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Old 13-01-2004, 15:44   #1
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Question Ideal Draft for Bahamas Cruising

Wondering if any of you Bahamas veterans have an opinion on this. My boat (Aloha 34) has a draft of 5'6". After reading many accounts of sailors travels in the Bahamas I am beginning to question whether or not I am too deep. I still have a couple of years to get ready so I suppose if it is a big deal I could find something with a shallower keel. Any opinions on this?
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Old 13-01-2004, 17:05   #2
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Restless,

Your Aloha 34 will be fine in the Bahamas.There are a few skinny water areas where you might have to wait on high tide to get in and out of, but it's not a problem.I've sailed the area on a Beneteau 38, with a draft of 5'10",and aboard my 26 footer with a shoal draft of 3'2".Guess which one I had the least problems draft wise with

Aloha 34- Pretty boat. A friend of mine just sold a 32.
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Old 13-01-2004, 17:44   #3
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Thanks Stede....Your comment "Guess which one I had the least problems draft wise with" is telling though. I too would like to minimumize all the problems I can!
Thanks for the compliment on the boat. I'm going to try and put a picture or two of her in the gallery tonight.
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Old 14-01-2004, 03:34   #4
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<6' OK in Bahamas

“Southbound” (C&C29) successfully carried about 5'-8" (as burdened) throughout the Bahamas (excepting the Abaco’s - which, believe it or not, we never sailed). Although, in this instance, “Less is more” (Mies Van De Rohe), I don’t think that your 5'-6" draft should present a substantive problem.

As Stede advises, you can play the tides (range about 3 Ft), on those few occasions ,such as the entrance to Norman’s Pond, Current Cut, and perhaps Bimini [ which has been previously discussed ], when you want to cross a bar. Most cuts and passages (and anchorages) will accept up to 8' or better.

Those that recommend “shoal draft” (I'm not refering to anyone in particular - there's lots of them) for the Bahamas, are real “gunkholers” (OMO) - and you should not let their exhortations scare you off; unless you, too, wish to explore "off the path" (we use our dinghy for this).

In my (not so humble) opinion, anything under 6' draft (fully laden) is OK.

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Old 14-01-2004, 05:21   #5
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The reference I made to my 26 footer and her draft,was only a tongue-in-cheek remark.Having a boat with a 3'2" draft offers many advantages, but it also has as many disadvantages. However,I do enjoy gunkholing in the Florida Keys very much.When I was there, many sailors were envious of me as I cut back and forth between the bay side and ocean very easily.

As I look to upgrade to a larger boat,my baseline criteria includes no more than a 6ft draft.Part of my intended cruising areas will again be the Bahamas,Abacos,and Exumas.The funny thing about the Bahamas is that the water is very deep, or very shallow. But still, as Gord and I stated, you will be fine cruising with a 5'6" draft. Good luck with your plans!
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Old 18-09-2006, 19:29   #6
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I cruised for a total of about 24 months in the Abacos with a 5' draft boat. I had to wait a couple of times for the tides to get somewhere. That was generally 1/2 tide. I doubt you would have any real problems w/ 5' 6". You may not anchor quite as close in but mostly no one want's to because all the traffic then buzzes by you. You would still need to wait fo the tide in a few anchorages but traveling on the banks or in the sounds you will be good to go. I would miss it because of my draft. There are many boats there w/ more draft than you and they go. Our new boat has 5' 6" draft and I fully expect to go and enjoy the people and the diving.
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Old 18-09-2006, 19:55   #7
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Boats are either aground or not. It's always a close call in shallow waters. If your draft was 3ft you could still go aground. You learn quick after you go aground. My own estimation is after 5 or 6 times you get the message. Since I ran aground 5 times I've not been stuck since. I'll claim I'm getting better. Maybe I'm lucky.

You deal with it! I'm 5-3 and soon to be 4-9 I don't plan on sailing all that different. In 5 years I'll need the extra forgiveness when my senses dull.

You'll learn.
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Old 19-09-2006, 03:56   #8
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The Bahamas seem ideal for catamarans. If we were to cruise nowhere else, we'd consider going over to the "dark side".

A shallow draft allows you to run aground closer to shore.
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Old 19-09-2006, 05:59   #9
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Been doing the Bahamas plenty of times with 5 1/2 feet draft. (Loaded)
Have also ran aground plenty of times.

Not really a problem however.
The draft is not important for getting close to the beach.
Ya wanne stay away from the beach for bug-control: I usually anchor in 10 to 15 feet of water regardless.

(Whenever I see the ads for shallow draft boats anchored all the way up on to the beach I shudder: Doesn't squalls ever blow up in the ads? Those boats would be on their side, high and dry after a 20 minutte squall snorting @ 45 knots. )

Bimini has now been dredged and the new channel is well marked, ya can carry 10 feet into North Bimini these days.

Never had a problem in the Berrys or the Exumas either.
(Never been to the Abacos)

So, there is not a problem really.
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Old 19-09-2006, 06:09   #10
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Joe, we moved to the TCI a year ago, and I have been on the water here almost every day for a year. We live on one island, and I am doing repairs on a family home a few islands away. These islands are geographically the southern Bahamas, just not part of their political entity.

The difference between 5 ft. of draft and 2 ft. is enormous in terms of where we can sail here. After looking at everything on the market, and I do mean just about everything, under half a million bucks, the only clear choice for us here is a catamaran. Being able to choose which side of an island to be on is enormously useful. Being able to travel across real skinny water means we will always have options no matter what the wind is doing.

And after reading several articles about the best place for a boat in a hurricane ( aground in a mangrove swamp), it all comes together perfectly.

The Gemini 105 or 3400 seems to be the ideal boat for someone who wants to sail around here. Good cruising for two people who dont particularly want to cross an ocean, and 18 inches of draft with the boards up? Cant beat it. We are looking for one now.
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Old 21-09-2006, 14:00   #11
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Funny Story,

My inlaws sailed through the Bahamas on the way to the Caribbean. Friends sailing with them commented it was disconcerting seeing the speed higher than the depth. They sailed a Pretorien that drew about 6.5'

Can't remember hearing if they ever ran aground....
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Old 21-09-2006, 14:34   #12
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"Ideal Draft for Bahamas Cruising"

Ideal = 6 inches

Perfectly OK = 6 or 7 feet

The Bahamas are a very extensive archipeligo. You'll not run out of great places to go just because you draw more than xx feet. And, if you ever do, you just have to head further south where a 10' draft doesn't make any difference :-))

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Old 28-12-2011, 21:07   #13
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Re: Ideal Draft for Bahamas Cruising

Draft no problem man. stay in de water dats deeper dan de draft. Simple Sorry I had to do it.
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Old 29-12-2011, 07:07   #14
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Re: Ideal Draft for Bahamas Cruising

Quote:
Sorry I had to do it.
lol, had to do what, dig up a 7-year old post?
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Old 29-12-2011, 07:23   #15
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Re: Ideal Draft for Bahamas Cruising

With that draft you can pretty much go whever you wish. You just cannot go WHEN you wish. You will have to use the tides to get into some of the harbours.
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