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Old 21-06-2010, 06:25   #1
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Advice Required - Bahamas to Florida Crossing

Oh Wise Ones,

I am planning my first gulf stream crossing for late July from the vicinity of the West End to somewhere north of West Palm up to as far as Canaveral.

I have a forty-foot Sailing Catamaran, Island Spirit 400. During the sea trials in the Abacos, I was running at 9 knots in 30 - 38 knots of breeze with two reefs in the main and a third of the jib out. It felt comfortable in the five-foot swells.

In reading the NOAA site for JUPITER INLET TO DEERFIELD BEACH 20nm to 60nm, I see a week of
" EAST WINDS 15 TO 18 KNOTS BECOMING 10 TO 13 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS CHOPPY IN EXPOSED AREAS. CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS."

Does this forecast recommend a crossing or not?
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:00   #2
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Sounds like an easy crossing. This time of year, there is nearly always the chance for T-storms and squalls. Keep your eyes open, reef early, and do some trolling on the way.
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:07   #3
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That forecast would work for me......keep a good watch for squalls sneaking up on you and prepare for them early.

Sounds like a fun ride.
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:17   #4
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Most all of the cruisers I know depend upon Chris Parker the forecasts. We've wintered in the Bahamas for several years now and it's the norm for most cruisers, and I mean literally hundreds of us, to set the alarm for 6:30 AM and tune the SSB to 4045 and get his daily forecast. I, personally, have subscribed to him for several years. Prior to that I listened to NOAA and I think they led me into every storm on the east coast!
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:19   #5
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The forecast sounds ideal but, as mentioned by others, look out for thunderstorms usually late afternoon.

Also be aware that the NOAA weather is not perfect and covers a wide area so what you see is not always exactly what they said.
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:22   #6
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Ditto on bottleinamessage's advice re Chris Parker. The trouble with the NWS forecasts is that they don't do a Gulf Stream-specific forecasts. Conditions in the Stream can, and usually are, significantly more "intense" than the surrounding waters.
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:24   #7
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That time of year you're more likely to see 5kts than 15 kts (I live in Jupiter, and sail regularly including Bahamas). Whether or not to motor will probably be your biggest decision (and which way to go to dodge the squalls). With prevailing E-SEasterlies, the westward crossing is by far the easier of the two, and you'll have good nav aids when you get here, so time doesn't matter. Just in case, Jupiter and Stuart inlets are difficult...not so much the depth as the current/wind effects. pete
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:25   #8
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West End to Jupiter Inlet is about 60 miles. The drift in the Stream will average about 2 knots. Your boat should average an easy 8 knots in the prevailing easterlies. With that you can lay a course to West Palm or a bit north and hit Jupiter Inlet right on the nose. Time your AM departure for an early afternoon high water slack at Jupiter Inlet and you'll be safely inside before most of the later afternoon squalls. Get yourself a Customs Decal before your depart and you can check-in by phone when you arrive.

FWIW...
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:28   #9
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Old 21-06-2010, 07:41   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Get yourself a Customs Decal before your depart and you can check-in by phone when you arrive.

FWIW...
No, I don't think this is correct. Unless you have a " local boaters option " card and pin number you will have to report to Homeland Security after phoning in. A customs decal (supposedly required for all boats 30 ft and up) only helps with the fees. There is no clearing in fee with the decal, without the decal I've been charged $19 for clearing in the last few years. The decal used to be $25 but now I think it's gone up. The problem with the decal was dealing with the clunkiest site on the internet trying to buy one!

Also if you clear in north of Sebastian Inlet on the east coast you do not need to call the 800 number, just report to Homeland Security.
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Old 21-06-2010, 08:16   #11
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I've done the West End to Cape Canaveral passage in my cat. You get a lot of boost from the gulf stream. I would do it on this forecast. Seeing that you are from Ottawa, I assume that you are not a US citizen, so I don't think the local boaters option will work for you. I'm not sure getting the customs decal before you leave is an option either.
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Old 21-06-2010, 08:52   #12
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We frequently return from the Bahamas taking the passage from West End to Ft. Pierce Inlet with our 41' monohull. The favorable current vector with this port allows for a full daylight passage with good time at 10 to 11 hours. We last returned by this route May 17th. We usually select seas 5' or less, but more importantly with a wind without a northerly component. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 21-06-2010, 19:33   #13
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You guys are terrific! Thanks for the encouragement.
As a non-local, non-American I can't do the local boaters option but I have ordered the decal although it might not buy me anything.
I still intend to get the cruising permit and cruise up into the Chesapeake.
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Old 21-06-2010, 20:00   #14
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Even in my little 26-footer I considered such forecasts close to ideal.
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Old 04-08-2010, 17:13   #15
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Update on Bahamas to Florida Crossing

Last night "One White Tree" and her crew made their first night time passage - across to Florida from the Abacos in the Bahamas. We had planned to overnight at Great Sale Cay but wouldn't have made it before nightfall so we anchored at Hawksbill Cay. This meant an earlier start in the morning than expected but we headed directly to Port Canaveral and arrived 27 hours later.

Pete33458 was right, the wind was mostly less than 6 knots, so we motored the entire way.

The Customs and Border Security people in Port Canaveral were terrific and we were cleared in and in possesion of our Cruising Permit in no time.

Thanks to all those who provided advice and encouragement.
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