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Old 02-07-2012, 18:55   #1
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Chesapeake to Bahamas Offshore

I've been searching on CF and salient among other sites to find out how long it would take me to sail offshore from the Chesapeake bay to the Bahamas. I've read that it is 1190 miles but I think that may have been using the ICW. Some have said it will take 22 days which seems a bit much. another site said 3 days offshore but that seemed wrong too.

About me: I'm 26 with a wife and two young children. I don't have the ability to take off the entire winter as do some lucky cruisers, but, I'm able to get about 1 1/2 to 2 months off if I save my leave. My goal is to spend the coldest part of the winter mid Jan- mid March in the Bahamas. I would make the trip down and back with the aid of a crew sans family.

I imagine this is not the best time to be making this sail but it's what I have available. How long will it take me to sail from just south of Annapolis to Florida- Bahamas.
The plan would be to live on the hook with my family and enjoy the winter.

42' gulfstar Cc ketch

Thanks,
Brian
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Old 02-07-2012, 19:21   #2
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas offshore

thinking out loud..... 1-2 days to Norfolk. 1-3 days awaiting weather. 5 days to S. Florida. 1 week awaiting weather. 1 day to Bahamas. Something like that if you are really going to keep moving but stop a couple times. 2 weeks + I guess. Depends how aggressive you are. Delivery skipper attitude? 8-10 days? Maybe someone who has actually done it non stop will reply....
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Old 02-07-2012, 21:11   #3
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas offshore

Have made the trip from CT to the Bahamas many times, mostly on 43' and 52' sailboats. A few points....... the ICW is nice sightseeing, but brutally slow as you can only make 60-80 miles per day. Offshore is great, but you and the boat must be ready. You should investigate the routing, as some would advocate coastal travel, but this is against the gulf stream. Alternatively, cross the stream and head south east offshore to the Bahamas on the east side of the stream.

Most importantly, you are crossing the gulf stream during the worst part of the year. Northern fronts make the stream very rough. I have waited as long as 8 days for an acceptable crossing (not good, but doable). Please spend some time doing your homework as the gulf stream will play a huge role in your planning.

As an aside, the Bahamas are cold during this time of year (both air and water) I now live in Florida and can't tell you how many northerners are shocked at the "winter" weather in the Bahamas.... just in case you see yourself basking in the sun. Yes, it is warmer than your home port, but can be jacket weather when the northern fronts blow through, and certainly not swim weather without a wet suit!!!

Fair winds,
Dr. Michele
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:48   #4
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas offshore

I would suggest moving the boat south over long weekends or take a few vacation days. It can be a very long and cold slog if you wait until winter to start, especially from Annapolis. As suggested above expect cold fronts at least every 4-5 days.

Re swimming it depends on what part of the Bahamas you wish to enjoy. The Abacos can get very chilly and the cold fronts are gemerally much stronger (40-50 winds not uncommon). I suggest going down to the Exumas where the water is warmer 70's and the fronts are weaker. You will find other families with kids, especially in Georgetown.

Back to moving the boat, if you want to do a straight shot it is best to leave from Beaufort, NC. It gets you south of the dangerous Hatterass area and can be done direct to the Abacos in about 4 days with the right weather window.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:09   #5
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The best was to go is offshore, but you do need a good window. Read up on last years Carribean 1500. They don't go till after hur ricane season and some of the boats ran into major seas. Think this through carefully. Make sure your experience matches your route and that you understand the risks and minimize them as much as possible.

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Old 03-07-2012, 10:11   #6
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Oopps sorry I didn't read well and though you were doing this now. My misread so disregard what I said about hurricane season.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:30   #7
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas offshore

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Originally Posted by Thebriansnyder View Post
42' gulfstar Cc ketch
Brian,

I'm an offshore guy so bear that in mind.

Annapolis to Little Creek is 18-20 hours. You shouldn't have to wait more than 3 or 4 days to follow a cold front out and cross the Gulf Stream in decent winds. Once in a while there will be a weather system off Hatteras and you'll want to wait for the next cycle. On your boat Chesapeake to Marsh Harbour will be five days.

May I respectfully suggest you rustle up some crew and have wife and family fly down to meet you? At least give that some thought.

Faster boats can make Chesapeake to Abaco (usually GTC) in three days. I can usually make it in four. The big numbers are for people either going down the ICW or harbor hopping and resting to Florida before crossing to Florida.

If you want to be further South than Abaco it takes 18 - 24 hours from Marsh Harbour to Georgetown straight through in deep water.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:43   #8
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas offshore

As an aside, the Bahamas are cold during this time of year (both air and water) I now live in Florida and can't tell you how many northerners are shocked at the "winter" weather in the Bahamas....
Colder than Connnecticut?
Florida was cold last time I was there Feb-April. Even frosty in the am! But it was a much different, intermittant cold than Seattle! I still wore shorts much of the time.....
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:49   #9
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas offshore

it is 4 days from Beaufort NC to Marsh Harbour. Add a day if leaving from the Chesapeake. Subtract a day (maybe) if leaving from Charleston.

But it really is an offshore trip - Your boat needs to be ready for that. Your wife and kids almost certainly will not be. Take crew who know about offshore sailing and who also know about running in a cut in the Bahamas. There are conditions where you REALLY dont want to try to enter the Sea of Abaco. Other times it is like a millpond.
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Old 03-07-2012, 15:05   #10
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas offshore

Brian, You could be sitting somewhere for a couple of weeks waiting for weather only to get somewhere and have to wait another week or more. The absolute surest way to put your family at risk is to load them on a boat and sail to a schedule, especially offshore. With your limited time frame, fly in, charter a boat and fly home. Chuck
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Old 03-07-2012, 17:16   #11
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Thanks for the input. Sorry for the confusion, the trip down will not involve my family. They will fly and meet me there. Another possibility we discussed was heading down in November- about the end of my Chesapeake sailing season and dry dock the boat for the winter in the Bahamas. Id spend a few days there then come home. We would fly back down together in mid February, sail around for 1 1/2 - 2 months then family would fly home and Id have some help sailing her home. Does this sound like a better option?
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Old 03-07-2012, 19:31   #12
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas Offshore

that sounds like way more fun for everyone
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:16   #13
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Re: Chesapeake to Bahamas Offshore

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Originally Posted by sck5 View Post
it is 4 days from Beaufort NC to Marsh Harbour. Add a day if leaving from the Chesapeake. Subtract a day (maybe) if leaving from Charleston.
Not my personal experience. About the same time in like boats in like conditions from all three ports.

Regardless, not a big deal if you have any offshore experience at all. Lots of delivery skippers (including me) who will do an owner aboard/training hop if you need some support.
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