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Old 13-07-2012, 20:46   #1
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Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

We just sailed Key West - George Town. Couldn't find much info about this uncommon route, during the planning process, so I thought someone, down the line, might find this helpful.

We left KW with SW winds, 15 knots. S winds would have worked as well, or SSE, depending on how high you can point. Headed for the middle of Cay Sal bank, got pushed N of Cay Sal, and then made for a point about 5 miles SW of Croton Cay, which is a tiny spot of land about 7 nm SW of Curly Cut Cays, S of Andros. The wind had totally died, so we motored. Never saw less than 9 feet on the depth sounder. Two waypoints later on a magic magenta line (Navionics), we were in the Tongue of the Ocean.

We hung a left, once in the Tongue of the Ocean, and went up to Driggs Hill. They have a Government Dock in the harbor. We called customs/immigration, located at the Congo Town airport, and an agent came to us. The agent said we could stay at the government dock overnight (no charge), but we had just had a torrential downpour, and he thought the mosquitos might be fearsome. Lots of good anchorages in South Bight, apparently, but we are pressing on to get south of the hurricane box....

We went straight across the Tongue of the Ocean, almost due east, to Staniel Cay. Not a ripple of a breeze to be had, so we motored across. The Explorer charts mention the Decca Channel - corresponds to a magenta line on Navionics - actually the bank is plenty deep at that point (20+ feet) - no tight spots on our way to Staniel Cay.

After several days at Staniel Cay (waiting for a part - great air freight service from Watermakers Air), we went down the west side of the Exumas. Nice east wind. Spent two nights at anchor off the Brigantine Cays. Skinny water - our depth sounder was reading 6-7 feet for MILES as we approached these small uninhibited islands. We explored New Cay and Brigantine Cay, and could have easily spent a week there (a cay a day), enjoying the absolute peace. Gorgeous.

Next stop: George Town. Went through Pudding Cut, just south of the Brigantine Cays, and then Square Rock Cut, out to the big water. We read that even small freighters squeak through Pudding Cut - but not by the route WE took! At high tide, we saw 5 foot depths, as we swerved back and forth in search of deeper water. Interestingly, when we reviewed our route on SPOT, using the satellite images, we could see where the deeper water was - we were too close to Jimmy Cay - looks like there was deeper water south of our route. Navionics depths were a few feet off in this area.

Wild and wet day sail down to George Town - 20 kn E wind and a nasty short chop. Now we're anchored off the Chat N Chill. Not much to say about George Town that hasn't already been said. That we're here in off-season is the understatement of the century. But it's beautiful and friendly, and IF you happen to need a vital boat part, Reggie's Air Service makes it as painless as possible.

Our route was recorded by our SPOT - you can take a look here:

Key West - Driggs Hill - Staniel Cay

Staniel Cay - Brigantine Cays - George Town
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Old 13-07-2012, 21:03   #2
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

Thanks for sharing!

Planning the same for next spring!

Sail safe!
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Old 13-07-2012, 21:18   #3
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

wow! i probably would have ridden the stream up to gun cay and went on the banks that way. but then i would have seen the same old stuff all over again. just reading your post made me look up places in the explorer chart i had never even considered...
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Old 17-07-2012, 16:00   #4
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Now we're anchored off Great Inagua Island, so we're definitely seeing some of the less common Bahamian cruising destinations! Wish we could have spent more time in Andros and on the west bank of the Exumas - but it will have to wait until after hurricane season.
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Old 17-07-2012, 16:29   #5
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

I like your blog Jane. Looking forward to cruising myself one of these days, learning all I can in the meantime. What route are you expecting to take to Isla?
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Old 18-07-2012, 15:25   #6
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Thanks, azsailor12 - the blog is fun for us, and it's great to hear when someone gets something out of it.

We changed our minds about going to Isla Mujeres - I think that must be the Isla you're talking about here? Latest plan is to sail through the Windward Passage, perhaps make a quick stop in Ile a Vache, Haiti, and then head straight for Santa Marta, Columbia. Hope the hurricanes hold off for a few more weeks, at least!
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Old 23-07-2012, 10:15   #7
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

Jane.Joy -
Very interested in your route from Cay Sal to Tongue of the Ocean. Always thought there was too much coral South of Andros to go that way, but obviously not.
Do you have some waypoints you wouldn't mind sharing?
Thanks, Mike
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Old 23-07-2012, 10:29   #8
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

Great post, always wanted to go that way... but needed a centerboard!
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Old 23-07-2012, 13:23   #9
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

Yes it would be awesome if you guys could provide some waypoints. I'll be sailing this same route this coming winter.
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Old 23-07-2012, 15:16   #10
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

cay sal to tongue.gpx

cay sal to tongue.kml

A gpx file and a kml file are attached here (I hope). These are seven waypoints that are VERY CLOSE to our track, from Cay Sal to the Tongue. Our ACTUAL track, from Key West all the way to George Town, was too large to attach on cruisers forum but if you click on the link below and the technology gods are smiling upon us, you will have access to the GPX file.

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B__...mpRYTNTX243dTg

If these don't work for you, I will with good cheer and to the best of my ability copy lat and long for each of the seven waypoints, but then if you use the waypoints and manage not to go aground you will owe me a goombay smash next time we occupy the same time/space.
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Old 23-07-2012, 18:16   #11
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

The Google Earth link worked very well. Thank you. I wasn't previously aware that the banks there were navigable. I can't wait to head there now.
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Old 23-07-2012, 20:37   #12
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Where was your over night stops at. Was it ok where you did not require to keep a look out for coral heads. My smart phone would not download the wp's. So will try it on our laptop
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Old 24-07-2012, 04:52   #13
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Not sure what a Goombay smash is but I suddenly want one or two !!!
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Old 24-07-2012, 15:51   #14
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

A couple of folks had trouble with the waypoint attachments that I uploaded to cruisers forum, so I shared them to google drive as well (see links below).

Regarding overnights - we didn't stop. It's about 100 nm from Key West to Cay Sal, and another 125 nm +/- to the scary shallow bits south of Andros. We considered dropping anchor once we were on the Great Bahama Bank. From Cay Sal to the Bank is about 50 nm, I think, so you could drop a hook anywhere along there. (Best off the magenta lines.)

But we decided the shallow passage would be more fun if we did it in the dark, sweating, staring at the depth sounder while it dropped under 10 feet, straining our ears for crashing surf and our eyes for those pesky coral heads.... Seriously, a daytime passage would have been better, but a nighttime passage worked for us. I've read that some cruisers find Navionics charts to be inaccurate in the Bahamas, but in our three months in the Abacos and now the time we've spent in the southern reaches, we have found them to as accurate as you can expect, in this land of shifting and sifty sand. A few feet more or less over a sandy bottom.... pish tosh. And while I will admit that our keels have tickled the sand many times in the Bahamas, the Magic Magenta line has not yet steered us wrong. All this to say - yeah, we went for it. At least we didn't worry about traffic, right?! Hugged that line, and here was our reward at the end: dawn on the Tongue of the Ocean.





cay sal to tongue waypoints gpx file

cay sal to tongue waypoints kml file
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Old 24-07-2012, 16:00   #15
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Re: Route planning for Key West - Andros - Exumas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
Not sure what a Goombay smash is but I suddenly want one or two !!!
Dang, I'm outta touch. I forget there are poor unfortunates who have never experienced a Goombay Smash.
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