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Old 12-12-2019, 07:00   #1
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First cruise to the Bahamas

We are thinking about making a cruise to the Bahamas from Florida, in February next year, for about a month.
I have sailed through a few times on deliveries, but never actually cruised the place.
In view of the devastation of Dorian, could people in the know advise where we might now go. Where would we check-in, (from Fort Worth), and the cost for a cruising permit, and any other up to date advice?
My 45 foot schooner draws 6’6,” so I know we will be restricted. But we are a self-sufficient boat, so we don’t anticipate spending much time in marinas, more on anchor in protected bays.
Thanks in advance. JR
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Old 12-12-2019, 07:46   #2
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Re: First cruise to the Bahamas

Here's a link for information regarding cruising permits for boaters: https://www.bahamas.com/faq/enteringexiting-policies
From Fort Worth, you can be in the Abacos quickly, but it will be very different this winter due to Dorian. I am trying to go to the Abacos in my own boat for March and April. Should be plenty of services for boaters by then, but all islands will still be in recovery mode. Another option for you might be to clear in at West End, Grand Bahama, or in Nassau. From there you could cruise Eleuthera and the Exumas, both of which were unaffected by Dorian. At 6'6" you will have to pay close attention to where you're going, but you will be fine. I cruised the Exumas in 2016-2017 with a 6'6" draft and had no real issues.
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Old 12-12-2019, 08:23   #3
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Re: First cruise to the Bahamas

This winter I would definitely call and verify that any services you want in the Abacos or on Grand Bahama are actually available. We normally go from Lake Worth to West End, Grand Bahama to check in, then across the Grand Bahama banks to the Abacos, then down to Eleuthera and the Exuma. In addition to the Dorian pain the marina at West End has been going through some sort of bankruptcy/hostile-takeover/who-knows-what and may or may not be in business. Last year it was possible to check in at West End without the marina being open. I have not heard any reports of post-Dorian shoaling or uncharted depth changes in the Abacos but with your draft that would be a concern.

This year we will likely go down to Biscayne Bay first and then cross to the Berry Islands, check in there, then on to the Exumas. We have heard some recent negative reports about crime levels in Nassau and on New Providence post-Dorian but checking in there with an overnight stay in a marina is probably still easy. There are a couple places you can check in in the Berrys, or you could stop in Bimini as well.
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Old 15-12-2019, 00:18   #4
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Re: First cruise to the Bahamas

The exumas are lovely (amazing actually) and seemed to avoid the worst of the storm(s).
You could spend several seasons exploring there, and were it not for having to run to safer waters for hurricane season we would have never left.
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