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Old 18-03-2019, 14:23   #1
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Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

I own a 28" Clark San Juan sailboat 1978 and was asking what other people think of my sailing this 6,500 lb boat over to the bahamas next winter. I plan on taking the ICW down to fla. and jump the stream from there, about 60 miles I figure.
I've been sailing her for over ten years all over the chesapeake bay and feel like she is sturdy enough to get over the stream, my boat, the Illusion, sails beautifully but I have never sailed in ocean swells and am concerned with
downwind sailing with fin keel and spade rudder.
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Old 18-03-2019, 14:27   #2
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

I would have no concerns, just pick your weather.
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Old 18-03-2019, 16:42   #3
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

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I would have no concerns, just pick your weather.
Yep, sit patiently and await a good weather window. Then enjoy the Bahamas. If this is your first cruise, make sure you have good anchoring gear and an engine in good shape.
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Old 18-03-2019, 16:51   #4
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Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

I donít think you will really do a lot of downwind sailing, once here, most travel is North / South and the prevailing wind is East.
However you can sail every day, the days without sailing wind are rare, at least in Winter, I suspicion however that in Summer they go away.
I think the Bahamas is a small boat paradise, everything is one day away, and if you are shallow draft, that opens up a whole world that the big boats canít access.
However bring anything y9u may think your going to need with you, donít expect to buy any boat part here, even engine oil is rare.
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Old 18-03-2019, 17:00   #5
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

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I would have no concerns, just pick your weather.
For sure, weather will be the determining factor, I'm not crazy I hope.
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Old 18-03-2019, 17:02   #6
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

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I donít think you will really do a lot of downwind sailing, once here, most travel is North / South and the prevailing wind is East.
However you can sail every day, the days without sailing wind are rare, at least in Winter, I suspicion however that in Summer they go away.
I think the Bahamas is a small boat paradise, everything is one day away, and if you are shallow draft, that opens up a whole world that the big boats canít access.
However bring anything y9u may think your going to need with you, donít expect to buy any boat part here, even engine oil is rare.
Thanks for the input, it helps to boost my confidence as this will be my first time out of sight of land and in the ocean.
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Old 18-03-2019, 17:07   #7
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

My boat draws 4.5', which is not really deep but I have grounded her numerous times in the mud of the chesepeake bay. I also understand that prices for just about everything cost twice as much as in the states. So my plan is to bring everything I can think of with me including extra parts and maintenance items. Does fresh produce cost alot as well? It would be good to get that sort of thing fresh of course
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Old 19-03-2019, 05:14   #8
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

Many years ago I sailed a San Juan 23 to the Bahamas. I live in Florida, and my vacation schedule is very flexible, so I was able to wait for the perfect weather window and then head out. It was a lot lumpier than anything I had experienced before, but never felt dangerous.


As long as you don't allow a pre-set schedule to tempt you into trying it in the wrong kind of weather, you should not have any problem. And remember that you will need a good weather window for going across, and then again for coming back.


Good luck.
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Old 19-03-2019, 05:54   #9
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

I didn't find fresh produce to be unusually expensive or hard to come by on the larger islands. It is more expensive and not always available on the out islands, like Green Turtle.
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Old 19-03-2019, 10:26   #10
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

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Originally Posted by Illusion65 View Post
I own a 28" Clark San Juan sailboat 1978 and was asking what other people think of my sailing this 6,500 lb boat over to the bahamas next winter. I plan on taking the ICW down to fla. and jump the stream from there, about 60 miles I figure.
I've been sailing her for over ten years all over the chesapeake bay and feel like she is sturdy enough to get over the stream, my boat, the Illusion, sails beautifully but I have never sailed in ocean swells and am concerned with
downwind sailing with fin keel and spade rudder.
I am very familiar with the 1978 San Juan 28 having owned one for 10+ years (1995-2006) here in the Northwest. Like you I eventually wondered how it would handle in blue water so I sailed around Vancouver Island in the preferred counterclockwise direction. The trip was great and the west side of Vancouver Island very remote and fantastically beautiful but it convinced me that she was not a blue water vessel of choice even though the weather we had was rather sublime in the Graveyard of the Pacific. The swells were something new and just had to get used to.

I take nothing away from the design and truly loved the boat as we had many solo voyages together to British Columbia and even to Alaska...she was just not designed for open water.

I'll admit that a short 60 mile jaunt is tempting. Should you still decide to go make sure weather and sea conditions are ideal and make all the preparations that offshore voyagers undertake.

Good Luck.

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Old 19-03-2019, 10:43   #11
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

Pick your window, as has been noted, and note the current of the Gulf Stream and calculate your set and drift so you can steer the most effective course. You don't mention whether you even have a motor, but inboard or outboard, bring extra fuel in case you get no wind, but loads of current. Sixty miles could become 90 pretty quickly in terms of COG.
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Old 19-03-2019, 11:12   #12
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

If you want some practice sailing in the ocean, why not sail down here to the Southern part of the bay then sail offshore for 20 miles or so.

You could anchor at Kiptopeke and head straight out in the morning when the wind is usually out of the SW during the Summer months

You could also just sail out to Chesapeake Light which is about 16 miles offshore and back just be sure to keep an eye out for the shipping traffic
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Old 19-03-2019, 12:36   #13
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

We had a Cal 27, 6700 lbs. We took it to the Abaco's three times from Pompano Beach, FL. You will need to pick your weather window though. Any North wind component will cause the Florida Current (a.k.a. Gulfstream) to look like marching elephants. It takes about 12 hours to get from Pompano Beach to West End, Grand Bahama. We prefer to depart ~ 0400 and arrive for check in around 1600. After that, you are on the bank with few shallow areas. Find a travel buddy boat if you are uncomfortable with solo crossing. Night crossings are very dark unless there is clear skies and a decent moon. Freighters appear out of nowhere, and they are run 20 kts.
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Old 27-03-2019, 10:01   #14
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Re: Light or heavy displacement sailing pros and cons

Met a young guy a few years back that had purchased a 28 footer in the southern states and proceeded to sail to Honduras where he wisely chose not to land. He then turned north and sailed home to Newfoundland. Had a good time according to his telling. The boat was old and not particularly well rigged but not too challenging when not on a schedule. Given the shape of his boat I would think your journey would be without issue if approached sensibly.
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