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Old 15-08-2012, 10:58   #1
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KeyWest to the Bahamas

We are now getting the boat ready to go from Galveston TX to Destin, Destin to KeyWest and Key West to the Bahamas...

Plan is to be in KeyWest mid-November 2012... A few questions:
1. Is it OK to wait in KeyWest for a weather window or should we go to Miami? Or elsewhere?
2. From KeyWest with our Beneteau Oceanis 400, she runs 5-6 knots in decent wind... How long would it take?
3. Should we aim for Nassau? Or is there another "entry point" we should consider?

Any help, comments and experiences would be appreciated.
SYL
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Old 15-08-2012, 11:20   #2
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

quickest way is from anywhere in the upper keys out to the guflstream, then ride it north to cat cay or bimini. you can check in at either. entrance fee is $300.

cat cay may still charge $100 to tie up for clearance, or you can take a slip for the night. might try anchoring off and dinghying in but i'm not sure how they treat that.

bimini now has a bouyed channel which makes anchoring a bit of a problem, but the marinas are pretty cheap and you can tie up and walk over to customs.

and, whatever else you do, don't go to the bahamas without a copy of the Explorer Charts. absolutely invaluable....
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Old 15-08-2012, 12:36   #3
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

I would plan to head up to Miami and wait for a good weather window. From Key West, particularly if you round the keys in daylight only, you will lose a few days of the window and that may be all you have.

If you plan to cruise the Exumas then clear in at Bimini (46 NM) or pass it by and clear in at Chub Cay (125 NM).

But if you plan to cruise the Abacos then from Miami point a bit south of West End, Grand Bahama Island and ride the Gulf Stream up to clear in at West End at the marina there. It is about 85 NM and should take about 12-15 hours at your speed. You will get a bit of a boost from the stream for the first half of the passage.

David
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Old 15-08-2012, 12:42   #4
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

a little different but close to what has been said. I would go up to middle keys then head across to Bimini, and go to Bimini Sands marina. It is a nice place, easy in and out and affordable at $1.00 per ft.. It is a $8.00 cab fare to airport for clearing in. The officials seem to be a little more personable at the airport
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Old 15-08-2012, 12:57   #5
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

We have done both on more than one occasion. If your weather window is wide enough, you can leave from Key West, or better yet the middle Keys and go over to South Riding Rock. From there cross the banks to wherever you like. It's best to have a 3 day window for this. You can head up Hawks Channel and wait for weather behind Key Biscayne. Cross over to Cat/Gun Cay, the closer or Bimini and head into the Bahamas from there. Have a great trip and stay safe. Be sure and carry Explorer Charts with you. Chuck
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Old 21-08-2012, 20:27   #6
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

With a current averaging 2.5 knots north why would anybody go north from the Keys to Miami to cross the Stream sideways and put that current on the beam?
Easy enough to get out into the Stream (south) as soon as possible from KW and hang on for dear life; I've had up to 8 knots, though rarely, often 4.5 to 5.5 out there.
One rule to live by, or die disregarding; DO NOT BE IN THE STREAM IN A NORTHERLY.
I haven't been through the Bahamas in quite a few years, so go w/ more current entry info, but I always liked Bimini.
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Old 22-08-2012, 11:58   #7
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

If you leave from around the area of Key Largo (where you'll also have options to wait for a weather window at an anchorage or marina), you'll be able to cross even under the prevailing SE conditions. The further you go north, the more you will have to wait for the wind to veer S (not too typical for this area). For instance, crossing Miami (Govt Cut) to Bimini is almost directly E, and you have a N-flowing current, making your desired course SE, directly into the prevailing. If you leave from Key Largo (Port Largo, Rodriguez Key, etc), you can basically take an easterly course (close reach) even on a SE wind and the current will carry you to Bimini.

My boat lives in Miami, and when I cross, I ALWAYS plan on first sailing down to Angelfish Ck (the N end of Key Largo) first and leaving from there. If I happen to have a more favorable wind and can leave from Miami, all the better, an extra day in the Bahamas.

And Bimini is a great place to clear in, and a very friendly, relatively inexpensive, and sleepy little place with several good marinas.

pete
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Old 22-08-2012, 12:19   #8
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

Marathon is a great place to ride the weather out while waiting on a window. We went from there and was able to do 10 knots at times in the stream which we rode almost all the way to Bimini. I think it took us just over 16 hours. Why go north when you can ride the stream to the Bahamas.
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Old 22-08-2012, 17:05   #9
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

Here's an "off the beaten track" option:

Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas
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Old 22-08-2012, 17:20   #10
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Re: KeyWest to the Bahamas

Leave Angelfish Creek area at dawn and have sundowners at sunset in Bimini or Cat Cay or Gun Cay anchorage.

Or continue onto the bank at North Rock and across to Morgans Bluff Andros for breakfast.

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