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Old 18-02-2010, 11:46   #1
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Suggestions for One Month (January 2011) Bahamas Cruise

My only experience in the Bahamas was during a recent delivery of my boat to Florida, with only a quick fuel stop at Spanish Wells. I would like to get back there for a month of exploring next January with my wife, and would appreciate ideas for a route at that time of year. I have a 40' mono, drawing 5' 6", with all the usual gadgets. I have radar, chartplotter, liferaft, etc.., and will get AIS, Explorer charts, and possibly SSB. We will probably leave out of Riviera Beach, FL, and I'm wondering whether we should spend our time around the Abacos, or try to work our way down to Georgetown. We'll need to get back to Florida by the end of the month, so the Admiral can get back to work.

I know from my Florida days that the weather down there can be iffy in December & January, so I was thinking I should maybe get the boat over to somewhere like Nassau before the holidays, so we can start our cruise from there without sweating out the Gulfstream vicissitudes--does that make sense, and will it cost a lot to secure it there?

Appreciate any advice/guidance...
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Old 18-02-2010, 12:33   #2
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You are wise to consider the Abacos. The Sea of Abaco is relatively sheltered and there's lots of place to visit and, if necessary, wait for weather windows. Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay airports are also available if weather hinders your return to FL and your wife needs to get back to work.

Could you spend an enjoyable month in the Abacos? IMHO, yes. I cruised up to Abaco from Nassau in 2004 and have yet to leave. Also, I've yet to be bored.

Should you decide to bring your boat over earlier, you can usually pick-up a $200/mo. mooring in Hopetown or Man-O-War Cay.

If you had perfect weather in January and wanted to leave Abaco, I'd head south to Spanish Wells, then further south to Eleuthera's Rock Sound. I've read some great things about this much overlooked place. From there you'll have a day trip to Nassau.

Another place to consider heading to when you leave Spanish Wells is the Berry Island chain, in particular, Great Harbour Cay.

I mention these places because they're great places to visit. However, I suspect that January weather will conspire against your being able to travel any long distances from Abaco.

Good luck!
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Old 18-02-2010, 12:46   #3
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The farther south the warmer. I have not spent much time in the Abacos. I have spent considerable time in the Exumas. If you are looking for warmer weather then Georgetown should be 3-4 days, but there's lot to see, and do along the way. The good news no matter where you go you won't be disappointed.......i2f
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Old 18-02-2010, 12:55   #4
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Typical Jan. weather?

Alan, what kind of temps and winds should I anticipate in January in the Abacos? (Understood, mileage may vary, and 2010 may not be the "norm"). Are those moorings at Man-o-War and Hopetown fairly secure?

I2F--what stops would you recommend enroute to Georgetown?
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Old 18-02-2010, 14:06   #5
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Temps are usually about the same as central FL. Both Hopetown and MOW are very secure places to leave your boat. Gord May, a CF contributor, has wintered in the Abacos for several years and has described his experiences on several boards. Hopefully he will respond to your post with more detailed information.

Imagine is correct, temps are warmer the further south you. For this reason, some 400 or so boats spend the winter in the Exumas. Could you do a trip to Georgetown in the month you have available to you? Possibly, if the weather gods were cooperative. However, you'd have a much better chance of completing a January trip from FL to the Abacos and back, just based on the distances involved.

Let me share my first "crossing" experience with you.

In October, 1999 we waited 3 weeks in Key Largo before crossing to N. Cat Cay. We waited 3 days at Cat before crossing the Banks to Chub Cay, where we then waited 10 days to cross the 45 miles to Nassau. Welcome to winter weather in the Bahamas. This is what you'll be dealing with in January. You cannot cruise on a schedule!

I hope this info. proves helpful.
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Old 19-02-2010, 17:44   #6
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I'm in the Abacos now, having just returned from the Exumas and second what Alan has said The Exumas are warmer, but it's potentially a push from Florida with only a month. The Abacos are nice, protected and you only need one good day from Florida to gain the Bank. If you get across quickly and have good weather to go south, you certainly can head down to the Exumas from the Abacos. It's a day sail from the south Abacos to the Eleuthera area and another day from there to the top of the Exuma chain.
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Old 20-02-2010, 06:03   #7
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... Gord May, a CF contributor, has wintered in the Abacos for several years and has described his experiences on several boards ...
Maggie & I wintered in the Exumas, during the 1990s; and we’ll defer comment to those with recent experience.

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Old 20-02-2010, 07:32   #8
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Sorry Gord! I remember reading some postings on another website about wintering in the Abacos. Thought they were from you.
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Old 20-02-2010, 11:00   #9
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WE have not done the Abacos yet...after landing at Grand Bahama, we headed to the Berry Islands, then Eleuthera, then a quick Nassau stop, then the Exumas and now we are back in Eleuthera for a month or so. We love it here. Some of the answer depends upon what you are looking for...fewer tourists and more local folks, quiet anchorages, marinas or what exactly. I have to say we really enjoyed the Exuma Land and Sea Park.
FAir Winds...have fun planning and IMHO don't get stuck on any one plan. Weather, winds and how you feel should dictate your agenda
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Old 21-02-2010, 09:47   #10
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Witch,

What do you like about Eleuthera?
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Old 21-02-2010, 11:01   #11
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Witch,

What do you like about Eleuthera?
I also wonder.
After Andros, Eleuthera is the least boat-friendly of the Bahama isles.
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Old 24-02-2010, 13:25   #12
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daysailj,

I answered your question, but it went to cyberland, and then I forgot. From Miami you should be able to make Nassau in about 24 hours. You can go in at Gun Cay, or go over the top of Bimini. It depends on wind, and I do believe just south of Gun Cay is another entrance.

We check in at Nassau, so we can top off anything needed. I have anchored, and scaled the wall at the immigration office. At times we have gotten a slip when guest were coming, and immagraqtion will come to you.

Our first stop is Allen's Cay with the iguanas you can feed fruit to. Put it on a stick so they can't nip your fingers. Nice protected anchorage on the inside, and some good fishing too. Don't forget to get your fishing permit with your check in.

Norman's Cay is where there is a downed airplane right next to the anchorage. At high tide yoiu can swim into the plane, and take your pic looking tyhrough a window, or in the pilot's seat. On the north side of the shallows are some tide pools that are very large, and fantastic for kids to snorkel in. There are some barrels there, so fish hang around. If you like deserted beaches, and some privacy it can be a great place.

I believe it is Wardwick where we crossed the island on the south in the dink. It brings you to a high spot where sailors leave their mark, and a fantastic view from up above. The drive in the dink is about 20 minutes, and lots of fish to watch on the way.

Obrien's Cay is where the LARGE green glass house is near the top, and several smaller ones on the beach. You can take the boat back to the Sea Aquarium just north of Obrien's, and there are anchorages to set up camp. The Sea Aquarium is great for kids too. It's tucked in out of the current, but 100 ft. away the current will grab you. You swim through clouds of fish, and a great photo op.

Big Major is a great anchorage, and it has Pig Beach. When you approach the beach they will come down, and you can feed them veggies, and they drink from bottles too. Aound the corner, and a dink ride is Thunderball Grotto of James Bond & Splash fame. You want to go at slack tide, because the current runs strong through there after a while. Clouds of fish, and it's good for about an hour if you are not a strong swimmer.

Another 100 yards is Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Cold beer, and I have never had a bad meal. Late in the afternoon the fishermen come in. They clean thier catch on the pier. The local sharks, rays, and other fish come for their free meal.

There are many stops in between all of this. Places to whole up, and spend a season while exploring. This takes about a week. If it takes you more, and you run out of time. I cross the bank at the Dekkar channel, and sail up the Tongue of the Ocean on my return. This makes an unhurried 10 day trip.

If you still have time left there is a day, or day &1/2 to Georgetown. Good provisioning, and lots of boat, many with kids. Free R/O water at the grocery, inexpensive rum, decent wine, and tons of socializing. Most of my gallery is the Exumas......i2f
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Old 24-02-2010, 17:03   #13
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. This makes an unhurried 10 day trip.


i2f
I want to visit the Bahamas.

10 days from FL right?

A month available would be cutting it close if leisurly daysailing from Tarpon Springs huh?
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Old 24-02-2010, 20:02   #14
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Therapy,

That's from Miami, and back to Miami. You may be able to go across Okeechobee?......i2f
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Old 24-02-2010, 22:35   #15
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I have not sailed the Bahamas in the winter so I can not help you much with the weather questions but I have spent several months in the Abacos, northern Exuamas, and a month in Eleuthra.

In my opinion, the Abacos have more than you experience in one month, there several well protected harbors and many places where your draft will not be an issue. (we did it once with a six foot draft) We check in at Walkers and slowly hop our way south. Also, there would probably be less concern with running into scheduling problems if you get hung up waiting for a weather window. There is a lot more different cruising experiences in a more concentrated area in the Abacos. Beautiful private anchorages to yourself, great diving, fishing, so many different towns each with their own personalities (all of them overwhelmingly friendly) and only short daysails between all of it. Can you tell I love the Abacos?

I adore the island of Eluthra and there is a very protected harbor in hatchet bay, but with a limited amount of time it would probably not offer as many opportunities as your other options. However, if you choose to stop there feel free to PM me and I'll share a few don't miss areas.

The northern exumas have fewer protected anchorages- and you will experinence the "Exuma roll" almost everywhere. Draft might be a little more of an issue here because you would really be left anchoring in the more exposed areas of many of the anchorages. That being said, it would be warmer and the waters there are so undescribably beautiful that if you don't get that far south on this trip you will just have to make a second one just to experience it!

Keep us up to date as you narrow down where you will be heading. I am sure there are lots of people here, including myself, that would love to share some more details of specific anchorages/passages.

Happy provisioning until then!!
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