Without even reading it, I would have confidence in Winterlude/Jan's info. We have crossed 3 times from FL to the Bahamas
, and once from NC to the Bahamas. Possibly our best passage
ever was Miami
. Left just as a mild cold front was swinging the winds from the SE to the S, by the time we were 2 hours offshore
the winds were SW (and since the bow was pointed SE to account for the northerly flow of the stream that made it a beam reach), as we sailed on to the banks north of Bimini
the winds shifted W then NW on the banks overnight, then clocked thru N and NE as we exited the banks at NW Channel shoal and pointed the bow to Nassau
. Our LAST passage
, however, was a little different. We got to Lake Worth
after 2 days offshore
from St. Mary's, then after checking weather decided we had about a 12 hour window to cross the stream before it turned NE, blowing hard. We made it, motorsailing hard, and we were the last boat to make it to the Bahamas for the next 10 days. The last several hours were less than pleasant. Any significant N component winds can be unpleasant or dangerous.
Also, we have never sailed in a group. In fact, the year of our best passage (see above), a group left several hours ahead of us (we stayed back on purpose) and didn't have the same wind shifts/beautiful passage we did. Groupthink is sometimes not what you want before going to sea, alone. Because when you're out there, you are alone, and you have to be able to take care of yourself.
Have a good crossing!