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Old 06-01-2020, 01:10   #1
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Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

I have spent the last 3 years completely rebuilding a 1972 Pearson 33 with goal of my "Bucket List" cruise of Bahamas. At 69 I am still able to do all work myself and than we have a devastating storm. I am heartbroken for all the devastation for those who call these Islands home.

I do what I say and my plans have not changed. I am however feeling pressure from a few experienced sailors really making sense out of their concern. The suggestion is to wait a year. I am afraid it may not happen.....that being said, I am stubborn.

The boat will be sound as I have replaced everything new. My plan is to have boat finished to leave St Augustine mid to end March heading south on ICW. Stop at Marathon (to chill and engage with adult beverages) and choose a staging point.

Itinerary being Bimini, Berry Islands, Grand Bahamas and on the Eleuthera. Lastly, spend my 70th Birthday at anchorage in Exumas May 30 2020. My concern is that while I understand not all the Bahamas was destroyed, I do realize most resources are now committed to the devastated areas. That being said....provisions, potable water and diesel may be scarce.

I am hoping I can get some input and real experience/knowledge that I can use to clear my thoughts.

Regards in advance and Happy New Year!

GLC
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Old 06-01-2020, 07:52   #2
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

We cruised the Bahamas in 2016 and early 2019. In 2019, we checked in at Bimini, spent a month in the Exumas, jumped over to Eleuthera for a couple of weeks, then north to Abacos for three weeks, then quick run thru the Berrys and back to Florida and the jump across the Gulf to Texas. All of our trip was pre-hurricane. However, given your list, I know Exumas was not affected by the Hurricane, and neither was Bimini. I believe the northern Berrys - for instance, saw pics of Great Harbour marina - were damaged by the hurricane, and of course, Abacos really hit hard. I also think there was damage in northern Eleuthera, as I saw pics of damage in Spanish Wells. However, my recommendation to you is to subscribe to a more focused group in the area. I am on Facebook Bahamas Cruising and Sailing and you can get a lot of detailed responses from cruisers in those areas now. Also lots of people post pictures, and you can easily ask about support services in those areas. We have a catamaran set up for cruising with lots of solar and a watermaker, and have twin outboards and a boat that sails very well. So we possibly have fewer support requirements. We plan to return in 2021, and will probably spend more time in Berry's, Eleuthera and Exumas. I just turned 61 yrs old, so just a few years behind you. Our biggest challenges are the Gulf crossing from Texas to FLorida, and then the few deep water crossings to get to and within the Bahamas. (Mostly an issue with my wife's dislike of large waves!) All sailing on the Banks is generally easy. I also recommend buying a set of the Explorer Chartbooks for where you are heading, as well as getting a map chip that is Explorer chart based. They are the best charts for Bahamas. Finally, good planning will alleviate stress, but after having done Bahamas twice - starting from Texas, and then back - its really easy cruising as long as you pay attention to the weather. We use a InReach with subscription to OCENS weather service for that, as well as subscribed to Chris Parkers daily email blast, or catch his morning reports on cheap SSB receiver.
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Old 06-01-2020, 07:54   #3
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

Explorer chart books also list locations for fuel, water, grocery stores, etc. For the cays affected by the hurricane, you would need to confirm.
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Old 06-01-2020, 08:09   #4
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

Glcalahn, just go! Most damage was the Abacos and you aren't going that route. But even if you do, people are living there so there are enough “resources” of primary need and they would benefit the most from a visit and a few dollars spent. The Bahamas are always recovering from some hurricane.

Im headed over next month and know of many others also doing so. One of the greatest resources are the other cruisers, who will help those with a real problem.
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Old 06-01-2020, 08:38   #5
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

AquaMaps has the Explorer charts for use on tablets, avoid Navionics in the Bahamas: many have come to grief by following their routes.
Try passageweather.com for winds and waves as well as windy.com.
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Old 06-01-2020, 09:31   #6
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

Here is some info about post-Dorian travel from the official Bahamas website.

My understanding is that they have worked hard to get back on their feet as soon as possible, and any business they get now helps them to recover even faster.

I engaged with their chat to ask about what's up or not; below is their reply:

Quote:
At this time there is no area that is not open to persons traveling via private vessel. I do, however, recommend that you contact the Bahamas Immigration Department.


Here is a direct contact: 1-242-322-7530 immigration@bahamas.gov.bs.
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Old 06-01-2020, 11:11   #7
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

The Bahamas were not destroyed.

A number of man made structures were damaged in a few places, but the bays, islands, flora and fauna remain.

If your idea is to go from one resort to another visiting shoreside entertainments then you will be disappointed in what you find in some areas.

If you wish to see pretty anchorages, snorkel in clear water and sail among beautiful scenery then things are pretty much the same.

Hurricanes are a natural phenomena, they serve an important purpose in the scheme of things. If they happen to destroy things people build, and even people, it is sad for us for a while. It is the chance one takes living in that area.

Enjoy what is there. Life is short.

M
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Old 06-01-2020, 11:32   #8
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

Go. They are expecting you. Grand Bahama and the Abacos were destroyed by Dorian but the other islands and travel areas were not effected. They need your business now more than ever.
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Old 06-01-2020, 12:10   #9
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

We are doing that trip, less Grand Bahama now.

Join Bahama Land and Sea Face book group and get on with your trip.

Fair wings. A good check in is Great Harbour Berry Islands afre an anchorage on the banks for overnight after crossing.

Call ahead and Gt Harbour Marina will ais you without charge of fuss.

Mark
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Old 06-01-2020, 12:21   #10
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

The earlier posts make a lot of sense, especially about getting on some web sites that are more specific to the area you want to cruise.

I did read not long ago that the Green Turtle Club (on Green Turtle Cay, Abaco) is open with diesel. That is huge for cruisers.

By the way, I did it last March/April at the age of 70! Good Luck and have a ball.
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Old 06-01-2020, 14:07   #11
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

We just returned from Great Harbor Cay, Berry Islands a week ago. A few weeks earlier we were in the Exumas. We talked to a number of people who had been to Eleuthera.

There is no effect on any of the places you mention except Grand Bahama.

Go just as you planned, except ask people who have been to Grand Bahama just before your intended visit to find current information. There are boaters coming and going all the time, you can find someone who has been there days before your intended visit and get answers to whatever concerns you. There is no reason not to go to the rest, it is just as pretty and full of the most wonderful people as it always has been.

Seriously, get gone!
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Old 06-01-2020, 14:12   #12
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

First of all: You will be absolutely fine! Sadly the Abacos were devastated as well as parts of Grand Bahama. They are starting to rebuild and could use all the contributions they an get. Unfortunately I would not say they are the best places to fuel up or get provisions if you are not familiar where exactly to go. The rest of the Bahamas are business as usual. We have been here since Nov and have had no problems.

Second: Just curious about your itinerary... Bimini to Berries (OK) then all the way up to Grand Bahama and back down and over to Eleuthera, etc. I’m not poo pooing it - just seems criss crossy. Maybe Bimini, Berries, Nassau to reprovision then down the Exuma chain of islands. If time allows and you make it all the way south to Great Exuma, hop over to Long Island and/or up to Cat Island for a visit. From Cat, in good weather you can get up to Eleuthera (or get back to the mid to north Exumas and work your way up to Eleuthera). Then maybe you could visit the barrier islands of Abaco (if fuel is not an issue there still) and up around to Grand Bahama. From there it’s a good shot back to St Augustine. Not sure if that would allow you to spend your very cool 7-0 birthday in the Exumas but you never know - maybe you’ll extend your trip and still be in the Exumas the end of May. If so send me a PM and we’ll meet you to celebrate YOU!!
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Old 06-01-2020, 14:49   #13
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

I have not sailed there, so my response is not to offer any advice, mine is on post hurricane travel.

We went to Puerto Rico post hurricane. Everyone warned us against it. The people on the Island all stopped and thanked us for coming. They cannot rebuild without tourist dollars and you telling all your friends how much fun you had. The day after a hurricane no, it has been long enough to allow you to go down and enjoy.

They need the dollars.
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Old 06-01-2020, 15:23   #14
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

Definitely go. Too many people put off their cruising dream only to find that they waited too long.

The special age problem on a small sailboat is you need a certain level of mobility, steadiness and reflexes to be safe on a moving deck. Any of the three can go suddenly once you are past 65.

I'd skip Marathon. You can take the ICW to Marathon anytime. Go down to to Ft. Lauderdale and cross on a perfect weather day - in late March you won't have to wait long for such a day.

Stop a night at Bimini to clear but don't dawdle. Go onto the Berry's where you'll find a great introduction to the Bahamas. Both the marina and the anchorages are some of my favorites in the Bahamas. No crowds. No tourists. Beautiful. Great locals and cruisers to enjoy your adult beverages with. It had no damage from the hurricane.

Even in a normal years, cruisers start leaving at the end of March. They'll be happy for your business.

Your timing is good because late March through May are the best months. The nasty 3 day "Northers" of the winter are gone. The days are longer. It's warmer but not yet hot.

I've known several people who get to Great Harbor Cay and didn't feel the need to go any farther their first year. They stayed several months at GHC and left the Exumas for their second trip so they'd have something new.
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Old 06-01-2020, 19:10   #15
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Re: Thoughts about cruising Bahamas now.....

Happy New Year Thanks for all the response!


Based on some of the suggestions I will likely make changes to my itinerary!! No, I am am not going for the fine dining but am looking for the beauty of snorkeling these clear waters! Now the time frame of making Exumas my last stop is because my Bucket list Birthday is May 30th and put me into the perverbial Hurricane window of June1. Perhaps if Eluthera is not a logical way point within my "window" I will just have to reconsider!


Thank you all for your response! Fair Winds and see ya than......


Gary Calahan
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'72 Pearson 33
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