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Old 10-12-2023, 04:45   #1
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Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

I'm leaving charleston tomorrow morning, hopefully by 11am, heading east south east through the gulf stream and then turning south towards man-o-war cay. I have a deep draft (8.5ft) and this is my first time to the bahamas. I'm hoping to arrive wednesday evening, I expect in the dark. I'm going to try to make enough easting to come at the channel slightly from the east, so the building winds are more aft of me. But even though I would normally try to slow down to approach in the daylight, I'd like to get in behind the cay before the wind/weather gets nasty Thursday morning.

I will enter the north man-o-war channel and tuck behind the cay and anchor near corn bay in 10ft+. Is there anything that I should watch out for/be aware of? Is this a terrible plan?
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Old 10-12-2023, 05:14   #2
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

Aside from the poor advisability of entering a new-to-you narrow cut in the dark, you donít mention the primary risk along these north facing inlets in the Bahamas. It is actually not the local weather, but rather large swells arriving from distant North Atlantic storms. They set up conditions the locals, very aptly, call a ďRageĒ.

Looking at the weather, it appears you will be arriving just as the swells from the northern end of the weather system you are racing ahead of begin to arrive. Especially on an outgoing tide even Man-of-War cut can be untenable in an Rage and coming in at night you would have no idea what the conditions were until you were in it.

We have hove-to offshore for over 12 hours waiting for a Rage to subside before entering this cut. That was in very mild conditions locally, but a large storm had spun up in the North Atlantic. In your case, that would delay your arrival right back into the potentially powerful frontal passage.

My opinion: terrible idea.
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Old 10-12-2023, 05:33   #3
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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Especially on an outgoing tide even Man-of-War cut can be untenable in an Rage and coming in at night you would have no idea what the conditions were until you were in it.
^^This^^ I wouldn't go anywhere near the Abaco reef entrances in anything from the north. It looks like Windy is showing strong winds from the north on Wednesday. Big swells can break right across the entire channel during a Rage. I would never attempt any reef approach to the Bahamas in the dark.
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Old 10-12-2023, 05:43   #4
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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^^This^^ I wouldn't go anywhere near the Abaco reef entrances in anything from the north. It looks like Windy is showing strong winds from the north on Wednesday. Big swells can break right across the entire channel during a Rage. I would never attempt any reef approach to the Bahamas in the dark.

Yup, with the current wind/wave forecast, NO WAY.
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Old 10-12-2023, 06:32   #5
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

Thanks for the advice guys. Can you elaborate on what happens with a North swell on those cuts? The entrance to man-o-war cay looks reasonably wide and deep. Not that it's really possible, but if I could arrive in the daylight on Wednesday afternoon would that be reasonably safe?
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Old 10-12-2023, 06:38   #6
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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The inlets through the rocks, reefs and islands are relatively shallow, have strong currents and are often only a few hundred feet from a steep wall drop-off into great depths, where a storm swell, which has traveled freely for hundreds of miles or more, isn’t affected. When that swell feels the wall and then the shallow bottom, it is indeed enraged. We’ve known of people breaking their backs while trying to come into an inlet in rage conditions, and we’ve known of boats that were lost or capsized, including an island freighter with an experienced captain.
https://www.soundingsonline.com/boat...running-inlets
We were there when a PDQ cat was rolled over trying to negotiate Whale Cay Channel in a Rage. From inside the waves looked like something you might see in an extreme surfing video channel.
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Old 10-12-2023, 07:30   #7
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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Originally Posted by Muaddib1116 View Post
Thanks for the advice guys. Can you elaborate on what happens with a North swell on those cuts? The entrance to man-o-war cay looks reasonably wide and deep. Not that it's really possible, but if I could arrive in the daylight on Wednesday afternoon would that be reasonably safe?

You are going for very deep (hundreds or even a thousand feet) to 20 or so feet in a very short distance. That 9' wave (current prediction 10 PM Wednesday 12/13: https://www.ventusky.com/?p=26.63;-77.46;8&l=wave&t=20231214/0300 in deep water turns into a "rage" and will be very steep and likely be breaking when it hits the shallow water.


PLEASE, wait for a better weather window. Another option would be to day hop down the U.S. coast while waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream AND enter the Bahamas.
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Old 10-12-2023, 07:52   #8
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

Measuring a weather window in hours is reckless. Forecasts cannot be measured in hours. The Whale is no place to take chances even in broad daylight.

PS. Disney abandoned their resort development there years ago largely due to the dangerous conditions of getting their cruise ship into Bakers Bay
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Old 10-12-2023, 09:29   #9
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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Originally Posted by Muaddib1116 View Post
Thanks for the advice guys. Can you elaborate on what happens with a North swell on those cuts? The entrance to man-o-war cay looks reasonably wide and deep. Not that it's really possible, but if I could arrive in the daylight on Wednesday afternoon would that be reasonably safe?

I sailed there once in a bareboat Beneteau 35, probably in 1995. They had these cute little things like called Guide Books. Gee, can you imagine having to read a book? To enjoy a sailing vacation? Well, IIRC, one of the very FIRST things that little diddly book taught me was about Rages. We were there in February and even after a week of storms when we had a house ashore and another week of beautiful calm weather when we started to sail, that rage was still cookin' at the end of the second week, and we couldn't go as far north as we'd planned. Still a delightful cruise.


That cut is notorious.

Point being: you ain't qualified to go there if you're asking this most basic of cruising that area question.

Have a safe journey and enjoy yourself - after you finish your homework. I'm pretty sure those guide books' kinda information is available on the internetywebbytubie thingie. Gee ya think...?
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Old 10-12-2023, 09:30   #10
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night vet a long distance.

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Originally Posted by Muaddib1116 View Post
Thanks for the advice guys. Can you elaborate on what happens with a North swell on those cuts? The entrance to man-o-war cay looks reasonably wide and deep. Not that it's really possible, but if I could arrive in the daylight on Wednesday afternoon would that be reasonably safe?
You are setting yourself up for a very bad situation. Letís assume you get there at 1500, and you look in at the cut and see waves breaking across. Maybe you radio in to the harbor and the report you get says itís treacherous.

Now what? Do you hang out off shore and weather the frontal passage in offshore deep water? Or do you risk running the cut? You have two bad choices. Not bad as in uncomfortable, but bad as in dangerous. Sit tight in Charleston and wait for a proper weather window. Do not try to race the weather.

If you need a description of what happens when large swell piles up on a very rapidly shoaling reef, you donít have the experience to do this on the fly. It is very different than waves approaching the inlets on the east coast where the water shoals VERY gradually and wave energy dissipates over a long distance.

Now, to be sure, Man-o-War Cut is the best cut in the Abacos to use in marginal conditions, but it is still subject to conditions that will prove to you your boat makes a very poor surfboard. That is a lesson you do not want to learn by personal experience.
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Old 10-12-2023, 12:08   #11
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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If you need a description of what happens when large swell piles up on a very rapidly shoaling reef, you don’t have the experience to do this on the fly. It is very different than waves approaching the inlets on the east coast where the water shoals VERY gradually and wave energy dissipates over a long distance.

Now, to be sure, Man-o-War Cut is the best cut in the Abacos to use in marginal conditions, but it is still subject to conditions that will prove to you your boat makes a very poor surfboard. That is a lesson you do not want to learn by personal experience.
....especially in the middle of the cloudy night! Beyond terrifying!

If the frontal passage comes earlier than expected, your projected Wed. afternoon arrival still may not be early enough.

Our experience has taught us, like Sailing Harmonie wrote, don't try to race the weather, doing so can leave you with no good plans B & C, and could lead to loss of life as well as loss of boat.

Fwiw, for us, it is common to leave at night to arrive early in the morning. However, I'm getting the feeling this might be your first offshore passage, and my opinion is congruent with the others expressed here: wait for a better window. Use the time to pick a different departure location and time.

Finally, about the Rages, there is probably an observation station for them, that will tell you in advance what the wave heights are. Use your waiting time to determine when they actually start, relative to the frontal passage, and how long the storm endures will determine how long afterwards it takes to settle down. It is the time of big storms in the North Atlantic. You may be surprised how long it will take for all those big swells to settle, by crashing in there. They sort of stack up, and build higher and higher. The cut can be cut off for two weeks, mentioned above. This is a huge warning for you.

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Old 10-12-2023, 12:57   #12
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

We are currently in the Abacos. With your timeline, hereís a plan that I think is feasible:

Leave in SE direction, going straight across the gulf stream.

As soon as youíre through, turn south, making sure to stay east of the gulf stream and ride the counter currents that are often there.

Enter the Little Bahama Bank at Matanilla shoal, then proceed to Great Sale Cay to anchor and let the wind run out. Once you are on the bank, things are easy on your boat and Great Sale has good protection. Radar works goodif you would arrive in the dark.

We came from Canaveral and continued in 18-20kts from the North during the night to Green Turtle Cay for checking in. I highly recommend this route and check-in which is easy and pleasant, but for you the wind is on the nose too much and itís your first time here.

I havenít done Matanilla shoal entrance in hard NE wind but really think itís doable while I agree with others not to take the NE facing entrances, not even the Manjack channel. By postponing making more easting until on the bank, you are in relatively protected waters where the seas will only be maybe 3í

Attached the route east over the bank.

Weíll be in the Manjack/GTC area. Checking in can be done by taking the dinghy in.
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Old 10-12-2023, 13:40   #13
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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Finally, about the Rages, there is probably an observation station for them, that will tell you in advance what the wave heights are.
Unless something has changed, there has never been an official source for this information. You might or might not raise someone on the VHF radio who has a view of the pass from inside. I have observed big breakers across some of these passes on perfect sunny days with the wind from the south because of long swells rolling in from some distant storm. Others with better knowledge will hopefully chime in, but I am not certain you have 8.5 feet of depth the whole way from the Mantanilla Shoal to Green Turtle, and then can you get into Green Turtle?
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Old 10-12-2023, 13:43   #14
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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Unless something has changed, there has never been an official source for this information. You might or might not raise someone on the VHF radio who has a view of the pass from inside. I have observed big breakers across some of these passes on perfect sunny days with the wind from the south because of long swells rolling in from some distant storm. Others with better knowledge will hopefully chime in, but I am not certain you have 8.5 feet of depth the whole way from the Mantanilla Shoal to Green Turtle, and then can you get into Green Turtle?
Yes, 8.5í isnít a problem.
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Old 10-12-2023, 14:01   #15
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Re: Entering north Man-o-war channel at night

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I have observed big breakers across some of these passes on perfect sunny days with the wind from the south because of long swells rolling in from some distant storm.
Exactly this!

A proper rage has nothing to do with the local weather. The worst I have observed was with a 25 knot wind blowing hard from the south, and huge rollers coming from the north. Spectacular to watch as the south wind ripped the spray off the breakers and blew it back out to sea. There were pipeline breakers across all the Abaco cuts.
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