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Old 04-10-2014, 21:02   #1
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Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Hello all! I am considering chartering and sailing to the Bahamas this January and am looking for any input, as I haven't made this trip before. I'm thinking of picking up the boat from Fun In The Sun yacht charters in Fort Lauderdale and sailing to Bimini. I think it would be a good experience to make a gulf stream crossing. The boat would be a 40' Beneteau. Any input would be appreciated. This is their sample one-week itinerary.

Day One – Arrive at Fun In The Sun Marina before mid-day. Part of the Crew goes to shop for provisions while the skipper and mate run through the inventory and do a systems check out. Skipper and mate should rest late afternoon and early evening. Finish loading the boat and depart for Bimini between 10:00 PM and Midnight. The crossing is done at night so that you arrive in daylight hours (due to no lighted navigational aides in the Bahamas).
Day Two – Arrive in Alice Town, clear customs and Immigration. It is recommended to spend your first night at a marina since you will be very tired when you arrive. Bimini Blue Water Marina is a reasonable marina to stay at. Explore Alice Town, Rest, walk over to the beach, and have some cracked conch for dinner at one of the local establishments.
Day Three – Sail to the north end of North Bimini. Anchor off the beach and carry a picnic lunch to a wonderful swimming beach. In the afternoon sail out to Bimini Road for a nice snorkel or shallow dive. Go back in near the beach and anchor out for the night.
Day Four – Sail south to the wreck of the Sappona. Snorkel around this old 1940’s concrete hull sunken freighter. Pick up anchor and head south, sail to Gun Cay and anchor on the east or west side depending on conditions.
Day Five – Dinghy into Gun Cay and explore this uninhabited island. Check out the lighthouse and the nice beaches. There is also good conching around the east side of the island. Sail on down to the south end of North Cat Cay where there is a protected bay and a beautiful beach. Spend the night.
Day Six – Sail out to Tuna Alley, hook up with a mooring ball, and enjoy a world-class dive site. This is a 50’ to 80’ dive with coral caverns and giant crevasses. You will see lots of reef fish and an occasional turtle, shark and other wildlife. In the afternoon sail to the east side of North Cat Cay and spend your last night at Cat Cay Marina. There is fine dining there at the marina as well as a more casual dining room.
Day Seven – Check out the gift shop at the marina on Cat Cay in the morning. Sail down to South Cat Cay. Anchor off the west side for a couple for hours and do some snorkeling. Head back to Ft. Lauderdale so you arrive before dark. Stay at the Fun In The Sun Marina and go out to dinner in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
Day Eight – Clean up the boat, pack up your gear, and depart by 12:00 noon.
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Old 05-10-2014, 05:29   #2
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Sounds like lots of fun. The problem I see with this plan is the crossing of the Gulf Stream in January. It is highly unadvisable, and dangerous, to cross with wind coming from any direction with an "N" in it (and NE to E is prevailing that time of year). I've waited 3 weeks for a safe crossing window. You'll need to be extremely lucky to time two crossings in one week. I'm really surprised that the charter company would propose that itinerary in the winter...better look carefully at the fine print. You might get stuck on the other side for several days...or weeks! I'd head down to Miami the first day to set up for a better angle on the crossing...Fort Lauderdale's a little far north to cross to Bimini. And I'd start more like 4 AM so you have a little light as you're getting into the meat of the stream. And you can cruise the upper keys if you need to wait for the right conditions.Good luck!
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:16   #3
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Plus 1 on the above advice!
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:03   #4
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

If the weather some how worked out for you at that time of year I would pass on their recommendation for day 3. Spend all your time south of Bimini where the water is clear. The dredging off N. Bimini has silted up the snorkel areas there.


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Old 05-10-2014, 10:16   #5
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Crazy idea! Listen to Waterway Guide! Better yet, charter in Abaco.
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Old 05-10-2014, 13:55   #6
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Great advice!! (That's why I love you guys!!) lol With more thought and consideration, I think I may be better just chartering in the Abacos. I would love to make a gulf stream crossing someday, but with only limited days on this vacation, I think we'd be heartbroken to have to delay a crossing for even a few days due to weather, and I do know the dangers of trying to stick to a calendar. The airfare looks to be quite a bit more expensive to fly to Abaco compared to flying to Florida, but the charters seem to be a bit cheaper, and I wouldn't have to pay the fee to clear a boat through their customs.
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Old 05-10-2014, 15:04   #7
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Charter in Nassau or Georgetown and sail the Exumas. If you sail from Ft. Lauderdale you might spend your whole week in Lake Sylvia or at the charterer's dock.
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Old 06-10-2014, 06:58   #8
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterway Guide View Post
You'll need to be extremely lucky to time two crossings in one week.
This. Times ten thousand! In fact, it would go quite beyond "extremely lucky" to the point of almost impossible. If you manage two good weather windows, for going back and forth, within one week, then the first thing you need to do when you get back is to buy a lottery ticket, because someone is looking out for you!
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:10   #9
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Yes, trying to rush a trip or stick to calendars always ends up in tears... usually the wife crying "get me off this boat"!
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:22   #10
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Be sure to have a good weather window to cross to and from the Bahamas. We've spent weeks waiting to cross before. Also, Cat Cay is a private club and unless you are a member cruisers are not welcome. And, I agree with the others, unless you are extremely lucky I would pick up a charter in the Bahamas.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:26   #11
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
This. Times ten thousand! In fact, it would go quite beyond "extremely lucky" to the point of almost impossible. If you manage two good weather windows, for going back and forth, within one week, then the first thing you need to do when you get back is to buy a lottery ticket, because someone is looking out for you!
The only way you'll get two crossings in one week is to do what I did. Do it on the same day!! Unfortunately that was not my initial intention. Boisterous sail, Miami to North Rock. Got to North Rock engine would not start, dirty fuel tank got all churned up. Turned around and sailed back. Managed to make Ft. Lauderdale although I thought we might have to settle for further north. TowBoat US was waiting and towed us in. Got the fuel polished and went back to Miami. A week later we crossed again.
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Old 06-10-2014, 09:15   #12
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

itinerary is impossible for reasons stated above. Chartering out of Marsh Harbor, Abaco affords access to out islands - from Manjack to Elbow and the Fowl Cay underwater preserve. A few of these islands have protection in all weather. I just booked an American Flight for under $500, round trip; will go up to over $800 in a month.
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Old 06-10-2014, 12:51   #13
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Bahamas Air, Silver, island Wings, and Cherokee Aviation are less expensive.
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Old 06-10-2014, 14:24   #14
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Sounds like a really bad idea to me. Where can I meet up with you?
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Old 06-10-2014, 16:07   #15
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Re: Bareboat Chartering To The Bahamas

Ditto on the bad idea, but there is another consideration. Unless that particular boat had been to the Bahamas within the last six months, you will have to pay $300 to enter. Better to charter from a company in the Bahamas.
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