recommendations on jumping off point from Florida to Bahamas
We are planning a trip across the gulfstream to the Bahamas in early May (2013), but are looking for some suggestions on a good jumping off place. We're considering leaving from Miami, or Ft Lauderdale, or Lake Worth. Also deciding on where to clear into the Bahams (Bimini, West End, etc.), but that will be driven based on wher we leave from. No agenda or nowhere we have to go.
Here is what we're trying to find on the Florida side: 1) deep water boat ramp where we can self launch boat into water, 2) near a place where we can spend up a week on a "shake down" run and wait for a weather window, 3) cheap moorage (on the hook, mooring field, etc.), 3) other like-minded cruisers hanging out - perhaps meet new friends for buddy boat crossing, 4) NOT fancy schmancy yacht club setting, and 5) a safe place where we can leave the truck/trailer for two months.
Any specific suggestions would be most welcome.
S/V "New Girl" on the dock