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Old 06-10-2010, 12:15   #1
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Advice, Please - Sail a MacGregor 26' to Bimini, or Not ?

I want to sail to Bimini from Ft. Lauderdale or there about sometime in the next two yrs, after a little more experience and mods to the Mac. Need some good advice on best time of year and any downside's to the idea.I have made the crossing several times on a chartered 65'sloop diving along the way but doing it myself is another matter.Hope to find a group that may let me tag along the first time.Thanks for any replies to this. I have read most of the threads concerning this topic but need more advice...lol
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Old 06-10-2010, 13:28   #2
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Well, late fall and winter is probably the most popular time to cruise the Bahamas. In that season you will have no trouble finding other boats in Florida staging for a weather window to make the crossing. But, the wait can be a long one because of continental cold fronts passing through.

I don't quite understand the plan. Very few people sail just to Bimini.
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Old 06-10-2010, 14:16   #3
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Summer is the best time to cross to Bimini. Just make sure there aren't any hurricanes lurking.
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Old 06-10-2010, 14:30   #4
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After hurricane season or after November. I wouldn't go to the Bahamas in the summer, in a sail boat. Hurricanes move faster than sailboats, you're liable to get caught. Word of advise: Wait and pick your weather window, which means NO winds from the north, but before you go, go to the Beach and look east at the horizon, if you see elephants marching on the horizon don't go unless you want a bumpy trip. I don't care what the weather reports say, if you see those elephants marching on the horizon, it won't be fun.

I like to cross in daylight, so I can dodge the commercial ships (don't have AIS yet). Not much to do in Bimini. You might want to consider crossing from Ft. Pierce to the Grand Bahama bank, then on to Sail Cay for a rest, then on to the Abacos. A lot more to do, explore and see in the Abacos.
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Old 06-10-2010, 14:41   #5
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Check the MacGregor forum; they sometimes have groups head over together.
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Old 07-10-2010, 14:45   #6
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I agree Rick regarding summer being a better time.

I've cruised the Bahamas several times in pocket cruisers, and personally I'd prefer something a bit more robust than the MacGregor. I've seen many give up and turn around in the upper Abacos after a few rough rides. Still, people do it. You will probably be a bit more limited by conditions that some other boats, but everyone must wait for weather to some degree. The biggest advice I can give, is try your best, not to let a schedule dictate when you choose to sail.

If you want to do more than just round trip crossing, I also recommend the Abacos. West End isn't notably farther than Bimini and once there you have the relative protection of the Banks through out the Abacos.

Some of my thoughts and experiences crossing the gulf stream in smaller boats on my webpage:

www.bahamasmariner.com
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Old 07-10-2010, 20:07   #7
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Not sure why anyone would recommend the Bahamas during hurricane season, particularly for a slow moving sail boat. Although, you could push the envelope and stay until early July, but I wouldn't be there in August. I agree with nautical62 that the summer is warm, the water is warm and the trade winds are blowing from the east 90% of the time and I hate the cold water (68 degrees) in the winter. I would prefer to be there in the summer, over the winter, assuming that hurricanes weren't an issue, BUT THEY ARE!

If you have a power boat that does 20+ knots, you can get out of the way of a hurricane, but not with a sail boat. You get caught in the Bahamas during a hurricane and there's no where to go. Most all of the islands are flat and low, no mountains there. So a 20' tidal surge will wipe most islands clean. Leave the boat and fly out? Nassau yes - no problem, plenty of flights, Abacos maybe maybe not, limited flights.

If you get a 2 to 3 day early warning that a hurricane is going to hit where you are in the Bahamas, for the most part you're stuck and you're boat is probably going to be history. It wouldn't be smart to try and run in a sailboat, unless you're sitting in West End or Bimini and get lucky with an immediate weather window to cross. Most insurance companies will spank you for such carelessness as well, check your policy.
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Old 07-10-2010, 20:13   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbenner

If you have a power boat that does 20+ knots, you can get out of the way of a hurricane, but not with a sail boat. You get caught in the Bahamas during a hurricane and there's no where to go.
Clearly you've never seen a MacGregor - they have a large outboard and they'll easily do 20 knots under power. Though it would be a tad hair raising to be doing that on the open ocean...
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Old 07-10-2010, 20:43   #9
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Cool, didn't know that your boat does 20+ knots. That makes things a lot safer.

However, one year (late 1970's) my Dad and I were transiting from Ft. Lauderdale to Walker Cay for a fishing tournament. 5' to 6' seas, we're cruising in a fishing boat at 15 to 20 knots, because it's rough. Two guys in a 25' Cobia powerboat think that they are ocean racing and fly by at 30 knots, bouncing off the tops of the waves. Caught up with them momentarily after they cracked their hull and sunk to their gunnels. Fortunately they were in a pack of 30 boats, so they were drug or towed to West End and dumped on the Beach.

Point is, excessive speed in rough conditions can be dangerous. But I'm jealous, my Lagoon 380 cat motors at 7.5 to 8 knots, so I'm not outrunning any hurricane or anything else for that matter, except a jelly fish maybe.
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Old 08-10-2010, 00:05   #10
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The MacGregor "S" is one of the traditional Macs with smaller engines, not the Powersailer that can do the 20 knots ... and even the powersailor Macs (X or M models) would probably not do well in a big chop).

But we know people who have sailed a Mac to the Bahamas.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:41   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbenner View Post
Not sure why anyone would recommend the Bahamas during hurricane season, particularly for a slow moving sail boat.

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timbenner,

The answer is very simple, The OP asked for the best time of the year to sail to Bimini. The best time of the year is in summer.

As for hurricanes, all prudent sailors try to avoid them. And there are long periods in the summer where there is no threat of hurricanes in Florida or the Bahamas.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:48   #12
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Earlier this year, I ran into an older Mac in Stanial Cay, Exumas. When asked, they told me that they trailered the boat from Alaska, splashed it in Miami and sailed it there. Onboard were three adults and two kids. They had lost thier dingy and were beaching the boat when they wanted to go ashore. So, I guess the answer is YES. Personally, I prefer a heavier boat, but then I cant beach it either.

Pick you weather carefully.
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Old 08-10-2010, 07:17   #13
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In such a small boat without the means of increasing your speed (big outboard) you would be best to sail south to Miami or even Key Largo and leave from there for Bimini. If you can only do 4kts and the Gulf Stream is taking you north at up to 3 kts you would not be able to get from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini.
- - The technique I use even in my big boat is to roughly calculate the number of miles north the Gulf Stream will take me for the hours needed to cross the 44nm from Miami to Bimini. I then sail south that amount of miles and then turn to a heading perpendicular to the Gulf Stream axis (known as the "minimum time crossing" heading). By the time I get to the other side I am right at Bimini.
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Old 08-10-2010, 15:40   #14
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Thanks everyone for your input. It will help me make up my mind when and if I will attempt this crossing in my Mac. I like Bimini for the diving although I also have been to the Abacos and there is a lot more to do and see there and the diving is as good. I really appreciate your advice . Thanks!! Chiefiredog
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