Hi All, CaptVR here:
Most of the advise you are getting here, the Capt's don't really have a clew, they never made the trip. You do not want to sail close to the East Coast
at all, you would be bucking the Gulf Stream all the way, that will take 1.5 to 3.5 knots off your speed, depending on where your at.. You can pick up a counter current
and give your vessel a boost of .5-2kts south. Keep your southerly heading right on down to Eleuthera, Bahamas. This route will give you a slight counter current most of the way.
If you don't have Pilots, and your planning on doing some open water
sailing. Pick up some wind
and ocean current pilots. Pick them up used for great prices at used sailboat parts
chandlery's, even 5-10 years old will still be pretty accurate. These will give you predominate winds and sea currents for different times of the year. These will detail things like counter currents where most charts
only indicate main currents. I used them for planning trips from a couple months to a year ahead of time. Just like most of the Skippers you just got advice
from, most did not know about ocean counter currents that would give you a boost south, if you go a ways off shore.
Besides, why would you want to be sailing away from your destination
. Traveling SSW away from your destination
. When your port is S of where your leaving from and you would have none to favorable currents most of the way sailing off shore. Made the trip a number of times, close reach most always, one winter trip had to tack 3/4 of the way, I would keep tacks no more than 20 miles over our Rhumb Line, still were doing better than 5 knts towards Provo, T&C on the Rhumb Line. Vessel was a 60' staysail schooner.
Hope this gives you some insight on your coming trip...
PS: Don't go close to Devil's Backbone, really swift currents and a jagged reefs
that has ripped open more bottoms than anywhere else in the Bahamas.
Also made the trip from the NE to South Florida
a dozen times. Never any fun, inside or outside. Large sailboats with 6'+ draft a pain in the ass on the ICW
Safe sailing all, Capt. Vince Rakstis Ret.MS St.Petersburg, Fl.