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Old 17-10-2011, 22:57   #16
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

Passport REQUIRED?
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Old 17-10-2011, 23:25   #17
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

Noonsite says:
"Passports are now required for all visitors, including those from the USA and Canada.

Citizens of the U.S.A., Canada, British Commonwealth countries (excluding those of India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ghana), the EU, most South American and Caribbean countries do not require a visa for stays of 3 months. See Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an accurate list.

Citizens of the U.K. and the USA can stay for up to 8 months before requiring a visa."


And, of course, you'll also need your passport to make your friends in the USA INS/Customs/Homeland Security happy, assuming you do plan to return to the USA.
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Old 19-10-2011, 13:53   #18
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

Don't leave without the Explorer Charts. Garmin offers blue chart software with Explorer Charts for their chart plotters.
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Old 19-10-2011, 20:46   #19
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

Having the Bahamas "Explorer Charts" in electronic format on your computer or chart plotter is not really all there is to the "Explorer Charts." Get the actual big books and look inside. You will find a wealth of written (text) discussions and information about areas, specific entry/exit information by "Cut/Pass" and even shore based facilities.
- - Much like the "Sailing Directions" and "Coast Pilots" the actual "Explorer Charts" books contain a lot of information besides nautical charts and are extremely valuable to the safe operation in and around the Bahamas.
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Old 19-10-2011, 22:14   #20
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

my sailing club owns four catalina 25's, which i occasionally crew on. not the greatest sailing boat but it will get you there and back if you 'wait for weather'. don't be goaded into crossing on a marginal day, but if you do, remember that it's a lot easier to turn west and go back to florida if you really get into some bad stuff.

the only serious navigating/sailing will be crossing the gulf stream. spend your time planning your crossing strategy and all will be well. i regularly cross using only the explorer charts and a couple of handheld gps units. this in a 37 foot heavy displacement cutter.

once you've arrived you're 'on the bank', in shallow water, so if the weather turns really bad you can anchor almost anywhere. we've often anchored in the middle of nowhere, out of sight of land, in 10 feet of water. have at least a boat length of chain plus 100 feet of line and a heavy anchor, at least 25 pounds. i use a manson supreme now but used a plow and a danforth in the past.

if you decide to go to bimini you'll find it's the cheapest place in the bahamas. anchoring room can be difficult to find in bimini harbor but maybe not for your boat.
from there you can cross the banks to the berry islands or run down the east coast of andros. never been to andros but heard it's got some of the best diving in the bahamas.

i've grown to love the abacos. going there you'll best cross from west palm or even boca inlet. go to west end to check in or go to memory rock, cross the little bahama bank by way of great sale key and around to green turtle cay where you can clear in. the abacos are a terrific sailing area, especially for small boats.

you'll need a passport and $150 for entry. state boat registration is ok. bring extra fuel tanks for the outboard. i recommend an autopilot, although at least in the northern bahamas i did fine without one until the last few years.

don't rely on catching fish. spear guns are illegal but pole spears and hawaiian slings are not. carry as much water as you can. use a propane stove - friends of mine used a thirty dollar coleman camp stove for years. you won't need a lot in the way of clothing. shorts, shirts, sneakers, flip flops. maybe a light rain jacket. a hat - mostly for sun protection. a complete first aid kit. bug screens - you can make your own. bring all of your favorite snacks - they are either unavailable or too expensive. food, other than staples like beans and rice, is expensive.

fit a real vhf and masthead antenna. if you get in trouble in the gulf stream, the coast guard can pick up your distress call all the way from florida to the bahamas.
swing your compass before leaving and note the deviation on at least the four cardinal points.

i think you'll get hooked on the bahamas. fair winds and following seas....
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Old 20-10-2011, 06:47   #21
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

osirissail is 100% correct in suggesting paper charts but for a bigger reason than more info on them. if (when?) your chart plotter takes a dive in the middle of nowhere, it's nice to know where you are and how to get back to land. when cruising out of sight of land, i always mark my position every 2-3 hrs on PAPER charts just in case the gremlins attack...
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Old 21-01-2013, 00:22   #22
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

most of these guys are whimps. GIVE ME A BREAK!! no offense. BUT JEEZ!! HOW MUCH PUSSYFOOTIN DO YOU GUYS NEED TO DO???
youll be fine. if weather gets too shitty DROP THE SAILS and go below and shut the door..ride it out...don't worry bout it..check your rig and go.
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Old 21-01-2013, 00:41   #23
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

did it last year, after 1 week of sailing experience with another lad of similar experience in a 27ft catalina.

No probs, keep a good watch, the gulf stream can be busy.

second everything said about having proper charts, very important in the Bahamas.

be careful entering Bimini because there is a sand bar you will have to go around, got stuck once or twice and saw someone else stuck there every other day. If you love beer, take plenty of your own but don't mention you have it to the locals (not to be cynical but we were pestered for beer when we let slip to someone we had some).

Take a hawaiian sling, a short sail north from the bimini entrance (past that wreck on the beach) you'll come across three rocks in the water and a quick dive should yield a few lobsters for lunch however be aware of bull sharks becoming interested in your catch. And visit the Shark research facility on Bimini! they do great work there and it's very interesting.

We had a little bit of fishing gear on board and did really well trawling as we sailed (as absolute beginner anglers). Wait until you're well clear of the lobster pots and traffic and throw out a pink lure. Good luck!

Cheers,

Paul
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Old 21-01-2013, 00:45   #24
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

And regarding what Elskede has said above, I pretty much agree but don't forget to keep a watch. We got snuck up on by some fairly big boats once or twice and I'm pretty sure they didn't even see us.

Cheers
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Old 21-01-2013, 08:58   #25
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by elskede View Post
most of these guys are whimps. GIVE ME A BREAK!! no offense. BUT JEEZ!! HOW MUCH PUSSYFOOTIN DO YOU GUYS NEED TO DO???
youll be fine. if weather gets too shitty DROP THE SAILS and go below and shut the door..ride it out...don't worry bout it..check your rig and go.
STEPHEN RONNING
S/V ELSKEDE

NO offense, but this sounds like somebody without a boat and who hasn't crossed the Gulf Stream with a north component wind. Crossing the Gulf Stream in the Florida region that is abeam the Bahamas can be a cakewalk or a "walk through Hell" especially in a small sailboat. It is not "open ocean" sailing. It is not the "weather that is the main problem, it is the strength of the current along with the wind's effect of the surface of the Gulf Stream.

In a North component wind, the northbound flow of the Gulf Stream is opposed by the winds and the subsequent waves build up into tall, short period "square waves" that can make you feel like you and your little boat are in a washing machine set on "heavy duty wash cycle." To avoid this you stage on the west side and listen to NOAA weather forecasts and reports waiting ideally for winds from the southern through western quadrant and below 10 kts. Waves should also optimally be forecast and reported to be below 3 ft for the day before and after your crossing.

It is not unusual for under 30ft sailboats to end up in the middle of the Gulf Stream sailing for all their worth going absolutely no-where. To "hold your line" against the current you end up heading south-south east and your eastward "speed over the ground" component goes to zero. To counter-act this - the technique found most successful is the "minimum time crossing" where you start your crossing a sufficient number of nautical miles "south" of where you want to exit the Gulf Stream to account for your northward "drift" and point your boat eastward perpendicular to the axis of the Stream. Then all your boat's "speed over the ground" is being used to get you across and out of the Gulf Stream as quickly as possible.

An additional major consideration is to plan what time of day you will be in the area from 10 nm west of the Bahamas to the actual entry up onto the "Banks." You want to plan to NOT be in that area from early evening to just after midnight (17:00 to 01:00). The reason is that during these hours virtually all of the dozen or more giant cruise ships from all the Florida ports are traversing the area like tractor-trailer trucks on I-95 - bumper to bumper. Around midnight the northbound group from the islands are doing the same thing in the other direction.

In a small sailboat you are virtually invisible to them both visually and on radar. And your slow speed makes trying to avoid them more a matter of luck than skill. So it is a lot easier to just not be there during those hours and instead have a less stressful and more enjoyable crossing.

Once you are "up on the Banks" the water depth is rarely over 10 ft and almost any wind/weather conditions can at best generate 2 foot waves/chop so the sailing is a lot of fun even in strong winds. Larger boats do have to be careful as strong winds can effectively reduce the water depth and you might bump bottom even when it appears you have plenty of depth.
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Old 21-01-2013, 09:38   #26
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

I just want to emphasize what osirissail said. It is hard to appreciate what he describes unless you experience it. I have on a small scale and that was scary enough. It would be foolish and dangerous to knowingly sail into strong northerly winds on the gulf stream off Florida.
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Old 21-01-2013, 09:58   #27
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

I've made this crossing so many times over the years I've lost count. I think many times people can be overly cautious, mostly first timers, as well they should be. Osirissail is correct, catch the Stream getting pissy on a bad day and you'll never forget it or take it for granted again, ever.
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Old 21-05-2015, 04:45   #28
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

roger that brother
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Old 21-05-2015, 06:37   #29
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Re: Crossing to the Bahamas

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Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
I've made this crossing so many times over the years I've lost count. I think many times people can be overly cautious, mostly first timers, as well they should be. Osirissail is correct, catch the Stream getting pissy on a bad day and you'll never forget it or take it for granted again, ever.
My first crossing, in the eighties, was at night from Port Everglades to Bimini in 38 foot sailboat, with a 15 -20 knot north wind (we thought it would be a great beam reach over). We were young, (in our twenties) and decided that we had been sailing our whole lives (only one of us offshore at that point) and we were ready to get to the Bahamas, and it couldn't' be that bad.

It could, and it was and I have never done it since and never will. It was hellish, with very steep breaking waves about ten feet high plus. We bury the boat at the bottom of the troughs with water coming back past the mast over the deck over and over. Everything we owned got soaked from leaking hatches. If I have to sit in no name for a month, now, I will do it and wait for a good weather window. Coming back always seems to be easier to me, what with the prevailing winds and all.

It's a great sail on good days, though. And, I've seen it flat as a pond a few times.


It's not easy to admit being that stupid, but if it keeps someone else from doing it, it's worth it.
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