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Old 20-06-2019, 20:19   #1
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Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

I am planning a trip to the Bahamas. I live in Jacksonville Florida and will be leaving in December 2019. I want to explore the Exumas! I have three months to explore the islands. I was wanting to get some ideas on crossing the Gulf stream here close to Jacksonville then turn south or should I hang close to shore weather permitting or the ICW to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami then cross over. I would really like to go exploring the Exumas. I could just relax in the Abacos or go to the Eleuthera and beyond.
I will be doing this voyage to see how things go with future plans of a year or longer trip all the way down to South America then turning back west to go along the coastline until we make a large loop back to Florida.
I am looking for Ideas and comments on my idea and what you think.

A little about myself and vessel. I am 51 years of age and love being on the ocean. I was involved in a auto accident a year ago which broke my left foot and ankle and also shattered a vertebrate in my back. I had a fusion of T11 through L4 on my back. I owned my own business up to the point of the accident but I haven't worked since. I am getting around good now with just a cane but do not lift anything heavy. I have sailed from Jacksonville to Key West twice this year.

I have a 1971 40 foot Morgan Pilot House named Spirit of Ol Henry II which has been completely updated and in great condition. I now have a new water maker on board also. There will be two of us on this voyage, myself (Daniel) and my better half I call Lovie (Polly)

We would like to meet other people along the way and possibly if our paths cross buddy boat if possible.

I hope to get some good advice here and ideas of what we can expect that time of year as weather goes and places we need to see.

Thanks
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Old 21-06-2019, 03:09   #2
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Daniel.
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Old 21-06-2019, 09:02   #3
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Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

Iíd motor on down to Lake Worth, then cross to vicinity of Memory rock, then move South from there, itís just a few more days, but your in the Bahamas heading South as opposed to being in the US moving South. Total time ought to be the same, but your time in the Bahamas is greater.
Plus majority of the Bahamas is easy and safe, everything is a day trip with many, many places to anchor and most of them are protected from the East. Wind always blows or almost always, you can sail North and South 9 days out of 10.

Now having said that, Northers can be a real issue that time of year and there are fewer protected spots for them, and the need to arrive early cause they are limited, so keep that in the back of your mind as you head South.

I crossed at the heels of a Norther and due largely to Customs restraints sat it out in a Marina, which was a mistake, no damage but a miserable couple of days.

Oh, and donít go without Explorer charts
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Old 21-06-2019, 09:36   #4
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

In December I'd go down to Miami before crossing. Just too cold to do Abaco. From Miami cross to North Rock, sail the Bank and clear in at Andros or Nassau and then on to the Exumas.
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Old 21-06-2019, 10:37   #5
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Iíd motor on down to Lake Worth, then cross to vicinity of Memory rock, then move South from there, itís just a few more days, but your in the Bahamas heading South as opposed to being in the US moving South. Total time ought to be the same, but your time in the Bahamas is greater.
Plus majority of the Bahamas is easy and safe, everything is a day trip with many, many places to anchor and most of them are protected from the East. Wind always blows or almost always, you can sail North and South 9 days out of 10.

Now having said that, Northers can be a real issue that time of year and there are fewer protected spots for them, and the need to arrive early cause they are limited, so keep that in the back of your mind as you head South.

I crossed at the heels of a Norther and due largely to Customs restraints sat it out in a Marina, which was a mistake, no damage but a miserable couple of days.

Oh, and donít go without Explorer charts
I have Navionics electronic charts but I will look at getting the Explorer Chartbook Exumas and Ragged Islands.
Thanks
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Old 21-06-2019, 11:47   #6
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Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

We crossed over to memory rock just before Christmas last year, it wasnít cold at all.
We never noticed any difference in weather between the Abacoís and the Exumaís they just arenít that far apart.

Since he has limited time, I say cross and do your traveling in the Bahamas, being in the US headed South isnít going to be any warmer

Navionics in the Bahamas can get you into trouble. Get C-map as itís Explorer data as I believe the old Garmin was.
Iím a fan of the Aqua Map app as it is pure Explorer chart, not just the data, but it matches the printed chart exactly.
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Old 21-06-2019, 12:29   #7
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
We never noticed any difference in weather between the Abacoís and the Exumaís they just arenít that far apart.

Since he has limited time, I say cross and do your traveling in the Bahamas, being in the US headed South isnít going to be any warmer

.
If you spend some time in the Exumas in winter you'll soon see that the weather in Abaco is usually colder and the fronts usually stronger. Just check the daily weather. The southern tip of Abaco is about 26N and the southern end of the Exumas is actually in the tropics! A few hundred miles south in these latitudes makes a lot of difference weatherwise. Just check your temperature charts for the winter months. Miami about 75deg, Abaco about 77deg Georgetown about 82deg.

The OP has three months, even if he sticks to the ditch he can be in Miami in a week from JAX. From Lake Worth to Miami two or three days at the most. If there is no window he might wait in Lake Worth for a week.
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Old 21-06-2019, 13:00   #8
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

Your still in the same weather, just one way your in the bahamas, the other the US, in the ditch.

Are weather windows more frequent or is it easier to make the crossing down South?
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Old 22-06-2019, 07:56   #9
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Your still in the same weather, just one way your in the bahamas, the other the US, in the ditch.

Are weather windows more frequent or is it easier to make the crossing down South?
I was thinking that the crossing may be easier further north here in Jacksonville. My thinking is that the Gulf stream would be wider and possibly more calm. Someone tell me if I am wrong. The stream may just be wider and not any easier to cross. I am also talking about the weather window being the same.
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Old 22-06-2019, 08:38   #10
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
We crossed over to memory rock just before Christmas last year, it wasnít cold at all.
We never noticed any difference in weather between the Abacoís and the Exumaís they just arenít that far apart.

Are you basing this generalization on a single experience?

We crossed from Miami in February of 2018, and were really happy we werenít further north.
We entered in Bimini, and never went further north than the Berries.
Only have done it once, but the exception proves the rule.
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Old 22-06-2019, 09:32   #11
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

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I was thinking that the crossing may be easier further north here in Jacksonville. My thinking is that the Gulf stream would be wider and possibly more calm. Someone tell me if I am wrong. The stream may just be wider and not any easier to cross. I am also talking about the weather window being the same.
Hey, I just studied and did this passage a couple of months ago. Donít cross in NE FL. If you are going directly to the Exumas. The following is reasonable:

Go south along the coast to at least Fowey Rocks (Biscayne Bay Area). Stay well offshore around Cape Canaveral and review your charts well in this area. After the cape you can start hugging the coast a little more by the time you are in south FL you should not be more than a few miles offshore. Google west wall of the Gulf Stream.

Leave Fowey Rocks and cross the Gulf Stream arrive at the North side of North Rock.
Cross the Bahama Bank from North Rock to the Northwest Channel.
Northwest Channel to New Providence Island/Nassau. northern Exumas from there.

Anyway, my 2 year old is having a major melt down. Sorry for the typos. I got to go I can give you some more more pointers and waypoints if you want.

Iím in St Augustine. Feel free to PM if you want.

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Old 22-06-2019, 09:54   #12
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

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Originally Posted by Kf4eok View Post
I am planning a trip to the Bahamas. I live in Jacksonville Florida and will be leaving in December 2019. I want to explore the Exumas! I have three months to explore the islands. I was wanting to get some ideas on crossing the Gulf stream here close to Jacksonville then turn south or should I hang close to shore weather permitting or the ICW to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami then cross over.

===


The Gulf Stream is well offshore as far north as Jacksonville, and somewhat more spread out. My choice would be to either take the ICW south to Ft Pierce inlet or run outside close to shore depending on weather. From Ft Pierce you are in the Gulf Stream almost right away and most of the way through it by mid-afternoon if you get an early start. Then it's an easy sail on to the banks at Memory Rock and farther south, clearing in at West End. From there you can go east to Great Harbour Cay, and then south to Eleuthera and the Exumas. As others have mentioned, the Exumas are significantly warmer than the Abacos in the winter time, but the Abacos have better provisioning and maintenance opportunities.
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Old 22-06-2019, 10:20   #13
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
We crossed over to memory rock just before Christmas last year, it wasnít cold at all.
We never noticed any difference in weather between the Abacoís and the Exumaís they just arenít that far apart.
Did you go swimming ?
I found the water temperature markedly warmer in the Exumas over the Abacos.
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Old 22-06-2019, 10:24   #14
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

I just got back from my fifth Gulf Stream crossing / sailing experience to / from Abacos.

What a64pilot said above is correct in my opinion. From, JAX go to West Palm / Lake Worth and cross to Memory Rock, or the next entrance north (forget the name - don't have my charts handy). The more of an angle NE you can make toward the Abacos, the better, because the Stream will push you. That said, you could go direct from JAX across and then south to the Bank, but it means more off shore time in a time of year when weather can be bad, so I'd say think twice.

Do get Explorer Charts - C-Map on chartplotter or Aquamap on an iPad. They are dead accurate. Navionics is not reliable in the Bahamas, though I use it in the US.

Do not cross if winds are from the north at all. I got pounded senseless once that way.

If you cross to the Abacos, you could sail in protected waters in the Sea of Abaco all the way around and down to Little Harbor. I did that last month. The only hitch might be getting around Whale Cay, if a rage is running, but that just means hanging out a few days at Green Turtle Cay waiting for weather - not bad duty. I've gone around Whale Cay four times and never had to wait for weather.

Enjoy!
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Old 22-06-2019, 10:44   #15
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Re: Jacksonville to Bahamas and the Exumas in late December 2019

We just finished our first winter cruising the Bahamas. Our blog is here if you are interested. Https://juno423.blogspot.com Feel free to PM me about any questions.
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