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Old 02-03-2010, 16:17   #1
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pirate Marathon, Fl to the Abacos for the First Time

Hope to leave Marathon around end of March and cruise over to the Abbacos. We have never done any cruising except near coastal, coming down to the Keys from Beaufort, NC.

Suggestions toward planning this trip.



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Old 02-03-2010, 17:41   #2

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Born and Raised in Beaufort living in Key West & Boston. Yes I have advice depending on your draft. Other would be look up Capt. Steven Seigen when you're there (abaco islands) . He will provide you with whatever you need or lost on the way over along with room and board if your civil, polite and offer help to him. He is a wealth of information and all around Island Man. He is from Boone NC and a retired Navy o-6 inside knowledge show respect.

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Old 02-03-2010, 18:41   #3
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I would suggest buying Steve Dodge's Guide to the Abacos
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Old 02-03-2010, 18:56   #4
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Kindle's absolutely right -- Dodge's is the best for the Abacos. Get the Explorer Charts, they are the "reference" for all the rest.

Routing from Marathon is somewhat depending on your draft, but one of the standard routes is to cross to Bimini and check in; thence across the north of Bimini crossing the Banks to the Berry's and then around the southern end of Great Abaco, coming into Marsh Harbor through Man O'War. That's a pretty safe route, even for deeper draft. If you're shallow, then there are other options.

Weather is, of course, a determining factor. This is especially true on your entrance to the Sea of Abaco, as you're going through relatively narrow cuts that go from deep ocean to shallow quite quickly. High NE winds or big swells can turn those cuts into very dangerous places, called a "rage" by the locals. The Abaco Cruisers Net (Barometer Bob - Abacos, Bahamas) is very good for weather and passage info.

Enjoy! The Abacos are very nice, especially a bit later in the season.

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Old 03-03-2010, 14:58   #5
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Marathon to Abacos

By late March the fronts will have stalled out a bit and you should have a nice passage. Leave Marathon and stop at Rodriguez Cay for the night. Then real early the next morning head out, but make a course (but a bit south to compensate for current) to West End/ Settlement Point of Grand Bahama Island. This way the Gulf Stream is helping you along and the passage should take about 12 hours.

Clear in at West End and take a slip for the night. Then head east past West End and stop at Sale Cay or if you want to push it or your speed is better than average, keep going to Allens Pensacola. From there head around the point to Green Turtle Cay. I think that this way is faster than south through Nassau and up to the Abacos, but check with Dodge and the Explorer Charts for their advice.

We did this passage some years ago from Miami and it was quite easy.

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Old 03-03-2010, 17:43   #6
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I'm in the Abacos now and have done something like 10 cruises here.

I like checking in at West End. (but have also been to Walker's, Lucaya and G.T.) It's an easy day sail from Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach. I like that one can anchor for free at Palm Beach to wait for weather, and also like that a pre-dawn start is easy from there. Fort Lauderdale is a better angle on the stream for SE winds, through I've only seen one or two of those days in the last month...(My last crossing was on a light north. That on a run was much easier than crossing on a strong SE close hauled)

Once in the Abacos, islands are close and you have the protection of the banks - it basically is "near coastal". In 2.5 months of cruising from northern Florida through the Abacos, Eleuthera, Exumas and back to the Abacos, I've never sailed through the night.

Count on most things costing about 50% more than in the U.S. However, the things I'd stock up on are boat parts and repair kits. Pasta may cost 25% more but blowing engine belt or impeller with no spare may seriously hinder your cruise if you don't have a spare on board

I personally think it's too bad so many people ignore the northern 2/3 of the Abaco islands. They have much to offer. I also think many much of the information makes one think easy things are difficult while some difficult things are easy. For example, the Indian Cay Passage is very wide and easy compared to say the Lubber's Cay or Double Breasted passes which are much shallower, wider and much more complex, but people think nothing of using. (I went through it a MLW 2 days ago)

I find both Dodge's guide and the explorer charts to be a great help. I highly recommend both. However, you always need to consider your own context and doing some of your own exploring. Finding out where the guides and charts are wrong can lead to some of the most wonderful times. Realize, most "anchorages" are based on the "prevailing" SE winds and may not apply to other wind directions. Again - look at your own context.

Anchoring is generally easy. I almost never pick up a slip or mooring. Even at West End I almost always anchor out (though I did pick up a slip yesterday when winds began clocking to the NE at 30+ (had to stay for crew change))

Marsh Harbour is the best place to provision in the Abacos. Old Bahama Bay and The Grand Cays have some basics. The settlement at West End has a few small stores. Elbow Cay, Man-o-War, and New Plymouth (Green Turtle) all have stores resembling corner grocery stores you would find in the States. I haven't been to Fox Town or Cooper's Town yet, but believe they have basic groceries as well.

Beer and wine is somewhat reasonable at a couple places in Marsh Harbour and the liquor store near the dock in Green Turtle. In many places you will pay double what they charge. (I paid $2/can for Heineken and $2.5 for Guinness)

Towns I like are New Plymouth and Hope Town.

More isolate Islands I like are: Strangers, Joe's, Jacks, Big Carter's and Manjack. The trails and beaches on Manjack are really nice. (Powell also)

Favorite (accessible) snorkeling: Fowel Cay, Sandy Cay, the reef off NE Great Guana and the reef NE of Elbow.

Biggest advice: Wait for the right weather for your gulf stream crossing.

Other Advise: Understanding and using tides opens up all sorts of possibilities.

Have a great time. The Abacos are truly a wonderful place to cruise. I wish I could stay here forever.

- Dave Z.
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Old 30-03-2010, 22:07   #7
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Aloha and welcome aboard

You've found a lot of information already. Hope it helps.

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Old 31-03-2010, 14:45   #8
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Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
... Marsh Harbour is the best place to provision in the Abacos...
Certainly a little outdated, but perhaps worth reviewing and updating, see also:
Provisioning in Abaco

Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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