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Old 03-08-2015, 13:44   #16
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

Ive been sailing the Bahamas since 1986 and I was told by many "old bahama hands" that 4 feet should be your draft of choice. I have lived by that and only been aground a few times! I have a few friends that sit far more
than they sail!
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Old 03-08-2015, 13:47   #17
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

From the lighthouse I counted 96 boats in Hopetown harbour, include marinas, over 300 boats in Chicken harbour in winter.
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Old 03-08-2015, 13:55   #18
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

All,
Thanks for the input; I'm not stuck on Catalina's, I've also been looking at Pearsons, Endeavors etc. I'm trying to stay under 25K or so, but really feel I need under 5ft; looking at some full and 3/4 keels (Watkins, Pearson, etc) as well. Not ruling anything out, the Catalina I mentioned in my initial post was just a really nice boat (very well maintained).

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Old 03-08-2015, 14:21   #19
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

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Originally Posted by mhansen View Post
All,
Thanks for the input; I'm not stuck on Catalina's, I've also been looking at Pearsons, Endeavors etc. I'm trying to stay under 25K or so, but really feel I need under 5ft; looking at some full and 3/4 keels (Watkins, Pearson, etc) as well. Not ruling anything out, the Catalina I mentioned in my initial post was just a really nice boat (very well maintained).

Mike
That's a good budget. I'd look at listings up to about 35K or maybe even 40. You never know how a seller will respond to a cash offer. This is a great time to really wear out a bunch of Yacht Brokers. Just take your time & enjoy the process. I'd keep the draft under 4'. You'll be very glad you did. A whole lot less stress.
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Old 03-08-2015, 21:23   #20
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

To echo many of the comments. The draft is important especially since you will be casual cruising. In Florida (both coasts but especially the gulf) there is significant difference between 5+ and 4.5 if your out for a long weekend. Including getting into marinas. Winter tides are considerably worse. I draw 5.5 and there are only two marinas I can get inyo except at summer high tide. Only one if it is winter slack tide. Several inlets are there same. Of you are serious cruising then it doesn't matter as much as you can plan. But on quicker trips the less draft will make it much more enjoyable.

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Old 04-08-2015, 06:11   #21
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

I have a 41' Morgan Out Island ketch and a 46' Cheoy Lee trawler that I charter. For cruising the Florida Keys and Bahamas I prefer my 41' sailboat with a 4'3" draft. I can cruise either side of the Keys without a problem on the ICW. Sometimes, it is desirable to cruise the lee side of the Keys to Key West when the easterly tradewinds are howling.
My 5' draft on my Cheoy Lee causes problems when navigating shallow areas of the Keys and Bahamas and especially the ICW.
I would advise getting a shallow draft boat of less than 5' if you are looking to cruise the Keys and Bahamas. That will allow you into more anchorages and harbors when you need get out of the weather. You can still find a sailboat >40' with <5' draft.
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Old 08-08-2015, 13:22   #22
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

This.. in spades.

I have cruised the Bahamas with 4'3" draft and personally would not consider anything with a deeper draft for such a cruise..

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Well....... even if you don't run aground, the draft limits where you can go, especially if you are going to have a pocket cruiser type of boat. Yes I have done the Bahamas in 6-5 draft, but also done it in less than 4 ft. I'll take the latter.
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Old 08-08-2015, 18:02   #23
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

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This.. in spades.

I have cruised the Bahamas with 4'3" draft and personally would not consider anything with a deeper draft for such a cruise..
We are 7'; we've not yet been skunked in the Bahamas, other than that local knowledge proved mistaken about whether we could get past the shallow turn at the top to get to the anchorage over the top and down again.

As we thought it unlikely, we sounded it in the dinghy beforehand so weren't in any danger of touching.

You can see where we've been so far this year if you go to tinyurl.com/flyingpigspotwalla, and click the arrow next to our name near the top left. Make adjustments be 4 months; you'll see us all over the Bahamas, as well as two trips out of and into Vero Beach.

I don't disagree that less draft gets you more places. But we've never regretted our draft for anchoring, and the dinghy(ies) get you where ever you wanted if you were shallow draft...
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Old 08-08-2015, 21:28   #24
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

The sailor that does not feel restricted by his deep draft is simply the sailor that accepts the restrictions that his deep draft requires. Much like the goldfish that does not feel restricted by it's goldfish bowl.


Today's words of wisdom.
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Old 09-08-2015, 05:34   #25
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

Flats boats go where most of the folks here can't, either

But they're probably not much fun to sleep on or cross oceans with...
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Old 09-08-2015, 07:54   #26
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

Look at the Bayfield 29. It has 3' 6" draft and is very well built. Lots of nice wood on the interior too.
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:16   #27
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

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All,
I'm still looking for a replacement for my Catalina 22, swing keel (now that I'm definitely settled in NW FL), for what I expect to be "mostly" coastal cruising (possibly to the FL Keys or Bahamas at most) over the next 6-8 years or so. Although I'd love to cut the dock lines and head off on extended blue water adventures, that's just not in the near future. I'm looking at a 1985 Catalina 30 Tall rig, that seems in great condition (pending survey; especially looking for that "Catalina smile"), and "appears" to have been cared for very well. With a draft of 5ft 3, it's not getting into some of the area's I'm used to, and I'd prefer a skeg mounted rudder (vs spade), but my main concern is use in the gulf. with my little 22 I really had to be very selective of conditions if I ventured out, but I assume the Cat 30 should be able to handle most of what the Gulf of Mex. could present on those pesky FL afternoons and get me safely to Biloxi, Tampa or Key West... possibly Bahamas. Interested in thoughts from Catalina 30 owners (or others) on if I'm overconfident in this boat.
thanks
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See the following thread and look for post 7. That 25 foot boat has draft of 16" and is relatively low cost used.

While it is not what I would want to go around the world, it is a boat that appears to me to be a good choice for shallow water sailing environments like Bahamas and west coast of Florida or the keys. In the right conditions it looks beach able and I think it would suit me as a single or short cruises as a couple.

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Old 09-08-2015, 11:13   #28
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

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The sad fact is that channels & the ICW are, for the most part, poorly maintained, if they are maintained at all, in Florida. Shoaling is common & shallow water outside of channels is the norm.
I ran hard aground, in the middle of the ICW north of Marathon, with a 5 foot draft. I also ran aground in government cut at Apalachicola between the channel markers.

Five feet is the most draft I ever want to take to the Bahamas. Every foot of draft knocks you out of more places in Florida, the gulf coast, and the Bahamas.

But, I would take a Catalina 30 to the Bahamas in a second. It doesn't matter what you are in if you cross the Gulf Stream in the wrong conditions. A friend of mine took a Hatteras 61 across in a north wind because of a scheduling issue (always a bad idea). He said if was horrible. I went across in a Morgan 38 in a north wind once when I was younger, and I was thought is was horrible, too.
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Old 10-08-2015, 17:58   #29
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

I sail the central Florida waterways and can sympathise about wanting shoal draft. the waters are "skinny" in much of Florida. I would say anything less than 5 ft draft is a decent size cruiser is a great compromise. You won't be that limited. A more important consideration depending I where you are is mast height. Bridges and power lines where shallow waters don't allow for cables is frankly a bigger limiting factor. I sail an Colombia 8.7 in the Indian rjver and local waters and find it (at 4' 8" or there about) to not be a problem at all.

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Old 10-08-2015, 19:03   #30
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Re: Coastal cruiser / Bahamas?

It's absolutely true that if you have a 5' draft & you choose never to go anywhere that there is less than 5' of water you will never have a problem. However, it's also true that there's a whole lot of places in Florida where the water is less than 5' deep.
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