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Old 10-05-2016, 14:07   #1
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Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

hi all.

novice sailor as best here, spending a few weeks in West Palm for daily shakedown cruises.

am keen to cross over to West End from here [West Palm], aiming slightly NE as to correct direction from Gulf Stream, but would love to hear other's opinions on it [see: would be easier to cross from Ft. Lauderdale?]

am also collecting as many pieces of advice as possible, seeing how this is a pretty scary thing to do as a new fella [and single-handing].

all the thanks!
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Old 10-05-2016, 14:18   #2
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

Sounds fun however the stream runs North at a pretty good clip. You might head a little SE to make it to WE from PB.
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Old 10-05-2016, 14:29   #3
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

Whatcha sailin?
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Old 10-05-2016, 14:53   #4
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

Yea, what Fishsail said. Gulfstream pushes north 1.5-2.5 kts. You need to head SE to compensate.

It isn't that tricky to get there and find the Bahamas. Trickier is to make sure you don't run into something once you arrive. Good light and eyeball navigation is your friend, along with a good pair of polarized sunglasses.

Biggest concern crossing, watch the weather and DON'T GO if there is any doubt.
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Old 10-05-2016, 16:01   #5
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

The first rule of cruising is to wait for a weather window. This is especially true when crossing the Gulf Stream because a north wind (blows from the north) runs into the opposing Gulf stream (which is going north). This can create steep seas that look an awful lot like a house coming at you.

Fortunately, North winds are much rarer in summer than in winter but they still happen. Do not cross if there's any "N" (NW,N,NE) in the forecast.

East and SE winds are very common this time of year. Much better than north but this means a very long day of beating. If you don't have a good autopilot, it will be exhausting to the point of dangerous.

What you really want is a nice SW or S wind for your first trip. Or no wind if you are willing/fueled to motor.

It is not uncommon in winter for cruisers to wait for two+ weeks in Florida for a good weather window. Most of them have a story or two of being caught in the Gulf Stream in a northerly.
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Old 10-05-2016, 17:15   #6
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

Most sailboats will take ten hours for the crossing , so to allow for the Stream you must set a course fifteen to twenty miles south of your destination . This of course will make the crossing several hours longer .Leave early in the evening so as to arrive several hours after daybreak .
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Old 11-05-2016, 08:16   #7
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

Ditto all of the above. I've gone to the West End from Lake Worth Inlet and from Nassau to Lake Worth Inlet several times. It does take about 10 hours in a sailboat from LW to West End and you definitely have to account for the Stream current.

Most importantly, for your comfort if not your safety, is to avoid departing LWI for the West End if there is to be any Northerly component to the wind for the duration of your crossing.
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Old 11-05-2016, 08:17   #8
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

And give a wide lookout for shipping traffic! Many of these ships sail shorthanded and don't always have a lookout. and they move faster than you may think. Read up on this topic.
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Old 11-05-2016, 09:00   #9
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

My first crossing was in a 35' sloop, departed from West Palm. Left pre-dawn, sighted the radio tower before dark and anchored for the night in the lee of West End. It was winter; so we waited weeks for the wind to move from N to SE. We had a hard beat and used the engine for additional course holding, or we would not have reached WE on a single tack.

All future trips across the stream were made from Ft. L., a much better ride. West End was not a great destination, unless you like staying at a marina. Certainly useful as a stop over on the way to the Abacos. Otherwise, think about leaving from Ft. L heading for Great Stirrup Cay and then head down the Berry Islands and points south.
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Old 11-05-2016, 09:12   #10
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

I made my for crossing single-handedly two years ago. You might want to consider getting on the VHF and seeking out a buddy boat and travel like a flotilla. That's what I did for the first crossing. Just a little more safety in numbers.. I departed from no name harbor at 4 AM and arrive easly at 4 PM in Bimini and had to Motor the whole way You can anchor out front in Bimini and Dinghy in for an easy check in there . Marinas may try to Lure you in and say you have to dock with them before you can check in but it's not true. I departed from West End, there's nothing there much Sail on!!
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:02   #11
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishsail View Post
Sounds fun however the stream runs North at a pretty good clip. You might head a little SE to make it to WE from PB.
You beat me to that. I think he said shake down cruise. Unless the NE was a typo, I would not suggest that as a shake down. Even if it wasn't, crossing the steam does not sound like a shake down.
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:38   #12
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

We cross from a point at anchor in Lake Worth (West Palm Beach) if the conditions are excellent; however, if there is a cause to wait, then we move down to Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale to cross. We usually leave Lauderdale at sunrise and make Settlement Point by 3 pm. Even though the distance from Ft. Lauderdale is greater than from Lake Worth, we make better time with the kick from the Gulfstream with this route.
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Old 11-05-2016, 23:23   #13
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

I've made this crossing many times doing deliveries. If it's practical, I much prefer to leave from Port Everglades going to West End and the Abacos, which I strongly suggest for a first trip. The positive current vector makes for a much more comfortable crossing and the slight increase in distance is more than compensated for by increased SOG. While the delay waiting for a weather window is necessary, it's an easy sail outside from Lake Worth to Lauderdale to wait, thereby missing the many bridges on the ICW. Stay between the Gulf Stream and the beach if wind has a northerly component, though.

Just my $.02 worth. Hope it helps.
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Old 13-05-2016, 10:04   #14
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

everyone - this is fantastic. thank you.

and correction: yes. I meant heading SE [as opposed to NE]. sorry about that.

from this and the people I've spoken to, leaving at night would be best, but with me being a newbie, I'm a bit uncomfortable with that, so plan on leaving Palm Beach at first light, which should at least give me a few hours of proper light once I get to West End.

would love any anchorages you all might have around there, as the one marina seems to be charging ridiculous amounts of $ [not to mention a $15 water fee - even though it's undrinkable?!] just to clear, and then leave.

again - thanks to all. this helps ease the worry a bit. ha.
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Old 13-05-2016, 10:54   #15
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Re: Crossing to Bahamas Via West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale

Leaving tomorrow? We are at Riviera Beach marina leaving late tonight (Friday the 13th!) or early tomorrow for West End. We have made the crossing several times and it's looking like a nice light SW to W wind for Saturday!
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