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Old 10-10-2006, 17:18   #1
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Old Bahama Channel?

Hello Folks, I'm just one of many voyagers lurking in the Spanish Canary Islands waiting for Mother Nature to turn the hurricanes off !! I'm bound eventually for the ICW so this post is a two part question. Has anyone recently used the Old Bahama Channel along the North coast of Cuba? (North bound) Is it still a viable route between Puerto Rico and the U.S or do security considerations make it illadvised? ( single handed ) and secondly, I was advised to enter the ICW at about the St Johns River Fla. I draw 6ft and appreciate that I will become quite friendly with the bottom on occasions but I understand the advice was given in relation to the many bridges further South. Thank you.
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Old 10-10-2006, 18:48   #2
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No security problem using the Old Bahama Channel but you may be boarded by the Coast Guard for a "safety inspection" but that can happen anywhere, especially as you near the US. 6 foot draft won't be a problem for most of the ICW but there are a few spots in Georgia you might need to play the tide. This situation is always changing so check the web for updates by doing a search for ICW info. BoatUS site has regular posts about problem areas and there is an ICW website but I can't recall the exact name right now. Have a great crossing.
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Old 10-10-2006, 19:26   #3
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Whereas the ICW on the west side of Florida could be around 55 feet in certain places. (However, that doesn't seem to be of concern, considering where you are coming from.) Entering on the east coast, as long as you are less than 65 ft mast height, any entry from Ft. Lauderdale north should be fine. Any Draw bridges open on a regular schedule. ie... Ft. Pierce, Titusville.....

Rick (on the ICW) in Florida
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Old 10-10-2006, 19:44   #4
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My vote is to skip the OBC and island hop thru the Bahamas. You may never make the mainland.
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Old 11-10-2006, 02:44   #5
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Old Bahama Channel

Thanks for the information, nothing too negative. I'll check for updates when I get ashore to an Internet cafe in the Caribbean. Pilgrim.
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Old 11-10-2006, 05:26   #6
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Consider entering at West Palm Beach/Lake Worth. You can clear customs and immigration there. While there are still bridges north of you, you will have missed the majority. It is also possible to do some day hops up the outside to miss more bridges. Fort Pierce, then Port Canaveral. Lake Worth is a good place to anchor for a couple of days and get refreshed after a long offshore passage. Fort Pierce has decent anchorages not far in from the inlet.

I endorrse Pat's Bahmas recommendation because it is such a pleasant place.

George
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Old 12-10-2006, 06:16   #7
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Sunspot Baby thank you, Lake Worth sounds ideal. My sea charts for that area should arrive any day now but I have delayed buying any charts for the ICW ( apart from general guides ) as I understand that after bad weather offshore there is the likelyhood of silting up in some entry points. Rather like the river mouths on the East coast of England where after bad weather the seagulls have the option of walking, where before they could only swim!!
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Old 12-10-2006, 06:54   #8
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West Palm Beach is a Class A inlet with cruise ships coming and going. It is dredged deep and won't silt up on you. Cruise ships are the reason that customs and immigration are there.

After making the entry, the channel makes a T junction, going north (right) there is a marina (Riviera Beach) very close. One can pull in, fuel, and call the 800 number from the dock. If immigration wants to see you, it’s only a 2 block walk to the cruise terminal to clear in.

Then just a few miles north (about 4 I think) is the Lake Worth anchorage. If you have a good chart book of the ICW it is easy to find. You can dinghy to a nearby bridge and walk about 2 blocks to a shopping center for reprovisioning. A thoughtful resident has installed a cable for securing and locking dinghies. It is unfortunately a high theft area. This is incongruous because it is actually an upscale neighbor hood.

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Old 12-10-2006, 07:02   #9
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We came in at the north end of Lake Worth. There is a nice marina on the right and customs accross the river during business hours. Silting could be a problem with a deep draft. Call ahead I touched with a 3ft draft on a cat. I think the marina is Sailfis Harbor or Sailfish Marina. They have diesel a good restaurant, and a decent convience store.
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Old 12-10-2006, 11:17   #10
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Lake Worth/West Palm Beach.

First hand knowledge is worth a thousand guide books. Thanks Pat and George, it would be nice after a couple of lengthy ocean crossings to make an easy entry into the ICW and get the formalities over with at the same place. The prospect of a long sleep in a sheltered anchorage as well, puts your suggestions into the voyage planning book. Fair winds Pilgrim.
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Old 13-10-2006, 02:43   #11
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Old 13-10-2006, 05:06   #12
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Pilgrim;

You said: "BoatUS site has regular posts about problem areas and there is an ICW website but I can't recall the exact name right now."

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association Website is at http://www.atlintracoastal.org/

Unfortunately there haven't been many there posts lately.

There are other sites related to the ICW that you may find helpful. I have collected a few links and posted them on my website. Try: http://www.snowbirders.net/ICW%20Links.html

Good luck with your plans.
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Old 13-10-2006, 05:27   #13
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Thanks Gord!
You always come thru.
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Old 06-11-2006, 14:57   #14
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Old Bahama Channel

I singlehanded my 35' sailboat from Peurto Plata, Dr to Ft. Lauderdale about 14 years ago without any problems.

It was a quick trip as the trades were blowing strong most of the way there.

Was visited by a military helicopter one day and saw lots of shipping every day.

I would highly recommend that route if you don't intend (or need) to stop on the way north.

Bob...
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Old 17-05-2009, 15:16   #15
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Can someone post a more recent experience going from DR/PR to FL via Old Bahama Channel. How much current can I count on? Also are there any areas to avoid?
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