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Old 27-02-2011, 11:05   #1
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Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

Hi,
My family and I are hoping for trip planning advice.

If you were cruising for the first time to the Bahamas in December, which would you sail to first, the Abacos or the Exumas?

We will be crossing to the Bahamas for the first time in early December of 2011. We had planned to head from Miami or slightly south to Bimini, on to the Berry's, Naussa and then south to Georgetown and area quickly. We had been told this was the best way to stay warm and out of as many cold fronts as possible.

Recently I read a source that strongly encouraged all first time cruisers start in the Abacos. They say the Abacos are almost as warm as the Exumas, easier to get to, have greater protection, and have more reasonably priced marinas.

I've heard tell of cruisers in the Abacos being pinned down by cold fronts all winter and unable to get farther south. As we have two daughters, aged 7 and 9, being able to swim is pretty important to the success of this trip.

Just wondering what the experience of this forum suggests.
Hope you can help.
Cheers,
Greg
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Old 27-02-2011, 11:28   #2
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

If you are leaving from Miami head to the Exumas,,,I have sailed most of hte bahamas in power and sailboat over the past 15 years,,, I love hte Abacos but also enjoy the many beaches and island in the exumas,,,,,,,why head farther north to abaco when you are in t he berries,,, most likely you would have to beat into the wind,,, head to the exumas, enjoy the parks, go to hte pig island, iguana island, thunderball cave, better beaches in the exumas, you can also stay inside when the weather gets bad
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Old 27-02-2011, 11:31   #3
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

I've heard tell of cruisers in the Abacos being pinned down by cold fronts all winter and unable to get farther south.

this happens many times in the winter,,,trying to go outside from abaco to nassau or more south can be very difficult,

why are you going to nassau,,,,,,,, personally I would skip it all together and go to the exumas or eleuthera first instead of nassau,,,
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Old 27-02-2011, 11:58   #4
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

Hi I have several charter vessels in the Bahamas and been running charters for years. We cross to the Bahamas from Northern Florida to Westend Bahamas. Clear customs and when sail down the south side of the Grand Bahamas to the Berries and on to Nassau. Advantage are, your always in deep water, easy to day sail and alot of nice spots to wet the hook. As crossing the bank, north of Bimini is shallow and if you plan on day sailing, there is little to no protection, you are anchored on the middle of the bank. I would explore the Exumas for the winter monthes and travel north as spring set in and warm temperuture stablize. Eleuthera in the spring and Abacos during the summer monthes.
Cheers have a great trip
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Old 27-02-2011, 12:51   #5
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

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Originally Posted by glebreton View Post
We had planned to head from Miami or slightly south to Bimini, on to the Berry's, Naussa and then south to Georgetown and area quickly.
I took almost that exact route last December. We passed onto the banks at Gun Cay in a great weather window, anchored on the banks that night, then proceeded on to the Berry Isl. (where we checked in at the airport). From there, an easy crossing to Nassau for final provisions, cheap rum and good access to reliable weather info (most by internet) and we were on to the Exumas. Stopped at Highborne, then on to Staniel Cay and so forth.

I saw the Abacos on the way home in the spring. You will surely find warmer waters and milder cold fronts further south. Abacos is certainly more developed, but if you're really looking for good shopping, moorings and marinas, why leave the USA?
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Old 27-02-2011, 13:07   #6
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

Been cruising (power) the Bahamas and carib. for past 5 years. My favorite are the Exumas. Staniel Cay is a must, especially with kids. Soo much to see in that area and the bank side is protected.
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Old 27-02-2011, 18:08   #7
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

Abacos, I believe, is more forgiving for first-timers and anchorages are closer together. However, if you are a competent sailor and you're leaving from that far south, the Exumas would be the place to go. Abacos are OK in December. Cruisers usually avoid in January and February.

In the Exumas, a great spot is the Exumas Land & Sea Park. One of the most beautiful places you'll ever experience.
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Old 01-03-2011, 19:48   #8
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

First thing is to be sure to have copies of the Explorer Charts before departing for the Bahamas.
- - From the Miami area for a first timer I would suggest setting the Explorer Chart Waypoint "Triangle Rocks" just north of Gun Cay as your entry point to the Banks. It is wide open and a very easy straight entry onto the Banks. From there you can turn south and anchor behind Gun Cay or proceed on across the Banks following the Explorer Charts routes. If the weather is good you can hang a left and go up to the "Concrete Ship" and get your first taste of snorkeling the fabulous clear waters of the Bahamas.
- - It normally takes me a whole day to cross the banks from Gun Cay area to Northwest Channel Light. So I anchor about a mile or two south of NW Channel light behind some cays/shoal areas in about 10-15 feet of water for the night. Then head on to the Berrys- or to Nassau - or to Andros, Morgan's Bluff to check in.
- - If you wish to avoid Nassau then Morgan's Bluff is good and you can sail southeast down the Tongue of the Ocean until you are due west of Highborne Cay and then turn east straight to it. Good water all the way - I have done it at night without any worries.
- - From there all of the Exumas are available to you to explore and enjoy. Weather-wise all of the Bahamas are cold and blustery in the Winter but as you go to the southern islands it is not so bad. The big advantage of the Exumas is you can stay on the "Banks" and not have to go out into the Exumas Sound and get beat up - until you make the final run to Georgetown.
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Old 02-03-2011, 18:30   #9
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

I loved the Exumas, Eleuthera among other spots. We did the Abaco's last simply because it seemed more sensible to do the northern parts on the way back north. As it happened wen we had 35 knot winds further south the Abaco's had significantly higher winds. Still there are lots of nice spots to be had there.
Nassau was good to visit for a couple of days, to drop off guests and grab a few things we had not been able to find.
your choices are many and I'll bet you will enjoy them all
Fair Winds
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Old 02-03-2011, 18:51   #10
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

i agree with the previous posts, the abacos are great for first timers. The exumas will really test your provisioning skills. Apart from georgetown, their are only a few places to purchase provisions. when you do find a place (highbourn, staniel, compass maybe) they will be very expensive and limited in selection.

The exumas are in my oppinion the most beautiful string of islands in the bahamas. the water is phenomenal, and their are so many places to visit and explore. The park is a great place for kids (sperm whale skeleton, and visitor center as well as hiking trails to stretch the legs) their is a great mooring field on the south side of waderick wells cay between hog cay. really pretty, and strong moorings.

i would go exumas to georgetown.. great trip
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Old 03-03-2011, 22:12   #11
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

Could someone provide some info about marina costs, particularly in Abaco and in the Exumas?
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:28   #12
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

we are planning our first trip to the Bahamas also. We are going to cross and go to the Exumas in early April. Our goal is the land and sea park, where we hear you can volunteer and get a free mooring ball in exchange.

We'll explore for a couple of months and then return via tha abacos to the east coast of the states. Then we'll put the boat up on the hard for the summer and come back for a Thanksgiving launch.

Then we'll cross to the Bahamas again in late November or December and use it as the entry to a (hopefully) year or two long cruise that takes us all through the caribbean and on to central or south america.

So it's a bite-sized piece of the Bahamas this spring and then a huge bite next winter. Sound like a good plan to me.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:39   #13
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

I don't like to be cold so Exumas in winter, Abacos in spring. I have done osirissail's Highborne route in reverse with 7 1/2' draft. It works.
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Old 04-03-2011, 16:54   #14
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

I chose the Abacos and think they have much to offer for a first cruise. Easy sailing, many options, etc. I'm in the Abacos now and the water has been quite warm, but often in December, the Exumas are notably warmer for swimming.

I've done several cruises here - happy to talk more when I get home. Feel free to message me directly if you wish.

- Dave
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:54   #15
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Re: Abacos or Exumas for First Time Cruise to Bahamas?

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Originally Posted by Weehappy View Post
we are planning our first trip to the Bahamas also. We are going to cross and go to the Exumas in early April. Our goal is the land and sea park, where we hear you can volunteer and get a free mooring ball in exchange.
Sounds like this is changing: Adventures of the Yacht White Pepper: Exuma Land and Sea Park

"One new wrinkle that may interest old veterans of the Park is that the old practice of trading free mooring for volunteer work is being discouraged. Almost everybody pays now"
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