Why Nassau? Why not trailer
to the Keys, and do your sailing there. The Gulf Stream crossing can be really dangerous in a small boat
. And the conditions when you pull away from Florida can be quite different than what you would encounter during the crossing, especially on a small boat
that doesn't sail especially fast.
Regarding time, on our last trip we made it from Kemah
in ten days. Took the ICW from Bolivar to Rabbitt Island - all motoring with several stops - then jumped offshore
. Then hop to Biloxi, Dauphin Island, and then Pensacola
. We stayed at Palafox marina there and played tourist in the historic district. Get a Skipper
Bobs Gulf Coast
guide to help you determine where you can stop, bridge openings, canal transits, etc. Might as well buy his Bahamas
guide too. They are both cheap
, and have some good info.
Left Pensacola and sailed overnight to Port St Joe, then overnight to Clearwater. Day sails
to Longboat Key, Cayo Costa, Naples, then anchored offshore
of East Cape (Cape Sable), then on to Islamorada - where we stayed for a few days doing final provisioning and waiting for weather
to cross. We crossed from Snake Creek and then into Bimini - I think a distance of about 85 nm, that took us about 12 hours (overnight). That's about a week of travel time from Pensacola to Islamorada, plus add however much time you want to stay along the way. So that's 17 days of motoring and sailing to get from Kemah
to Islamorada. We generally plan on three weeks to a month, accounting for some weather
and exploring, and tourist days. For reference, we motor
at 5.5 knots and sail at 7 knots to over 9-10 knots if we have really favorable wind.
From Bimini we went to Chub Cay. This is always a challenging run to do in daylight hours. Its 97 nm, and we had decent wind and made it in 12.5 hours. And it was rough, so anchoring
on the Banks was not possible, so pushed on to Chub.
Next we left Chub heading for Nassau, but bailed out to Bonds Cay in Berry Islands because of unfavorable waves and direction (4-6 ft, with 7 footers). Next day have favorable 40 nm run to Nassau.
Not sure why the choice of Nassau? Our friends were anchored out on their first night, and scared away a thief who boarded their boat
. We stayed at Nassau Yacht Haven marina, and they locked the gate at night and patrolled the docks. Nassau was a great place for provisioning, and we had some great food
shacks, but I wouldn't spend much time there. From there we went on to the Exumas
, and spent about a month there cruising all the way down to Georgetown
We are heading out again in March, this time going to the Abacos. And we will plan to take about a month from Port Aransas to the Florida east coast
crossing point. To be quite honest, the Texas
to Florida trip is my least favorite, and if I had the ability, I would trailer the boat
. But not feasible with our catamaran
My advice: get your experience sailing on Galveston Bay. It can get rough enough for a taste of what moderate offshore conditions can be like. Then trailer your boat to the Keys, and spend your time sailing and cruising there. Or charter
a boat out of Miami, and go to Nassau.