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Old 19-04-2010, 08:31   #16
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Hi,

Having cruised the Bahamas extensively, I suggest that you buy the following
guides by Stephen J Pavlidis

The Exuma Guide
On and Off the Beaten Path.

I cruise the bahamas with 4' 6" draft, and with I had 3'

See the attached photos... Andros is seldom visited.. as are most of the Exumas..

With shallow draft you can explore Florida Bay,,, Pine Island Sound....

INDY
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Old 19-04-2010, 10:17   #17
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i think a 4' draft is good .. 3.5' with a drop keel would be even better. but i like fixed keels so 4.5' is what i have now.
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Old 22-04-2010, 12:59   #18
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Any draft will do, but the shallower the better, especially if you want to explore places like Pipe Creek in the Exumas where mostly less than 5' is required. But the nice thing about touching bottom in the Bahamas is that it's usually in soft white sand and clear water. ...Jim
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Old 22-04-2010, 14:49   #19
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If you really want to know where you can go in the Bahamas with whatever draft you've got, get some Explorer Charts. The depths in most part are very accurate and with five and a half feet you can go most anywhere (including Pipe Creek) without waiting for the tide.
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Old 26-04-2010, 15:45   #20
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Another very sensible suggestion...

INDY
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Old 26-04-2010, 15:51   #21
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For accurate information on the Bahama's see http://www.seaworthy.com
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Old 28-07-2010, 09:24   #22
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The real question is what do you want to do besides go to the Bahamas! Do you want to sail the Caribbean, Atlantic or beyond? Decide what type of cruising you will be doing and then decide what type of boat you need to get you there. I certainly wouldn't buy a shallow draft boat just because you want to spend a few months in the Bahamas.
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Old 28-07-2010, 09:46   #23
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Just returned from the Bahamas with a 6'4" draft, and no problems. Like some have said already, I might have to anchor out a little further, but use the dink for shallow exploring. I also recommend Explorer Charts.
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Old 28-07-2010, 10:15   #24
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Explorer Charts.

Spent last winter in the Bahamas (Abacos and Exumas) with just under 6' draft. Sydney Tim has it right. The biggest difference between boats of various drafts is how close to shore you are when you run a ground.

Opinions differ of course, but I'd take a deeper draft over a wing keel every time. When you do run aground your options for getting off are much more limited with a wing.
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Old 28-07-2010, 11:52   #25
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Near the end of the my last Bahamas cruise, I motored from the Grand Cays to West End to drop off crew in almost dead calm. Having a 4-3 draft, I was able to motor through the Indian Cay passage at about MLW a couple hours before sunset. That night a cold front with 35 knots came through. I was sure glad I had been able to get through the Indian Cay pass the day before.

Certainly people with deeper drafts adjust their cruising accordingly: They leave earlier, wait more and skip shallower anchorages. However, the adjustments or sacrifices one must make for deeper draft are much greater in the Bahamas than anywhere else I've sailed. I hope someday to have less than 3 feet.

If you want to explore the many smaller island groups, or come and go on your own schedule instead of waiting for tides, draft becomes very important. If you are happy with the more popular areas and are happy waiting for high tides, then not so important.
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Old 28-07-2010, 14:29   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
... Sydney Tim has it right. The biggest difference between boats of various drafts is how close to shore you are when you run a ground...
Having spent 9 winters in the Exumas, with 5.5' draft, I wouldn't argue with that opinion; except to note that one doesn't always have to get closer to shore, to ground.
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Old 28-07-2010, 14:45   #27
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A boat optimized for the Bahamas may not be the best choice for sailing elsewhere. Depth limitations in the Bahamas would cause you to choose a boat with shallow draft that may not have the optimal characteristics for open water cruising. You can survive in the Bahamas with a 6 ft + draft but may need tidal help to enter a lot of harbors.
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Old 28-07-2010, 15:03   #28
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A boat optimized for the Bahamas may not be the best choice for sailing elsewhere.
Definitely agree with that perspective. I'm very happy to have some keel under me offshore. My route from Annapolis to the Bahamas is to leave Chesapeake Bay and head East until the temperature jumps, then turn right and aim for Abaco. Three or four days from Norfolk to Marsh Harbour. Beats the heck out the ICW.
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Old 28-07-2010, 17:26   #29
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I have cruised the Bahamas for over 12 years in drafts ranging from 13 feet to 4 feet. Lots depend on your navigation skills and the time spent reading the charts. With a deeper draft you will have to make other arrangements. Meaning that you will have to forgo some anchorages. Do not let draft limit you on a boat purchase. you can go to MANY places with a 7 foot draft in the bahamas. Just might not get to all the places that sailboats go. You will always have the option of using your tender, might want to look at getting a slighter bigger used dingy for the bahamas and a slightly bigger engine for it. What ever your draft you can always find an anchorage and a way to get to the spot you want. If you are buying a boat just for the bahamas that is one thing but you mentioned heading up to Maine also. Friend of mine was on a 50 foot sailboat with a 7 foot draft and spent 2 years in the bahamas. Never ran aground once. He is a great navigator. It is not just the draft but your skill also.
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Old 28-07-2010, 18:33   #30
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I'll risk the cynical response to the question. Any draft will due if you stay in water that is deep enough. We have been cruising the Bahamas since 1975 with drafts from 3'11" to 4'3" and we poke about near grounding continually. Having the knowledge of your needs, who wouldn't approach their limits? Any cruiser will find there are places that are not available no matter what their draft and all captains may make the judgement that suits their vessel. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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