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Old 22-07-2013, 08:57   #1
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Navigation aids in Exumas

Hi,
Thinking of chartering in the Exumas this winter. Can anyone tell me about the navigating. Are there navigational aids to enter harbors and anchorages or is it only by sight?
The plan was to do the chain one way in 10 days...doable without a lot of long sailing days?
Thanks for any insights!
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Old 22-07-2013, 09:56   #2
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

There are very few nav aids in the Exumas, and even fewer that you can trust; however, get the Explorer Charts (or make sure they come with the charter) and learn to read the water. You must take special care when navigating cuts...the rest is pretty straightforward. Always have a protected anchorage in mind for when fronts come through, otherwise, any anchorage on the west (banks) side of the islands usually suffice (and give you an awesome sunset). Have a blast!!
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Old 22-07-2013, 09:58   #3
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

There are virtually no navigation aids as we know them in the Exumas. There are beacons (stone cairns) on some islands and a light (which might be extinguished) on one or two cays but essentially it's eyeball navigation with an emphasis on reading the water.

Trying to do the chain in ten days is foolish but doable if the weather cooperates.
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Old 22-07-2013, 10:05   #4
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

one way 10 days will work. If you are ending in Georgetown, remember that the run outside to there can be a little rough. Just give yourself time to wait a day if necessary. The entrance to G-town can be a little scary the first time, mostly because it's not a small entrance... so you have to know where you are! I always just used a gps track and eyesight.
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Old 22-07-2013, 10:39   #5
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

The previous posts pretty much sum it up. Very few aids to navigation, mostly privately maintained and none reliable. Navigate by chart and eyeball. Make sure you plan your days so any tricky spots like entering a harbor or narrow channel you will arrive with the sun high and preferably behind you. With the sun low and ahead you cannot see the reefs and shallows due to the glare on the water.

You can do the chain in 10 days as long as the weather cooperates but why? Unless you just enjoy being under way you will spend a lot of time sailing and a lot less time enjoying the harbors, beaches, local culture, etc. Also you run the risk of being halfway to the end and getting stuck with a cold front. It can blow like stink sometimes for days when a norther hits and you will either talk yourself into going out when you shouldn't trying to make a deadline or you'll be stuck and miss your flights.
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Old 22-07-2013, 11:17   #6
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

Definitely plan on focusing your time in 1 or 2 areas. I suggest maybe the Land and Sea Park (Warderick Wells / Cambridge Cay areas), Staniel Cay / Big Majors area. Those are the places that most people go for a reason.

Plan on losing a couple days to weather. In winter you can assume that you will get a front coming through almost every week. Maybe you'll luck out but don't plan on it. You can anchor pretty much anywhere when you have settled trade winds from the east. But you need a plan B for where you can ride out a frontal passage (with protection from west/north winds). And make sure that you leave a window of time to get to your destination.

The Explorer Charts are must-haves for navigation and more. The Exumas are awesome! A week is definitely not enough time to really enjoy it.

Scott
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Old 22-07-2013, 11:29   #7
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

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Originally Posted by s/vPainkiller View Post
Definitely plan on focusing your time in 1 or 2 areas. I suggest maybe the Land and Sea Park (Warderick Wells / Cambridge Cay areas), Staniel Cay / Big Majors area. Those are the places that most people go for a reason.

Plan on losing a couple days to weather. In winter you can assume that you will get a front coming through almost every week. Maybe you'll luck out but don't plan on it. You can anchor pretty much anywhere when you have settled trade winds from the east. But you need a plan B for where you can ride out a frontal passage (with protection from west/north winds). And make sure that you leave a window of time to get to your destination.

The Explorer Charts are must-haves for navigation and more. The Exumas are awesome! A week is definitely not enough time to really enjoy it.

Scott
Good info, here. I am assuming you are picking up your boat in Nassau. With only ten days, I wouldn't even consider going to Georgetown. Staniel Cay and Warderwick Wells, and the area in between is my favorite part of the Bahamas.
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Old 22-07-2013, 12:00   #8
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

Move in the morning, most hops are short. Snorkel/explore in the afternoon and move on next morning. Most of the places are lovely, but of limited interest after a day. Ending up in Georgetown for some "civilization" at the end will be fun and welcome! How "winter" are we talking? Can be rather cold sometimes...
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Old 23-07-2013, 05:19   #9
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

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Move in the morning, most hops are short. Snorkel/explore in the afternoon and move on next morning. Most of the places are lovely, but of limited interest after a day. Ending up in Georgetown for some "civilization" at the end will be fun and welcome! How "winter" are we talking? Can be rather cold sometimes...
I never got the, "Let's hurry past the most beautiful islands in the world, to get to an overcrowed, overused, relatively poor anchorage, and try to be as much like floating RVers as possible."

I don't hate Georgetown, but it reminds me of when I was a kid and my Dad took us to the giant RV parks in our Winnebago because he liked sitting around and talking to people more than he liked seeing wilderness.

I realize, that Georgetown exists as a destination, because there are more people who are different from me, than like me, but except for getting some groceries at the Exuman Market, and a hamburger and margarita at the Chat and Chill, I don't have much use for Georgetown.
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Old 23-07-2013, 08:24   #10
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

compassrose88 -
In addition to the Explorer charts, buy a copy of the Exuma Guide by Steve Pavilidis. Get it now, and you'll have a few months of enjoyable reading and planning.
With the Explorer charts, Pavilidis' guide, a compass, and a pair of polarized sunglasses, you can get around the Exumas just fine. In many places your gps should be of secondary importance to the Mk. 1 eyeball. There have been too many boats lost in the Bahamas by the crews looking at the gps instead of their surroundings.
Have fun!
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:22   #11
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

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Originally Posted by Waterway Guide View Post
There are very few nav aids in the Exumas, and even fewer that you can trust; however, get the Explorer Charts (or make sure they come with the charter) and learn to read the water. You must take special care when navigating cuts...the rest is pretty straightforward. Always have a protected anchorage in mind for when fronts come through, otherwise, any anchorage on the west (banks) side of the islands usually suffice (and give you an awesome sunset). Have a blast!!


I was just investigating Jeppesen's Plan2Nav Android app, and during the course of downloading the US East Coast/Bahamas chart... I thought I saw the words "Explorer Chart" somewhere along the way.

If so (assuming I didn't just dream it), is that the same "Explorer Charts" you mentioned?

I haven't used C-Map charts in several years, but they seemed reasonably accurate where we've traveled and on an earlier chartplotter...

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Old 01-08-2013, 10:25   #12
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

But, to the original question. The closet thing to navigation aids in the Exumas, are the BTC cell phone towers, the location of which are marked on the Explorer Charts.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:42   #13
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

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I never got the, "Let's hurry past the most beautiful islands in the world, to get to an overcrowed, overused, relatively poor anchorage, and try to be as much like floating RVers as possible."

I don't hate Georgetown, but it reminds me of when I was a kid and my Dad took us to the giant RV parks in our Winnebago because he liked sitting around and talking to people more than he liked seeing wilderness.

I realize, that Georgetown exists as a destination, because there are more people who are different from me, than like me, but except for getting some groceries at the Exuman Market, and a hamburger and margarita at the Chat and Chill, I don't have much use for Georgetown.
Yeah, I understand that. What I like about G-twn is that although crowded with boats, there are amzing things to do a day trip away... and most dont do it! Seamounts with dozens of Spotted Leopard rays, Conching and lobstering, great snorkeling etc... yet most are firmly planted next to the Chat and Chill. It's nice to go out and do these things , then come back for a night of music and a BBQ steak in town!
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:59   #14
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

I'm not sure about the Jeppeson Charts, but you should be able to figure it out. We used the Garmin BlueChart Bahamas with our Chartplotter and, at the time, those used an electronic version of the Explorer Charts exclusively...this was great since everything matched the paper charts. I have heard that Garmin has started using a different chart for some areas of the Bahamas...that's a shame. If you can find a charting app that uses the Explorer charts, that would be a big plus -- but you can certainly get along with just the charts and a gps to help reference. Don't trust the old admiralty charts, which is loaded on a lot of chartplotters -- they're like 100 years old! Someone out there might have more current information on which electronic charts/apps use the Explorer Charts.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:20   #15
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Re: Navigation aids in Exumas

I'm somewhat confused about this question. We charted there in 1994 before there was GPS and electronic charts and did quite well, thank you. Simply because every single guide source we read said: "There are no useful navigational aids and you have to use your eyeballs and you have to move into critical areas when the sun is in the proper position."

Nothing's changed.

Have you read any guidebooks? Seems you must have since you've planned the trip.

Good luck, have a good safe cruise, but it sure sounds like you still need to do some basic "homework."
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