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Old 18-11-2011, 08:00   #1
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Crossing the Gulf Stream with Easterly Winds ?

My hubby and I have been prepping a previously non-cruising boat for cruising in Marathon, Florida Keys for ONE YEAR NOW. Ugh! Needless to say, we are dying to get out! We had a spectacular window a couple days ago, SE winds, mild, several days - so we scrambled for last minute details, only to find that our fresh water pump shot out its bearings right as we were pulling up the anchor.

Had the part over-nighted, but lost our window. We'd been waiting for 5+ weeks for this, and now we're looking at at least a couple weeks more. At least.

We're planning on leaving from Marathon, shooting straight into the Stream, and heading for Bimini - we're considering just leaving in east winds. This is our first crossing, we've ready to NEVER go in north winds, and try not to cross in east winds.

Thoughts from seasoned crossers? We know impatience is a cruisers enemy, but imagine spending a year in Marathon (chime in dramatic music).
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Old 18-11-2011, 08:08   #2
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

Out of the first ten times I crossed the Stream from Florida half of them were in northers. They were nasty crossings but still doable. Still, I don't recommend it. The worst problem is having the wind right on the nose, whatever direction it is coming from because you want to make good speed. In this season I think you are in pretty good shape if it is from the East as long as you get across before the next norther. And the wind will move from E to SE to SW to W before the front, so you should be OK.
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Old 18-11-2011, 08:14   #3
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

From Marathon its at least over 100 miles, why not leave from Miami its only about 40 miles and is an easy day sail- E. winds if not to strong are not bad -
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Old 18-11-2011, 08:19   #4
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

From Marathon your angle is such that you get a big boost from the Gulf Stream and your wind angle will be much better too. From Miami you have to crab across the Stream by pointing in a SE direction in order to actually make East--which tends to put the wind right on the nose. Another option in the past was to sail across to South Riding Rock or Cat/Gun Cay, and then proceed across the Banks to Chub, and then on to Nassau.
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Old 18-11-2011, 08:25   #5
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

Head out on an easterly and you can easily turn back when you realize just how uncomfortable it can be. From Marathon you have a good angle to Bimini. It might work. If you do not like it turn around early or go into Miami and try later.
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Old 18-11-2011, 09:04   #6
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janae View Post
My hubby and I have been prepping a previously non-cruising boat for cruising in Marathon, Florida Keys for ONE YEAR NOW. Ugh! Needless to say, we are dying to get out! We had a spectacular window a couple days ago, SE winds, mild, several days - so we scrambled for last minute details, only to find that our fresh water pump shot out its bearings right as we were pulling up the anchor.

Had the part over-nighted, but lost our window. We'd been waiting for 5+ weeks for this, and now we're looking at at least a couple weeks more. At least.

We're planning on leaving from Marathon, shooting straight into the Stream, and heading for Bimini - we're considering just leaving in east winds. This is our first crossing, we've ready to NEVER go in north winds, and try not to cross in east winds.

Thoughts from seasoned crossers? We know impatience is a cruisers enemy, but imagine spending a year in Marathon (chime in dramatic music).
Based upon Passage Weather, you will have something of a window from early Saturday AM through late afternoon on Sunday. From a point about 10 miles southeast of Duck Key if you can lay a course of about 70, with a 2 knot (average) lift from the stream you should be able to make Bimini in, roughly, 20-24 hours although you will be jambed on the wind for a part of that. If you are properly prepared however, you should be able to handle that as you'll only be looking at 15-20 knot winds and the Ericson is a pretty able yacht. If the conditions are too tough, however, you'll have no difficulty flopping over and running back into Miami or thereabouts.

FWIW...
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Old 18-11-2011, 10:01   #7
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

We have crossed from Marathon and from No Name Harbor near Miami and both times we made landfall at Cat Cay, Bahamas. The crossing from Marathon had the better angle BUT it was way too long and the weather had more time to change against us. The crossing from No Name Harbor was much easier because it was shorter.

Just wait for the wind to begin clocking S then SW where it will die and take off. You must make it across before the wind goes NE and begins to blow strong so motor sail to get across quickly.

I hope this helps!
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Old 18-11-2011, 10:20   #8
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

Janae, Pick your weather carefully as the Gulfstream can be treacherous in northerly winds. If you want to sail, leave from the Rodriguez Key anchorage on an easterly allowing a 20 degree southerly offset for a landing at Cat Cay or Bimini. If you leave from Miami, it is a dead motor with the wind on the nose. Also, allow a 20 degree southerly offset for the effects of the Gulfstream. We always left at night for a morning landfall. Remember, the shallow water along the Florida banks is always rougher until you hit the soundings(deeper water) of the Gulfstream. Then the waves get further apart for a nice sail to paradise. Be safe and enjoy your trip. Ron
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Old 18-11-2011, 10:49   #9
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with easterly winds?

Leaving from No Name shortens the trip a lot. But East wind should be good, as it should clock south after that. Have a great trip! You have a spare water ump now right? :>)
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Old 19-11-2011, 08:28   #10
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with Easterly Winds ?

It all depends on what you are willing to deal with.

It would be great to have 15 knot SW wind with little swell from any other direction, but you could wait months for that. If you exclude anything with a northerly component, crossing in a light easterly or southeasterly might be one of the best options. My first crossings were all motoring into a really light easterly (10 knots) in a 26-footer over night which I found fairly pleasant conditions.

My last crossing from FL to the Bahamas was actually with a light norther as it was the best option for a couple weeks. It really wan't that bad. A bit steeper than if it had been a southeasterly, but I was on a broad reach instead of a close reach so the ride was comparable.

My worst experience was close hauled in SE winds leaving from Angelfish Creek when predicted nightly winds of 20 ended up being 30+. The same conditions on a broad reach with a warp out were completely different.
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Old 19-11-2011, 13:08   #11
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with Easterly Winds ?

We left Miami in 2006 with 30 knot east winds for Gun Cay. What was usually a 6-7 hour trip was made in 17. Wait for another window!.......i2f
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Old 19-11-2011, 13:20   #12
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with Easterly Winds ?

Don't totally discount crossing with a northerly wind. We crossed from Great Isaac Light to Hollywood in 16-18 knots from the north and had a very comfortable sail on a beam reach. Took about 8-1/2 hours. It got a little bumpy at the western edge of the Stream where the current pushes against the shelf, but not bad at all.
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Old 19-11-2011, 13:22   #13
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with Easterly Winds ?

My longest crossing from Miami to Gun Cay was 14 hours. It was also my first. Haven't had one like that since. Ten of us, all newbies, left No Name at midnight, eight turned back. It was so shallow getting out I didn't dare turn back. Two in the afternoon we anchored off Gun Cay and rolled our guts out. The next day we got a little smarter and anchored in Honeymoon Cove. Never stopped in Bimini or Gun since then. Always try to get to Nassau.
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Old 19-11-2011, 14:08   #14
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Re: Crossing the Gulf Stream with Easterly Winds ?

I bet the OP went for it--they seem to have dropped out of the forum. Hope you had a great trip!
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Old 21-11-2011, 22:37   #15
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Nope. We are still here. Looking to cross tomorrow night and Wednesday. Winds drop on Wed, so we will be firing up the motor for sure.
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