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Old 25-02-2017, 11:03   #1
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1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

First thread: Going to Grand Cay, Double Breasted, Carters, etc in May early June. I'm unclear as to the best way to Grand Cay to clear Customs and Immigration, now that Walker Cay is shut down. Follow course from Memory Rock to Walker Cay, then cruising guide's directions into anchorage? Also, can I make 15 knots on the route across the Bank?
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Old 25-02-2017, 11:42   #2
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Where are you leaving from? Ft lauderdale to Bimini to check in is nice and easy.

If you are in a boat that can do 15kt. Why not? On a nice day the big center consoles will do 45 kts.
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Old 25-02-2017, 11:46   #3
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Sorry, should have said that: Leaving from St Lucie Inlet at around 6:30 am
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Old 25-02-2017, 11:52   #4
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terixxxx View Post
First thread: Going to Grand Cay, Double Breasted, Carters, etc in May early June. I'm unclear as to the best way to Grand Cay to clear Customs and Immigration, now that Walker Cay is shut down. Follow course from Memory Rock to Walker Cay, then cruising guide's directions into anchorage? Also, can I make 15 knots on the route across the Bank?
===

I've done that in our GB49 with no issues, leaving from either Ft Pierce inlet or Port St Lucie. If your boat is capable of cruising at 15 kts you'll have no problem with that either.

Do you have the Explorer chart books for the Bahamas? If not I highly recommend them.
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Old 25-02-2017, 12:07   #5
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Yes I do, plus I have most every guidebook published. Just nervous about cruising in such shallow water. Average depth here is 300+'.
I've cruised in the caribean in lagoons in relatively shallow waters using VPR, but in a speed boat with an outdrive tilted up when needed. Are the depths on the charted routes reasonable deep 'til you get close to Walker Cay?
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Old 25-02-2017, 12:19   #6
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

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Yes I do, plus I have most every guidebook published. Just nervous about cruising in such shallow water. Average depth here is 300+'.
I've cruised in the caribean in lagoons in relatively shallow waters using VPR, but in a speed boat with an outdrive tilted up when needed. Are the depths on the charted routes reasonable deep 'til you get close to Walker Cay?
===

Yes, you should have no problem at all if you stay on the Explorer chart routes. You will probably see some occasional dark spots on the banks but they are patches of vegetation not coral heads.
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Old 25-02-2017, 12:27   #7
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Great.
Thanks for your help, that eases my mind.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:22   #8
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Why not clear in at West End? Easy as well from St Lucie.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:35   #9
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Epirb and a "Bahamas chip" for the GPS are recommended. I would clear in at New Plymouth ( Green Turtle), dinghy in to the dinghy dock and then walk the 2 blocks to the office.
And remember to fly the yellow flag until you clear in.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:43   #10
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

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Why not clear in at West End? Easy as well from St Lucie.

Way out of his way if he wants to cruise the north around towards the east.


Teri,

Don't get too close to the north side of Walkers. There are a few shallow reefs there between seal island & walkers.

If you have time stop at Seal Island. On the western side of the island is one of those large open holes in the coral with a small tunnel leading to the ocean. By large I mean 40' across or more.
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Old 26-02-2017, 14:52   #11
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

In response to your professed nervousness over cruising the shallow Bahamas. About twenty years ago, several of us were sailing a 54-foot sloop with 6.5-foot draft from West Palm to the Abacoe. Around 2300 I had the watch alone approaching Memory Rock. Coming onto the Bahamas Bank I saw the depth finder suddenly read 4 and then 3!
I turned to the right to bring the boat into the wind, hoping desperately it would not hit the bottom too hard. Amazingly, the boat never touched, even though while in a near panic, I was still seeing 4 on the fathometer. Then I realized something was wrong with our gauge. I went forward to examine it closely and discovered that someone had changed if from reading in feet to reading in meters. I adjusted the fathometer, wiped the sweat off my brow, and turned back into the wind, ending my three or four minutes of hell.
So have a good trip and make a stop at the pretty lagoon at Great Sale Cay. You might enjoy my novel set in that part of the Bahamas, "The Navigator: A Perilous Passage, Evasion at Sea," found at my website: captstevestories.com
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Old 26-02-2017, 15:27   #12
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

Steve:
I'll look it up.
I've had experience going into and out of lagoons in the Caymans and know from experience that if the light isn't perfect, it's tough to gauge the depth.

So I though I'd ask those of you who have crossed the Northern route across Little Bahama Bank if the depths on the course laid out in the Explorer Chart Books is reasonably deep - I only draw 3.25'.
I know that once I get close to Walker Cay/Grand Cay, I'll have to go the VPR, but I'd like to cross the majority at speed (15.5 to 18 Kn)
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Old 26-02-2017, 20:24   #13
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

I did that trip with 3.7 feet of draft and never had a problem with the marked routes.

I did drag anchor in a lovely cove in the Abacos at O-Dark-Thirty and bumped the bottom with my solid lead, non-winged keel. I also soft grounded in Great Sale in the WNW section of the anchorage when I motored in too close.
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Old 27-02-2017, 06:09   #14
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

We crossed from West Palm Beach area directly to West End and checked in there. Very easy - downright painless. Then we headed north and then east towards Great Sale Cay. We draw about 5'8" and had no problems at all - just follow your charts very carefully. We also swear by our Explorer Charts. Bimini is too far south to check in for what you want to do. We are in the Exumas now after following down the Abaco chain, to Eleuthra, then to New Providence, and then down the Exuma chain. Have touched only once the entire trip on a very sandy bottom at low tide. Good luck!
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Old 27-02-2017, 07:06   #15
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Re: 1st Trip to Bahamas (Northern Abacos)

We checked in a Little Grand Cay there is a customs office at the end of the island since Walkers shut down. They will clear you in at walkers if your on an aircraft but that requires the customs agent to take a boat from Little Grand to Walkers. If the customs building on Little Grand Cay is locked just ask one of the locals (very friendly) and they will take you by the hand and find the customs people for you.
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