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Old 13-03-2010, 22:11   #1
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Lake Worth to Exumas

We hope to set out within the next week for the Bahamas.... finally.... 3 months and a new engine late.

We are currently at Riviera Municipal Marina right inside the Lake Worth inlet and we want to get to Georgetown in the Exumas as quickly as we can. The cold weather and high winds combo have run us ragged, we want WARM. Warm weather... warm water... warm evenings.

My plan had been to daysail down to Key Biscayne and anchor up at No Name Harbor to wait for weather and then cross to Gun Cay where we would anchor up off the east end of the island to stage for an early morning run across the banks.

I do not care to clear in at Gun Cay as we do not want to get a slip and we hear you cannot clear in without docking the boat and paying over $100 for the privledge. We my thoughts are to just anchor off and then proceed on early the next morning. Cross the banks to Northwest Channel light and then anchor off Chubb. Head to Nassau to clear in the next morning. From there we can head south to the Exumas.

I see issues with this, primarily not being able to get from Gun to Chubb in a single day and we would prefer not to anchor on the banks if we can avoid it.

What other routes make sense? Why not leave late in the afternoon, sail due east from Biscayne, use the north set of the Gulf Stream and pass well north of Bimini and sail east southeast down the deep water until north of Nassau and then turn south to Nassau. That route would seem to be about 220 miles.... nonstop leaving late in the afternoon would put us there in the morning after 2 nights at sea. We like night sailing in deep water.

The weather has been such that crossing the stream without any north component to the wind is unlikely. The only time the wind has been blowing from the south it brings with it lots of rain and thunderstorms and it blows 30+. Then it immediatly clocks west and back to west-northwest or north. We we expect to cross in west to west northwest winds... which would seem good for a direct run in deep water to Nassau.

We are not really interested in going to the Abacos until May or June.... its cold there too.... but perhaps that is a better route to get south?

Anyhow, I am open to ideas and suggestions!


Terry
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Old 13-03-2010, 23:55   #2
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Don't discount hitting the Exumas via the Abacos.

I think it adds less distance than people think , gets you into the Bahamas quicker, requires less deep water crossings that going via Bimini or Cat and you don't have to sail through the night or anchor on the open banks as you would going from Cat to the Berry's.

A possible schedule:

1. Fort Worth to West End
2. Check in and go to Mangrove (or G.S. if time allows)
3. To Allan's Pensacola
4. To G.T, Great Guana or Marsh.
5. To Little Harbour
6. To Eleuthera.
7. To Top of the Exumas.

If the weather isn't conducive to crossing to Eleuthera in that time frame, simply slow down your time in the Abacos to match. Hey, your cruising in the Bahamas. Slow it down even more and enjoy more of what the Abacos have to offer.

I't's not much more time or distance/days than:

1 Fort worth to Fort L.
2. Fort L to Miami
3. Miami to Bimini or Cat
4. Night on the banks
5. night in Berry Islands
6. To Nasau
7. To top of Exumas

Personally, I like that going via the Abacos means hitting Eleuthera (Egg or Royal)instead of Nassau.

Note, while boats typically pull up to the sea wall to clear customs at W.E., you don't need to get a slip. In settled SE (summer) I use Cross Bay, but more often anchor north of the Marina behind the sea wall on the Banks. It's a bit scoured, but there are good sand patches to drop the hook in. I was there in a 30+ knot NW about 2 weeks ago. It's fairly easy to leave Lake Worth at night pre-dawn so you could potentially check into customs at W.E. that day which would give you time to go to G.S. the next.

The NE bay on G.S. affords protection from most directions, but you can anchor on either side of the island as appropriate. Allan's P is also good for most wind directions. In that same area, Moraine isn't bad if you get a NW.
Anchor off New Plymouth on G.T. in any direction but strong Westerlies. Both sounds offer all around protection. Manjack just north of that also has anchorages for most any direction and has some beautiful beaches and trail system. Just south of that Treasure Cay is all around as well and for a small fee (something like $10)you can use their resort facilities. Many anchor in Baker's Bay at the north end of Great Guana. I personally really like the spoil cay near there. Marsh Harbour has all round protection and is a great place to get more provisions and other items that by now you realize you have forgotten. Little Harbour is all around protection, but you may need tide if you are deeper draft. You can also stage for the cut off Lynyard or in the Bight of Old Robinson.

Avatar pic is off off Great Guana, Abacos.

Have a great cruise.

- Dave
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Old 14-03-2010, 07:28   #3
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This was a very nice recommendation. Thanks. Chris
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Old 14-03-2010, 08:14   #4
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You might want to go over the top of Bimini, North Rock, and then to the Northwest Channel? Depends on the wind. If you are the fella that had the problems with the turbo etc. etc. Your boat should make Nassau in about 24 hours nonstop. Leave Miami at 3am, and arrive in Nassau during daylight. Check in, and get onto Allens Cay in about 6 hours. After that it's an easy morning sail to the next destination through the Exumas.

Once again if you are the same fella, and have the kids. You can entertain the kids with the iguanas at Allens. Snorkel the plane at Norman's, and visit the pools north of the shallows. Do the Sea Aquarium behind Obriens Cay, and of course Thunderball Grotto which will include feeding the beach pigs, and snorkeling the grotto. Make sure they know what a Lionfish looks like, and to keep distance if they see one.

Allens Cay with the iguana. Mel sitting down at the pools across tghe shallows. Us anchored off Big Major, aka pig beach, watching weather pass......i2f

PS,

I would do the Abacos on the way home when it is warmer
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Old 14-03-2010, 08:27   #5
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It is not really great to head to the Abacos this time of year. Rather cold and blustery. And the passage from the Abacos to Eleuthera can be rather nasty. Even the Exumas can get cold and blustery. Here is a link to crossing the Gulfstream from Miami - Florida to Bahamas Watchdog
- - If you have done the route before you can safely cross the Banks at night given a good route of waypoints. Roughly it is 30 hours from Miami to Nassau/Chub/Andros. I normally anchor on the Banks about 2 nm south of NW Channel lite and then head to Nassau the next sunrise. From a dawn departure from Miami I normally get to NW Channel lite about midnight. The idea is to not arrive and check-in to Nassau in the morning as boats have not yet vacated the marinas. Arriving in early afternoon is optimum as you can get a slip at Nassau Harbor Club; check-in; wash the boat and yourself; fill the tanks(water and fuel); and do some shopping across the street at the shopping mall. Then next morning exit east and then south to the Exumas. Very efficient and refreshing.
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Old 14-03-2010, 09:18   #6
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I agree about the Abacos and cold.... we are done with cold and we will see the Abacos when on the way back.

Osiris... I read that thread and it has lots of good info. It would appear that leaving from Key Biscayne and crossing due east would make arriving just north of Isaac light pretty easy and from there we could stay in deep water to Great Stirrup where we could clear in and stay overnight. That seems about 150 miles worst case if we end up with an indirect route.... leave at 3am and arrive in the morning the day after? Does that make sense?

We have not made this trip before. When we came up from the Virgins we stayed well to the east of the Bahamas not stopping. We have Explorer charts and lots of books.... Van Sant seems to recommend staging to the east side of Gun Cay and leaving at night to cross the banks, or anchoring up in the "anchorage" south of NW Channel light. We have not crossed the banks before.....but if we have Explorer waypoints is it prudent?

I also have conflicting info on the NW Channel light. Has it been rebuilt?

We would prefer not to get a slip in Nassau if we can avoid it, we have had enough of marinas and we need to save money (new engines are expensive). That also has me considering clearing in elsewhere.... but not if I have to pay for a slip to do so.


Terry
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Old 14-03-2010, 09:23   #7
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Terry,
I'm glad to hear of the success of your repower, although costly, I'm sure you're glad that it's over!!!
(And, THANK YOU for letting us all learn from your frustrating experiences!!)

As for getting south / to the Exumas quickly, I can relate as that is typically my choice as well!!!!

1) And, I've done it dozens and dozens of times, but usually leave from Ft. Lauderdale (never wasted the time to head to Miami/Biscayne), typically heading about 115* for a few hours gives you a COG of damn close to due east....meaning that a NE wind makes for a nice reach!!!!
And, this route takes you north of Grt. Issac Light, thru the NW Providence Channel (deep water).....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tspringer View Post
What other routes make sense? Why not leave late in the afternoon, sail due east from Biscayne, use the north set of the Gulf Stream and pass well north of Bimini and sail east southeast down the deep water until north of Nassau and then turn south to Nassau. That route would seem to be about 220 miles.... nonstop leaving late in the afternoon would put us there in the morning after 2 nights at sea. We like night sailing in deep water.
2) If you're going to be heading north of Bimini / north of Grt Issac Light, there's no need to head to Miami / Biscayne......try heading out of Ft. Lauderdale.....it's quicker and shorter distance....typically heading about 115*M for a few hours gives you a COG of damn close to due east....meaning that a NE wind makes for a nice reach!!!! and just about any wind except SE is usable!!!
a) You can then round Grt Stirrup Cay and head South.....or....
b) You can clear in at Grt Stirrup Cay, anchoring in the big bay on the east side, and dinghy-in to the airport (about the center or North end of this bay), works very well....it is clear water 10' - 15' over sand and sand/grass....and you can find LOTS of room to anchor there...I find tucking up in the SE corner of this bay in 10' of water, gives good protection, but could be "rolly" in a big NE swell....
You can then head south at your leisure......
c) I personally dislike Nassau (first time there was 1966) and avoid it at all costs......but to each his own.....
d) Heading South along the Berry's, down west of New Providence, past Cliftion Point, etc. thru the Tongue of the Ocean, and then turning eastward, at about the point that Highbourne Cay bears 103*......
e) Head for Highbourne Cay (where you can get food/fuel/water/etc. if needed), and pass thru into Exuma Sound.....and then head south.....
{Stop at Waderick Wells if you can....you'll not regret it!!!}

Terry, as I'm 200 miles from my boat and charts, all the above is from memory.....told 'ya I'd done it a lot.....



As for not crossing with a Northerly wind component.....as I written before, it is not that big of a deal.....
15 kts of wind, from the North, isn't a problem.....and 15-20 from the NW is GREAT!!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tspringer View Post
The weather has been such that crossing the stream without any north component to the wind is unlikely. The only time the wind has been blowing from the south it brings with it lots of rain and thunderstorms and it blows 30+. Then it immediatly clocks west and back to west-northwest or north. We we expect to cross in west to west northwest winds... which would seem good for a direct run in deep water to Nassau.
I'm a warm weather guy, who prefers sunny skies, etc......who has never had a problem crossing the Stream with a Northerly wind.....


Have a look at what I wrote about this, just a couple days ago....
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyrical
I am still unsure. I know I want to find a period with no North to the breeze.

4) While this is the often-quoted sage advice, it is NOT really as important as some think....
a) A 10-15 kt North (or NW - NE) wind typically presents NO problem at all....
b) Depending on the duration of the northerly wind, the seas in the Stream don't typically get steep until the wind is 20 kts.....
c) A NW wind of 15-20 is a nice reach from S. FL to Bahamas, and usually a pleasant passage.....but a NE wind of 15-20, can make for a wet beat or a decent motorsail (depending on your choice...)
d) My favorite crossings from Ft. Laud to Grt Issac Light (and beyond) have been with a stiff SW breeze (20-25 kts), VERY FAST!!!.....
And from Little Stirrup Cay to Lake Worth / St. Lucie, with a 25-30 kts North wind (a wild, but fun, ride).....

Here's the whole thread, about weather for the Bahamas....
Weather (or Not)....


I do hope this helps....
John
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Old 14-03-2010, 09:34   #8
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I agree the Abacos are colder than the Exumas. My point wasn't to spend time there instead of the Exumas, but rather to travel through them instead of Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Berry's.

My experience this winter was that the Abacos were usually warmer than Florida, so heading there first may mean warmer weather sooner. I also found that the ability to day sail the whole way, and spending more time on the protection of the banks meant more comfort, and less waiting for weather which meant a faster transit to the Exumas than when I have previously gone via Cat-Berry's.

I don't mean to push this route. I just think many assume it's slower and longer without really considering what it offers.
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Old 14-03-2010, 09:48   #9
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1) For clarification, you'd only need to head 115*M for a couple hours, as you pass thru the central axis of the Stream.....NOT the whole passage from Ft. Laud to Bahamas....
Sorry I wasn't clear about that...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tspringer View Post
We have Explorer charts and lots of books.... . We have not crossed the banks before.....but if we have Explorer waypoints is it prudent?
2) Crossing the Banks here (from South Riding Rock, Bimini, etc. onto to Chub / NW Channel / etc.) is very doable......and I've done it many times.....(both eastbound and westbound)
But, maybe taking the Northern route (in deep water) rather than making a night passage across the Bank, for your first try, is better idea....and I think you're making a good (and prudent) choice.....




Quote:
Originally Posted by Tspringer View Post
We would prefer not to get a slip in Nassau if we can avoid it, we have had enough of marinas and we need to save money (new engines are expensive). That also has me considering clearing in elsewhere.... but not if I have to pay for a slip to do so.
3) I hear 'ya about the $$$$.....and the fact that Nassau is the armpit of the Bahamas, make me write: STAY AWAY....
If you do wish to clear in elsewhere, there are many other places.....(Grt Stirrup, Andros, Exumas themselves, etc....), so avoiding Nassau is always a good idea.....
(And as you're probably aware of, anchoring in Nassau is very "iffy".....holding is bad, and wakes / crime / etc. are not to my liking.....and crime in the marinas isn't much better.....
I've stayed at Nassau Harbor Club over the years....nice place in general...but even there, with 24/7 security, crime is rampant.....last summer my brother was there and a boat 2 slips away had a break-in while they were on-board, in early evening, and lost >$5000 worth of stuff....and another boat there, just 2 days before, had the dinghy stolen right off their davits.....both right under the eys of both the staff/security and other boat owners.....go figure????)


Good luck and fair winds!!!!

John
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Old 14-03-2010, 09:49   #10
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We are not ICW friendly due to mast height.... and we need to see someone in Key Biscayne to finish up our watermaker installation. So I was heading outside direct from Lake Worth to Key Biscayne area.


Terry
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Old 14-03-2010, 10:31   #11
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Terry, I have done this one a couple of times. Once with a SW wind and once with no wind. Motoring at 7 knots in Jan. with no wind we did not make it from Bimini to the tongue of the ocean in daylight, but we would have if had another two hours, which you have at this time of year. The day with the SW wind we managed to make it from honeymoon harbor and anchored for the night in the lee of the Joulters Cays and that was in early march. I would not recommend the Joulters anchorage in anything but south through NW. Anything else and you'll be pretty exposed. From there you can go south to Morgan's bluff or Fresh Creek. There's an Explorer chart route from Fresh creek to Highbourne Cay. You can also clear in at Morgan's bluff or Fresh creek. If you're going to Fresh creek stay in the Tongue of the Ocean and don't try the inside passage. There are lots of shallows and heads to dodge. In any case you can pick up the Fresh creek to Highbourne route on the east side of the tongue from either Morgans Bluff or Fresh Creek. From then on it's a matter of picking your way down the Exumas. Have fun and Enjoy.
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Old 14-03-2010, 10:37   #12
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If you have to go to Biscayne Bay forget the Abacos route. You will be going way north to get back south. Hit them on the way back. Pass on to the banks north of Cat Cay (in daylight). The route across the banks is simple and you can anchor (after going north or south of the rhumb line) if it is laid down. Show an anchor light. Otherwise you can anchor at Chub. Northwest light is still there (well, as of last spring). You can clear in Nassau without getting a slip however if you need to reprovision I would stay a night at Nassau Harbor Club which is relatively inexpensive and has a full supermarket just across the street.
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Old 14-03-2010, 11:13   #13
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If you have to go to Biscayne Bay forget the Abacos route. ..
Agreed, I assumed you were able to head from Lake Worth.
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Old 15-03-2010, 06:53   #14
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From the previous posts you can see that there are - as the old song goes - 50 ways to leave . . . and get to the Bahamas from Florida. I was assuming you wanted to get south to the Exumas in minimal time.
- - The crossing from Biscayne Bay is the minimal distance/time route as you only have 44nm to cross to the Banks which can be done in the daylight hours easily if you can hold 5 kts SOG or more. As others mentioned you can anchor behind or south of Bimini and check in there without having to actually enter Bimini's little harbor.
- - You have three or more choices of where to check-in when using the Gun/Cat Cay route across the banks. They are Chub Cay; Morgan's Bluff (Andros); and Nassau. As to security in Nassau - it is not great but then currently everywhere in the Bahamas and Caribbean has problems now-a-days. It is more a case of your Karma and timing and "street-wise" experience. I used to always check-in at Cat Cay but then the marina started charging fees for this, that and everything even if you were anchored outside.
- - Then I switched to Morgan's Bluff, Andros which was very pleasant and offered an opportunity to see some of that island and Capn Morgan's supposedly treasure cave. The old guy who checked you in did all the paperwork for me and other than the cost of a beer and the Bahamas Fee there were no hassles. Then the old guy retired and a new young guy took over and started hassling folks (this was 10 years ago). Maybe there is another new guy now - hopefully - as I really enjoyed Morgan's Bluff.
- - Chub Cay was closed for a number of years during the time I was going back and forth so I cannot speak to that other than say that it is a "power yacht" headquarters and maybe not so "friendly" to "rag sailors."
- - I switched from Morgan's Bluff to Nassau very reluctantly but was amazed at how the reports were greatly overblown and over 5 years I never had an incident or any hassles there. But everything changes with time and cycles between great, good, okay, bad and awful. Like I said it is all up to your karma and timing which you will experience.
- - One advantage of Morgan's Bluff is you can head southeast down the Tongue of the Ocean to a waypoint of N24 - 48' and W077 - 26.9' and then head directly east to Highbourne Cay wpt on the Explorer Charts. You bypass New Providence and get to the Exumas directly with only one stop in Morgan's Bluff. That is the fastest route. Plus there are also some interesting places to stop along the eastern side of Andros Island before heading east to the Exumas.
- - Hardest part is trying to decide which one between the "50 ways to " get there you want to do. I like to take the "express route" to the Exumas and then continue on down to Long Island and further down to the Jumentos for some real warm weather and "away from civilization" islands.
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Old 17-03-2010, 19:13   #15
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At this point in the thought process I am planning to stage just outside no name harbor and leave about midnight to cross the stream to the Explorer charts North Rock waypoint north of Bimini. I figure we should arrive just after dawn. That puts the sun directly in our faces which sucks but the charts show this as a deep and easy entrance to the banks and it gives us maximum daylight to cross the banks. If we cross at North Rock within an hour of dawn we should be able to cross the banks and make deep water again at Northwest Channel right before dusk allowing us to sail through the night to Nassau. I figure we should head for Nassau because I am sure this strategy will see us motoring a good bit and we will want to tank fuel. We will end up doing some waiting for light as it shouldnt take us all night to make Nassau but I don't mind sailing back and forth a bit.

Basically.... we make Nassau in one shot crossing the bank fully during the daylight.


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