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Old 19-01-2009, 08:12   #16
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GTC is in my opinion the best place to clear in. Spanish Cay (not Spanish Wells) rumor has is charging $50.00 to pull into the dock just to clear.
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Old 19-01-2009, 09:27   #17
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Plus GTC Club only charge $25 for a mooring, but you then get to use the club's pool, showers, bar, etc. Although the anchoring in there is great holding too.
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Old 23-01-2009, 14:33   #18
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OK, mea culpa...I should have checked my charts before commenting. Now I've checked the charts for that area it is clear what the problem is. I've read about the "rage seas" in the cuts but have never sailed in that area. However, here in Puerto Rico we sometimes get some really high seas from storms that are hundreds of miles away so I suppose it is a similar phenomenon.

I was originally thinking of clearing in at West End but if the weather is right, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale or Palm Beach to Great Sale Cay looks OK. My cruising guides say that the anchoring in Gt. Sale is good for most conditions but no good with wind from the south. It looks like about 45 NM from West End (Indian Rock) to Gt. Sale. And, it also looks like you want pretty good sunlight and tide help to get through the Indian Cay Channel. I draw about 5 1/2 ft loaded up.

A few more questions... I have downloaded the inbound customs form, C2A, but there is another form, C5, Declaration of Consumables. I assume that one is for cruise ships and the like and not for small pleasure craft. There are also limits on importing alcoholic beverages. I think it is 2 liters of alcohol and something like a case of beer. Are these limits enforced? Does everyone declare the cases of beer that are stored in lockers and in your bilge? I was hoping to carry several cases...enough to get us pretty far down the islands. I'm especially concerned about the time, once we've left the Abacos and headed down the Exumas. I haven't been in the Bahamas for a while but my recollection is that grog is relatively plentiful and cheap. Also, on the Bahamas Customs web site they say you need a "Health Declaration". But I haven't found anything else about it. If I just declare that I'm healthy, will that do it?

Thanks for any advice or suggestions.
Bill
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Old 24-01-2009, 11:05   #19
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You don't go to Indian Cay if you are going to Great Sale. You go to the Memory Rock Waypoint where you will have plenty of depth to just carry on through to Great Sale. If the winds are from the South and make anchoring in the stirrup of Great Sale not a great idea...simply go around the north west side of the Cay and there is a suitably protected anchorage there. Approximately in position F below.

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Old 26-01-2009, 13:05   #20
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Abacos bound

We’ve gone to the Abacos for the past several years. We leave from West Palm Beach, but many also choose Ft. Lauderdale. You can check in at West End, but many continue on to Great Sale as mentioned and check in at Spanish Cay or Green Turtle. You can enter the banks via the Indian Cay route near West End or enter up closer to Memory Rocks (deeper water). This last time we went the Memory Rocks route and then anchored for the night at Mangrove Cay…not much protection, but breaks up the trip for many to (or from) Great Sale.

This past year we checked in at Spanish Cay. We actually anchored and went by dinghy to check in and had no problems.
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Old 27-01-2009, 09:43   #21
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I've never heard of or been challenged on the alchohol issue; had about 12 cases of beer onboard my first trip (who needs ballast?), and probably 5-6 on average since then with no problems. Never needed anything but a passport, document, and $$ for the cruising permit.
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Old 28-01-2009, 08:07   #22
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Just a few more thougths on where to enter and check in:

I've always entered at West End and gone through the Indian Cay pass. According my gudebook (consistent with my experience), the pass carries 5.5 feet at LW, so unless you have a farily deep draft boat, and you are approaching low tide, I don't see any reason to head up to Memory Rock. (I'm not sure if their datum is MLW or MLLW)

True, one does not need to check in at West End and can wait until Spanish or Green Turtle Cays. These cays however, are half way or more down the Abaco chain. Why pass by customs and west end without checking in and therefore put half the Abaco chain off limits to yourself? Why not check in when you have the opportunity at West End and have more options available? You never know when unplanned events may change your plans and you'll have the opportunity to explore many of the beautiful northern cays.
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Old 29-01-2009, 14:07   #23
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...Indian Cay pass is narrow and shoal and the marks are often missing so you need to set in waypoints and keep a good lookout and make your turns at waypoints rather than marks. I have done so several times with boats from 5.5 to 6' depths and it is always worrisome expecially if you think you are making leeway in a crosswind. It is not the channel depth so much...as the depth outside of the channel!

Memory Rock makes everything so easy and when approaching from W. Palm you don't have to worry about tides or navigation or viewing conditions as you will have 10 feet under you all the way. Makes the passage MUCH easier. Other reasons:
1. You can't make Green Turtle in a day from West End anyway...so you need to stop again and anchor at Great Sale or near there...then spend another day getting to GreenTurtle.
2. Customs is a pain in West End. Plus there is no where to anchor safely so you will end up spending bucks on a slip. Sometimes slip reservations for multiple days are required on major holiday weekends.
3. No see-ums.
4. It is easy to do an 18 hour passage to Great Sale starting at night and arriving on the banks at daylight and at Great Sale mid-afdternoon...then get a good night's sleep.

The northern Abacos are indeed worth seeing but we always did them on the return or on a "cruise" from Green Turtle. If the objective is to immediately see them...then West End Check In is the only alternative for sailboats as Walkers Cay is powerboat only territory.
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Old 29-01-2009, 16:43   #24
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I'd recommend crossing on to the bank at White Sands which lay north of Memory Rock. If you leave Florida in the morning, and the weather is calm, you can anchor once on the bank. Another day puts you at Great Sale Cay. Leaving West End requires some precise navigating unless they have replaced the markers. If there is a strong ebb or flood tide it is easy to lose the channel. We've always cleared in at Green Turtle though it is pretty easy to do at Spanish Wells now.
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Old 30-01-2009, 09:14   #25
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Cam, Your point about being able to go through the night past memory rock and to Great Sale is a good one as is your point about being nervous of the cross current in the Indian Cay Cut is well taken. I've felt the same, still the area with adequate depth is fairly wide and I've never had any problem staying in it. I feel it's much wider and has a larger margin of error for example than the pass between Lubber's Q, Tahiti Beach and Tilloo.

I've never felt that checking in at West End has in any way committed me to staying there or paying for a slip. I've anchored several times and never had any problems and never noted any problems on the part of other boats anchored there. However, often, I check in and depart that same day for either Mangrove or Great Sale as time permits. Old Bahama Bay has never charged me to tie up at the dock in front of the cutom's office to check in or required I get a slip. Has this changed? What I also like about West End as a check in, is that unlike the sounds on Green Turtle, one can enter at any tide. I'll also point out that the Indian Cay Pass which many have said they feel is very shallow carries much more water than does the entrance to either sound at Green Turtle. I've frequently seen boats grounded there, but I never have in the Indian Cay Pass.

Again what I've really enjoyed about checking in at West End is it affords me the opportunity to visit all the Cays north of Spanish and Green Turtle (Over half the Abaco Chain). I guess if one doesn't care to visit these Cays, there is little reason to check in at West End, and personally, the more people who pass them by, the better the experience for me....

I've never checked in at Green Turtle so I can't compare the formalities to West End. What makes it preferable? I've always found check in procedures at West End to be straight forward, but maybe I'm missing something. A few people have said Green Turtle is easier, but how so? I'd seriously like to know, so I can take a fresh look at my options for my next cruiser over there.

Thanks for your thoughts,

- Dave
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Old 30-01-2009, 11:24   #26
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Dave...Green Turtle does not involve entering white or black sounds. You simply anchor off new plymouth and take the dinghy in to the dock and walk over to the post office where you are processed with no problems. You can then wander around town, or enter the sounds or go to ManJack. As to West End...with my draft, I always have to go on a rising 1/2 tide through Indian Cay so timing of arrival and clearance etc. impacts our ability to carry on without taking a slip. I have never had a hard time from customs there BUT I have been boarded and inspected twice and they do seem rather more officious.
One option that has not been mentioned is checking in at Spanish Cay before Green Turtle, but they really try to make you spend your $$ while there and is not well protected if the wind is from the wrong direction.

As an aside...on the Indian Cay channel...one time I was buddy boating with friends on a psc37 EXITING to West End before heading back to the states. We were a bit ahead of them and pulled into WestEnd and shortly thereafter heard them on the VHF yelling for a tow...they had gotten sideways and run up out of the channel within 1/2 mile of the "exit" and were hard on some coral. The west end "rescue" boat had them off within 5 minutes and the bill was $650!! So...it does happen and when it does, BoatUS doesn't pay for the tow!

Anyway...lot's of ways to skin a cat...but having tried both, I do prefer Memory Rock and the ease of a night passage and direct, no problem route and (for me) a day more in the Abacos! Try it sometime and see what you think.
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Old 30-01-2009, 11:47   #27
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Cam, thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm so used to pulling up to the dock, I forget that going in by dingy to customs is an option sometimes.

It's good to hear what goes into other people's decisions. Different cruisers have different boats, different priorities, different comfort levels and have experienced or seen different occurances and will make different choices based on these things. What ever those choices are, I always appreciate having as much information and as many viewpoints as possible. I appreciate yours.

On my first Bahamas cruise, I sailed through the night, passed Memory Rock early AM, anchored out on the Banks that night and checked in a Walker's the next morning. I did appreciate first landfall being the Abacos without the need for WE, Mangrove or Great Sail, but sailing solo I didn't appreciate the all nighter across the stream or a rolly night exposed on the Banks. I like that hitting West End first (Customs, I.C passage or not) allows for no night sailing if it's something one wants to avoid.

Happy cruising.

- Dave.

P.S. - Boat US tells me they have now expanded their tow service to include boats in Marsh Harbour and West End.
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