Originally Posted by RichH
For a 2 ~week cruise Id recommend the Abacos.
With the proper weather window ... Leave Ft. Lauderdale for West End (Old Bahama Bay Marina to check in and overnight) or direct to Sale Cay via Memory Rock - about 24 hrs. and then check in at Spanish Wells, etc. Leave from Ft. Lauderdale well before dawn to cross the memory rock in good daylight ... its all 'visual piloting' at Memory Rock.
From there are plenty of anchorages from Great Sale all the way to Marsh Harbour and Hopetown (not to be missed). Only difficulty will be needing a good weather window to pass the Whale Cut between Guana Key and Marsh Harbour. Powell Cay, Manjack Cay, Guana Cay (Nippers !!!), Green Turtle Cay, ManOWar Cay, Anglefish Cay, Treasure Cay (harbor), Marsh Harbour, Hopetown. Hopetown is not to be missed ... its shallow getting into Hopetown, just wait for tide and scape bottom a few times; take the southernmost channel into Hopetown for the (relative) deepest pass. Pick up a mooring inside Hopetown Harbor (fee).
Snorkling is good on most reefs and there is a small 'fantastic' reef (Mermaid Reef) within walking distance from the 'Jib Room' in Marsh Harbour, on the (inland) Sea of Abaco ... for when its 'rough' on the 'outside'.
If this is your first time to the Bahamas, suggest you get the Explorer chart book for the Abacos ... contains all the dos and donts including the Gulfstream crossing, etc. The EXPLORER charts are probably the ONLY charts that come close to accurate for these waters. The newer Garmin Chartplotters also come preloaded with Explorer Charts for the Bahamas.
When Crossing the Stream follow a MAGNETIC course to West End and ADD ~15-20°M ... to your course to compensate for the Gulf Stream Flow this will produce an S course and will give the fastest passage across. If you follow waypoint to waypoint on a GPS you'll buck the stream and wind up too far north of West End. Coming back head for Lake Worth and SUBTRACT 15-20° from your magnetic course.
The best advice I can give for this crossing ... when you go out the inlet and look at the far horizon, if you see what looks like 'elephants' marching in phase along the horizon, do a 180 and go back and anchor.
I've done Bimini a few times, but not the Abacos. Is 9 days enough to reach and enjoy Abacos..then get back? I have a 2010 explorer near bahamas, will likely update it. I wont have 2 weeks proper (14 days). We'd also leave out of Port Everglades. ON the way back, I'd assume I need to head for Haulover INlet in order to land at Port Everglades. I'm aware of the guidance to not enter the stream in anything from the NOrth over 10 knots. Heck, in our club races, you can SEE the change in sea state...so I try to hug the stream or stay right outside of it in order to catch some of the 3-4 knots when its ripping north.