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Old 10-05-2010, 16:35   #1
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Question Best Choice of Destination for this Summer - NC to Bermuda or Bahamas ?

For my college graduation present and our first major trip on our boat, my dad and I (along with 2 other crew members) are planning a trip for this summer to either Bermuda or the Bahamas.

Any pros, cons, and recommendations for choosing between the two destinations would be greatly appreciated. Also, if there's anything that you think we need to make sure we take care of in terms of permissions, safety, and preparedness, please don't hesitate to include that as well.

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Thomas, Snail's Pace

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Old 10-05-2010, 21:08   #2
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Never been to Bermuda (flew over it once and it looked pretty cool from the air), but spent a lot of time in the Bahamas and it's a great place to visit. Not a lot of red tape to deal with. Purchase the Explorer charts, nav charts and a guide book or two and you have everything you need.
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Old 10-05-2010, 21:38   #3
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Bermuda is VERY expensive, I would go Bahama personally, alot more to explore.
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Old 11-05-2010, 14:15   #4
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Given those two choices I would choose Bahamas - more places to go (and more places to hide from hurricanes!), less expensive, closer to mainland US.

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Old 11-05-2010, 15:20   #5
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The Abacos in the northern Bahamas are a great destination. It is a straightforward trip, very popular with cruisers of all levels. You'll have a blast over there!
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:44   #6
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How much time do you have?

I really enjoy the diversity and sheer number of islands the Bahamas have to offer. However, if you spend most of your time getting there and back, maybe it's not the best option.

Some Abacos photos from my last trip on my web page (please excuse that it's under construction):

bahamasmariner.com/abaocs
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Old 11-05-2010, 19:17   #7
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Thanks for the replies! We have decided on the Bahamas / Caribbean as our destination, and now it's a matter of deciding when to go. We are only going to take about four weeks total, so we will be going bluewater there and back, of course. We're considering doing the Caribbean 1500, leaving from Newport News on November 2. This avoids hurricane season, but it's also later in the year than we were planning on going.

Anybody here run the Caribbean 1500 or the Bahamas 1500?
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Old 11-05-2010, 21:56   #8
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The Bahamas and the Caribbean are not synonymous. There is no "Bahamas 1500" that I know of.

If you are going to take a total of 4 weeks, I would still recommend the Bahamas for the previously mentioned reasons.

The Caribbean 1500 is a nice rally/race, but you need to plan on it taking 10 days to get there and at least that much to get back (really more considering the time of year), so your 4 weeks is almost completely eaten up in the transit - no time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Now if the plan is to get the boat south and leave her there for picking up the cruising where you left off, that's a different story.

Fair Winds,
Mike
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Old 11-05-2010, 22:06   #9
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I understand that the Bahamas and the Caribbean are not the same place... sorry if my use of the " / " made it seem that way. The Caribbean 1500 offers an alternative cruising route to the Bahamas; this is what I was referring to. It's actually called the Caribbean 1500 - Bahamas Class. Details are here:

Bahamas Cruising Rally - Offshore Sailing Rally for Cruisers

At this point we are planning on bringing the boat back in that span of time; however, I would not be averse to the option of leaving the boat down there and coming back for more later. We are very open-minded at this point in the process.
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Old 19-05-2010, 12:17   #10
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Thanks - I didn't know they had expanded to include a "Bahamas Class". Makes good business sense for them since so many people go there before cruising to the E. Caribbean.

Fair Winds,
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Old 19-05-2010, 12:20   #11
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Bermuda's very expensive but you get to wear those "way cool" shorts, play goof, and drink Dark & Stormy's. The folks there are very friendly, the anchorages quite good, but you're hundreds of miles from safe haven should Miss Hurricane 2010 decide to go shopping.

The Bahamas are laid back, lightly visited, less expensive than Bermuda, and 60 miles from South Beach, lots of boatyards, and some great hurricane holes.

My choice would be the Bahamas, having been to both several times.
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Old 19-05-2010, 14:08   #12
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Coming from North Carolina it is a bit tough to go direct due to the northeastbound Gulfstream. You would need to head at right angles to the GS (southeast) to about 75West and then head SSW to the Abacos for a total distance of about 540nm. Too many days at sea risking major storms in November.
- - The route hugging the coastline to Florida is only is about 670 nm to Miami but you have many places to transfer "inside" should a bad weather period happen. Outside is faster as you can go around the clock, but inside keeps you moving in bad weather chewing away about 50 to 80nm per daylight period.
- - The northern Bahamas is a bit blustery and cold in November while the southern Bahamas, although windy, is a bit warmer. IMHO, the Southern Bahamas has gads more places and interesting things to do and see. In fact, you can spend a month there and not start to make a dent in a list of the really good places. Swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing gunkholing, social interaction with other cruisers, the southern Bahamas is magical. Also there are plenty of deserted islands especially in the Jumentos with fish and wild critters.
- - A week getting there, 2 weeks in the southern Bahamas, and a week to get the boat back home is pretty much fast and furious.
- - From Norfolk you can take the rally or go it alone on the I-65 route (Southeast to longitude W65 then south to the Virgins. That route is typically one to two weeks with the expectation of one good storm enroute. But then you are the warmer paradise of the Virgins. Problem is getting back, most leave the boat there until they can return or store it till next season.
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Old 19-05-2010, 15:17   #13
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Orisis raises several important points. Perhaps the issue of time is the most important.

The last Caribbean 1500 reported passage times from Hampton, VA to Tortola of from 6-10 days. They also reported enjoying very favorable wind conditions, with some skippers experiencing record times.

Last year's Bahamas Cruising Rally also enjoyed good weather and boats reached the northern Bahamas in about 5 days.

Both rallies will be held again this year, with departure set from Hampton, VA around November 1. Nobody can predict what the weather conditions will be like this year, so there is no guarantee that you'll be able to depart on time.

If your goal is to reach the Bahamas, instead of the lower Caribbean, the Bahama Rally may be just the thing for you. This is especially true if you've got a well-found boat and are ready to make an offshore passage.

Following the ICW from VA to FL is going to eat up lots of time. Even if you reach FL without incident, you will still be at the mercy of the weather before you can make your Gulf Stream crossing. Back in 1999 it took me 34 days to make it from Key Largo to Nassau - 3 days actually cruising, 31 days waiting for weather.

Regardless, if you only have a month to devote to this cruise, it be wise for you to plan on having to leave your boat somewhere in the Bahamas or Caribbean for the winter before flying back to the States.
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