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Old 16-11-2014, 14:54   #1
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2-3 week sail Florida to Bahamas for 3 people, what is a realistic cost?

Hi all,

Won't have the time for a year or so, but planning on trailering the sailboat to Florida and spend a couple weeks cruising/visiting/sightseeing the Bahamas then trailering back home. The plan is to stay on the boat most of the time but be able to spend a night or 3 in a hotel when we all have a need for a hot shower or bath. I'd prefer to eat at the local hole in the walls or cook onboard rather than something that is a version of an upscale American restaurant.

What would be a reasonable/realistic budget for planning purposes? I'm pretty ignorant about the area so I'd like a guesstimate from everything including customs and cruising fees to meals and what would be a reasonable allowance for the kids to get the touristy stuff they'll inevitably want.

I don't want to be too frugal, but as an example I'd much rather cruise a few more days as opposed to staying at a hotel if they are ALL expensive, etc.

Thanks!

Mark
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Old 16-11-2014, 15:41   #2
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Re: 2-3 week sail Florida to Bahamas for 3 people, what is a realistic cost?

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Originally Posted by MBWhite View Post
Hi all,

Won't have the time for a year or so, but planning on trailering the sailboat to Florida and spend a couple weeks cruising/visiting/sightseeing the Bahamas then trailering back home. The plan is to stay on the boat most of the time but be able to spend a night or 3 in a hotel when we all have a need for a hot shower or bath. I'd prefer to eat at the local hole in the walls or cook onboard rather than something that is a version of an upscale American restaurant.

What would be a reasonable/realistic budget for planning purposes? I'm pretty ignorant about the area so I'd like a guesstimate from everything including customs and cruising fees to meals and what would be a reasonable allowance for the kids to get the touristy stuff they'll inevitably want.

I don't want to be too frugal, but as an example I'd much rather cruise a few more days as opposed to staying at a hotel if they are ALL expensive, etc.

Thanks!

Mark
Ok, I'll begin. Take $150.00 cash for check in for a 19' boat. That includes departure tax for up to 3 people. $25.00 for any additional person. More here - http://www.bahamas.com/boating-enter-exit

Nice showers at Brown's Marina in North Bimini (Alice Town). They will also bring you the paperwork needed for check in. Customs is just a block up the road to the right. Immigration another block or two at the Bimini Big Game Club. Easy check in...


It looks like Bimini Big Game Club offers cottages. Check for pricing. Not sure what else is available in Bimini. We just check in there sometimes, and leave in good weather.

So........where do you plan to cruise while in the Bahamas?

Ralph
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Old 16-11-2014, 16:17   #3
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Re: 2-3 week sail Florida to Bahamas for 3 people, what is a realistic cost?

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So........where do you plan to cruise while in the Bahamas?

Ralph
Thanks Ralph!

I was hoping to get some input on the "where" along with everything else! Ideally it would be a mix of local exposure with some remote locations tossed in if possible. Snorkelling and fishing for lunch and dinner, either a lot if the kids get into it or not so much if not, but I don't think that will happen. At 4-5 knots with a full boat there is not a ton of range I can cover anyway. Planning on an overnight passage from Florida but want to see how that goes before I decide if we'll make any more (my main goal is to have this be a memorable and enjoyable experience for my kids and get some exposure hopefully to more of the local flavor rather than the americanized environment).

Sorry if I sound vague, but when I have no experience with something I'd prefer to listen to those who do, so feel free to make suggestions!

Mark
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Old 17-11-2014, 16:46   #4
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Re: 2-3 week sail Florida to Bahamas for 3 people, what is a realistic cost?

I was waiting for others to join in, and offer some help. Honestly, I think many may believe that you aren't serious because of your boat. I bothered to look it up, and find-


Famous Voyages

Atlantic crossings
At least nine Alacrities are told to have crossed the Atlantic, according to Russel Marine itself.

and...

San Felipe, Baja to Costa Rica
Two brothers named Bob and Jeff Crum and a girl named Jennie sailed their Alacrity "Delfina" in the Sea of Cortez. After trailering the boat to San Felipe they sailed 3000 miles to Costa Rica where they sold the boat not wanting to sail back upwind.


So, with that out of the way, I'll add a few thoughts. If you don't know where you want to cruise, do some studying. Pick up a Waterway Guide for the Bahamas. Also, buy yourself at least one of the Explorer Charts. There are three...The Near Bahamas, the Exumas and Raggeds, and the Far Bahamas with Turks & Caicos. The Near Bahamas include the Gulf Stream crossing, so that's what I would buy to start.

Many people check in in Bimini, if planning a cruise of the Exumas. Others check in at West End if cruising Abaco.

So, once you figure out where you want to go, you'll need to find a place to leave your vehicle and trailer (unless you have other options?) If you leave Fort Lauderdale, it's 68.6 NM to West End. If you leave Key Largo, it's 53.5 NM to North Bimini. My first trip to Bimini, we left from No Name Harbor (just south of Miami), and ended up nine miles north of Bimini. It was a much longer day than we had planned, but fortunately left at 0430 and made it to Browns Marina(North Bimini) with time to check in. Now, we still leave No Name, but head more north onto the Bank and check in at Bullocks Harbor in the Berry Islands.

Keep in mind, you will return well north of where you left your vehicle and trailer. I won't bore you with the probability that you won't make it to the Bahamas and back in 2-3 weeks (unless you get very lucky). Maybe in the summer months.

So now you are in the Bahamas. Bimini or West End. You've done the scary Gulf Stream crossing, but now where to? Do you know how far it is to Nassau from Bimini? There isn't much between the two you know? From North Rock (north of Bimini), it's 33.7 NM to Mackie Shoal, 30 NM to Northwest Channel Light, and 49.3 NM to Nassau. So more than 60 miles across the open Great Bahama Bank with no place to hide. and about 50 miles across the very deep (2500 meters) open waters to Nassau Harbor. Of course Nassau probably isn't where you really want to stay, but from there you are an easy day sail away from Allen's Cay in the Exumas. That's where the fun begins.

From West End, it's approximately 90 miles to Green Turtle Cay. Again, very little in between. So, you see, just getting to the Bahamas isn't that far, but getting to the good stuff is much more challenging. And forget your 4-5 knot boatspeed for planning. Most of the time you'll have 15 knots from the East or Southeast, making it a bash to get where you want to go.

Most of us cruising the Bahamas don't spend any time in any hotels. We do sometimes eat at restaurants. Figure $20.00 for a cheeseburger and fries, or just about anything else. If you need to buy provisions, the cost is not that much more than Florida prices for many things, but double (and more) for other things.

Without being much more specific about your plans, I certainly can't help with budgeting. For sure, just as with cruising here in the USA, Marinas and restaurants will kill the cruising budget. Other than that, the costs are mostly limited to fuel, food, and booze (for me). The cost of the good stuff (relaxing at a beautiful anchorage, swimming in gin clear water, walking a deserted white beach, meeting other cruisers and locals, and just enjoying life) is $0.00.


PS- I think many of the photos shown here were at Cat/ Gun Cay, south of Bimini. http://katieandjessieonaboat.com/category/bahamas/ Maybe someone with experience in this area will pipe up. I've never been there myself.

Happy planning!

Ralph
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Old 18-11-2014, 00:46   #5
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Re: 2-3 week sail Florida to Bahamas for 3 people, what is a realistic cost?

Thanks for the reply Ralph.

My little boat could be bigger, but it doesn't necessarily need to be any stouter, bilge keels aren't known for speed either but are great for stability with a shoal draft and are nice here on the river.

Anyway, regarding a cruising plan, that was what I was hoping someone would suggest for a small pokey boat! So, barring that here is ideally what I'd like to do-

Ft Lauderdale to Bimini, Bimini to the East coast of Andros, follow the coast towards the S. end of Andros then across somewhere to the Exumas, then to Long Island, Rum Cay, and the final destination is San Salvadore where Columbus reputedly made landfall.

However, that may be too ambitious a plan for 3 weeks. The main goal is to just have a memorable time with my kids. As such, I wouldn't want to have anything cast in stone and it could always be modified so that if after a couple days the weather turned crappy or any of a number of unforseens we would have no qualms with making changes up to and including deciding to turn back towards home....

Anyway, an alternate route to running down the coast of Andros might be to cross over to Eleuthera and then Cat Island, but again I have absolutely no experience with any of these places other than looking at a map and guessing that Eleuthera might be quieter than Andros.

Thanks for listening to my ramble!
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Old 18-11-2014, 09:49   #6
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Re: 2-3 week sail Florida to Bahamas for 3 people, what is a realistic cost?

I've trailered down to Florida and cruised to the Bahamas a couple times (from Iowa). and several more times from Florida, with no trailering.

Your travel there and back may cost more than the cruise itself. Calculate what mileage you get towing, cost of any motels, fast food, etc.

When I towed my Telstar trimaran down I launched at the public dock in Indiantown and stored my boat and trailer at the Indiantown marina. Free ramp with little use, no tides, fresh water on your trailer tires, etc. I stayed on the boat on the trailer the night before at the St. Loucie Lock Campground. This avoided the heavier road and ramp traffic further south. (Investigate trailer and vehicle storage costs)

From there you can be in Palm Beach in a day and ready to jumpy off to West End if the Abacos are your destination. You can anchor for free in Lake Worth.

Clearance should be $150. Given how convenient anchoring is, I rarely ever pick up a slip or mooring. This in part may depend on your family desire as well as ability to dinghy to shore. You do not need to pick up a slip at West End to clear in, but if you do, it's pricey. I think their minimum price was $100/night when I last stayed there 3 years ago.

In my experience, you end up motoring more than expected, and fuel costs more in the Bahamas. Food costs maybe 50% more on average. Beer at least double.

For a short trip, you can easily anchor out and take most of your provisions with you, keeping costs fairly low. Again, your costs of towing a boat there and back may be notably more than the cruise itself.

Touristy stuff could be anything from exploring a deserted island for free to spending a fair bit to stay at a marina and go out on a dive trip.
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Old 18-11-2014, 10:00   #7
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Re: 2-3 week sail Florida to Bahamas for 3 people, what is a realistic cost?

We enjoyed a month at Eleuthera. Don't miss the Glass Window if you go. Almost Exumas clear water. Anchor out and take the dink to a small beach near the road. Take a 15 minute walk to the bridge for an incredible view! Notice that we were the only boat anchored there in the second photo down.

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