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Old 27-08-2009, 02:28   #1
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St. Augustine to Bahamas

I' sure this has been addressed before, but I am looking for a specific time frame and best route for a trip to the Bahamas aboard a Tartan 27.
Where should I leave Florida (starting in St. Augustine)?
How long should the trip take, singlehanded?
Thanks!
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Old 27-08-2009, 03:35   #2
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What is your destination, Abaco's, Berry's, or? If it's the Abaco's, I'd start further south, perhaps Lake Worth. That way you won't be fighting the Gulf Stream. If you leave Lake Worth around 5 PM you should make the West End at daylight. If you pick your weather carefully, it's an easy trip. Enjoy!
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Old 27-08-2009, 06:02   #3
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Where is your destination, and plans once arriving will help decide where to leave from. The ICW is fun once, but does make the trip easy for a short handed crew. The farther south in the Bahamas your initial destination. The farther south you want to leave from Miami......i2f
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Old 27-08-2009, 07:02   #4
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Going solo, I probably would go down the ICW to souther Florida as opposed to a longer off shore sail.

It's probably a week or more from St. Augustine to Palm Beach, though you personal pace really influences this. Once in Palm Beach, my departure point depends on the weather and my intended destination in the Bahamas. I've done something like 12-14 crossing on a 26-footer. You can read more of the details about my strategies for crossing on my webpage listed below.
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Old 27-08-2009, 08:30   #5
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We had discussed this exact topic earlier - you may be able to run a search to locate the thread.

I recommend lining up with Ft Pierce, FL and heading to White Sands Ridge to get on the bank. It worked well for me last May. During the previous times, I have tried West Palm-Memory Rock, Ft Pierce-Matanilla Shoal, etc and Ft Pierce-White Sand worked the best (for me.)

As far as timing goes, - again, for my purposes - late May - early June has been the best. There is wind to sail in and early enough to avoid major storms.

Fair winds!

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Old 27-08-2009, 09:38   #6
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We ( crew of 4 ) left St. Simons Island on Sunday morning around 7 headed outside East for 20 NM, turn south to miss the stream and motor sailed to Ft. Pierce, refueled and headed East to the Abacos. Took four days, a little under 500 NM, no problems, lots of fun and little bad weather. This took place in May. Came back with the stream, got out of it near Jacksonville and motor sailed to SSI. Had the best time. Go for it. I would not recommend motoring the ICW, unless you have lots of time. Now is not the best time to sail outside, unless the weather gets better. You can always come in to the ICW, check your chart, and head to Ft. Pierce on the inside. Have fun, the Abacos are great.
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Old 27-08-2009, 11:48   #7
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I would start further south, work you way down to avoid the stream...
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Old 27-08-2009, 12:22   #8
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To avoid the stream off the Florida coast you have to be close to the beach, providing the weather is not heavy and onshore which is when the ICW comes into play. I have done it 3 times within 1/2 mile of the beach.

The further south you go the easier it is to cross the stream and pick weather windows. Many boats sit in Miami Beach or No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne waiting for a window.

Miami to West End usually takes 12-15 hours. Bimini is 8-10 hours.

There are lots of threads on crossing the Bahamian Banks.

Good Luck Phil
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Old 27-08-2009, 13:47   #9
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My buddy and myself did it in May of 2001 and we left from Port St Lucie, traveled the ICW South to Jupiter and then bugged out. We had planned a different route, but we are adventurous. LOL I attached a map of our trip paths. I believe he planned to start in Port St. Lucie because he docks his boat in Crystal River and he could park the truck and trailer in Port St Luci for free for the week. We were in a 26' C'Dory with twin 40's on it. We used very little fuel for the 75-80 mile trip cruising at about 18mph. From this map you can chose departure location. Just watch out for hurricane season and storms. We also had GPS and wouldn't go without it on a preplotted course. We landed at customs in Bimini which is where you have to go.
Oh and rent a moped once there, it's a great way to see the Island..



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Old 06-09-2009, 08:10   #10
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We're planning to cross from Key Biscayne to Bimini on or after February 20, 2010. We're prepared to wait as long as necessary for a weather window, but . . .

. . . last week I ran into a guy (in Maine) who had done the crossing a number of times and insisted that in February there may be NO weather windows. He mentioned people sitting in No Name Harbor from Christmas till sometime in March. Is this true? I know weather varies from year to year, but is it unrealistic to hope that maybe we could get across within, say, ten days after we arrive in No Name? Anyone have data on frequency of weather windows month-by-month?
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Old 06-09-2009, 08:27   #11
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I have crossed in Jan, Feb, March, and April without problems - - but Mother Nature does what she wants to do and trying to find a "set" time to cross is rarely successful. Each year is very different. You position and then start watching for NW to SSE winds and seas in the 3-5 ft range. As the cold fronts sweep through the winds will swing around the compass in a pattern taking about a week. Timing the pattern is the key to success. Depending upon various other weather activities in the Atlantic the underlying waves/swells will sometimes make a good wind window unacceptable. So you have to watch both and this can take one to 5 cycles of the weather pattern to find a "good" window for both winds and waves.
- - Crossing from Miami is normally the easiest as there is so much to do ashore while waiting. Also the distance is a mere 44nm. I shifted from Gun Cay entry just a little north to the Explorer Charts waypoint of Triangle Rocks. This waypoint allows a very wide entry onto the Banks just north of Gun Cay. So entering at night if necessary is not a problem. Also being slightly more north allows a better "minimum time" crossing technique. From Biscayne Light you head a little southeast until you enter the Gulf Stream proper, then turn east to be perpendicular to the axis of the Gulf Stream and forge across. You will be drifting north due to the Stream and once you get out of the stream on the other side you head north or south to the entry waypoint. Minimum time in the Gulf Stream means minimum exposure to waves and other traffic dangers.
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Old 06-09-2009, 08:30   #12
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Cormorant,

Not really, depends on your comfort level in moderate seas. If you are going to Bimini it is a little easier if you are further south (Key Largo) but for West End No Name is a good starting point. I lived on Biscayne Bay for 5 years and the longest I have seen it too uncomfortable to cross is 2-3 weeks...just happened to coincide with my Feb honeymoon!

Most of my crossings were in a F31 tri and not our present 'gin palace'
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:48   #13
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I live in Florida and have made the crossing to West end and Bimini a few times in the winter months (will be leaving again in December) and have never waited more than a week for a weather window. I will say I track the cold fronts and when I see one a few days out I leave my marina and head south to stage the crossing. Last year all we had was cold front after cold front thru January and February, makes for an easy crossing but is a pain once your there and have to move to more sheltered achorages or grab a slip until they pass.
It is a great trip, don't miss doing it.
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Old 08-09-2009, 13:05   #14
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So you watch the cold front advancing and catch the SW and W winds as they clock around before the N winds hit?

How long does that sort of window last? Just wondering what the risk is of getting caught out in the N winds on the Stream. . . .

Thanks for all the replies so far, which are very helpful.
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Old 08-09-2009, 13:45   #15
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Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
So you watch the cold front advancing and catch the SW and W winds as they clock around before the N winds hit?
How long does that sort of window last? Just wondering what the risk is of getting caught out in the N winds on the Stream. . . .
The duration of any weather window depends upon the horizontal movement of the front, and it’s distance at departure.

Cold Fronts generally have a horizontal speed of movement of between 10 to 30 knots.

Cold fronts usually move faster, and have a steeper slope than other types of fronts. The speed of the movement of frontal systems is an important determining factor of weather conditions. Rapidly moving fronts usually cause more severe weather than slower moving fronts. For example, fast-moving cold fronts often cause severe prefrontal squall lines that can be extremely hazardous. The fast-moving front does have the advantage of moving across the area rapidly, permitting the particular locality to enjoy a quick return of good weather. Slow-moving fronts, on the other hand, may cause extended periods of unfavourable weather.

Fast moving cold fronts (25 to 30 knots) have very steep slopes in the lower levels, and narrow bands of clouds that are predominant along or just ahead of the front.

Slower moving cold fronts (10 to 15 knots) have less steep slopes, and their cloud systems may extend far to the rear of the surface position of the fronts. Both fast-moving and slow-moving cold fronts may be associated with either stability or instability and either moist or dry air masses.

The wind veers with the cold frontal passage, and reaches its highest speed at the time of frontal passage. Isobars are usually curved anticyclonically in the cold air.
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