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Old 20-03-2011, 10:49   #1
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2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

I am planning a 2 week cruise in the Bahamas from SE Florida in April. I have read here about all the shallow water concerns and am a bit worried about our 8.5ft draft. Has anyone with a similar draft got some advice as to a good route or other tips?
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Old 20-03-2011, 11:53   #2
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Re: 2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

May be difficult getting around Abacos. Might focus on Exumas and outward islands.
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Old 20-03-2011, 12:43   #3
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Re: 2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

We did it with almost 8 ft, not easy and very anxiety provoking...They have dredged the channel into Bimini so you can probably get in there but I have not been in for 3 yrs and things change, Nassau and Freeport are not a problem.

We crossed the banks south of Nassau but it was not fun but had no trouble getting into Georgetown. I would stay off the Banks in all but the calmest weather. You have to be careful with places like West End when there is a sea running, while it is deep enough in flat water when a seaway is running you bounce your keel very easily. I bounced 6.5 ft many years ago.

You do need to watch the tides, even the 2-3 ft tides there can be played to your advantage and buy the Explorer charts.
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Old 20-03-2011, 15:53   #4
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Re: 2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

You need to get a copy of the current Explorer Charts and scan through them for water depths where you are thinking of going.
- - 8.5 ft / 2.6m puts a lot of the Bahamas' prime areas out of reach. You end up having to do the "Sounds" with their bigger seas and carefully picking Cuts to get into the islands becomes a chore. On both the Grand Bahamas Banks and Little Bahamas Banks there are generally depths near 10 feet but unfortunately there are also drifting sand banks that will stop you dead after a few hours on the Banks. Then you have to reverse and go back off the Banks the way you came.
- - So, yes you can "do the Bahamas" with 2.6m draft but you will be very limited in how you get from one place to another and usually it is by the "long-way" around.
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Old 20-03-2011, 16:15   #5
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Re: 2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

With 8.5 ft I should add that because of changing sand and coral and old charts almost all of the Bahamas is a 'Good visibility with the sun over your shoulder' navigating area. Unless you are in the very deep waters where the big ships go.
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While the Explorer charts are good I never go where I cannot read the waters unless I am in the deep water. The electronic charts cannot be relied on at all, or at least my Navionics could not.

As Osiris says, it is easy to run a ground and the tow companies are not everywhere. I would investigate what coverage BoatUS and Sea Tow provide over there.
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Old 21-03-2011, 12:24   #6
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Re: 2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

Hey! What would you say would be a good draft to have while going to the Caribbean? We haven't bought our next boat yet and are wondering what we should shoot for to allow us easy access to islands down there. I'm still gathering information.

Thanks!
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Old 21-03-2011, 13:02   #7
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Re: 2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

Thanks for your tips and comments. I was hoping to find some good anchorages and avoid marinas. Seems like the key is to get the Explorer charts and study them well. I hope I will find enough in 2 weeks. I ough to it's a huge area. I can always come back with a catamaran if I am forced into the big marinas.
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Old 21-03-2011, 20:08   #8
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Re: 2 week bahamas cruise 8.5ft draft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capitana_Chani View Post
Hey! What would you say would be a good draft to have while going to the Caribbean? We haven't bought our next boat yet and are wondering what we should shoot for to allow us easy access to islands down there. I'm still gathering information.
Thanks!
For easy access to all areas of the Florida, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos area draft not to exceed 6 feet is desirable.
- - However, for all the other islands of the eastern Caribbean draft is not an issue. It is not uncommon that 100 feet offshore you are in 100 feet of water. There are a few harbors where entrance bars can be a problem with anything over 7 feet but they are exceptions.
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