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Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
A cruise hugging the coast down from Hilton Head to Lake Worth, Lauderdale, etc. is not a bad idea, but I have not sufficiently researched that alternative. I know the ICW would generally work, although there are depth/ tide concerns in Georgia, and bridge concerns in FL. Neither concern is major, but they could slow us down (we were making roughly 75 statue miles a day Norfolk-Charleston) The condition of the ICW in Georgia is partially why we've looked into a SC-Bahamas passage.
Based on research, the current seems to be very tight to shore in South Florida. I think Charleston, SC-Jacksonville, FL could be done outside the ICW, but without crossing the Stream. I'd think after Jacksonville we'd be pretty much restricted to ICW until we wanted to make the crossing. Regardless, it is an option that should be considered. I would say this approach, or simply ICW to the West End crossing is just as, if not more likely than a Charleston-Abacos passage. Reality is the weather is most likely unfavorable, so instead of holding out in Charleston waiting for a window that may never come, I would make progress south, likely going so far as to make the more traditional passage from Lauderale-Bimini-Abacos the only option.