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duncan_ellison 02-12-2010 17:33

Government Cut to Bimini / Gun Cay
Looking for (sailing or otherwise slow) vessels planning to go from Government Cut, Miami to Gun Cay or possibly Bimini over the next two weeks.

Weather at the moment doesn't look good up for quite a few days, so we are holding up in Ft. Lauderdale at the moment.

This will be our first trip to the Bahamas, so would be nice to have some company on passage and / or arrival.

Duncan & Joan

capngeo 02-12-2010 17:55

You may wish to take advantage of the cold front's North wind and go now.... YES it is rough, but if you wait for fair weather, You'll be beating into Easterly Trades..

Vasco 02-12-2010 18:21

If you're in Miami try and get Shibumi on 16. They're at South Beach waiting to go. Tell them Breathless said to call.

rourkeh 02-12-2010 18:25

If you have a chart plotter it is a really short simple trip, maybe 60 miles. Go on the NOAA Marine weather site and check the sea state for wave height, if it is under 8' go. When you see the entrance to the harbor go just to the right along the beach and look for a pole on the beach make an aproach heading directly for the pole then a sharp left into the harbor. It looks like you should be able to head right around the edge of the point right in to the harbor, bad idea. Easy.Years ago we used to run over there in an 18' center console, or 22 donzi in all kinds of weather. Go for it. Good luck

Captain Bill 02-12-2010 19:11

Despite advice to the contrary given earlier, if this is your first time across the stream, I'll assume you don't have a lot of off shore experience. The stream gets pretty rough on a strong north wind. It's not that the waves are so big, it's that they're so steep. The wind opposing the current tends to stand them up. If the wind gets above 20 the thing can be like a washing machine. If you don't feel totally comfortable wait for condition in which you are comfortable. I suggest if you are stuck on the west side of the stream for a couple of days you migh want to work your way south a bit more to Key Biscayne. Any distance you make south will only help you when you go as the stream takes care of pushing you north and you make all the distance east instead of having to head south against the stream. I would suggest you go to angelfish creek, but you may draw too much water, about 5 feet is the limit for going through there. I looked at the forecast and it looks like you might get some WNW in a couple of days and while the usual rule of thumb is avoid anything with an N in it WNW is probably the least problematic for a crossing.

duncan_ellison 02-12-2010 20:01

Capt Bill, Capngeo, Vasco, rourkeh

Thanks for the advice - all greatfully received. Local knowledge is a great thing when boating and that's one of the wonderful things about this forum.

We have a well found boat and are not completely new to offshore work and messy seas, but I do understand that the Gulf stream is not something to be messed with and conventional wisdom from the books seems to be avoid anything with a N component in it if at all possible.

I've seen the effects of wind over tide and it can get ugly.

Plus keeping the First Mate happy with a relatively smooth crossing is an important factor.

We have a 15 - 17 day window to cross, so I'd hope we can find some reasonable weather within that period, but right now I can't see good one for a while.

I plan to make a very early morning start to ensure a daylight arrival and it's always nice have company when sneaking out of an inlet before dawn.

It did occur to me to get a little further south than Miami whilst we have the time, but it seems that quite a lot of cruisers do go Govt Cut to Gun Cay so I figured my chance of joining others was probably better from there.

Anyhow, if anyone else is interested in buddying up, just let me know, I can be flexible on the jump off point.

Duncan & Joan

night0wl 02-12-2010 20:13

You just missed a window to cross over. Earlier this week and for some time before, there were E-SE winds in the sub 10 knot range, which serves to calm things down out there. Then this cold front came through. The wind then shifted to S then SW for over a day...almost 2, before clocking around to NW and NE.

Its been forecasted to dissipate but there is another front right on its heels that is forecast to arrive on Saturday/Sunday.

Contrary to what has been said earlier...I would *NOT* make the crossing with winds with a Northerly component above 10 knots. Also, as you wait for your next window, realize that this cold front has been "feeding" the Gulfstream for almost 2 days with Northerly component to the winds. So its likely to be rough out there. NW is a bit unpredictable as NEAR SHORE, westerly winds smooth out the water on the east coast of FL. Offshore, its a crapshoot, but I suspect large rollers. There just wont be enough time for the stream to settle down before this next front blows through early next week.

Wait for these cold fronts to pass and for a sustained return of the SE flow for at least 2-3 days...then wait for another cold front to advance so that the windflow clocks to the South, then GO.

Motorsail if you have to.

If you're on a schedule...well, the Keys and SW Florida have tremendous sailing and great gunkholing to boot. Its a great backup vacation...with none of the marching elephants and nasty currents of the Bahamas crossing. :)

night0wl 02-12-2010 20:19

Just a heads up, this is Fowey Rocks (which as of today is 9 nautical miles west/northwest of the Gulfstream itself) wind it stands, you shouldn't go out there making a passage right now. With ~15-25 knots+ out of the North for over 24 hours...its just asking for pain.

I wish to make my earlier statements *MUCH STRONGER* about waiting it out for the SE flow to return to calm things down and leaving in advance of an approaching front. Right now...not the time.

imagine2frolic 02-12-2010 20:25

People wait an eternity out of South Beach, and for good reason. While you are waiting you can do the ICW south, and explore. When it's time to go, then go. The last thing you want to do is make your love unhappy, and uncomfortable. It could be your last sail with her.........i2f

night0wl 02-12-2010 20:51


Originally Posted by imagine2frolic (Post 570790)
People wait an eternity out of South Beach, and for good reason. While you are waiting you can do the ICW south, and explore. When it's time to go, then go. The last thing you want to do is make your love unhappy, and uncomfortable. It could be your last sail with her.........i2f

Don know any anchorages near South Beach that are tenable for the long term...but popular places to hang out in Miami awaiting weather windows as reported by my sailing club:

  1. Miami Marine Stadium - still free and unregulated. Can be close to Bayside Hut, which can have some raucus parties that go into the night and beyond. Expect to be buzzed by jetskis.
  2. Nixons/Key Biscayne Bight - still S, SW, W, NW winds. There is a hurricane hole here to duck into if you draw less than 6 feet and sound things out carefully with your tender
  3. No Name Harbor - very sheltered, right on the Cape Florida channel...but very very tight with questionable holding.
  4. Dinner Key - used to be great, but now its just one big mooring field. Gotta pay to play here...although some say you can still anchor outside the field. Flipside, its a very nice mooring field.
  5. Virignia Key - very exposed.
  6. Fischer Island - close to Gov't Cut, however huge tidal flow here so you'll swing hard on your anchor here
As I live in Fort Lauderdale, we like hanging out in Lake Sylvia. We live an hour upriver, so the night before a passage, we'll move out to the Lake. Then its 20 minutes to Port Everglades since we *just* fit under the 17th Street Causeway bridge.

imagine2frolic 02-12-2010 20:59

1 Attachment(s)
We used Star, Palm, & Hibiscus as a hub fore years. Even as late as this May. The police dock had free water, and the grocery was up the canal just south of the bridge next to the police dock.........i2f

s/v Moondancer 03-12-2010 09:32

The further south you start the easier the crossing because of the lesser angle into the stream, use the time to get to Miami or if you draw less then 6 ft go down Biscayne Bay to the north end of Key Largo.

Captain Bill 03-12-2010 10:11

I looked up the Hunter 45CC, If you have the shoal draft version you'll be fine going down to the north end of Key Largo, if you have the deep draft version steer clear. If you go down there a lot of boats wait around pumpkin key for a window. You're also likely to find some behind Key Biscayne though on NW wind it can get a bit choppy. At Pumpkin you can pretty much anchor in the lee of the island no matter which way the wind is blowing, but you reallu do need to have the 5 foot draft to get through Angelfish creek and then don't try it at low tide, especially a spring low. Most of the creek is plenty deep but the seaward end of the channel is narrow and shoally. I haven't been through there in two years so you might want to troll for more recent knowledge on the depths if you decide to go through there.

Entlie 03-12-2010 10:38

Usually crossing with a north wind is NOT FUN and it beats up the boat and crew. We have done this before and it is not conducive to happiness on board.

I'm sure some folks will disagree, but work your way down to No Name Harbour at the south end of Key Biscayne. It will be crowded, but there's always a spot to snuggle in and enjoy the camaraderie while you wait. It's further south, a better angle on the Gulf Stream, and further south yet is great, but we have left many times from No Name and had a great crossing. It is very close to the channel, so you are pretty much staged up from there.

Wait for wind south of east, or just turning south of east, at no more than 15 knots. While other folks are getting knocked around out there, you can enjoy Cuban coffee every morning at the little cafe. There's no internet unless you bike or walk (might be a bus) to the library in town, about a mile and a half away. There is a tiny laundry behind the bathrooms, and there's another cafe out toward the light house. If the weather is ok, you can anchor just outside and dinghy in.

Take your camera and photograph the large iguanas in the trees from your dinghy. There's lots of socializing with your anchored neighbors, most of whom are waiting to cross as well.

Not sure if you are a cruising couple, but this is a good way for us and much less stressful for me especially.

Sailing Catamaran Sunspot Baby

duncan_ellison 09-12-2010 19:13


Now at Dinner Key waiting for weather. Been here nearly a week already and can't see a clear window within the next week. Next Thursday looks like a possibility, but will need to see how it looks closer to the time.

Anyone else here doing the same ?

We ARE on a schedule, in the sense that we need to find a window before the 22nd December as that's when our US visas expire (yes, I know that's not the best way to plan a sailing itinery)

Nightowl, you seem to be pretty clued into the weather here - any comments ?

We intend to move down to NoName the night before, anyone got comments on the inlet there ? Looks a little shoally in parts.


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