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Old 20-03-2015, 08:50   #31
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

OK so I am trying to figure out the best route to take and I have switched my plan a little bit as many things have changed regarding the animals, etc.

So now the plan is to leave Ft. Pierce and sail the boat south to West Palm Beach and then leave from West Palm to West End to clear into the Bahamas. Is this a decent crossing? I know I will be fighting the Gulf Stream a little bit but it seems to be better than going even further south to Miami.

Once in the Bahamas, it is going to be a relatively short trip (2-2 1/2 weeks). I know you cannot put time restrictions on sailing, but this is the rough estimate. I am wondering what a good cut off point would be as far as where I can explore in the Bahamas and still get back. So far I am thinking sail either around the north side of Grand Bahama and around the Abacos, then to the Berry Islands and back, making a big circle. Or I could try to do some of the Exumas. Thoughts?
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Old 20-03-2015, 11:14   #32
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

I HAVE TWO RULES FOR CROSSING THE GULF STREAM: 1) Go to Beach before you leave, look east, if you see elephants marching on the horizon - don't go!! I don't care what the weather says. 2) No calendar - cross with the correct weather.

I've been beaten up in the Gulf Stream before and am now toooo old for that.

Ft. Pierce or Palm Beach to West End is a great way to go. Leave at the crack of dawn and cross during the day. Night time crossings are too dangerous for me. Too much traffic, moving too quickly.

Once you're at West End, weather to the Abacos is no big deal, because the Grand Bahama Bank is only 12' deep all the way to the Abacos.

Don't know your draft, but the small cut immediately north of West End is shallow. I think it's called Indian Rock. I've done the cut with my 4' draft, but ware your brown corduroys.
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Old 20-03-2015, 11:47   #33
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Tim, thanks for that info. I read your post earlier regarding the elephants, good tip. I am planning on leaving at the crack of dawn or even earlier, maybe 0400 just to hopefully ensure coming into the Bahamas in daylight. No way I want to clear in at night. I draw 5 ft.

Is the popular route to go north of West End and around?
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Old 20-03-2015, 12:53   #34
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

I haven’t read all the posts on this thread, but we have just had an unsuccessful attempt to make our first visit to the Bahamas.
Two weeks ago we had to motor all the way from Titusville, Florida, down the intracoastal, against a stiff SE wind, sometimes force seven.

We waited for four days in the Lake Worth area, with others, some who said they had been there for four weeks.
There were other contributing factors, but with no change predicted for another seven days, and six to eight foot seas in The Stream, we packed it in and came back to base .
We might have another crack at it, in a week or two, but I have heard it is now really too late to enjoy the Bahamas. Too hot and mosquito ridden for comfort.
But I’m no expert, I’m sure others will put me right.
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Old 20-03-2015, 14:26   #35
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Jolly Roger,

I am really hoping that it's not too late. I know we have had a pretty horrible winter in FL. Our boat is kept in Ft. Pierce and there have been many unsuccessful tries just to get out into the Atlantic to go daysailing. I refuse to believe that April is too late to enjoy the Bahamas though! I have a few friends who are down there at the moment and another planning to leave at the same time as myself. There is no such thing as too hot after bringing the boat down the ICW last December!
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Old 20-03-2015, 14:52   #36
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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Jolly Roger,

I am really hoping that it's not too late. I know we have had a pretty horrible winter in FL. Our boat is kept in Ft. Pierce and there have been many unsuccessful tries just to get out into the Atlantic to go daysailing. I refuse to believe that April is too late to enjoy the Bahamas though! I have a few friends who are down there at the moment and another planning to leave at the same time as myself. There is no such thing as too hot after bringing the boat down the ICW last December!
It is never too late to go to the Bahamas. Yes it can be warmer and if you want until summer you're getting into hurricane season. However about 35 years back I spent almost 2 years there and enjoyed every month of the year.

Yes it will get warmer but on the water it was very rare to be uncomfortably warm. Yes in some spots you might run into mosquitos or noseeums but picking your spots and anchoring further off the beach will reduce or eliminate that problem.

The big question is where and how far to go. Do you want to spend your time sailing or hanging out; beaching, swimming, diving, etc? For 2 1/2 weeks trying to do the Abacos and circle down to the Berrys you would do way more sailing than hanging out. Unless you plan night sailing or overnight trips plan on max 8-9 hours travel time per day. You don't want to be coming into an anchorage too late in the day so should plan ETAs mid late afternnon. So plan on 40-60 miles per day max. Without pulling out a chart and measuring I guestimate W Palm to the Abacos to the Berrys and back to FL to be over 400 miles. So to follow that plan you would spend about half of your whole trip under way.

I have tried a number of times to fit more islands into a short trip to the Bahamas and it just doesn't add up. Even W Palm to the central Abacos and back is around 300 miles round trip so you could easily spend 6 days travel time without even trying for the Berrys.
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Old 20-03-2015, 14:53   #37
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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But I’m no expert, I’m sure others will put me right.
We have also waited for weather in Lake Worth; not fun. Now we go in April and stay until August. The Abacos, in fact all the Bahamas, are great in the summer. Easier crossing, better winds, smaller crowds. Never had a mosquito problem and the steady breeze keeps the boat cool.
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Old 20-03-2015, 15:31   #38
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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Thoughts?
I assume you have a copy of Steve Dodges Cruising Guide to Abaco. Get a copy of the Explorer Guide for the Northern Bahamas too.
Given your time constraint I would go Lake Worth to Memory Rock then Great Sale then Spanish Cay then Green Turtle where you can check in. Keep your yellow "Q" flag up until you clear.
Now just spend some time cruising around the Sea of Abaco. Its a miniature cruising world. Your wife will love the New England style villages, deserted islands, incredible water, and of course the shopping.
When its time to come back, go out the Whale Cay passage and head back to Florida. Its usually a downwind, downsea, free ride back. Last year we went Whale Cay to Port Canaveral in two days without touching the wheel; thank you CPT autopilot!
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Old 20-03-2015, 16:03   #39
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

From Palm Beach to west end you will be beam to the stream. If it is setting you to strong crack off and come on the bank at Memory Rock. Much easier entry than by West End. Old Bahama Bay is just a tourist rip off and not the real Bahamas. You can clear at Spanish Cay or Green Turtle Cay. For a two week cruise don't plan on getting past Hope Town on Elbow Cay. You do not have the time to even consider the Exumas. Easy spring time cruise from Allen's Pensacola anchorage to Mangrove Cay, then off the bank to Ft Pierce. Have fun, be safe.
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Old 20-03-2015, 16:20   #40
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Hi DDabs,
I hope you are right as well. One of the problems I had is a newly restored, untried boat, (See website), and a crew member brother who had never sailed before, and turned out to be inept at least, incompetent at worst.
I was just not prepared to risk the crossing, but if I can be convinced April and May will be nice, my wife and I might try again—after I’ve fixed a few things.
Trouble is, I've put my explorer charts up for sale, but maybe we will see each other there.

You will certainly see me bearing down if the wind is anywhere four points off the stern.
Good luck.
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Old 20-03-2015, 17:12   #41
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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You can clear at Spanish Cay or Green Turtle Cay.
Tingum, I "heard" that Spanish Cay had stopped clearing yachts since they had some kind of financial problems there. Am I delusional or have they reinstated the customs office?
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Old 20-03-2015, 17:51   #42
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Too late? It's better in March and April. Last year we didn't cross till March as we were delayed by a lightning strike. The weather here in Exuma is excellent right now. Been here two months and have had only one front with significant west winds. Get down to GT in April for the Family Islands Regatta


Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 20-03-2015, 18:07   #43
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Definitely carry as much beer as you can, also do not run out of T.P. If you have a freezer, carry beef, as chicken & pork are much more available, and reasonably (for Bahamas) priced. West End is a good place to clear in, located next to Old Bahama Bay marina. You can arrive any hour, and tie up in front of the Customs office with a yellow flag.
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Old 20-03-2015, 20:47   #44
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Awesome information. Thanks so much. Seems I have a few options here that I need to plan out, but good news indeed.

Jolly Roger, best of luck to you as well. I hope you are able to make it! I love your schooner- what a boat! Great work on all your projects.

Given the previous posts about time restraints, I may have to forget about the Exumas this trip I guess my main idea right now is to circle around Great Abaco and hit the Berry's and then home.
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Old 21-03-2015, 08:04   #45
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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Tim, thanks for that info. I read your post earlier regarding the elephants, good tip. I am planning on leaving at the crack of dawn or even earlier, maybe 0400 just to hopefully ensure coming into the Bahamas in daylight. No way I want to clear in at night. I draw 5 ft.

Is the popular route to go north of West End and around?
That's what I would do.
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