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ambitious/rubbish 10-14-2013 10:32 AM

U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
Good morning,

My father and I have just completed leg 1 of our journey, taking our '98 Dufour 45 classic down the Chesapeake, through the ICW to Charleston, SC. We're taking a two weeks off to perform boat maintenance, plan, etc.

Knowing that a north wind makes the Gulf Stream nearly unpassable I was thinking about taking the ICW further South in order to make days not suitable for crossing productive. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find many established routes south of Hilton Head, SC until Florida. Why does no one seem interested in crossing from say Savannah, Georgia? Are there good departure points between Charleston, SC and North Florida aiming for the Abacos? Any advice or experience that can be shared is greatly appreciated, if anyone has questions about our ICW experience I would be happy to share (although my knowledge is limited to one trip, albeit a very pleasant and successful one).

RTB 10-14-2013 11:08 AM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
You'll be fighting the Gulfstream. Here is a recent thread that might shed some light -


Yorksailor 10-14-2013 11:20 AM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
The further south you set off for the Bahamas the better. Miami to West End is an easy sail. Jacksonville to West End much harder because you are heading into the Stream.

Do not be seduced by straight lines. The easiest route from Charleston, and we have done it several times is:

Outside from Charleston to Jacksonville then close to shore down the Florida coast where there is a counter-current going south. If the weather is bad just stay in the ICW

Personally I would go as far as Lauderdale, many would recommend Riviera Beach, so that I rode the Stream to West End.

Whatever you do you have to counter the minimum of 30-40 miles of northing that the Stream creates as you cross and it is much easier to make the corresponding southing on the Florida coast.

Going outside is really very benign and easier than the ICW providing you pick the right 2 day weather windows. If you jump off far north you will be out there long enough for a low to march off the coast and you are likely to be in some very nasty conditions.

Good luck

ambitious/rubbish 10-14-2013 11:26 AM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
So basically too much time fighting the Gulf attempting a crossing above Florida? We'd prefer to run 24 hours and have constant progress towards our destination, so I'd prefer not to cross from Florida over the bank, I'd rather start more north and aim for the East side of the Bahamas (Abacos). Does anyone attempt this type of crossing? A Florida crossing means another week in the ICW, which is totally possible, but less than preferable.

ambitious/rubbish 10-14-2013 11:31 AM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
York Sailor- Outside Charleston-Jacksonville to avoid the tide/ shoaling issues in Georgia? Crossing the Stream on that leg or hugging closer to shore? Why wouldn't you jump from Charleston straight to the Eastern islands of Bahamas? Too many weather concerns, too much time in the Stream? Is it simply not preferable, or does it border on not possible?

Yorksailor 10-14-2013 11:48 AM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
I am assuming that because you chose the ICW that you are not comfortable with being off-shore for several days in 40 knots of wind and 15-20 ft seas.

We are too big for the ICW but we never used it when we had a smaller boat or did deliveries. If you draw 6ft Georgia can be difficult.

We came down from Charleston November last year and we went into Jacksonville for fuel and breakfast after a night of near gale force winds and seas. There we met a 4 man semi-pro crew that had bailed into Jacksonville after 4 days of being uncomfortable.

My wife loves being out in that stuff and we might go directly but it is not guaranteed to be benign.

ambitious/rubbish 10-14-2013 12:06 PM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
We did the ICW for multiple reasons, partially due to lack of experience on the ocean, but most importantly to save time. I can't say I'd be thrilled to be in seas of 15-20 feet and winds at 40 knots, but the boat is certainly capable, with the right crew I'd say there isn't much our boat couldn't handle. Since our crew is somewhat short on experience I want to make a crossing that is reasonably safe, and somewhat ease into it, but still challenging, adventurous, and enough to push my skills and comfort zone.

I feel we can get a reasonable forecast 4-5 days in advance, and would not attempt a crossing, especially such a long crossing, in North winds or similarly bad weather. The weather concern gets us back to the original question, would it be prudent to take the ICW down into Georgia and cross from there if we cannot start our crossing as initially planned from Hilton Head, SC? (is the initial plan even safe/ reasonable, or overly ambitious?)

Personally, I'm interested in a more ambitious crossing than Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini, but there is a fine line between ambition and stupidity. I'm trying to embark on a challenging journey, but still keep a reasonable level of safety. If a long leg from SC or Georgia is not safe I'll make alternate plans, but if it is just not as comfortable or easy as the shorter hop from FL I'll stick with my plans. Basically, your feedback seems to be that a long leg is a bit more difficult and risky, but not unreasonable or unsafe if properly planned, does that properly sum it up Yorksailor?

TQA 10-14-2013 12:48 PM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream

Evening departure from Fort Worth sees you at Memory Rock at about 10 am. cross the banks to Great Sale Cay and anchor catching up on sleep.

There are umpteen threads on this. Basically No North in the forecast and turn back if you are getting beat up!

ambitious/rubbish 10-14-2013 01:15 PM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream
TQA- Can you elaborate as to why you say do not leave from more North of Ft. Worth? Is it not possible, or just less enjoyable? I'm not interested in being conservative, just reasonably safe, so I don't want to deviate from my plans without clearly understand why my plans are misguided, if they are. While your advice my be sound I can't simply take your word for it.

Yorksailor 10-14-2013 01:18 PM

Re: U.S.-Bahamas, Crossing the Stream

Here is a similar thread where TQA, quite sensibly, argues as above, and I argue that it is possible to just go sailing and see what happens. However, my approach is not for the inexperienced which is why I suggested getting to Riviera Beach or even Lauderdale.

It is not possible to hug the edge of the stream as at Lake Worth the Stream is very close in. I stay within 4-500 yds of the beach, weather permitting.

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