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Old 16-02-2013, 10:05   #1
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Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

I'm not ready to go full time cruising, but I am beginning to formulate a plan to buy a boat and cruise the Bahamas, say Dec through May, and then store the boat in FL for hurricane season (I live in KY). Right now, the boat I am looking at is a PDQ 32.

I know a lot of people do this and I am curious to hear how they deal with the logistics, e.g. where do they keep their boat, on the hard or in the water, how long does it take to get the boat ready for cruising at the beginning of the season, and how long does it take to put the boat away at the end? After waiting for a weather window to cross, how much actual cruising time do you end up with? I ask this because I have been surprised to read some blogs where people spend weeks and weeks on either end in the yard, and then another month in Boot Key waiting for a weather window, leaving little time for Bahamas cruising.
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Old 16-02-2013, 13:15   #2
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

Not quite the same situation as yours, but our 15-year old 26-foot diesel power boat is kept in a big garage here in Utah when we're not cruising.

It takes me a good 5-7 weeks of work each year, part in the spring and part in the fall, to do all the necessary maintenance, cleaning, and checkout to have boat and trailer in primo shape for the summer's long road trip and then 2.5-3.5 month cruise of BC and/or SE Alaska. I do most of the mechanical work and everything else myself.

It's a lot of work, but it really must be in good shape. And it's worth the trouble. Being able to work on it here at home, and also to make sure everything necessary for the summer is in fact loaded on board, is really nice.
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Old 16-02-2013, 13:19   #3
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

Jerry, here is a blog where they are doing the very thing you are talking about. There is a lot of great information in this blog and they prove that cruising part time can be done. Enjoy!
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Old 16-02-2013, 13:43   #4
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

Most of us here in the Northeast keep our boats in the water for six months and then pull them for the winter, so we know well what is involved. Having done it for many years, I pretty much have it down to a science. I can put the boat to bed in about two days, including the haulout, but there is often timing issues with regard to that so I end up going back a few times to get the winter cover set, etc. In Florida I would suggest hauling out if you will be leaving the boat for months, even if you can find sheltered and secure dockage. You will definitely need to haulout anyway after that much time in the water without moving in order to clean and antifoul the bottom, so you might as well store it on land. In New England I find it takes a month or two of weekends to get the boat ready again, meaning you could do it in two weeks of working straight. And, then once you launch there will be some teething issues to sort out: fuel, water, supplies, making sure everything is working, getting the rig tuned up, etc. It is not at all unrealistic to figure the recommissioning process taking a month total. Crossing to the Bahamas is a crap shoot with the weather. Many people get caught up in a group-think mentality waiting for the perfect weather window, while I have crossed many times when it is just decent, or at least not dangerous. You can cross in a norther as long as it isn't too strong. Yes, it will be rough, but it will be over quickly.
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Old 16-02-2013, 15:30   #5
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

I live in Iowa but have stored two separate boats in Florida for Bahamas cruising. I kept on on the hard at Indiantown for about 7 years, and have kept my other one in the Cape Canaveral area, but also kept in in the Bahamas on the hard between cruises one time.

The time spent before or after can really vary. I've come back from some cruises and been on my way home that same day. This winter, I went to work on my boat for a week plus and never took it out.

I've approached crossings a few different way, but my most standard approach is to leave Palm Beach before sunrise and arrive at West End in the early afternoon.

I think the PDQ 32 is a great boat choice for the Bahamas.

Be happy to answer any specific questions you may have.
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Old 16-02-2013, 15:44   #6
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

Yes, a PDQ is a perfect Bahamas boat! One strategy I have used successfully to cross to the Bahamas is not to choose a particular crossing point or route, but let the weather dictate. What I do is continue south down the ICW until the proper weather window presents itself. One time I went all the way down to Key Largo and had a fantastic sail with wind on the beam and the Gulf Stream helping all the way back up to Riding Rock. Other times I have hit a good weather window when at Palm Beach so instead crossed over to West End and started out in the Abacos. Still other years, the weather wasn't right until I got to Miami, so I did the short hop to Bimini, and then on down. There is an old Bahamian saying about the weather that is useful to keep in mind: "You eat what the cook dishes up."
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Old 16-02-2013, 15:52   #7
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

also consider leaving the boat in the bahamas full time. abaco yacht services on green turtle cay does just that.
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Old 16-02-2013, 15:56   #8
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

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also consider leaving the boat in the bahamas full time. abaco yacht services on green turtle cay does just that.
That is an option. Some people seem to look at the Gulf Stream crossing as a negative, but I have always found it to be one of the highlights of a trip to the Bahamas: the interesting planning and juggling of weather vs. current vs. destinations; the beautiful deep blue color of the stream; the proliferation of sea life in and around the stream; the fishing; the amazing transition from the deep blue stream to the shallows of the Bahamas; seeing the bottom start to flash by in 50 or 60 feet of water; the sense of accomplishment of having made it across "The Stream."
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Old 16-02-2013, 16:26   #9
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

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Originally Posted by Jerry Woodward View Post
I'm not ready to go full time cruising, but I am beginning to formulate a plan to buy a boat and cruise the Bahamas, say Dec through May, and then store the boat in FL for hurricane season....................
When avoiding the hurricane season you might adopt a risk management plan that keeps your boat protected on the hard for August, September and October. There are exceptions, but these are the months of the great majority of tropical storms. Also, you may reduce your prep and storage time by leaving the standing rigging in place. The worst times for waiting for a window begin in December with the northers rolling in every few days on through February. I would choose to prepare and cross in mid November and get to places to enjoy the winter without being concerned about returning until June or July. If not, then wait to take an easy cross in March and then return in June or July. There are wise posts about continuing south while waiting for a window, but even after crossing the northers can be troublesome from December to March. If you do elect to leave your boat in the water there are some very prtected places up the New River in Fort Lauderdale especially if you can pass under the 55' fixed I-95 bridges which I believe will be possible in a 32' PDQ. Hiring a diver to clean your bottom in the water just before you arrive can reduce your prep time before departure to just a couple of days.
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Old 16-02-2013, 16:38   #10
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

Leaving the boat in the Bahamas full time will cost. You will have to pay import duty. It's less now than it used to be, they have some sort of extended cruising permit but it will cost more. Also if the boat is in the Bahamas you lose the advantage of provisioning in the States. But it is an option.

Most Bahamas cruisers spend four to six months there and store the boat in the summer in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas or some even return home further north as we used to do many years ago.

The main factor in determining where you store or whether you leave the boat in the Bahamas will be your insurance.
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Old 16-02-2013, 18:55   #11
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

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................The main factor in determining where you store or whether you leave the boat in the Bahamas will be your insurance.
This is an important point made by Vasco. If you're going to cruise with a lien on your boat insurance might be an issue. I keep liability only and risk any other loss from my own pocket so I'm free to be anywhere during hurricane season according to my own risk decision. Of course this is mainly due to my ownership of a sound, but forty year old boat and my refusal to pay the high rates for full coverage for a Florida registered boat. Over the thirty years that I've owned my boat the sum of the insurance that I have not paid surpasses the value of my boat!
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Old 17-02-2013, 07:33   #12
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Re: Seasonal cruising in the Bahamas: how do you do it?

I too have cruised with only liability or no insurance, so I forgot about this, but it is very important for many people.

Quote:
This is an important point made by Vasco. If you're going to cruise with a lien on your boat insurance might be an issue. I keep liability only and risk any other loss from my own pocket so I'm free to be anywhere during hurricane season according to my own risk decision.
Your insurance company will basically dictate when and where you can use that boat if it is covered in full.
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Old 17-02-2013, 08:08   #13
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You guys are great! Exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. Angelfish, thanks for the link, looks like a great blog. Thanks everyone.
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