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Old 13-08-2019, 09:51   #1
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Sailing against the Gulf Stream

Looking for advice from anyone that has traveled from the Bahamas to the West Coast of Florida...

I know a lot of my questions are dependent on weather, vessel, crew etc..

Assuming waiting for an appropriate wx window onboard a 42' Cat..

How rough of a trip is it?
Can you reasonably go direct from a southern point in the Bahamas to Key West or is it more likely to hit a point in South FL and then follow the coast?
Is hugging 50 miles (or so) off Cuba and then heading north an option?
Can you cross into the gulf further up the Keys (rather than rounding Key West) with a 68' mast (from what I see it's all fixed bridges at 65')?

Thanks so much for any insight/advice!!
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Old 13-08-2019, 10:57   #2
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Re: Sailing against the Gulf Stream

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Originally Posted by COHeliPilot View Post
Looking for advice from anyone that has traveled from the Bahamas to the West Coast of Florida...

I know a lot of my questions are dependent on weather, vessel, crew etc..

Assuming waiting for an appropriate wx window onboard a 42' Cat..

How rough of a trip is it?
Can you reasonably go direct from a southern point in the Bahamas to Key West or is it more likely to hit a point in South FL and then follow the coast?
Is hugging 50 miles (or so) off Cuba and then heading north an option?
Can you cross into the gulf further up the Keys (rather than rounding Key West) with a 68' mast (from what I see it's all fixed bridges at 65')?

Thanks so much for any insight/advice!!

Unless you want a very slow trip, I suggest you make landfall further north in the keys near the north end of Islamorada and go through Snake Creek to the gulf side. It's a Bascule bridge. Power lines on the west side are 76 feet so should not be a problem. After that you are clear to go up the west coast without worrying about bridges. I am somewhat assuming that you draw less than 5 feet on a 42 ft cat. If you really want see key west you can always go down Hawk Channel and go through Key West channel without fighting the Gulf Stream. Once you are south of Key Largo the stream runs more east than north and you'll end up with a long slow trip outside of the reefs.
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Old 13-08-2019, 11:05   #3
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Re: Sailing against the Gulf Stream

Easy. Cross the GS as quickly as you can. Then head south in 10 fathoms. This will minimize the amount of current you have to fight. South of Miami pick up the Hawk Channel and run that to Key West. Make the turn and head up.

FYI even in deliveries I refuse to run Hawk at night. There are way too many crab pots. Heading north get deeper than 10 fathoms to avoid the pots.
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Old 13-08-2019, 11:36   #4
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Re: Sailing against the Gulf Stream

My two crew members and I made the trip in 2004. We passed to the south of South Riding Rock in the Bahamas at 13:30 EDT on June 17 on our way back to Florida. We passed south of Molasses Reef Light (Florida) at 01:40 EDT on June 18. We motor sailed. It was a pleasant crossing. Then we continued motor sailing southwest down the Hawk Channel to Stock Island, where I planned on anchoring and clearing in.

There is a bascule bridge at Snake Creek. The charts show 4 feet (MLLW) before the water gets deeper at the west end of the creek. My boat needs 6 feet, so I cannot go that way.

Paul
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Old 14-08-2019, 08:26   #5
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Re: Sailing against the Gulf Stream

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Originally Posted by .Paul. View Post
My two crew members and I made the trip in 2004. We passed to the south of South Riding Rock in the Bahamas at 13:30 EDT on June 17 on our way back to Florida. We passed south of Molasses Reef Light (Florida) at 01:40 EDT on June 18. We motor sailed. It was a pleasant crossing. Then we continued motor sailing southwest down the Hawk Channel to Stock Island, where I planned on anchoring and clearing in.

There is a bascule bridge at Snake Creek. The charts show 4 feet (MLLW) before the water gets deeper at the west end of the creek. My boat needs 6 feet, so I cannot go that way.

Paul
You know, it’d be nice if you could provide some specifics! Lol! (Nice information)
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Old 14-08-2019, 08:34   #6
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Re: Sailing against the Gulf Stream


On our November trip to Marco Island, we had to round Key West, as the reefs and power lines were not compatible with our 75' mast and 4.5 ft draft. So, we hugged coast of Florida to stay north of gulf stream. Viewing the Keys from the boat is fantastic, and we were rewarded with following seas, and were able to clock 14 knots on our Leopard48. Don't forget to stop in Dry Tortugas while you are over there. WELL worth the extra time.
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Old 14-08-2019, 09:09   #7
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Re: Sailing against the Gulf Stream

I did this trip both ways in the past year, and depending on wind/weather you can choose to use Snake Creek at Islamorada or go via Key West. Islamorada cuts off about 60 nm if I recall vs going around Key West then back to the Northeast, depending on where you are heading. Likely much more motoring though as the channel up to Florida Bay is narrow at times and mostly E-W. We waited to go through Snake Creek until high tide and didn't see anything less than 7 feet of water. Our mast is 70' and no problem with the power lines at the bridge over Snake Creek.
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