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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Caribbean
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Caribbean East and West and including the big islands and the east coast of Central America and Northern littoral of S. America


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Old 03-17-2013
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Florida to Bahamas in May

I am planning on going to West end then Abaco. I have a 3.5 draft. I hav a Cal 20 that I will trailer down. I will need a Marina to launch it and somewhere to store my van and trailer. I was thinking Ft. Lauderdale area. I will two kids 12 and 8. Any ideas?
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Old 03-17-2013
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

That is a small boat to take across the gulfstream...is she hardy?
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Old 03-17-2013
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

Leave the kids at home!!!
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Old 03-18-2013
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The boat is solid. If she can handle Lake Erie she can make it from Florida to the West End. People take over 19' West Wight Potters all the time.

I will bring my family over after I cross the stream. My wife will not sail or fly so I will have to bring them over on a power boat or ferry.

The hard part will be getting the equipment I want and keeping everything safe. When I did law enforcement I found out that you can't control life but the better you are trained and equipped the better you can handle when things go wrong. If you plan for the worst, pray for the best you end up in the middle. I have spent tons on stuff I have never needed but the times I have I have never regretted it.

I have been caught on Erie in bad weather and have a great respect for the water. I learned very quick when I was on a run about and watched sailboats glide past me that they can handle bad weather better than most power boats.

I could buy a bigger boat but that defeats the purpose. The Cal 20 is a tough cheap boat that I can trailer easy. I can tow more with a 3500 van but if i burn more than the boat cost in gas then it would not be worth moving.

I like the 20 because it is simple and parts are cheap. The 3.5 draft doesn't hurt either.
With the cost of the boat being so low I could have not chartered one for a week or two.

The May timeline is pushing it a bit, only giving me a month to shake down the boat.
It depends on how well I can outfit the boat and how much time I can get on it between now and then because it is still frozen in Michigan.

It will not be as epic as Black Feathers or Lone Gull but 60 miles across the Gulf Stream will be like circling the world to me. It will make It'l Do immortal letting her take her place in blog history with the other Cal 20s.

So maybe it is a dream but isn't that what sailing is about. I just get annoyed by cruisers that think you need to sell your,house to buy a boat and cruise. I do not need a ice maker or a 150k to sail. I took a 1978 motor cycle and set a record before on a pizza drivers budget. I was not the wealthiest out there but listening to the old timers I was the fastest.

So the point is properly set up with good planning and weather this should be an amazing trip (and safe). I could sit here and read about adventure for years or when the ice melts go do it.

Last edited by campuscab; 03-18-2013 at 05:41 AM.
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Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

As a teen I crossed the gulf stream on power boats multiple times with my father. We almost always cruised from Stuart, FL because it's a lot closer to West End than Fort Lauderdale.

If you extend your search for marinas up into Jupiter-Stuart area you may have a shorter crossing.

I'm a new skipper, and haven't made the crossing yet. I'll be sure to moniter your progress here to see how it goes. Best of luck.
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Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

Crossing from Florida to the Bahamas on a FIXED schedule on any boat is not wise. On a 20ft sailboat with a small OB it is REALLY not wise.

Sure if conditions are benign and nothing goes wrong you will make it from FTL to West End. So WAIT for a favourable forecast before leaving.

BUT I would have a bail out plan that might see you cruising down the Florida cays if the wind has any North in it or is blowing 15knts + from the East.

I have made the trip to the Bahamas a few times in my 38 ft steel ketch which is a good blue water boat. The only time I had concerns for her safety and stability was when I got caught out in the Gulf Stream with the wind coming from the North.
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Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

Since this has already been done, you need to up the ante to make it even more epic!

To broaden the appeal to a wider audience, you should combine this with a specific diet. How about 4 people sailing the Bahamas on a 20 foot boat, subsisting only on a heart-healthy diet of beans, broccoli, bran and beer, with a typical meal of vegan chili and beer?

You could call it "Blogging the 5 Bs" then videotape the claustrophic conditions during bad weather when much hilarity ensues with the hatches closed.
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Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

It needs to be on a YouTube channel though as I haven't any tv access to speak of. I'm a fan o hilarity.

What's the old lady going to do? The one who doesn't sail or fly? I mean not about gettig there- I mean once there?
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Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

Firstly, crossing the Gulf Stream in any boat is not akin to sailing on Lake Erie and to think otherwise is naive in the extreme.

Further, even with favorable southerly winds, the water between the Coast and the Banks is riven by 4-6 foot waves fairly closely spaced which are the bane of a boat like the Cal 20. On a broad reach in such conditions you'll be very lucky if you can average 4 knots. Considering the average drift in the Stream, you'll be driven a good 36 to 40 miles north in the crossing. At your best average speed, you'll have to steer roughly 090º M to maintain a course to West End from Ft. Lauderdale which will require a good 16-18 hours assuming you're not beset by one or more squalls during the trip which, at that time of the year, is unlikely. You'll either need an iron butt or a wind vane, tiller pilot, or pretty capable 12 YO to manage the boat in the conditions you'll find for such a time period.

If you wish to undertake such a voyage, it would be wise to find another, adult, adventurer to share the experience and the effort; or, to do a heroic single handed sail about which you can bost, and let your children and spouse joint you once you've made the islands (although as you describe her, your wife may not be too thrilled with the sailing on the Banks once she arrives). Note too, on your return trip you're likely to arrive at St. Lucy or Cape Canaveral so you'll have quite an interesting cruise back to Ft. Lauderdale.

Frankly, considering that the Keys are much akin to the Bahamas but are less costly and more easily accessed, it might be wise to do your cruising there, no?
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Re: Florida to Bahamas in May

Really? The keys aren't all that akin to the Bahamas. That's like comparing lake eeir to the stream. What- they're both navigable waters? What- they're both island chains of similar geography/ geology.

Florida sucks. The bajamas are pretty sweet.

What is the no sailing no flying wife goin to do?

I'm all for you doing the passge in the cal 20. I don't think it'll do much for the immortality of the boat or you however. And I'm curious about background- ie- how long have you spent out crusing with the famdamily in the 20 at a time?

Anyway- me- i say head south for a shorter passage- ie Bimini. And i would be stoked to hav a 20 footer with 3.5 foot draft around andros. So hit that up- pretty excellent sailin and fishing and not much of a cruiser/ yacht scene. It's like being in a foreign country!!!

The banks in any kind of cold front or other real wind will get a really big steep short chop that'll be pretty intense in a twenty footer. You'll likely feel pretty beat up after a banks passage if its blowing at all- say 15 or so. You can get Long period swell in the stream that'll be fine. Or- you won't, and likely feel pretty beat up after the Gulf Stream passage as well.

But it's all coastal crusing. Watch the weather. Compare a few sources. Blah blah blah. All the normal advice.

Don't listen to anyone tell you the keys is the way to go. If you want the bajamas Teh keys can only disappoint.

It's very possible that this whole idea is simply terrible however- and that you might be better off singlehanding for a couple weeks- making a couple big passages and then meeting the family at Disney.


Or I would sail over- meet the family and all stay someplace and just day sail. Maybe take an overnight. 20' isn't a family boat. Especially with a no sailin no flying wife. Duh.
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