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Old 12-03-2015, 17:39   #1
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Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

For a variety of reasons both personal and boat-related, I'm just now starting my cruise from the Keys. My original intent was take the Windward Passage and harbor hop along the south coast of Hispaniola to the BVIs, then turn around and cruise up the Bahamas and the east coast of the U.S., ending in Maine in late August.
I won't be able to depart until March 18 at the earliest however, and I estimate that it will take three weeks to a month of (somewhat leisurely with some freedom to choose weather windows) upwind sailing to make the Virgin Islands (where I really wanted to cruise the USVI). I won't see much of the Bahamas on the way south and east, and wouldn't reach the Virgin Islands until mid April, at which point I'd have about three weeks there before turning around and heading straight for the Bahamas via the northern route, so leaving early May and then rushing through the Bahamas going north to avoid the June 1 'deadline' (though I know some people linger). This feels like it would be awfully rushed to me, with the only relaxed portion being the VI time.
Alternatively, I could just spend the next 2.5 months in the Bahamas taking things easy. My older cruising friends are of the opinion I should spend the time really enjoying the Bahamas.
The boat is a Pearson 28-1, she sails well to windward (50 degrees off the wind, and probably better once I rid her of some forward windage), but as she's a small boat, only has 4.5 ft draft so would do fine in the Bahamas as well (though I would have bought a multi if I'd thought I was just doing the Bahamas!).
What would be your choice and why?


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Old 12-03-2015, 17:42   #2
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

And by the windwards, I meant the windward passage, sorry, brain slip!


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Old 12-03-2015, 21:13   #3
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

That's easy, the Bahamas. It's just to much work to get there and have to turn back again. Go when you have more time.


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Old 13-03-2015, 12:30   #4
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

The trip to the USVI would be very arduous especially in a 28' boat. I too think you should spend this year in the Bahamas before June 1st and then you have plenty of time to explore the many fine ports along the U.S. east coast before HURRICANE SEASON really kicks in. I would try to be North of Hatteras by July 1st.

Good luck!


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Old 13-03-2015, 12:54   #5
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

Thanks for the advice! Sadly, it does seem like the Bahamas will be the place to be. Time sure does fly. On the bright side, I'm freed up now for a trip to the Dry Tortugas


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Old 13-03-2015, 15:51   #6
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

Some considerations here - Free Cruising Guides » VOYAGING SOUTH TO THE CARIBBEAN

If it were me, I'd head down to the Exumas and enjoy.

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Our first trip to the Bahamas was in May, June. You'll miss much of the crowd, since they have already headed back to Florida (or north). You can expect increased thunderstorm activity at that time, though. We arrived back to Lake Worth the last day of June, and were welcomed by a severe thunderstorm. We headed north toward Georgia, and experienced many more storms along the way. Just something to expect as you cruise into the season.


.....or, cruise down the Islands, and leave the boat in Grenada for hurricane season. Haul it, fly back home, and return when you can't stand the cold anymore (if you are cruising part-time).


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Old 13-03-2015, 16:34   #7
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

Thanks Ralph! That site you hyperlinked is the main reason I was going to go through the windward passage. With a 28' boat it seemed the safest course.
Great pics as well! It also seems to me like the cruiser culture in the Bahamas may be better than that in the BVI. When I chartered in the Virgin Islands it seemed that boats pretty much kept to themselves and as a single hander I'd prefer a bit more social activity.
There's always the chance Cuba will open up in the next couple of months too!
Sadly, this is my one shot for the next five or so years. I'll have to go back to work for a few years come September. On the plus side, more money for chartering


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Old 13-03-2015, 16:54   #8
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

I've only gotten to "Chicken Harbor" (Georgetown, Bahamas) so far. I'd like to make the Islands myself someday soon. I figured we'd just go with the "Thornless Path", since we like to go slow and enjoy different places and cultures. But, it looks like a challenging cruise. I'm still looking at options, like you are.

I've done the Windward Passage once, where we promptly blew a jib halyard on the 46' cat I was on. I'd have to think twice before going that way myself....




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Old 13-03-2015, 17:15   #9
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

I could easily spend 3 months in the B'mas. Especially with a small boat. So many places alot of people don't go that much....
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Old 16-03-2015, 17:21   #10
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

I think it's settled, Bahamas here I come!


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Old 16-03-2015, 17:24   #11
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Re: Late in the season: Bahamas or through the Windwards

Have fun. A big plus is you check in once and have all those islands to hang out in.
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