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Old 10-12-2010, 05:02   #1
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Crossing Gulf Stream to Bahamas this Sunday . . . Advice ?

Hello fellow cruisers,

I plan to cross the Gulf Stream from south Florida to the Bahamas beginning about 4am this Sunday, Dec 12th. My sailboat is 34 feet with a good diesel. I have sailed here from California.

Not an ideal weather window but it seems relatively ok. Then again, I have not made the crossing before. Should I expect rough going with the forcasted weather? I use passageweather.com for my forcasts.

Also, the next days call for 20-25 knot NW winds... are those good for continuing on to Nassau. They would seem to be fine but I am not yet aware of how such winds stir up the shallow Bahama waters..?

Any feedback will be most appreciated (:>)!!

Best, Joe
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:16   #2
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It should be okay early in the day, but it will kick up in the evening.

Keep checking the forecast as it will change...

SUNDAY
WEST WINDS 15 TO 18 KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 3 FEET. INTRACOASTAL
WATERS A LIGHT CHOP. CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

SUNDAY NIGHT
NORTHWEST WINDS 17 TO 22 KNOTS NEAR SHORE TO
NORTHWEST 21 TO 26 KNOTS IN THE GULF STREAM. NEAR SHORE...SEAS 2 TO
4 FEET. IN THE GULF STREAM...SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET BUILDING TO 6 TO
8 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS CHOPPY IN EXPOSED AREAS. SLIGHT CHANCE
OF SHOWERS.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:24   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captjoef View Post
I plan to cross the Gulf Stream ... about 4am this Sunday, Dec 12th.
How does that saying go? "The most dangerous thing one can have on a sailboat is a schedule..."

You probably put that in your post so that we can all look at the same weather window your are considering.... right?

Passageweather FX indicates that North winds up until about 6 hours before your planned departure, so you should expect sloppy seas on the stream. It's going to blow like stink on Monday, so if you are on the banks, you will have very choppy whitecaps. Expect it to be wet, lumpy and cold.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:28   #4
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Depends if you cross the shallow banks...not a nice place to be if the wind turns out to be 35 knots instead of 25 knots.

Not a big problem if you are across the Gulf Stream and in the deep water of NorthWest Providence Channel in the lee of Grand Bahama Island

You could go into Bimini to clear-in and wait for nicer weather or go to the cinema in Coconut Grove Fl and wait for a 2-3 day weather window.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:34   #5
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CaptJoe,

I am looking at the same window for a run from Miami to Bimini, but looking at the weather I would not consider poressing on from there.

Moondancer has it right I think, hold up somewhere secure in Bimini for the front to come through before moving on.

Where are you exactly, perhaps we can go together ?

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Old 10-12-2010, 05:38   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captjoef View Post
Hello fellow cruisers,

I plan to cross the Gulf Stream from south Florida to the Bahamas beginning about 4am this Sunday, Dec 12th. My sailboat is 34 feet with a good diesel. I have sailed here from California...
Joe:

Apart from the weather, by departing at 4am, do you arrive in good light?
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:48   #7
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I did this run a few weeks ago in the same weather, we left miami went around great issac and into nassau. The stream wasnt to bad really no diffent then any other open water ive been in (my first crossiing) When we rounded great isac it got rough and we did the rest of the trip in 6-10 footers. Once we hit nassau we ended up staying 3 extra daysto not have to go backout in the weather.
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Old 10-12-2010, 05:49   #8
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Hello Duncan,

Where in Bimini do you plan to stop, Lat/Long? Good advice seems to be to stay there for a few days till the front passes.

I'll probably depart from Ft. Lauderdale about 1am, maybe a little earlier.

Best, Joe
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:08   #9
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The weather is looking better at the end of the week. Nassau is pricy. You might think about Freeport/Lucaya if you want a place to lay low for a few days.
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:27   #10
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Once I get across the Stream I keep going. The holding on the east side of Gun Cay is not the best. With a fair wind the bank is not bad. I keep going across the Bank and when I get to NW Channel light I try for Nassau. If the wind has come around and is on the nose I hide behind Frazers Hog Cay, about 14 miles from NW Channel light. Wait there for better conditions to make Nassau and clear in.
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:43   #11
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Joe, We have made the crossing several time and that forecast is not even something I would consider. If the front moves a little faster it will catch you in the stream and you will wish you were anyplace else. The NWS forecasts are general incorrect and you will see it change about three times a day between now and Sunday. Those west winds that are forecast are nearshore and the offshore will will already have a WNW component as you enter the stream, if the forecast is correct. The best you will get is 24 hours prior to departure and that may be suspect. If they forecast 25 you may be looking at 25+ and gusts to 30 at least. NW in the stream is brutal at 15 to 20. Once you get there you are going to be stuck for as long as the wind is up and if in a marina, paying big bucks. IMO the banks are no place to be in NW 15 to 25 and those winds can blow for days. Our old friend Bruce Van Sant would wag his finger at us and tell us to sit behind Key Biscayne and enjoy it until we get a good forecast for at least today, tonight and tomorrow, and it is consistent. We have always followed his advise and had a good crossing. But the ultimate decision is up to you. As others have said and we completely agree, when a boat gets into trouble out there you can almost always bet they are trying to keep a schedule. Not a good idea if you want to truly enjoy the cruise. Chuck
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:33   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arisatx View Post
Joe:

Apart from the weather, by departing at 4am, do you arrive in good light?
Apart from the weather a 4 am departure for a 34' boat is getting a bit late. If 4 am from anchorage then it's at least 5-6 am at the sea buoy. Figure 10 hours typical crossing for a boat your size puts you entering the channel into Bimini (or where ever you decide to go) very late in the afternoon. I would want to plan making the channel no later that 2-3 pm.

That time may be a little conservative but it will allow for any delays and give you a bit of cushion when you get there and avoid being stuck offshore after dark. With the weather forecast I would hate to heave to all night off the Bahamas waiting for light.
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:47   #13
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Having made the crossing several times, here is my advice:
1. Do not leave until wind has not had a northerly component (N, NW, NNE, etc.) for at least two days. Otherwise the northward flowing Stream and the wind will interact to provide 5'-6' square waves: 5' high-5' wide-5' between them. It will be the longest 10 hours of your sailing career. The seas are called "confused". I claim that they are not confused at all...they know exactly what they are doing and they are kicking the s*#? out of you.
2. Get rid of the schedule or you will make foolish choices that may be uncomfortable at best; downright dangerous at the worst.

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Old 10-12-2010, 09:59   #14
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Ideally, I'd be waiting a week when the winds look like they will be light SW.

I did cross last winter after sustained north winds died to about 7 NW knots for 24 hours, which is similar to what I see as predicted for Saturday night into mid day Sunday. It was an easier crossing than I expected.

Given the forecast I looked at, if I were dead set on leave this weekend, I'd be more tempted to do a night crossing Saturday night arriving Sunday morning, than leave Sunday morning as you may get hit by increasing winds Sunday early afternoon.

That's based on looking at the hourly windguru report.
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Old 10-12-2010, 10:50   #15
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I'll have to agree with waterway guy. This time of year is not the time to play dice with the weather, you will lose everytime. I just checked the forecast,....DUDE a MAJOR cold front is coming. Read strong north winds coupled with a severe storm. Wait a week, you''ll thank us lator.
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