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Old 10-03-2011, 05:23   #1
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Help . . . Whale Cay Passage Advice, Please

Ahoy all!

Monday, my husband and I are off to our first Abacos sail on bareboat 37.2 Benneteau charter.

We will be with another couple and we all have limited sailing experience (ASA 101,102,103...sailing for 2 years in ICW, offshore around St. Augustine, FL).

We fly to Marsh Harbor and would like to sail to Green Turtle Cay. Any way to avoid Whale Cay Passage? Any advise regarding Whale Cay Passage? I have been checking Barometer Bob and have not seen any info and am concerned about raging seas. Any advise?

Thanks very much in advance!


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Old 10-03-2011, 05:55   #2
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Re: Help. Whale Cay passage advise please

Wait for weather. Usually a daily report on the cruisers' net.

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Old 10-03-2011, 06:05   #3
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Re: Help. Whale Cay passage advise please

PassageWeather - Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers gives a very good and accurate 7 day forecast of wind and waves for the area.

We use it every time we make a significant passage in the Caribbean.

Start following it now for your area and check it before you leave. Take a laptop with you and you will be able to get internet from the boat.

Also listen to the local net each morning.

Listen live mornings to the Abacos Cruiser's Net at 8:15 AM channel 68 VHF.
For Weather and local happenings. Hosted by Pattie Toler at Marsh Harbour.
I assume it is still on 68. You can even listen to it on the internet.

Listen to todays Cruisers Net recorded live. ( Click Link on left menu on that page. )
Available after 9:20 AM daily courtesy of
Happy sailing

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Old 10-03-2011, 06:16   #4
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Re: Help. Whale Cay passage advise please

If you have the Explorer charts (and hopefully, the boat will have those on board), you will see the option for the Don't Rock pass. Frankly, I don't recommend it for a first-timer. The shoals are constantly shifting and if there's a rage on, you can get surge through there, too. It is really only do-able with shallow draft boats in calm seas and with excellent visibility. The Cruisers Net gives the morning report for the cut and they'll let you know.

Of course, you also run a risk of being able to get there, but not get back! So, factor that into your plans, too. The Whale should not be taken lightly.

Have fun!

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Old 10-03-2011, 06:17   #5
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Re: Help. Whale Cay passage advise please

No way to avoid Whale Cay passage for most people. It used to be possible, and may still be, to take a very shallow draft boat on the inside of Whale Cay, and I did it once but I wouldn't recommend it! I suspect the charter company wouldn't let you go there anyway. If you listen on the radio as noted above you will hear when the pass is not good to go, and take the warnings seriously. Most of the time it is easy and fine, but once in awhile a rage is on and it can be deadly.
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Old 10-03-2011, 07:50   #6
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Re: Help. Whale Cay Passage Advice, Please

You will not be able to avoid Whale Cay Passage. I used the "Don't Rock" alternate last year, and we barely found 6' of water over the shallowest part (I draw 4.5') The previous posts give the best links to daily info about the Passage, and you will also listen to the morning Net.

Don't plan on going to and from GTC on a tight schedule; leave yourself a day or two each way to wait for weather.

If you have a good GPS and any navigational sense at all, Whale Cay Passage isn't as tricky as the guides make it out to be (probably easier than St Augustine inlet, except for the lack of buoys). As others pointed out, the Explorer charts are the best guide for Bahamas.

Have an alternate plan to Green Turtle (like going south from Marsh instead) in case some lousy weather follows you. There is lots of great exploring all the way to Little Harbour. Enjoy your trip.
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Old 10-03-2011, 13:06   #7
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Re: Help. Whale Cay Passage Advice, Please

I expect that the charter company will brief you.

I was there in '92 and we had a good briefing; the cruising guide had a good explanation as well.
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Old 11-03-2011, 20:55   #8
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Re: Help . . . Whale Cay Passage Advice, Please

Never used Don't Rock, but I hear that if there is a rage outside, there will be a surge affecting Don't Rock. Makes sense.

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