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Old 21-09-2014, 08:07   #1
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Florida To Bahamas Options

Dear fellow cruiser,

I have headed to the Bahamas in the past from south Florida. I have taken the classic route across from Rodriguez Key to Bimini and Cat Cay. This route is short and I have been lucky with the weather/wind making short and comfortable crossings.

This year I am coming from New England. I plan to sail south in November, like most folks, coastal cruising as much as possible and landing a few times to enjoy Norfolk, Charleston, etc, and to avoid nasty weather on the ICW... my goal is to reach Nassau by the end of nov.

When reaching Florida, I suppose somewhere between Cape Canaveral and West Palm beach, I would watch the weather and pick the right time to cross the Gulf Stream. Go further south along the coast if the time is not right, and cross when the weather cooperates. I am unfamiliar with these more "northern" crossings" and would appreciate your experienced advice.

Some options I see:
I suppose one can head towards Great Sale Cay and proceed south through the Abacos.
Other ports to head to on the Great Bahama island coast would be West End, or perhaps Freeport.
What about just proceeding straight to Nassau via the Nortwest Providence Channel. This route is not often documented (maybe I'm not looking in the right places) by cruisers?

If anyone cares to comment or make suggestions, they are all welcome, Thx muchly.

p.s: Sailing on a Wauquiez Centurion 45', 6' draft, cruising at 7 knots easy.
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Old 21-09-2014, 08:31   #2
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

West End is a good place to make landfall in the Abacos with an easy approach, marina and custom 's office, much better than Freeport which is a commercial harbor.
From there sail to Green Turtle Cay for the next major stop.

You need to make the crossing way further south than Cape C. because of the north setting gulf stream. Go to Lake Worth and wait for your weather window there (no northerly wind component, etc). Easy to leave at night so you make landfall in the morning or when the sun is high (avoid entering harbors in the bahamas with the sun low for underwater visibility).

From Fort Worth aim for 15-20 degrees south of West End to counteract the current and motorsail if necessary. This worked well for me last time.


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Old 21-09-2014, 08:41   #3
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Correction: leave FL late at night so you time your arrival around noon, too early and you have the sun against you but too late and it's dark.

Also, look at other passages into the Bank further north in case you miscalculated the gulf stream strength and end up there. The Explorer charts have waypoints for that and these are the paper charts you want to have onboard.
Have fun!


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Old 21-09-2014, 09:36   #4
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

It is much easier to enter the bank at Memory Rock. West End and the Indian Rock Channel is shallow and narrow for quite a distance. Memory is miles wide and deep. Then just head over past Mangrove. You can clear in at GTC or if you want to cruise the chain, Walkers. If you choose Walkers give "Rosie's" on Grand Cay a call as the Customs lady usually stays on Grand. Both Old Bahama Bay and Spanish Cay charge for dockage to clear in.
Now, why on earth do you want to go to Nassau!?
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Old 21-09-2014, 10:12   #5
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Tingum is right on. And spend some time in the Abacos - your wife will love it!

We come from northern Florida. Some of the boats in our "flotilla" leave from Ponce Inlet or Port Canaveral and go over the top of the Little Bahama Bank and enter at Whale Key to clear in at Green Turtle Cay. On that route bring lots of fuel as you will be going into the current and the prevailing winds.

We go down to Lake Worth (West Palm Beach) and wait for weather there. Then we motorsail to Memory Rock. Then Mangrove Cay-Great Sale-Angelfish Point-Green Turtle where you can mostly sail. Once you are east of Memory Rock you are on the banks and can stop and anchor almost anywhere.

And like tominny says, get the Explorer Charts. If you will be stopping in the Abacos - and you should - also get Steve Dodge's Abaco Cruising Guide: its almost indispensable there.

So, why would you want to go to Nassau?
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Old 21-09-2014, 10:29   #6
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Onestep,

I am curious about your experience entering at Whale Cay. I have been contemplating a similar route from the north but was a bit concerned about doing this in a nor 'eastern, which is a regular weather pattern in late November. Usually, the Whale channel is not passable during that time and I'd be worried about a reef-cluttered lee shore if I get their during the wrong weather.


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Old 21-09-2014, 11:46   #7
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

I've never done the "over the top" route going to the abacos, although I use that route when going back home. Obviously you know about the winter weather and I bet you could get stuck out there waiting for the seas to settle. And the other cuts would probably be no better. One of my problems with that route is that its a long motorsail and while you may start out with a good forecast it can change quickly in the winter.

But we go in the summer for Regatta Time In Abaco. Weather a lot easier then
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Old 21-09-2014, 12:12   #8
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Going to Nassau is not my first choice, its because of the airport.... this winter, I cannot take the full sabbatical of the past years because of work constraints. I will be going back-and-forth one month off/one month on work... living north of Montreal and looking for cheap flights back and forth to the Bahamas... We'll be sailing the Exumas in jan, back to work in feb, sail the Abacos in march, bring the boat back to the US in may.

Looks like Nassau is the logical place to leave the boat, cheaper (not cheap!) and frequent direct flights.

BTW, thanks for the Explorer charts comment, I already have them from my last trips and agree with you guys about the stops in the Abacos.

I am already studying your route suggestions, thanks for the info.
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Old 21-09-2014, 13:13   #9
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

As to the more grneral question why go to Nassau. I very much enjoyed Nassau! Out of the whole Bahamas it was the only town that appeared to be viable as a town. Most of the others just villages.
I enjoyed going places on the public bus, the local shopping mall in the suburbs etc.

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Old 21-09-2014, 13:54   #10
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

When visiting the northern Bahamas, we cross from Lake Worth inlet to Memory Rock and clear in at Walkers. You may also cross to West End and clear in at Old Bahama Bay. I wouldn't advise bypassing the first opportunity to clear in. The law states that you must clear at the closest port to your arrival. Customs & Immigration officials do not like scofflaws.
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Old 21-09-2014, 13:57   #11
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
As to the more grneral question why go to Nassau. I very much enjoyed Nassau! Out of the whole Bahamas it was the only town that appeared to be viable as a town. Most of the others just villages.
I enjoyed going places on the public bus, the local shopping mall in the suburbs etc.

Maybe you can fit in New Year's Eve/day in Nassau? Junkanoo was fun fun fun!

Click image for larger version

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We blew the budget and spent a couple of nights at the Atlantis Marina. $4.00/ft. but includes passes for the park. Great if you have family there with you.

Another possible crossing option-

Cross from Miami, or maybe Port Everglades. Do the Moselle Bank (at North Rock or Hens and Chickens) to Bullocks Harbor in the Berry's. Check in is easy at Great Harbor Cay Marina. Interesting entrance, and very protected inside. Let the marina know you need to check in, and they will have the guy meet you on your boat. He will take care of both customs and immigration.

We work our way down the east side, stopping at several anchorages shown on the Explorer Charts. Then cross to Nassau from there. Just another option for you, in case you haven't done the Berry's before.

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Old 21-09-2014, 14:21   #12
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Abacos Yacht Services in Green Turtle Cay is very good and reputable marina to leave the boat


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Old 21-09-2014, 14:27   #13
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
As to the more grneral question why go to Nassau. I very much enjoyed Nassau! Out of the whole Bahamas it was the only town that appeared to be viable as a town. Most of the others just villages.
I enjoyed going places on the public bus, the local shopping mall in the suburbs etc.

Bus riding - a little known cheap tour of Nassau. $1.50, pay when you get off. Be sure to say hello to everyone on the bus when you get on - its considered rude not too. And I always make sure we are back on the boat before dark.

Don't miss Potter Cay Dock for lunch. Your choice of a dozen small "restaraunts" serving real local fresh food, mostly to the locals. And occasionally a special treat over by the fishing boat landing, a free demonstration of how to clean a boatload of fresh fish in quick time.

Just past Nassau Yacht Haven is another locals restaraunt, Sailors Choice. Good local food and nowhere near as expensive as the Poop Deck.
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Old 21-09-2014, 15:04   #14
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
Bus riding - a little known cheap tour of Nassau. $1.50, pay when you get off. Be sure to say hello to everyone on the bus when you get on - its considered rude not too. And I always make sure we are back on the boat before dark.

Don't miss Potter Cay Dock for lunch. Your choice of a dozen small "restaraunts" serving real local fresh food, mostly to the locals. And occasionally a special treat over by the fishing boat landing, a free demonstration of how to clean a boatload of fresh fish in quick time.

Just past Nassau Yacht Haven is another locals restaraunt, Sailors Choice. Good local food and nowhere near as expensive as the Poop Deck.

Sailors Choice has been out of business for a while now.


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Old 21-09-2014, 16:04   #15
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Re: FLORIDA TO BAHAMAS OPTIONS

Amapola, onestepcsy37 and tin gum have all mentioned Memory rock. I am also familiar with it (but on the chart only!!).

I assume you pass it well north, where the water is deeper? and proceed east from there on the bank.

Thx again folks.
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