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Old 26-04-2016, 11:55   #1
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Abacos to FL trip planning

I just purchased a boat in Marsh Harbour and need to get it back to the Tampa Florida area at the end of May. I've been working on the route plan, but interested in feedback from others that have made the trip. I see a number of posts about heading over, but not so much for the return. Specifically, a few questions I have so far;
Is it realistic to think I can get from MH to West End in 2 days? Charts show getting to Great Sale Cay is about 80NM (that includes going round Don't Rock, not through that cut), then 50 for the remainder. Is there a better way to break this up than pushing all the way to GSC?

I'll be taking the Okeechobee waterway across, so need to enter St. Lucie River. What should I expect from customs, and where is the best place to land? Should I expect to have to jump in a taxi and get to West Palm Beach airport? (all three on board are US citizens with valid passports) I'm going to try and pre-register with SVRS, but I'm not sure if they will take it as I won't have ownership until the day I take position and start the trip, so I don't have Florida registration (boat is on cruising permit currently and registered to the prior owner out of MD).

Recommendations for anchorage or marina near Stuart for the night after the crossing before we start through the ditch?

Anything special I need to be concerned with (air gap is OK) along that route?

Thanks in advance for the input.
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Old 26-04-2016, 12:46   #2
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

It would help to know what type of boat-- sailboat/powerboat and draft. Crew? Single handed?


Sent from my iPhone- please forgive autocorrect errors.
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Old 26-04-2016, 13:07   #3
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snore View Post
It would help to know what type of boat-- sailboat/powerboat and draft. Crew? Single handed?
I would guess he has a MaineCat 30 lol.
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Old 26-04-2016, 13:36   #4
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

"Is it realistic to think I can get from MH to West End in 2 days?"
I'm not familiar with the Maine Cat 30, but I would think it's doable. I assume you are stopping in WE to check weather. I can't think of any other reason to stop there, unless you just like throwing away money. If the weather looks good I'd go straight from GSC to the White Sand Ridge or Mantaniilla Shoal and head for either St. Lucie or Ft. Pierce Inlet. Ft. Pierce is the better inlet, but St. Lucie should be OK, although I've only gone out through it, never into.

"Is there a better way to break this up than pushing all the way to GSC? "
Friends have anchored on the Little Bahama Bank when tired in settled weather. There ought to be several places to drop the hook for a few hours sleep. I've always gone straight to GSC from GTC or Powell Cay, which are easily reached from MH in a 1/2 day.

"I'm going to try and pre-register with SVRS, but I'm not sure if they will take it ..."
Definitely the best option, as no need to stop in Stuart or Ft. Pierce. I'm not sure why CBD wouldn't allow it as the boat is properly registered in the US. I don't know why your ownership of it would be an issue. I assume delivery skippers use SVRS all the time.

"Recommendations for anchorage or marina near Stuart "
Several friends like the Manatee Pocket. Lots of marinas to choose from. If you arrive at the St. Lucie Inlet late. drop the hook off Jensen Beach on the side of the ICW that gives the best protection.

Good luck,

John

Edited to add: For the SVRS you will need to get the decal number for the boat, which you can do once you get there and then register with the SVRS via the Internet. You and all in your crew will need LBO cards - otherwise it is a stop in Stuart or Ft. Pierce.
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Old 27-04-2016, 08:32   #5
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Florida gives you at lest 30 days to register... Customs..WPB.... Stop in Spanish Cay for the night or Green Turtle.... Then GSC.... Leave early in the morning for West End.
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Old 27-04-2016, 08:38   #6
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Thanks for the feedback. I guess I should have defined the abilities of the MaineCat 30 considering it is a lesser known vessel. She's a 30' sailing cat with a draft <3', so I'm planning on a motor/sail speed of 7 knots for this trip. She can do more under sail in the right conditions, but 7 by motor is her sweet spot.
It seems that most people strongly advise against cruising this area of the bahamas without good overhead sunlight, which is why I was questioning a 10 hour trip from MH to GSC.
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Old 27-04-2016, 09:02   #7
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Draft migjt be an issue if you plan to go thru no name rock. Most people go around the Whale. MARSH to Green Turtle is 5 hours. Green Turtle to Great Sayle is 60 miles so allow 10 hours. GREAT Sayle to West End is 49 nm allow 8 hours. West End to Lake Worth is 10 house. We figure it is 40 hours from Hopetown to Lake Worth.

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Old 27-04-2016, 09:22   #8
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Piece of cake, assuming the Whale Passage is do-able at the time.

I just did something similar:

tinyurl.com/flyingpigspotwalla, and adjust the time to one month (drop-down menu next to Flying Pig.

L8R

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Old 27-04-2016, 09:23   #9
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

PS just keep right on going past Memory Rock; getting to West End - unless you want a break and refuel or something of that sort - is a nuisance at the very least.
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Old 27-04-2016, 09:41   #10
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

The Whale can be rough in high waves.
Don't Rock passage not a problem for your very shoal ( 30 inch ) draft. There is 4+ feet there at MLW. easy to align. Short and safe. Do it on a rising tide if you are worried about it.
You can pass south of Great Sale but if you plan on staying the night go north of it.
No draft problem for you on this trip even at West end.

Also, I believe that your mast height is less than 49 feet for Okeechobee.

Fabulous choice of boat for Fl and the Bahamas.
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Old 27-04-2016, 09:49   #11
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Before you cross the golf stream look at the horizon facing west. If you see elephants marching on the Hoizon don't go or you'll be in for a bumpy ride. If the Horizon is smooth haul ass
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:03   #12
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Use Don't rock passage no problem with draft, hug the Great Abaco shoreline all the way to Anglefish Point, you can anchor there or Depending on time and conditions either anchor at Great Sail coming in from the south or head on direct to Mangrove. Forget West End it is out of your way. Next day head towards Memory Rock then direct to St Lucie Inlet. Clear at Manatee Pocket. Without a sticker they may make you go to immigration in person. Ft Pierce airport is closer and easier than Palm Beach. If you have any time left you can move up the river and anchor on the North side past the city moorings where the river begins to narrow down. Have a safe trip!
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Old 27-04-2016, 16:24   #13
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Try the mooring field at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart. Excellent facilities and close to a Publix.
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Old 30-04-2016, 16:11   #14
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

It's unlikely the Whale will shut down in late May. Cold fronts are much more common in winter. If it is shut down, you probably shouldn't be transiting Don't Rock for the first time either.

If you have the time, slow it down and spend a few more days enjoying some the beautiful Abacos. There are many, many places to anchor. If you like more isolated islands, consider Manjack or Powell as a first night stop. Allan's-Pensacola is another popular option but I prefer the trails and beach of Maniac or Powell myself. If you prefer a quaint town, consider anchoring off Green Turtle.

I agree if headed towards St. Lucie there is no real reason to stop at WE or transit the Indian Cay passage. Exiting via Sandy Cay a few miles north or Memory Rock is much more straight forward.

It's been a while but I've anchored many times where the St. Lucie river widens, prior to the first bridge after entering the St. Lucie inlet as well as Manatee Pocket. (anchoring may be tighter) There are a few restaurants accessible by dingy in Manatee Pocket if you want a meal ashore.

Definitely check up on the most current clearance information if planning to enter St. Lucie. It used to mean having to get to the airport. It may be difficult with the boat currently not yours, but if you can get a pre-paid custom decal and local boater's cards for you and your crew ahead of time that can make custom's and immigration clearance much easier, usually by phone.

If you end up going to Palm Beach to clear instead of Stuart, I would definitely not go as far north as Memory Rock to depart the banks. One can anchor near WE and enjoy their beach bar and restaurant without staying at the marina. I've done so many times. From there you can day sail to West Palm or Stuart without needing to do a night sail. Personally, I prefer sleeping at anchor whenever possible
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Old 05-07-2016, 13:55   #15
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Re: Abacos to FL trip planning

Thank you for the responses. They all helped in my trip planning. I made the trip in late May, early June and opt'd to bypass WE and just continue past Memory Rock. Timing couldn't have been better with TS Bonnie developing right at our arrival in the Abacos, and got home north of Tampa just before TS Collin started messing with the Gulf. The only downer is that both of these storms put the entire route in a no-mans land for wind for 10 days, very uncharacteristic <5 knot winds the entire time. That meant mostly motoring with some motor/sail activity across the banks and gulf stream, and even back up from Ft. Meyers to Tampa. Only once in 7 days of travel did we have enough wind in any direction to sustain 5-6 kts under sail.

Unfortunately, the day we arrived at home with the boat I had to leave on business and my travel plans have not allowed me to get back on the water. That will soon come to an end and I can't wait to get back out there and start exploring the central Florida gulf coast.

Thanks again for your feedback.
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