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Old 02-04-2009, 15:59   #1
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Bahama Cruising - need input

Hello....We're heading to the Bahamas, cruising in June. I see that I'm going to have to go through the Whale Cay Passage, Abacos. I have a 48 foot power boat with cruising speed of 25 mph. I hear that you need to consult the local reports in the morning prior to making the journey through the Whale Cay Passage, and in some cases, we may need to hold off for a day or two while waiting for optimum conditions. I can't see this beening a complete deal breaker since people must take that route all the time to get from Green Turtle Cay to Marsh Harbor and Elbow Cay. Any input? Also, we plan to head out of the inlet near Little Harbor Abaco, past Hole in the Wall, heading to Nassau direct. Any input on what we can expect if weather is good? Or if not, can it be a day, days, a week, for the conditions to become favorable? Thanks!

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Old 02-04-2009, 17:35   #2
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Hello Tim,
I'm sure it sometimes gets very rough in Whale Cay Passage but I've been through it dozens of times and I've never had to wait for it to settle down. The weather should be very settled in June so I wouldn't worry about the inlets or the passage from Little Harbor to Nassau ...... I'd check the weather before I went through but I wouldn't cancel my trip or anything because of weather worries (unless that freak June hurricane happens to be predicted during your trip).

Good Luck and Have Fun, Bill A.

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Old 02-04-2009, 17:40   #3
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Abacos Inlets

June is a good time to visit the Abacos. Prevailing winds will be SE and except for a rare frontal passage, by then the winds should be in the 10-15 kt range. Whale Cay Passage and the inlet at Little Harbor are only really rough when there are strong (20-25 kt) winds from the east or SE at times when there is current flowing out of the inlets. This sets up what is referred to as "a rage." Wind opposing current can build 3-5 ft waves close together (short period) that can be dicey. If this happens and you hopefully have the time to linger, wait for lighter winds and go on an ebb or slack tide. These condition seldom last longer than a couple of days to a week.
I haven't made the trip from Little Harbor to Nassau, but coming in the reverse direction I have not had any problem even in 20 kt east winds. Hope you have fair winds!
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:01   #4
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There is a cruisers net on channel 68 each morning in Abacos at 8:15 which gives a "whale report"...Most days it is just fine but a rage can occur from far away storms as well as local weather so it is always good to check. I am a sailor and have been through a dozen or more times but always respect it because it can get rough and you are sideways to the swells for a portion of the trip. Get a good report...batten down the loose staff as if you were going to sea...and make your run.

As to the Little Harbor cut...same deal as all the other inlets...depending on the local winds and weather it can be easy or not possible. That time of year though, your odds are probabl 90% favorable and the rest of the trip is open water and straight forward. In the event of bad weather just hunker down in Pete's Pub for a while!
Cam - I am no longer a member here. Look for me on other forums...same name.

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Old 03-04-2009, 10:18   #5
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Rage conditions that shut down the Whale Cay passage are rare in June. The cruiser's net mentioned above, does indeed give conditions, but with your plans you may be out of VHF range until you are almost there. It's NE winds associated with the later part of a cold front that shut it down, so keeping an eye to the forecast will give you a pretty good idea without hearing specific reports. I've gone through there in much smaller boats in the preceeding NW or even N winds of 20 knots or more.

Many motor vessels with their lower draft, however often take either the don't rock pass or the pass just inside Whale Cay, instead of doing the Whale. I've even done that in a few times in shallower draft sailboats. Dodge's guidbook to the Abacos gives information on both. These are generally not alternatives in rage conditions, just shorter optons that stay in the sea of abaco available to shallower draft boats.

I've been throught the cut at Little Harbour a couple times and felt it was wide and straight forward. I'd do it at night if I scouted it first during the day, pluging in GPS coordinates. With your SOG, there should be no need for that though. I imagine it would suffer from similar rage conditions that many of the cuts that side of the bank do, I have however, also exited there on a north wind, to get a nice ride south.

Have a great trip!
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Old 05-04-2009, 04:41   #6
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I have to add a bit to Roundabout's post. Local winds are not the only cause of a rage.

We were there in mid-May a few years ago, and there was a rage running in the Whale Cay passage, in spite of the fact that there was no wind at all, and the water was glassy smooth. A big storm in the Atlantic hundreds or even more than a thousand miles north of the Bahamas can create big ocean swells that work their way south. When they enter the cut at Whale Cay, the shoaling bottom causes them to rear up and break, creating a rage.

We checked the Net while at anchor at Great Guana Cay, and heard about the rage. We waited and went through the next day, and had a 10' swell break right behind us, giving us a real surfing ride. It just seemed to come up out of nowhere. The day before, a sailboat had been rolled over by the surf in the rage, and the husband was thrown overboard. He was recovered by another boat.

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