charts for the bahamas
I have not seen anyone mention charts. If you are going to cruise the Bahamas, the ONLY charts to use are the Explorer Charts. They come in three books, and all the way points are spot on. And DO NOT rely on your chart plotter when navigating the Bahamas. I have seen too many boats go aground, blindly following their chart plotters and not looking overboard at the color of the water; especially on Witches Point south west of Marsh Harbor on Great Abaco. One friend went aground there when we were buddy boating with him. When I went aboard to help him kedge off, he showed me that his chart plotter had him smack in the middle of the channel; but one look overside and one could see that the water was too shallow.
As for going on down the Jersey coast, Manasquan can be dicey. Also, If we have a forecast for 2 days of a westerly or northwester when leaving Cape May, we always just go straight down the Delaware coast directly to Norfolk. It is two days and a night sail. (do you have an auto pilot?) Once in the ICW, the trick is to RELAX and enjoy the trip. Don't push it as it is a fun trip in and of itself, only if you don't look at it as a delivery; but, as an adventure. Besides Skipper Bob's Anchorages on the ICW (as Camaraderie recommends) get the chart book and a highlighter and highlight each buoy as you pass it. That way when you need to do a quick check of the chart because you are not sure what you are looking at ahead, you will have a quick reference point. That will be especially useful as you will be single handing.
We always cross over to the Abacos from Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach. We wait for a good forecast of a southerly to westerly breeze and we leave at about 10 pm so that we arrive on the banks at 7 am and then continue on to Great Sail Cay so we don't have to put in at West End and pay a marina fee. Also by leaving at night, we can sail even if we are not making good time. If you leave in the early AM to do a day passage, you have to push to make it to West End by night fall.
Good Luck and Oh Yes, definitely come down the LI Sound and stop in the Norwalk Islands or the Five Mile River and we will arrange a mooring for you for the night.