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Old 14-01-2010, 19:27   #1
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Bahamas or Florida Keys

If you only had 2-3 weeks and your starting point is Fort Lauderdale would you sail Bahamas or the Florida Keys. We have two kids 9 and 10 and we all love snorkeling and swimming when we are not sailing. We have not sailed in either place. If the Bahamas would you suggest north island Abacos or Bimini - Berry Berry Islands. We are looking at this trip for March.
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Old 14-01-2010, 19:54   #2
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Depends on your budget. With kids you want to be able to get ashore easily. This can be difficult in the keys unless you are at a marina paying 3-4 bucks a foot due to all the private shoreline. Lots of great anchorages with easy access to shore in the Abacos
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Old 14-01-2010, 21:37   #3
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I would go with the Keys.
Two or three weeks is not a lot of time for the Bahamas in a sailboat.
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Old 14-01-2010, 21:53   #4
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Been there, done that:

Over the past 11 years we have sailed 25 times to the Bahamas and another 25 times to the Keys.

What determines the destination is the weather (for crossing the Gulf Stream) and the lenght of time available.

The check-in paper work and the $150.00 fee in the Bahamas makes a difference: For 6 or more days, we go to Bimini, for 3 or more weeks we do the Exumas and for shorter stays, the upper Florida Keys.

Huge difference in cruising pleasure and clean, clear water between the 2 destinatios however, The Bahamas wins every time and I have been know to cross over there just to put the anchor down and sail back to Florida the next day.
(Before 9/11 when you could cheat on the cruising permit and get away with it)
These days, don't even think about it, but nowadays you get a free-bee if returning within 90 days..No fee.
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Old 15-01-2010, 03:51   #5
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If you enjoy white sandy beaches you have to go to the Bahamas. There are not many in the Keys.
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Old 15-01-2010, 05:00   #6
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The tortugas are a great destination. They have the clear water and reefs like the bahamas, but much more distance to travel. Bahama trips can be pretty expensive. Would try to provision for whole trip. $300 port fee $7 bags ice, $48 case beer etc can add up quick. If you stop in bimini watch out for shoal right before weechs fuel dock. Gets a lot of people.
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Old 15-01-2010, 05:48   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSY Man View Post
Been there, done that:

Over the past 11 years we have sailed 25 times to the Bahamas and another 25 times to the Keys.

What determines the destination is the weather (for crossing the Gulf Stream) and the lenght of time available.

The check-in paper work and the $150.00 fee in the Bahamas makes a difference: For 6 or more days, we go to Bimini, for 3 or more weeks we do the Exumas and for shorter stays, the upper Florida Keys.

Huge difference in cruising pleasure and clean, clear water between the 2 destinatios however, The Bahamas wins every time and I have been know to cross over there just to put the anchor down and sail back to Florida the next day.
(Before 9/11 when you could cheat on the cruising permit and get away with it)
These days, don't even think about it, but nowadays you get a free-bee if returning within 90 days..No fee.
The only thing i can add here is it is closer to the Bahamas from Ft.Lad then to the keys--so do the Bahamas
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Old 15-01-2010, 05:53   #8
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I have done Miami to Staniel Cay several times for friends. We make for Nassau, check in, and we are gone to Allen Cay. We get in a ton of swimming, snorkelling, sailing, and beautiful starry nights.

We cross over to the bank at the Decca Channel, and do the Tongue of the Ocean on the return. With a last stop at Honeymoon Cove. Getting there, and back is a no nonsense trip, but it gives us plenty of time to enjoy that stretch of the Exumas at a leisurely pace. 3 weeks would make it even easier. There's always PIGS AT SEA, SEA AQUQARIUM @ O'BRIEN, THE IGUANAS, & THUNDERBALL to make the kids eyea pop out, and so much more..........i2f
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Old 15-01-2010, 07:11   #9
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If you get a good weather window for crossing over I would do the Bahamas. 2 Years ago I did a 5 week trip from NC with 3 weeks in the Bahamas and it was great. You don't have to go all the way to the Exumas to get in some great snorkeling. We went into Bimini, over to Chub Cay (Anchor out) . Mama Rhoda Rocks just off Chub has got to be one of the great snorkels of the Bahamas. There are a number of good spots Just north of Morgan's bluff on Andros and near Fresh Creek. After exploring that area we went up the east side of the Berrys which is really remote and quite beautiful. With the kids however there is one thing you might need to consider. How do they handle sharks? Come to think of it maybe you'll even need to consider how the adults handle sharks. There are lots of them in the Bahamas. I would estimate that I've seen at least one shark on 40-50% of my dives. Most are small (5ft or less) and I have never been bothered by them, but they are there. In the Keys, I've only seen one non-nurse shark while in the water in 40 years of going there. Swimming with sharks tends to be a very personal decision, but if the crew gets scared out of the water on the first dive, the trip might not prove to be that enjoyable.

One other thing is that I always visit the reefs in a dinghy In most cases you won't want to anchor your sailboat that close to the reef. The reefs in that area tend to be really shallow which is why they are great snorkels. If you want to see some pictures look at my blog under the 2007-2008 cruise. It's at the bottom at the lower right.
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Old 15-01-2010, 07:26   #10
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... nowadays you get a free-bee if returning within 90 days..No fee.

Is that true? First I've heard of it, and excellent news.

So when you check in you just tell them you're staying for less than 90 days, and they waive the $150 fee?

Speaking as a blackhearted skinflint cheapskate, that would make me very happy. (We'll cruise the Bahamas about 60 days, mid-Feb to mid-April).
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Old 15-01-2010, 08:00   #11
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The freebie is on the second entrance. I have used it multiple times going in, and out of the Bahamas..........i2f
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Old 15-01-2010, 08:15   #12
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I'm considering doing a similar trip as soon as the kids get out of school this year. It will be 3 weeks round trip out of Melbourne. I was thinking the northern Abacos; is this a good idea?

The goals of the trip are to introduce the kids to international travel, go fishing (traditional and pole spear), snorkeling, and get away from CNN.

Is there a concensus on the best cruising guide with routes and charts?


Tom
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Old 15-01-2010, 11:02   #13
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It doesn't matter which part of the Bahamas you go. As long as you stay away from the larger cities everything will be fun, and beautiful.........i2f
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Old 15-01-2010, 12:09   #14
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Originally Posted by CSY Man View Post

cross over there just to put the anchor down and sail back to Florida the next day.
(Before 9/11 when you could cheat on the cruising permit and get away with it)
These days, don't even think about it
I thought that if you are spending a night at anchor without going ashore, you don't need a cruising permit. am I missing something?
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Old 15-01-2010, 12:23   #15
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If you are chartering, of course, you could rent the boat in the Bahamas, save the crossing time over and back, and I assume the cruising fees.
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