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Old 23-10-2006, 15:17   #1
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KeyWest to Bahamas in January

We're planning to sail from Keys over to Bahamas (never been) sometime in January. How often are weather windows open? We're on a 42' Cat so can make a comfortable 6-9knots before adding any Gulfstream... What's best first destination, ideally with airport in case we have friends that need to get back to 'civisilization'....
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Old 23-10-2006, 15:38   #2
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P + M,

Interesting question about the weather. The answer is nobody knows. Hopefully it'll be a good year for crossing. Some years there's lots of windows, some years not so many. The good thing about a boat your size is that you only need a very small window. I would keep going till Nassau. You can clear in here and your friends can fly home if they wish.

A good friend of mine tells of their first crossing. They had a flotilla of five boats which included a 23 footer who wanted a three day window. They finally crossed in April! Spent most of the winter ( Dec - April) in Marathon.

Once the wind starts clocking and the seas lay down a bit, go for it! You'll hear a lot of chatter on the vhf and everybody'll be quoting Chris Parker or Herb (these two are the weather gurus). When you wake up in the morning and the anchorage is deserted you'll know you missed it. When the boats start coming back in you might be glad you missed it. It's always an interesting time. See you out there.
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Old 23-10-2006, 16:39   #3
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For a "real" airport Nassau is probably your best bet, but Chalks Airline flies a seaplane daily from Bimini to Fort Lauderdale.
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Old 23-10-2006, 19:17   #4
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I though Chalk stopped operations after their crash last December. Are they back in business?
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Old 23-10-2006, 19:59   #5
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Vasco;

My bad! Old info. Chalks is still in operation but flies only to Nassau/Paradise Island. Apparently their fleet of old seaplanes is not in operation.
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Old 24-10-2006, 02:58   #6
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Chalk's International Airlines* operates flights to/from the following destinations:
Fort Lauderdale
Bimini
Nassau/Paradise Island
They are currently operating Beech 1900D aircraft.

Goto: Chalk's Ocean Airways: http://www.flychalks.com/
* Operated by Big Sky Transportation Company
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Old 24-10-2006, 04:17   #7
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I left in Late May from Key Largo to Bimini. This is a good place to cross. We did it in 12 hours. Just head east and then start going north after most of the stream. If the weather starts building behind you, you can get into the banks and anchor in shallow water. You should have a window in 3 weeks Max.

Leaving from Marathon just adds 50 miles to Bimini.

Clark does not Fly to Bimini but Continental does.

Nassau is about 100 miles east.
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Old 24-10-2006, 05:55   #8
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You might want to read The Gentleman's Guide to Passages South, by Bruce Van Sant (now in its 8th ed). He has a very good section about crossing the gulf stream, waiting for weather windows, etc. Not everyone will agree with all of his advice, but I believe the Gulf Stream crossing section is conservative and appropriate, especially if your visitors are not sailors.

Have a great trip!

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Old 24-10-2006, 06:24   #9
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I endorse Van Sant's book, also Skipper Bob's "Bahamas Bound" has good advice for a crossing. They were our main sources when we starte going to the Bahamas a few years ago.

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Old 24-10-2006, 06:25   #10
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Oh, and Explorer Charts for the Bahamas have suggested routes that are great.

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