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Old 11-03-2012, 20:21   #1
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Crossing Gulf Stream, FL to Bimini

In the beginning of June my wife and i along with 6 CLOSE freinds will be chartering a Lagoon 440 in Ft. Laurderdale to take to Bimini for a week. A few questions that a have could probably be answered by the charter comp., but i thought i would get better and more informative answers from fellow cruisers who have actually done it.

1: Would it be better to go south down the coast to say Biscayne Bay then head NE across th GS as opposed to SE from FT. Laud?

2: What is the hull speed of the Lagoon 440?

3:How fast can we expect to go just motoring?

4: How long should it take us to get there?

5:How safe is a night crossing of the GS

The GS is like some monster that i have heard about. I live in South Louisiana and spend alot of time in the Gulf and have also spent time on the Mississippi River. The GS seems to be the two have joined forces. Thanks for ALL and ANY advice even on the question I don't know i should be asking .
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Old 11-03-2012, 23:14   #2
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

Most thinking is that the farther south for the departure to Bimini the better. The Gulf Stream is a beautiful thing to be appreciated and respected. We crossed a couple of weeks ago from Miami to Bimini, and fought the current. Our course the entire time across the stream was about 35 degrees more to the south to compensate. Made it in about eight hours -- all in daylight.

I've crossed a few times at night going to other places in the Bahamas. No big deal. Just keep watch for large commercial vessels.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:42   #3
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

I'd add that you may want to plan to make landfall in the daylight, preferably in the afternoon so you can better read the bottom, especially if you're not familiar with bimini. And I'd avoid crossing with significant wind from anything with a North in it...it can get ugly and dangerous. Have a great trip!
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Old 12-03-2012, 04:31   #4
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

For the first time across I'd recommend going to the Biscayne Bay area. It's a small day trip from Ft.Lauderdale and not a bad place to hang out for the right window. Usually you'll find several boats down there waiting to cross on the morining nets which can be of help. But always make your own decision. Personally I'd skip government cut and head out of Stiltsville at the break of dawn this time of year to make sure you get in to Bimini in the day light. When I leave in the dark it's usually around 3am. That gives us plenty of time to check in and walk around Bimini. If you get a good window it's an easy crossing on a 44' Lagoon. If the weather is good in Bimini I just anchor off shore of North Bimini opposite Alice town and dingy in. There's usually plenty of other boats anchored there. If you plan on heading into the marina you'll want to be very careful of the tides, the cut and channel in can be pretty swift. A slack tide entrance is best to wait on for the first time doing this. As far as hull speed? With 8 people and tons of luggage, on a Lagoon? Well, you won't be passing any Gun boats but you'll get there just fine.
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:53   #5
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

You didn't mention your plans in Bimini, but if you are staying at a marina, June is high season, so make your choice/reservation in advance to avoid disappointment. In settled weather there are two popular choices for anchorages, one just past Big Game Marina and another in a basin at the end of tha channel by Bimini Bay Marina. Bring any food you will want, as the supply choice is limited, but not non existent. Bikes are a good thing to bring if you have them. DON'T push your luck in the Gulf Stream, it is a body of water that demands your respect, not crossing when there is ANY northern component in the wind is a really good piece of advice. If you get a bad wind week, don't stress, just go to the Keys, it is also a beautiful trip.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:24   #6
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

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Originally Posted by chipfaust View Post
The GS is like some monster that i have heard about. I live in South Louisiana and spend alot of time in the Gulf and have also spent time on the Mississippi River. The GS seems to be the two have joined forces. Thanks for ALL and ANY advice even on the question I don't know i should be asking .
Exactly. I grew up on the Mississippi and on the Gulf. Imagine the Big Muddy flowing north along the FL coast with the weather and wave potential of the Gulf. Potentially a very ugly combination. Very ugly wave conditions can be generated when a north blows against the stream.

Search the forum for discussions of this crossing -- lots of discussions -- and for info on the Lagoon.

A real downside to chartering and crossing it that you may not have a weather window to cross. I've spent up to a month waiting for the right window. Why not just charter in the Bahamas?
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:23   #7
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

All good suggestion and I would add to be sure the Charter Company will allow the boat to go to the Bahamas. Many have restrictions on how far you can go and if the boat can leave US waters. Also have a contingency plan because a week might have you sitting for days waiting for a weather window to get over and then delay you getting back. The likelihood is less in June but still possible. June is also the start of the Hurricane Season and early storms are not totally out of the equation. Chuck
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Old 12-03-2012, 18:28   #8
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

thanks for all the info. it will be great to get more questions answered as we get closer. we will be anchoring as apposed to a marina, and the charter has ok'd us to go to Bahamas.
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Old 12-03-2012, 19:02   #9
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

Not really any good places to anchor around Bimini, the holding is poor and the currents can be pretty strong. Chuck
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Old 30-03-2012, 04:44   #10
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

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Not really any good places to anchor around Bimini, the holding is poor and the currents can be pretty strong. Chuck
I don't know when the last time was that you were here, but we spent the winter here on north Bimini, and two things that you state are incorrect:
1. All marinas now offer RO water. It runs about 40 cents a gallon.
2. There are two good anchorages here, both by Bimini Bay. One is a basin just as you arrive, and the other is the basin just past their mega yacht marina. Both are protected and with good holding. We have watched boats there through 35 knot blows with no issues. Most of the bad anchoring is at the south end by the Big Game Club.
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Old 30-03-2012, 06:45   #11
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

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I don't know when the last time was that you were here, but we spent the winter here on north Bimini, and two things that you state are incorrect:
1. All marinas now offer RO water. It runs about 40 cents a gallon.
2. There are two good anchorages here, both by Bimini Bay. One is a basin just as you arrive, and the other is the basin just past their mega yacht marina. Both are protected and with good holding. We have watched boats there through 35 knot blows with no issues. Most of the bad anchoring is at the south end by the Big Game Club.
Umm, which part of that statement pertains to RO water? I still stand behind the statement that I did make, the holding around Bimini is not good. Chuck
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Old 30-03-2012, 10:33   #12
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

Leaving No Name Harbor at 1am in a 42 cat we arrived at 8-9 am in Bimini. As mentioned our intitial course was 30-35 degrees off the rhumb line due to current. The further away from Florida the less this became.
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Old 30-03-2012, 12:27   #13
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

Lots of folks leave Florida and try to arrive on the Banks first thing in the morning. We did this the first two times and while it allows you to make some distance across the Banks in daylight, it also makes reading the water a bit more difficult with the rising sun in your face. If you stay on the course found in publications like Explorer Charts,there is plenty of depth, but there are a few coral heads spread across the banks. Chuck
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Old 30-03-2012, 16:13   #14
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

Yeah, did that once and didnt get as far as I hoped... ended going through that narrow pass just exiting the banks (name?) and had to enter Chub in the dark. Thank gawd for radar!
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Old 30-03-2012, 19:16   #15
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Re: crossing gulf stream, FL to Bimini

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Yeah, did that once and didnt get as far as I hoped... ended going through that narrow pass just exiting the banks (name?) and had to enter Chub in the dark. Thank gawd for radar!
Yep, you really need to know where you are and what your doing at the Northwest Channel Light, which isn't lit, at night. It sits on top of a nasty piece of coral. Chuck
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