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Old 26-07-2012, 00:38   #1
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Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

My wife and I have a 25' tri, coastal cruiser, which is demountable. Could be called trailerable but it takes me about 6 hours of hard work to launch it. This boat is new to us and, I have done extensive work on it, so we need a shake down cruise area before we cross the Gulf Stream. We have a 2.5ft draft with board up and over all height of 35ft.

We have 2 needs;

First
We would like a place that is rather laid back that we can launch the boat and do a week or so of shake down cruising. If there are problems I would like to be able to put it on the trailer with mast and amas sill in place and drive it to a location that I can work on it. I do not need power we have a generator. It would be nice if we have some decent wind 15+ to check thing out. It needs to be rather warm. We are planning this in Jan, and I suspect the boat will be rather wet. We will be coming from CA. so any place along the gulf or southern part of the east coast would be fine.

Second
We need a place to launch the boat, and store our van and trailer for the 3 month we plan to be in the Bahamas. We are planning to cruise the northern section of the Bahamas but not very attached to that plan.

Our two needs could be had in the same location but I'm guessing that any place is southern Florida that is a jumping off place for the Bahamas, will be pricy and not laid back. We are rather cost conscious adventurers and not big into crowds.

Thanks
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Old 26-07-2012, 10:12   #2
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

Several places come to mind; one place you might consider would be the Biscayne Bay area south of Miami. There's lots of room to play in your boat there, anchor, explore (the Keys will beckon), and still be in protected waters until you're ready to poke your head out into the Gulf Stream. From there it's only about 45 miles or so to Bimini and you have the option of going south into the Keys to get a better angle on the Stream or heading NE across the Stream to West End and the Abacos. You can leave your rig at just about any stroage facility in Miami, Coconut Grove, or Homestead. Moving your vessel with rig up might be a problem, I'm not familiar with boat ramps in the area. Hope this helps.
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Old 26-07-2012, 10:25   #3
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

Not sure what kinda tri you have but these are good people with lots of local knowledge. Call Tanya and she can help

The Finish Line (Stuart, FL)
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Old 26-07-2012, 11:01   #4
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

from your description i'm thinking you have a corsair. i used to crew on a corsair, racing it in south florida. three of us took about a half hour or more to 'assemble' and launch it. very fast little boat, also pretty wet in any kind of a chop. living quarters, if you can call them that, are pretty sparse, but a determined couple could do it for a couple of weeks.

steve pavlidis is the man. you could hardly get better advice - he's been one of the bahama gurus for many years now - i've got some of his guides. biscayne bay is a great place to do a lot of sailing in semi-protected areas, get a feel for the kind of weather you will experience sailing in this area in the winter, and still have some places to duck in when necessary. you may even decide to just stay in the keys for the remainer of your time here.

crossing to the bahamas in the winter can be pretty frustrating. we often get holed up for weeks with dozens of other boats waiting for a weather window. even in a fast tri you will spend many hours crossing the stream (the only uncomfortable part of the whole trip) so you will need at least a 12 hour window.

ok, here's where i digress from steve pavlidis. may i recommend the abacos? from where you start in miami you will be able to take advantage of the gulf stream to help you cross to west end or even freeport. once on the banks you will find lots of small islands to duck behind if the weather gets bad. and since the banks average about twelve feet deep you can anchor literally anywhere; with your shallow draft, you can get pretty close up as well. and once you get to what used to be known as 'the hub of abaco' your wife will thank you. it's a super little cruising ground complete with deserted islands, quaint little towns, one big town for serious provisioning, and the friendliest people you will meet anywhere. with a boat your size you will need to be able to get water and provisions as well as fuel pretty regularly, and the abacos are just that.

just my humble opinion...
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Old 26-07-2012, 11:08   #5
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

southern/eastern fl doesnt seem that expensive to me. Plenty of places to store cars, trailers etc. Biscayne bay is a good idea for sailing. Probably need to store the trailer further North for economy. (?)
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Old 26-07-2012, 15:51   #6
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

I sailed my Telstar Trimaran to the Abacos several years ago and did quite a bit of researching. It's surprising how many ramps are either not long enough, not pitched steeply enough or not wide enough for a trimaran.

I ended up using the public ramp at Indiantown on the Okechobee waterway which is double wide, rarely used and has lots of space for rigging without feeling pressured by crowds. It's also nice to launch in freshwater where there are no tides and minimal wave action. I stored by vehicle and trailer at the nearby Indiantown Marina. There is a storage yard in Indiantown that may have room a well. I also liked that it was a farther north, thus avoiding all the traffic of some other options. I camped in the boat still on the trailer at the St. Lucie Lock campground a couple nights before.

I should think you could do some work in the ramp parking lot if need be in Indiantown. The Indiantown Marina allows do it yourself work on boats, but I don't know how realistic it is to drive from the ramp to the marina with amas still up. From Stuart, it's just a short motor down the ICW or outside to get to West Palm which is a good jumping off point for the Abacos and also has room to anchor while waiting for weather. (Not so easy in Fort Lauderdale)

Other ramps I identified that could work were the one at the park by the bridge in Palm Beach, though that can get busy, especially on weekends. There were a few strorage yards a mile or so down the road. Crandon Park on Virgina Cay also had a good ramp and storage, though their daily strorage rates were fairly expensive when I checked. The advantage of Crandon is that it would be convenient for the shake down cruise you mentioned in Biscayne Bay and the northern Keys. I believe there was a reasonable ramp near a marina in Dana as well, but I never personally inspected it.

I can't guarantee any of this is still current, but it's a starting point anyways.

- Dave
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Old 26-07-2012, 16:54   #7
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

Thanks all for the help,

OK Biscayne Bay area will be our departure point for the Bahamas. If we have to wait for a weather window we can just cruise around this area until one opens up.

I guess I should do an initial shake down closer to home. If the boat sinks it would be a shame to have driven it 3000 miles. LOL

Last time we did a shake down I would find 20+ kt of wind in San FranciscoBay. In the year we sailed Mexico we never did get that kind of wind. My wife says she will not go to the Bay with me again. She wants to be a Bahama Momma not a Viking Northman. LOL

I guess in Sep. or Oct. we will sail some in Southern CA. Out by the Channel Islands or Point Conception we should find some pretty nice wind to practice in. Then off to Biscayne Bay in Jan.

Thanks for the help,

Will and Cate

Hum?? If we are this far south we could do the southern Bahamas instead of the northern area. The weather should be nicer. Must be a reason why most people say go to the Abacos. Dang so many options what is one to do.
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Old 26-07-2012, 17:03   #8
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

As posted by nautical62 Crandon Park Marina would be a good starting point. Very good ramp (very busy on weekends and holidays) but the area is pricey so trailer storage might cost a bit. They have moorings there so if you want to have a secure home base for a while that might be the spot.
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Old 26-07-2012, 18:56   #9
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by taezow View Post
Hum?? If we are this far south we could do the southern Bahamas instead of the northern area. The weather should be nicer. Must be a reason why most people say go to the Abacos. Dang so many options what is one to do.
A lot of folks love the Abacos in the Spring and early Summer, but many will stay there all winter, some even year round. You'll find lots of Abaco fans!

In the Winter, the weather in the Abacos is more like central Florida and fronts can be regular and strong. Although the Exumas will often get strong fronts during the winter as well, some fronts don't make it that far south or if they do they're not quite as strong, especially later in the winter.

Listen to the folks on this forum, they have a lot of experience, and judge for yourself where you would rather spend your time. Whatever you do, train yourself to wait on weather and never race a front.
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Old 26-07-2012, 21:38   #10
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

if you regularly sail san francisco bay you'll have no problems here on the right coast.

if you decide to go to the abacos and make landfall at west end you can start out a bit farther north than miami, and probably find it easier to leave a trailer there too. miami can be a crowded and confusing place.

i recommend the abacos for a couple of reasons.

1. your wife will lpve it. very important to keep the admiral happy. she'll find beautiful beaches, gin clear water, quaint villages, island shopping, great local restaraunts, fishing, shelling, snorkeling, and really nice helpful locals.

2. because of your limited carrying capacity, especially water, you don't want to be more than a few days between resupply opportunities. you'll find that in the abacos.

3. there are numerous islands and lots of shallow water offering out of the weather anchoring opportunities. and with your draft you can really take advantage of them when the weather turns bad.

4. the only real open water part of the trip is crossing the gulf stream. once you're on the bank you can relax, even though you still have a ways to go to get to the hub of abaco.

in any case, fair winds and following seas....
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Old 27-07-2012, 00:05   #11
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

We have pretty much decided to do our shake down in CA so it is now just how to get to the Bahamas?

1
If mid week I drive down the west coast of Florida and cut over to the east coast south of Miami to get to Biscayne Bay will I miss the hordes of people and the congestion?
Or is the Biscayne Bay area just as bad as Miami?

2 [nautical 62 suggested Indiantown]
I found Indiantown with the water way going to Stuart. This looks pretty laid back and easy to drive to from the west. I would rather sail than drive through a city.
Once at Stuart I will have to sail south. If it is blowing less than 20kt from the north is it feasible to jump out side and run close to the shore, the north flowing current must be at least a few mile off shore? I found eddies close in flowing north while working my way up the coast of Baja CA even with the 2kt current that runs South on this coast.

3 The ICH
Is it a motor boat trip, and would my 35 ft height be a problem? Would it be interesting to go all the way to Biscayne Bay on the ICH? We could head south until a weather window opens up for a crossing or we get to Biscayne Bay.

Will
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Old 27-07-2012, 00:42   #12
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

Will,

In Indiantown, you are very close to Miami. You can motor south on the ICW with no mast height problems, but you'll have to wait for a lot of bridges. It will probably take you at least three days of motor/sailing (depending on your speed when motoring). From West Palm south you should plan on motoring until south of Miami and into Biscayne Bay, there are simply too many bridges. But you'll find a few places to sail coming from Indiantown (the St. Lucie River before you reach the ICW, part of Hobe Sound, northern part of Lake Worth, and just off Miami itself from the 123rd Street Bridge to the 79th St. Causeway. You're fortunate in that it doesn't take much wind to push your boat and you might be able to sail a bit (you'll have to use your motor to go under the bridge, and there will be current to deal with at times.

The farther south you get the closer the Stream is to shore. You can sail south close in, and perhaps catch an eddy of the northward flowing Gulf Stream to give you a southward boost. Even if you actually enter the stream near Miami (where it is VERY close to shore) the northward flow will be less than at the axis of the Stream. If the Stream at its axis is moving N at 4 knots, the edges of the Stream may only be two knots. These numbers change and I am only using them as an example.

As for interesting, I guess it's a matter of what you like. Offshore you can make better time and not have to deal with bridges and huge powerboats that leave you rocking in their wake (which bounces off the sides of the narrow ICW and will still be affecting you long after the waker is out of sight). Personally, I like to motor down the ICW from West Palm to Miami and take in the views of the houses and boats on the way, I also make sure everything is secure below in case of wake.

Somebody mentioned Crandon Marina, that's a good idea.
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Old 27-07-2012, 01:35   #13
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

We have sailed to uninhabited islands, been out of sight of land for days, seen beaches that have to be as pretty as they can get, but never had a bridge open for us.

Wow this could fun.

I’m getting excited.

Will
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Old 27-07-2012, 07:00   #14
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

I am not sure why you want to go to Miami, and this is from someone who graduated from high school there. As I posted earlier the tri dealership in Stuart is run by good folks who will provide you with lots of good local advice. There are plenty of multihull sailors who leave from the Stuart area and crossing with other boats makes things easier. The shortest sail is leaving from Lake Worth and there are often boats anchored there waiting for a weather window.

There is a huge, as in bigger than big, marina at Indian Town with good prices. Just make sure construction is not an issue if you go to Indian Town. Driving anywhere South of Orlando can be an experience, and pulling a trailer in heavy traffic is no fun. This is why I mentioned The Finish Line in my first post. Someone who lives and works in the area and has sailed to the Bahamas multiple times and is in contact with folks who have probably just returned or are planning to leave shortly have real time knowledge no one can possibly know now is worth contacting.

If you need to do work on your boat Indian Town is probably the place to go. Otherwise you can launch in Stuart at the public ramp for free, store your trailer and car locally, hopefully hook up with some like minded sailors, and sail to Lake Worth and wait for your weather window.
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Old 27-07-2012, 07:28   #15
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Re: Planning a Trip to the Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by taezow View Post
We have pretty much decided to do our shake down in CA so it is now just how to get to the Bahamas?

1
If mid week I drive down the west coast of Florida and cut over to the east coast south of Miami to get to Biscayne Bay will I miss the hordes of people and the congestion?
Or is the Biscayne Bay area just as bad as Miami?

2 [nautical 62 suggested Indiantown]
I found Indiantown with the water way going to Stuart. This looks pretty laid back and easy to drive to from the west. I would rather sail than drive through a city.
Once at Stuart I will have to sail south. If it is blowing less than 20kt from the north is it feasible to jump out side and run close to the shore, the north flowing current must be at least a few mile off shore? I found eddies close in flowing north while working my way up the coast of Baja CA even with the 2kt current that runs South on this coast.

3 The ICH
Is it a motor boat trip, and would my 35 ft height be a problem? Would it be interesting to go all the way to Biscayne Bay on the ICH? We could head south until a weather window opens up for a crossing or we get to Biscayne Bay.

Will
Putting in at Crandon will require you to drive through SE Florida and Miami traffic, though it's major roads the whole way. Avoiding that traffic is one of the reasons I picked Indiantown and the Okechobee water way.

From Stuart to Palm Beach you can go down the ICW or outside. The stream is close to shore, but I've always been able to stay inside it when going outside, (but never experienced any notable eddy current lifts) If you choose the ICW, you will have to wait for a some bridges to open with that height.

Personally, weather permitting, I prefer to jump off at Palm Beach and spend more time in the Bahamas and miss the bridges and population further south in Florida. Usually, I go to the Abacos, but one time I hit West End, then Lucaya and a rode a mild northerly cold front south to the Berry Islands instead of waiting in Florida for the cold front to pass.

That brings me to the point: Many of my choices are dictated by the weather at the time. If I get to Stuart and there's a strong SSE wind, I'm going to motor down the ditch. If its light out of of the West -NE, I'll use it and go outside. Same if it's calm, same going from Palm Beach to Miami. If I'm heading to the Abacos, I'll usually leave from Palm Beach, but if it's predicted to be blowing with a strong southerly component for some time, I'll take the ICW down to Fort Lauderdale and leave from there.

For my first Bahamian cruise, I chose the Abacos. I liked that I could jump off from further north in the U.S. and also that all it takes is a single day crossing and one is on the relative protection of the Little Bahama Banks from there on out. Miami to Bimini is a little shorter, but once at Bimini, if heading onto the Exumas it means an overnight sail to the Berry's and then another good off the banks crossing to Nassau. That's a lot more opportunities to get stuck due to weather, especially in a small tri. If you opt for the Abacos, you can still head to the Exumas via a day sail to Eleuthera and a day sail from there to the Exumas, thus avoiding the overnight sail from the Bimini area to the Berry's. (I much prefer sleeping at anchor to sailing all night, but that's just me). This option also allows one to "warm up " in the Abacos before jumping right into longer jumps.

Obviously, a lot depends on personal preference and scheduling.

In terms of Crandon vs. Indiantown, it sounds to me like you need to call both places, find out about rates, availability, etc. and then decide how the trade-offs feel for you. I think Crandon will be more expensive, busier and require more SE Florida driving to get to, but will have the marina and storage at the same place and offer Biscayne Bay and environment for the warm up cruising you mentioned. If you are Bimini bound, you are better positioned at Crandon. Indiantown will likely be cheaper, closer with less traffic, but the ramp and marina are a little ways apart and you are putting in on a waterway, not straight into a cruising area. If you are Abacos bound and wish to avoid many of the bridges, and population further south, that is better positioned. You may be able to cut out the short Okechobee waterway section by using one of the marinas and ramps in Stuart as Tomfl indicates. If it were me, I'd certainly follow up on the Stuart connection he mentioned.
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