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Old 08-16-2013
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Question Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

Hello, everyone! I'm new to the forums and somewhat new to sailing (only been sailing 6 months). I took to the feeling of sailing and that was it! I kept sailing, did months of research, talked to a lot of folks, looked at a lot of boats and picked up a used 31' 3/4 keel Cutter in good condition. The hull is extremely seaworthy - tested that out while in [dive site] mooring East of Elliot Key. Thunderstorms, shoals 10 feet below, 4-6 foot waves, etc. etc. It was a rough couple nights. After owning the boat for a couple weeks I have been sailing from Dinner Key Marina to the outer coast of Elliot Key and in that area. Round trip its 30 miles. I suppose I should mention that I live aboard.



Now that we have a bit of background, let's get to the real point of the thread: I'm a noob and I want to cruise the Bahamas (and maybe farther). I have done a fair amount of research on Gulf Stream Crossings and decided for my first longer term cruise I would like to sail from Biscayne to Bimini. What I am asking for is some deeper insight on Gulf Stream crossings - maybe some links to good resources I have not had the luck to find. Also, any advice or referrals to businesses or people in the area that could help would be amazing.



I am anxious and excited to get cruising after the last 6 months of classes, sailing on my own, purchasing a boat, etc. but I will freely admit that the Gulf Stream Crossing scares the crap out of me as I have never attempted any such crossing before or been with any sailboat that has.



If you respond to this thread your information will be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by Flinthawk; 08-16-2013 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 08-16-2013
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

I've been crossing from your area since 1978 with Grand pa and as lately as last year. I alway's leave out of Angle Fish Creek at midnight and motor sail across to Bimini, arriving around noon. If I sail it on my enginless sloop, I leave out of Matrathon. But I have'nt done that in a long time and probably won't again. You want to leave at mid night to get there in good light. It's a pretty straight forward crossing in most regards, just head 100 deg. out of the creek, maybe a little more like 110 in the middle of the stream, you'll get there. Oh, and don't do it in a norther.
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Old 08-16-2013
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

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Originally Posted by Capt.aaron View Post
I've been crossing from your area since 1978 with Grand pa and as lately as last year. I alway's leave out of Angle Fish Creek at midnight and motor sail across to Bimini, arriving around noon. If I sail it on my enginless sloop, I leave out of Matrathon. But I have'nt done that in a long time and probably won't again. You want to leave at mid night to get there in good light. It's a pretty straight forward crossing in most regards, just head 100 deg. out of the creek, maybe a little more like 110 in the middle of the stream, you'll get there. Oh, and don't do it in a norther.
Why not Rodriguez?
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

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Why not Rodriguez?
That will work to. We kept our boat in Black Water sound as kid, so we would sail up to pumpkin key, nice protected anchorge in Card sound, and motor out through the creek at midnight. Rodriguez was a long way's away ( 1/2 day more) and would be as well for the OP I don like Rodriguez for very long and ceratinaly don't consider it a weather anchorage. That's just me. I'm not crazy about it's east or northerly protection or the holding. But it is ceratainly a good hop off spot.As long as you are in mid to north Key Largo when you take off. I like the creek or Pumkin Key as a safe place to wait for weather to pass.
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Last edited by Capt.aaron; 08-16-2013 at 02:58 PM.
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

Certainly agree with you on the northern thing. I cannot imagine being there in a northern. In fact, I would probably go aruond to the other side of the island. We have never drug there (knock on wood).

We wanted to go check out Molasses and Jesus. Have you dove that?

Brian
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

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Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
Certainly agree with you on the northern thing. I cannot imagine being there in a northern. In fact, I would probably go aruond to the other side of the island. We have never drug there (knock on wood).

We wanted to go check out Molasses and Jesus. Have you dove that?

Brian
Not since the 80's, Molasses was where I learned about reefs, and also I hear is one of the only places in the where Barracuda school, which was intimidating as a 12 year old snorkler. I did stop and swim there last year as i was passing for nostalgia sake, and the water was a clear and the reef as beautiful as I rememberd.
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

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Originally Posted by Capt.aaron View Post
I've been crossing from your area since 1978 with Grand pa and as lately as last year. I alway's leave out of Angle Fish Creek at midnight and motor sail across to Bimini, arriving around noon. If I sail it on my enginless sloop, I leave out of Matrathon. But I have'nt done that in a long time and probably won't again. You want to leave at mid night to get there in good light. It's a pretty straight forward crossing in most regards, just head 100 deg. out of the creek, maybe a little more like 110 in the middle of the stream, you'll get there. Oh, and don't do it in a norther.
Excellent information - thank you!
My little cutter has a Diesel Inboard... but its just a 12/13 HP 1-stroke. In Biscayne Bay I can motor 2 knots with no sail. I don't have the experience most of you do but after feeling the lack of power my engine has... I am quite nervous. The cutter has an Outboard attachment installed and I was thinking of attaching a 5-15 HP as an auxiliary engine to be used for storms or crossings such as this. What do you folks think about that idea? Please keep in mind I have not made such a long cruise before and am not an expert sailor.
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

Na, The out board will just bop up and down and cavitate in the stream. I think any way's. Maybe some on has a diff. exp. Your engine needs something done to it, you should be getting more push out of it. Is the prop coverd in growth, does it need rings, I would have it checked.
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

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Excellent information - thank you!
My little cutter has a Diesel Inboard... but its just a 12/13 HP 1-stroke. In Biscayne Bay I can motor 2 knots with no sail. I don't have the experience most of you do but after feeling the lack of power my engine has... I am quite nervous. The cutter has an Outboard attachment installed and I was thinking of attaching a 5-15 HP as an auxiliary engine to be used for storms or crossings such as this. What do you folks think about that idea? Please keep in mind I have not made such a long cruise before and am not an expert sailor.
It can get bumpy out there. In some weather, I have seen it so flat it looked like ice. I have also seen it really ugly (dancing elephants).

You need to back into your time. You will pick up something in the stream (2 knots there, maybe 3 IIRC right Aarron?). So you need to figure out what kind of speed you can realistically make and plan on a noon arrival. Noon because it is in the middle of the day for best visibility and it allows you leeway either side. You dont want to go in at dark. Better to just heave to and wait it out.

I have taken the Mollases reef cut at night, not Angel like Aaron has done. And it is closer for you. He is right. My suggestion is to load up on diesel, and when you go, sail and motor as hard as you can to get through. Better to get there too early then too late.

Also, Bahamas is off our list until November. You need to keep an eye to the sky. I would not want to do a storm there. THat is why I am hanging in Boot Key. But everyone has a different opinion and risk tolerance. Up to you.

Brian
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Old 08-16-2013
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Re: Getting to the Bahamas from SE Florida for Noobs

Check your distances and fuel consumption. You're planning on a trip of maybe 50-60 miles? At 2 knots that's a 30 hours trip - are you prepared for that? Enough fuel? 2 knots seems very slow! Is your boat bottom clean? There can easily be 2 knot currents in the cuts in the Bahamas, so you'll either need to time everything for slack tide or work on your motor.

In general I'd say, look for a three-day weather window with no north in the wind. Then leave on Day 2. That gives the Stream a day to settle down before you get going. The most turbulent part will be the west wall that you'll reach 5-10 miles off the Florida coast, assuming weather conditions are the constant (no north wind!). The oversimplified navigation would be to figure out how long you'll be in the Stream (10 hours at 6 knots, for example) and guess that you'll be pushed northward an AVERAGE of 2 knots. So in 10 hours, you'll be pushed north 20 miles. As you leave Florida, set your compass heading as though you were making for a point 20 miles south of Bimini, and you'll end up about right. And normally I'd totally agree about leaving at midnight to arrive in good light. if you really are only going to make 2 knots you'll have to leave at dawn the day before.

Good luck, the Bahamas is a beautiful cruising area!
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