs doable, you'd have to be prepared for overnight sails, ensuring that all of you nav-lights and VHF etc is in working order. Also note that the E coast of Florida is very busy with shipping, and a small, poorly lit sailboat at night would be very exposed.



As a taster, I would suggest considering doing an off-coastal jaunt from Galveston east to Port Arthur during daylight in the usual SE prevailing winds to see how you feel about being beam onto the seas and wind. To sail between these two points you'll need to point further south to account for leeway otherwise you'll end up on the beach (if you take the rhumb line). If you make this trip, you'll have the benefit of motoring back along the ICW.. and that'll give you a taste of what the Galveston to Rigolets (east of NOLA) ICW trip is going to be like, which I'd describe as a little boring with sprinkles of interest...
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Old 03-12-2017, 19:08   #8
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

Whoa thanks so much for this! This is great! Yes Cavalier we do have a motor. Why Nassau? It's where my wife will be taking a 5min water taxi to an ashram she will be going to for a month. We had no real plans to hang out there. Though it sounds like we can't just drop mom off and come back and pick her up in a couple weeks... What I feel I'm gathering from you sailjumanji is that you plan on about a month to the east coast of Florida taking time for enjoying some special places along the way?! That sounds great! We may be more time sensitive though. What does anyone know of the conditions in Feb or March. I'm really taking to heart making a couple of these smaller sails to test the waters. (and ourselves) Thank you for the wisdom there.

This is great! Thank you all for your time!
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Old 03-12-2017, 19:28   #9
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

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Whoa thanks so much for this! This is great! Yes Cavalier we do have a motor. Why Nassau? It's where my wife will be taking a 5min water taxi to an ashram she will be going to for a month.
===

Be aware that Nassau has a significant crime problem and many cruisers regard it as dangerous. That said, we've never had a problem but have never stayed longer for a day or two, and always at a reasonably secure marina. Situational awareness and reasonable precautions are definitely a must.
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Old 03-12-2017, 22:08   #10
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

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We may be more time sensitive though. What does anyone know of the conditions in Feb or March. I'm really taking to heart making a couple of these smaller sails to test the waters. (and ourselves) Thank you for the wisdom there.

This is great! Thank you all for your time!

February is a tough time for such a small boat, you will spend a lot of time holed up waiting for the wind to lay down so you can make the next leg. The further into March you get the better the weather will become. My advise would be to make a lot of miles when the weather is fair and have enough time in your budget to not get stressed when it's not.
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Old 04-12-2017, 11:34   #11
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

Thanks Dave852!
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Old 05-12-2017, 05:37   #12
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Re: Galveston to Nassau

Mrph,

We knocked out part of our transit in October 2015, taking Jumanji from Kemah to a friends house in Orange Beach, Alabama. Boat stayed there over the winter, and we reboarded in mid March 2016 and started heading south. We met a nice couple in Port St Joe on a 40 ft monohull that were returning from east coast of Florida. They had been waiting two weeks for weather to cross to the Bahamas, and decided to change destinations rather than continue to wait. Said that No Name Harbor (Florida) was full of boats doing the same - waiting on weather to cross. Again, that was in early March.

We were in the Bahamas from April thru May - later in the year than you are planning to be. We monitored Chris Parker's weather forecast on a portable SSB radio, and had more location-detailed OCENS weather forecast as well that we got via our Inreach. In that time period, we had three significant winter storms - each of which at the time Chris referred to as "monitoring the LAST winter storm"! (So he was wrong about two of those, being the "last".)My logbook notes the actual last one was on May 5. And that one had sustained winds of 20-28 knots, periods of heavy rainfall and lightening, and gusts. The day before we grabbed a mooring ball at Cambridge Cay that had some protection from NW wind - so it wasn't a big deal - but we were prepared for it.

But mind the old adage about "cruising" and "schedule" don't mix. I think it would take exceptionally nice weather to cross the Gulf Stream in a 15 ft boat - and then you still have significant jumps from Bimini to Chub, then to Nassau. Having all of those stars align in February or March, well, its not very likely. IMHO
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