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Old 02-05-2018, 08:32   #1
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North from the Bahamas

Morning folks,

I've seen a lot of threads about people heading to the Bahamas lately, but I'm curious about the opposite path. I bought a Pearson 35 in Marsh Harbour in February, and I'd like to take her up to the Chesapeake in June. I'm fairly new to the hobby, so I'm not ready to do any overnight passages quite yet.

Questions I've got:

We'll be heading to Florida from Memory Rock/West End. What's generally the best place to aim for on the Florida coast to make an easy entrance to a decent anchorage? I've heard St. Lucie can be challenging the first time.

Heading north, I'd like to balance speed with safety. Assuming good weather, how easy is it to go outside the ICW during the day, up the coast, and duck back inside for overnight anchoring? My mast is only 50', but I'd still like to avoid the bridges in Florida as much as possible.

What's currently considered the best guide for the passage? I've seen quite a few ICW guides on Amazon, but a lot of them seem a bit dated.
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Old 02-05-2018, 08:59   #2
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Re: North from the Bahamas

There have to be a thousand different threads on here debating the inside/outside question for the ICW, especially from VA to FL... You might start by reading them becasue you'll just get the same arguments here...again.

Can you explain why you want to avoid bridges in Florida specifically, and not other places?

For your initial crossing, if you wait for a good weather window, then the inlet you select won't be critical. ANY inlet has the potential to be nasty in bad weather. Have a couple options, with charts and info for each. Your weather choice will be for winds from the south or southeast, if it was me, I'd try to get as far north as I could with the GS ride as I could.
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:08   #3
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Re: North from the Bahamas

The main reason I'm thinking Florida specifically for bridges is that I've been told that the highest concentration of having to wait for drawbridges to raise is in that state. Just trying to plan efficiency. I'm doing lots of reading on other threads for sure.
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:58   #4
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North from the Bahamas

Having to wait is rare if you think ahead. Longest I have ever waited is maybe 10 min?
dont worry about bridges, however ICW travel is laid back and relaxed. It had better be, cause it takes forever to get anywhere, if you go outside if all things are equal, youíll get there in 1/3 the time, roughly.
But if your not in a hurry, the ICW can be laid back and an easy, fun travel.

Going outside during the day and ducking in at night isnít really an option. First there are not that many inlets, and secondly the time you spend going out and in, will offset any advantage of going out to start with.
If you go out, you do so with the intent of running 24/7 until your destination is reached, where the ICW, you relax and spend every night in bed.
Figure 50 NM a day in the ICW as an easy number to get without pushing it.

Georgia is where you go outside, as their is not much to see, itís often very shallow as tides are large, and it can be buggy and the route meanders all over the place.
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Old 02-05-2018, 10:01   #5
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Re: North from the Bahamas

The limiting factor is the statement that you do not want to sail overnight. If you could entice someone with offshore experience, the trip straight out of one of the Northeastern channels straight to Cape Fear is a delightful passage in the spring time. Can average is also an easygoing inlet but would requir some night sailing. That leaves you with either lake Worth or St. Lucie. Time St Lucie to avoid an outgoing tide and you should be fine. Your bridge concern headed North is much less than if you were going South. The trip up the ICW to Daytona is one of the most boring anywhere on earth!
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Old 02-05-2018, 10:04   #6
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Re: North from the Bahamas

I think you are going to have to get used to night time sailing. No big deal. Ducking in and out isnt a real possibility. It takes tons of time getting in and out and getting to the passes that go in and out.
Watch the weather if outside, especially From a day south of Hatteras to well north of it. If the NE is blowing hard against the Gulf Stream it can be very ugly. The good news is you will be moving very fast.
Entry at Fort Pierce avoids some bridges and isn't too bad. The bridges aren't a big deal, get a Waterway Guide and you can time them well. I went thru like a dozen in one day once.
Warning: As new boat owner and in the Gulf Stream etc, know the condition of your fuel and tank. Rough water can stir up years of debris in the tank, clog your filters and shut you down.
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Old 02-05-2018, 14:15   #7
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Re: North from the Bahamas

If you don't want to sail overnight, Ft Pierce is probably your only option in FL after leaving the Bahamas from Memory Rock (under normal conditions). Lake Worth will have you waiting for the right wind vector to compensate for the Gulf Stream or motorsailing hard. The Ft Pierce inlet isn't really that bad, the ATONs are well maintained, you can call on the VHF for local knowledge (including USCG), or you can just follow another boat in, but it's not really a difficult inlet, barring a strong easterly. Maybe not the easiest inlet you've tried, but that's true for all inlets on the Florida east coast, even the biggest ones. Your draft should not be an issue, so there won't really be any timing concerns, just weather for the crossing. I wouldn't worry about going in there, I think it is the least of your concerns. This is not a short trip, you know...it will be a very long day.

As far as ducking in and out of the ICW, I think you will find that the time lost each day is large. Better to commit to either the inside or outside, or at least in large segments. Personally, the largest distance I ever covered on the ICW is Masonboro to Cape Fear, and that was plenty for a lifetime for my tastes! Pete
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Old 02-05-2018, 14:26   #8
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Re: North from the Bahamas

Great advice from everyone...much appreciated. I might end up doing this in segments...find someone who has some night experience and bring them for a few days on the outside passage, and inside solo for the rest.

There will be at least two of us on the passage from Memory to wherever...thanks for the info on Ft. Pierce..might not be as bad as we thought. I figure we'll leave memory around 3:30 or 4am and get across before nightfall. Definitely a long day, but should be memorable for a first "ocean" crossing.

That said, I'm going to end up putting my boat up for sale after this passage. Bought it with the intention of sailing around the Bahamas for a year or so, but an overseas job opportunity I couldn't pass up dropped in my lap. I've got to be in DC to start on July 23rd, so the time frame is getting short for a leisurely passage. Any advice if it's better to sell a boat in the Bahamas, or back in the states?
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Old 02-05-2018, 14:28   #9
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Re: North from the Bahamas

From Memory Rock your best bet is Port Canaveral.
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Old 02-05-2018, 14:42   #10
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Re: North from the Bahamas

Is the Bahamian duty paid on your boat? That will make it much more attractive to prospective Bahamian purchasers. Where is it registerd? I can't tell you about price differentials but I suspect that the cost of moving the boat & etc. is going to be more expensive than simply buying a plane ticked to DC

Have you talked to U.S. boat brokers, especially those in Florida about listing the boat.

BTW, I live in DC and will be on Great Guana Cay in June if you would like some "local knowledge" regarding DC & etc. Just check with Dive Guana when "Irish Eyes" will be around.
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Old 02-05-2018, 14:45   #11
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Re: North from the Bahamas

No duty paid on the boat...it's on a cruising permit at the moment. Registered in Deale, MD legally. Not as worried about the cost..just thinking about the best way to maximize enjoyment of the boat in the time I've got.

Haven't yet checked with any brokers...all this came up in the past 24 hours, so still just doing basic research.

I'll check with Troy over at Dive Guana. Tell him you're looking for Henry and we should be able to catch up. Any local knowledge is always appreciated!
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Old 02-05-2018, 20:44   #12
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Re: North from the Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
From Memory Rock your best bet is Port Canaveral.
Second that, did the same route last February. Get some good westerly longitude in the beginning and then head north west for port Canaveral.
We came in at night, and it is a very busy port with all the cruise and shipping traffic so next time I'd probably time it for arrival before sunset. Leaving is easy, so save the daylight for arrival at the busy port.

Tied off for the night at Cape Marina https://goo.gl/maps/YajdAoSQzhr to check in before leaving the next afternoon.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:32   #13
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Re: North from the Bahamas

Fort Pierce is an easier inlet than Canaveral would be for someone without much experience. It's also a much quicker in and out, and there's a good anchorage right below it.
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Old 03-05-2018, 09:27   #14
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Re: North from the Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by theglobalguy View Post
Morning folks,

I've seen a lot of threads about people heading to the Bahamas lately, but I'm curious about the opposite path. I bought a Pearson 35 in Marsh Harbour in February, and I'd like to take her up to the Chesapeake in June. I'm fairly new to the hobby, so I'm not ready to do any overnight passages quite yet.

Questions I've got:

We'll be heading to Florida from Memory Rock/West End. What's generally the best place to aim for on the Florida coast to make an easy entrance to a decent anchorage? I've heard St. Lucie can be challenging the first time.

Heading north, I'd like to balance speed with safety. Assuming good weather, how easy is it to go outside the ICW during the day, up the coast, and duck back inside for overnight anchoring? My mast is only 50', but I'd still like to avoid the bridges in Florida as much as possible.

What's currently considered the best guide for the passage? I've seen quite a few ICW guides on Amazon, but a lot of them seem a bit dated.
Given the above. Pick a weather window and get to Fla.. Plan on the ICW for the remainder of the trip. Someone suggested finding someone experienced to go outside. Plan on two or three since long watches suck.
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Old 03-05-2018, 09:48   #15
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Re: North from the Bahamas

We have done the ICW a gazillion times and here's my advice for a newbie. Go inside and time yourself to travel with high tide over the difficult places like McClellenville, SC, Hell Gate, Ga. and some inlets in the Carolinas. Google "trouble spots on the ICW," but don't freak out. As I said, just time yourself with the tides.

Get a copy of "Skipper Bob's Anchorages." It's invaluable information that is up to date at annual publication. Subscribe to www.cruisersnet.net for real time information and you'll know in advance what trouble spots are coming up. Sometimes bridges break down; sometimes Camp Lejeune, NC, has different closure times, etc.

For a slightly irreverent version of a trip down the ICW last fall, read my blog, but keep in mind that we did not have the advantage of daylight savings time: Travels with Vicki and Barry. Look at the posts under 2017.
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