Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 26-07-2015, 17:23   #1
Registered User
 
truckman's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Seattle WA
Boat: Switch 51
Posts: 42
Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

Greetings all! As a west coast sailor soon to be retired and sailing the Bahamas this fall I have a few questions about getting to the Bahamas this fall.
Our plan is to stay clear of Nassau and Freeport? We are looking to see it all and have all winter to do it. Our end of season plans are either return up the East Coast of USA or work our way south and west to the pacific. We are leaning toward the former and may return to the caribbean or head over to the Med.

1. Leaving St. Simon's would it be best to hug the coast and sail as far south in Florida prior to crossing the GStream?
2. Are there any other options then the one above that would make sense?
3. How easy is it to get back and forth between places that you have already been? Is it best to do a long one way trip south or can you linger and get back and forth between destinations if well thought out?
4. I have only visited Georgetown while staying at a small resort on Stocking Island so have very limited experience and would be interested in any imput on best point of entry?
best diving and fishing areas
We are a 50 Cat and draft 4 feet and like to be away from crowds, but are not adverse to hanging out with a couple hundred boats every once in a while.

Hope to see some of you this fall as I have enjoyed being a member of this board.
__________________

__________________
truckman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-07-2015, 21:59   #2
Registered User
 
Double-Wide's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Cruising Bahamas
Boat: Seawind - 1160
Posts: 115
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

I would hop down the coast, maybe Cumberland Island, then on to Fort Pierce or Vero Beach, which is a great place to provision. Use the free busses to get around. Then take the ICW down to West Palm and wait there for a window to cross. I normally would leave about midnight and cross to Port Lucaya on Grand Bahama arriving mid to late afternoon. Spend a couple of days to adjust to Island Time. Next you can do a jump to Spanish Wells or Rose Island. From either place it is a day trip to the Exumas. That is my favorite cruising ground in the Bahamas. If you like to get away from the crowds, consider the Jumentos and Ragged Islands. Plenty of places to have an Island to yourself. Just watch the weather, not much protection from Westerlies.

Have fun and take your time.


Sent from my iPad using Cruisers Sailing Forum
__________________

__________________
Double-Wide is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-07-2015, 23:41   #3
Registered User
 
truckman's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Seattle WA
Boat: Switch 51
Posts: 42
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

Double-Wide,
Thanks for the tips. I should have mentioned that I am too tall for the ICW bridges unless they all are opening. Is that the case in south of Vero Beach? I'm not sure how far north I can go inside and be able to travel the ICW via drawbridges. I will do some investigating for sure. It would be nice to tuck in somewhere waiting for a good forecast. My initial thoughts are to go to West End leaving from somewhere in Florida that is far enough south and has is a good place to wait for favorable weather as a smooth first crossing is what I desire most for the Admiral. From West End it seemed like the Abaco Sea would be a great place to start our cruise then head south. I don't know anything about the other islands besides the Exumas, but plan on doing more research. We definitely are planning on taking our time as we head south.

Thanks again for your advice.
__________________
truckman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-07-2015, 02:28   #4
Registered User
 
Clipper4730's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Keystone CO
Boat: 50 Bene
Posts: 216
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

With a boat the size of yours I would just head straight across to Spanish Cay and clear in there. It will save time and gas money as you will probably be motoring the whole way across from further south. The Abacos are easy to navigate, the guide books are accurate and provisioning is easy in Marsh Harbour. From there it is an easy jaunt to Eleuthra or the Berry Islands. We went that same route coming back from there in May. We did the whole sail as far South in FLA then cross and realized it was a big waste of time. Our boat is too deep to take the route from West end to the Abaco Sea so we had to go the Memory Rocks to Mangrove Cay to Great Sale Cay etc etc took several days longer than just going straight to Spanish Cay. Anyways the fishing is way better on the other side of the Gulf Stream.

Cheerio
Will
__________________
Money can't buy happiness, but you can buy a boat and it's pretty much the same thing......
Clipper4730 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2015, 13:52   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 8
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

I have done the trip south from New England almost every year since 1996. Here are my thoughts. Enjoy your trip!

1. In the fall, the most safe/comfortable option will likely be to hug the coast, as in 1/2 mile - if you are up for it. I wait for a cold front to come through, and then sail in the lee when the NW fills in. Avoid the Gulf Stream in anything out of the north over force 3.

Cumberland Island is a must, and a short sail from St. Simon's. Make way down coast to at least Jupiter or West Palm/Lake Worth Inlet - even further south if you want. Wait for a good forecast to cross, and enjoy a nice sail/motorsail across the G.S.

If you are going to the Bahamas - I think the best weather forecasts are from mwxc.com (free on SSB, email subscription). I would highly recommend this unless you are very comfortable interpreting various forecast models in this area. NOAA forecasts don't really extend into the Bahamas - and computer models do have their limitations.

If you subscribe to the emails above - you will get good info about crossing the G.S. and weather in the Bahamas. He will also give you a tropical outlook (hurricanes) ahead of National Hurricane center advisories. Hurricane season is until Nov 30.

2. Other options? You could get a good window and jump across from St. Simon's, being sure to transect G.S. as fast as possible and sail onto Little Bahama Bank. But, more often than not it makes sense to hug the coast and get a good clear picture of what's ahead from the Nat. Hurricane Center before committing for the Bahamas.

3. To see all of the Bahamas, I would recommend first going to the Abacos - via Memory Rock/Little Bahama Bank - clearing in at Spanish Cay. Then head south to Spanish Wells/Harbour Island (take a pilot)/Eleuthera - then Cat Island/Exumas - Long Island - maybe beyond. Don't really think the Berry Island are worth the detour - or Grand Bahama/Freeport - or New Providence/Nassau - San Salvador/Rum Cay for that matter. The Abacos and Exumas are most crowded. George Town is insanely crowded - so don't get stuck there with all of the cruisers looking for a weather window to the Caribbean that never comes.

As far as how easy it is to get back and forth, most of the sailing is in the lee of the islands on the banks - so once in the Abacos - you will be in mostly calm conditions except for: 1) Whale Cay (south of Green Turtle Cay in Abacos); 2. 50 nm in NE Prov. Channel from Little harbour, Abacos to Eleuthera. 3. Exuma Sound - north and south of Cat Island. 4. If you decide to go to beyond Long Island.

4. Best point of entry in Abacos is Spanish Cay via Memory Rock. If you decide to go across toward Berry Islands - Chub Cay or Great Harbour Cay are best.

There are lots to see and do - snorkeling: Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park Abacos; Exuma Land & Sea Park (Warderick Wells); Conception Island, outer reefs on a calm day in Abacos, Eleuthera, Exumas, etc. Don't miss Manjack Cay, Abacos; Green Turtle Cay, Abacos; Harbour Island; Shroud Cay/Ward. Wells, Staniel Cay, Little Farmer's Cay, Exumas; Fernandez Bay, New Bight, Cat Island; Conception Island; Clarence Town, Long Island.

If you arrive in late October, you will almost have the entire place to yourself. If you don't have it already, buy the Explorer Charts of the Bahamas that are also the best cruising guide.

If you are entertaining going east from the Bahamas - it might be out of print, but get "A Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" by Bruce Van Sant.
__________________
SGGeronimo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2015, 22:22   #6
Registered User
 
truckman's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Seattle WA
Boat: Switch 51
Posts: 42
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

SGGeronimo, Thanks for the thoughtful reply and suggestions. I have not sailed down the coast from St. Simon's and will have to stay outside if I do. I don't mind sailing in tight if that makes sense. I also don't mind waiting for a favorable window to sail directly from St. Simon/Cumberland Island to the Abaco's. If sailing south inside what are some of the navigational challenges I might encounter? I assume a lot of traffic being the primary one, but I have not read up on the area yet. Are there any areas/inlets in particular that would be nice places to tuck inside to stay a couple of days as I head south along the Florida coast? What type of forecast would you look for if you were heading out directly from St. Simon/Cumberland Island to the Abaco's. I am most interested in keeping the admiral happy and am not sure if hugging the coast and dodging traffic would be less stressful for her than a few more days at sea in reasonable conditions. We have no schedule so getting a good start in favorable conditions is something we have the time to wait for. Thanks again for all your assistance.
__________________
truckman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2015, 08:51   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 8
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

SGGeronimo, Thanks for the thoughtful reply and suggestions. I have not sailed down the coast from St. Simon's and will have to stay outside if I do. I don't mind sailing in tight if that makes sense. I also don't mind waiting for a favorable window to sail directly from St. Simon/Cumberland Island to the Abaco's. If sailing south inside what are some of the navigational challenges I might encounter? Stay inside the Gulf Stream, which is generally at 100 fathoms - position in NOAA coastal waters forecast. I assume a lot of traffic being the primary one, but I have not read up on the area yet. Not all that much traffic. Some fishing boats and some southbound traffic. If you stay inside 1-2 miles, all north bound traffic will be in the Gulf Stream - and south bound will be at 3-5 miles. There will be big-ship traffic in the Gulf Stream, so it is unavioidable since you will have to cross it. You will see shrimp boats - but just stay out of their way and assume they will not answer the radio. Are there any areas/inlets in particular that would be nice places to tuck inside to stay a couple of days as I head south along the Florida coast? St. Augustine, Port Canaveral, Ft. Pierce. What type of forecast would you look for if you were heading out directly from St. Simon/Cumberland Island to the Abaco's. The tradewinds won't often penetrate up to 30 N, but you may have a few days of light SW/W/NW that you could take advantage of on the way. Depending on the time of year, that could be a long wait. You would want to avoid any north component wind or swell in gulf stream, and get across the gulf stream (almost 60 miles wide at that point) perpendicular to it's flow. It's about 200+ miles to the little bahama bank - so maybe a day or two of motorsailing for you. I am most interested in keeping the admiral happy and am not sure hugging the coast and dodging traffic would be more stressful for her than a little more days at sea in reasonable conditions. If you were concerned about that, you could easily break it up into 50 mile runs - and since you have a shallow draft, could get into almost every inlet. Fernandina/Cumberland - St. Aug. - Ponce Inlet - Port Canaveral are all 50 miles apart and could cover all in daylight hours. Get down to West Palm Beach, wait for a good window by checking Chris Parker's (mwxc.com) forecasts - and jump across to Memory Rock with a calm stetch. Sounds like you want to ease yourself into this - so I would definitely do 50 mile hops down the coast, with the ability to wait for weather for a few days in each port - rather than doing a 250 mile offshore passage with a boat that you may not be comfortable with yet.

We have no schedule so

getting a good start in favorable conditions is something we have the time to wait for. Thanks again for all your assistance.

Have a good trip. One thing that comes to mind out of the St. Mary's River at Cumberland (and most of the other inlets) - is if you are transiting with the wind against the tide - you can have a nasty seaway develop in the entrance channel - so avoid this as best you can, as it can be a rather uncomfortable.
__________________
SGGeronimo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-08-2015, 15:53   #8
Registered User
 
truckman's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Seattle WA
Boat: Switch 51
Posts: 42
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

SGGeronimo,

Did the inlets you suggested have any anchorages available or would I be needing to make reservations at marina's. My wife did very well bringing the boat down from N.C. in two nonstop hops of 230 NM and 140 NM and the boat handling with the two of us is quite manageable. But your suggestion of hopping down the coast is not lost on me as it is the official start to our cruising life. I am going to do some more research at just what kind of conditions might give me a favorable chance at a straight shot across and keep the inlet hopping as a good plan "B". Maybe a combination of the two might work as well. I will look into using Chris Parker as I have heard good things about his service. I have an SSB so that makes good sense to me. Thanks again for all your assistance.

Dave
__________________
truckman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-2015, 12:13   #9
Senior Cruiser
 
nautical62's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Live Iowa - Sail mostly Bahamas
Boat: Beneteau 32.5
Posts: 2,264
Images: 12
Re: Fall 2015 St. Simon Island GA to the Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by truckman View Post

....From West End it seemed like the Abaco Sea would be a great place to start our cruise then head south. I don't know anything about the other islands besides the Exumas, but plan on doing more research. We definitely are planning on taking our time as we head south.
Many great places to find solitude in the Abacos, especially with a Cat. A few places I often have an island or at least a bay to myself:

Carter's Cay Group - Jack and Joe.

Great Sale - Maybe.

Fish Cays.

Umbrella

Bay on east side of Alan's Pensacola (weather permitting)

Powell (sometimes)

Manjack- Northern most two bays, again sometimes.

No Name.

Whale (Everyone cruising around it, few anchor behind it.)

Spoil.

Water

Snake Cay area.

Spencer's Bight.
__________________

__________________
nautical62 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
Bahamas

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Crew Available: NZ to Fiji, Tonga or other South Pacific Island, April 2015 Francois1985 Crew Archives 2 15-04-2015 01:58
Crew Available: March 13-22, 2015 - Bahamas or other Caribbean CrewBeijaFlor Crew Archives 0 04-01-2015 01:46
Crew Available: 50's couple looking for sailing opportunities S. Florida and Bahamas Jan-March 2015 birdsey Crew Archives 0 07-12-2014 05:35
Will Share Expenses for Ride - S. Florida to Bahamas Fall '09 run aground Atlantic & the Caribbean 0 14-08-2009 14:48



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:48.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.