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Old 21-03-2015, 09:12   #46
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

The Indian Cay channel could be a bit skinny on low water. It is all sand but you could get caught by a low tide. Memory Rock is deep and wide open, easy to come on the bank at night and carry on to Mangrove. You can also save some miles by cutting under Great Sale, just give the bar off the east end a good two miles. Watch your sounder and if it starts getting skinny head off SE a bit till it gets deeper. Not sudden changes or ridges, all sand.
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Old 21-03-2015, 11:15   #47
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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?
Round numbers it is 60 miles W Palm to West End. Average 6 kts that's 10 hours but figure an hour to get from the dock or anchorage in W Palm out the channel and another hour on the arrival to get into a marina and docked. So 4 am departure puts you at the dock just before 5 pm close of business. It has been a while but last time I was there if they work after 5 you're charged overtime fees. If you do arrive late at West End and the winds are regular east trades you can pull up close to the beach just south of the channel to the marina and anchor for the night. Unless there has been a recent front come through it is usually quite calm if you pull in close and there are no reefs to run into.

Also, unless it has changed since I was there last, there are no customs officers on site at West End. They drive over from Freeport and you might have to wait a while and possibly pay a travel charge. Maybe someone who has been there recently can update this information.

Crossing from West End to the Abacos the traditional route is to enter the banks north of West End late enough in the morning that you get decent visibility IE the sun is a little higher and not glaring off the water in front of you, pass well north of Mangrove Cay and anchor at Sale Cay for the night. Then take an early departure from Sale to the Abacos. With a very early start and good conditions you might make Green Turtle by late afternoon.

From there make your plans for the rest of the trip.

One caution, going south from Green Turtle you will probably take the Whale Cay passage. This is noted in all the guide books but let me emphasize that this channel can be very dangerous if there is a rage or breaking waves in the channel. It does not have to be windy or stormy at all in the Bahamas for this to happen. The breaking waves in the passage are from storms far out in the Atlantic that build when they hit the shallow water.
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Old 21-03-2015, 18:41   #48
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Thanks so much Skipmac. From what I see though, is Sales Cay what you are talking about? It seems as if I can't get in there due to shallow water? Also, is it a better option to go north from West End, or should I just go south to the Berry Islands and then turn around?
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Old 22-03-2015, 08:45   #49
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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Thanks so much Skipmac. From what I see though, is Sales Cay what you are talking about? It seems as if I can't get in there due to shallow water? Also, is it a better option to go north from West End, or should I just go south to the Berry Islands and then turn around?
I would go north from West End. If you catch Indian Rock at high tide, with small swells you can take that shortcut with a shallow draft. My draft is 4' and have done it with no problem, but don't like it.

We prefer to skip West End and go straight from Ft. Pierce (early morning) to the Grand Bahama Bank, roughly 25 miles north of West End. You have deep water there, so running aground is not an issue. By now it's getting dark, but the trip from the west edge of the Grand Bahama Bank and Great Sale Cay is wide open, with no obstructions. So it's a safe trip at night.

Once you're on the Grand Bahama Bank and out of the Gulf Stream, it's roughly 50 miles to Great Sale Cay. I schedule that leg for dark and try to time arriving at Sale Cay for daybreak. A great stop-over, rest stop.

Approaching Sale Cay from the west side of the island head south and give the SW corner of the island a wide berth before heading east, then north up into the cove.

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Old 22-03-2015, 09:05   #50
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

I ahve made the trip to the Abacos from Ft.Lauderdale multiple times. I leave at about 8pm and motor sail arriving at West End at daylight. My boat was a Hunter 33.5, draws 4'6. You want to be on the Bahama Banks during daylight, and you need a good GPS with a Bahamas chip. I would not clear in at West End but rather continue on to Great Sail and spend the night there.
Next morning continue to Green Turtle and dinghy in to the dinghy dock at New Plymouth and then walk the three block or so to Immigration and clear in there.
Then on to Great Guana and eventually Marsh Harbor, Once there you want to take the short trip to Hope Town and Man o War, two great little places to visit.
JMHO, but unless you are very good and very familiar with the area, you dont want to motor sail at night.
Lastly, choose the weather very carefully, dont go when the wind is from the north or north-east but wait for southerly winds if possible as the Gulf Stream acts up when the wind is northly.
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Old 24-03-2015, 11:35   #51
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

You can cover a decent amount of stops in the Bahamas with 2 1/2 weeks if the fronts work out for you. I've done, Fort Lauderdale to Bimini to the Berry's to Nassau to Andros to Cat Cay to Fort lauderdale in two weeks before, and never really pushed that hard. But, that took some night sailing, which is not hard if you have enough crew to do it and you stay in deep water at night.
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Old 08-04-2015, 16:58   #52
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

OK, well I made it from Ft. Pierce to Ft. Lauderdale in the past two days... and now I am sitting at anchor in Lake Sylvia just inside the Port Everglades inlet. I am wondering what my best option is for crossing now... either leave from here and head straight to Bimini, or head south to Dinner Key tomorrow and leave from there. Thoughts?
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Old 08-04-2015, 17:16   #53
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

I lived in Ft.Lauderdale for 15 years, email me at pnchacha5@gmail.com..............
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Old 08-04-2015, 21:50   #54
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Why is the rum always gone?! Note, pack more rum.
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Old 09-04-2015, 04:49   #55
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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OK, well I made it from Ft. Pierce to Ft. Lauderdale in the past two days... and now I am sitting at anchor in Lake Sylvia just inside the Port Everglades inlet. I am wondering what my best option is for crossing now... either leave from here and head straight to Bimini, or head south to Dinner Key tomorrow and leave from there. Thoughts?

Go south and cross over here on Saturday. That should be your best eastbound day.


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Old 09-04-2015, 06:51   #56
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

When leaving Lake Sylvia stay to the hard right until back in the ICW.
I always sailed on the outside from Port Everglades to Miami and then made a left and sail a course of 129 degrees to Bimini in my Hunter 33.5, 2800 rpm with the sails up. Make the overnight passage so I could get there in daylight.
In the event you want to spend a day or so in Miami enter into Government Cut and the make a left when you get to the shipping channel obvious by the container ships and the cranes. You must go left there and are not permitted to stay straight past the cruise ship dock, this since 911.
At the end of the shipping channel is Bayside Marina, a wonderful place to spend a day or so what with the restaurants, music,dancing and shops.
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Old 11-04-2015, 14:34   #57
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Made it to Bimini!
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Old 11-04-2015, 14:43   #58
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

You want to lock the boat up, more so in Bimini then the rest of the Bahamas.....

Tell us about the crossing........
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Old 11-04-2015, 15:17   #59
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

Well the crossing wasn't the best. Coming out of Miami, I should have pointed further south to compensate for the stream but I didn't know how far south I would have to point. It seemed way too far. So we pointed a little north right out of Miami and that took us way off course. We ended up having to motorsail at a decent angle but lost a lot of time in the beginning, so we came in at night time. Overall we screwed ourselves by not leaving early enough and that initial messup. Coming in at dark was fine though, not a big deal. Staying in Alicetown and hopefully leaving tomorrow for Cat Cay area.
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Old 11-04-2015, 16:53   #60
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Re: Florida to Bahamas - General Provisioning Q's

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Well the crossing wasn't the best. Coming out of Miami, I should have pointed further south to compensate for the stream but I didn't know how far south I would have to point. It seemed way too far. So we pointed a little north right out of Miami and that took us way off course. We ended up having to motorsail at a decent angle but lost a lot of time in the beginning, so we came in at night time. Overall we screwed ourselves by not leaving early enough and that initial messup. Coming in at dark was fine though, not a big deal. Staying in Alicetown and hopefully leaving tomorrow for Cat Cay area.

You've got a week of near perfect weather, should be able to anchor on the Oceanside of either north or south cay. Next weekend is a bit up in the air though. Enjoy.


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