Guides to Bahamas and the Caribbean
My apologies if this has been covered.
We are leaving at the end of November from Florida to the Bahamas and Caribbean. I have all the charts needed but still need good guides.
I'd appreciate recommendations so we'll have time to get them ordered.
Dodge Guide to Abacos
Pavlidas Guides to Exumas, Turks and Caicos (which includes DR/Luperon), Puerto Rico.
Doyle guides to Virgin Islands, Leewards and Windwards
All can be had at www.bluewaterweb.com
Thanks a lot Cam. I'm going to place some orders today. Anyone else who disagrees with Cam's recommendations or have others?
We can certainly back Cam's recommendation of the Doyle guides for the Caribbean... chuck full of info and, if you keep up, updated each year.
We're getting really excited. Most of our anxiety revolves around the home(boat) schooling plans for two teenage daughters (grade 9 and 7). I think this will be a major determinant in how far or wide we travel.
The rough plans are to depart Florida about the second week of December (weather permitting) for the Bahamas (exact entry to be determined).
I've ordered every book on Cam's list today. We may require an Abacos guide as well dependent on where we enter. I see Mr. Pavlidas has a guide for that area as well.
Given that I would like to get to the Eastern Caribbean if possible (given what I said above), would you guys recommend that we bypass the Abacos and go directly to the Exumas instead, or would you think the Abacos are "not to be missed". We will pick up the boat in Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach.
Magnus...there is only ONE guide to Abacos...Steve Dodge! Keep us posted on your progress!!
Magnus...in answer to your second question, the Abaos are not to be missed BUT, you can always catch them on the way back. You need to consider the Xmas winds in your planning for getting to the caribe as it seems you are going via the thorny path and most people do not try that till well after the new year. We headed south in March and still got hung up in Luperon (not a great place for young girls) for a month. (note that there is now a NICE marina in Puerto Plata as an alternate.)http://www.oceanworldmarina.com/
My personal advice would be not to rush and enjoy the Bahamas till after the new year and buddy boat with folks heading south out of Georgetown when the weather calms down a bit...but you may need to move more quickly given your own time schedule...it WILL be brutal going to windward if you can't wait for weather...make sure your boat and the family is up for that.
May I also suggest you tune in Chris Parker on the SSB each morning as you head south...or even subscribe for a few months to personalized service...not that expensive and WAY beter than you can get for yourself.
Here's the link for broadcast times and frequencies: http://www.caribwx.com/ssb.html
Thanks a lot Cam. Be assured that we have no wish to make it more difficult than it needs to be. Therefore we will definitely want to wait for weather. Thanks for the links supplied and especially the marina suggestion. Looks expensive though - but admittedly very nice :)
Would you then suggest that we cross over such than we would first hit the Abacos, in order to spend more time in the Bahamas, while we wait for later in the new year for the winds? If so, it's been recommended to me to enter at West End (Settlement Point). I quick glance at Google Earth makes it appear that that will put you into the Abacos in short order, or am I completely confused? From there one could cruise down leisurely to the Exumas and Georgetown for the reasons you mention.
I'd like to know what the most difficult part would be? Bahamas to T&C to DR or DR to PR or beyond - OR ALL of that? SEcondly, will it really matter much whether one does that stretch in January/February or March ie are the winds much more likely to be less onerous a bit later, rather than so late that it doesn't make sense anymore to continue much further East? I mentioned before that an alternative will be to make a circle from Southern Bahamas to the Western Caribbean instead.
Tough calls indeed.
Magnus...yes...I would spend some time in both the exumas and Abacos (and Eleuthra in between) and not go further south than the T&C until approximately the end of February when the Xmas winds and seas will diminish.
Yes...crossing from West Palm Beach/Lake Worth Inlet is the best way to get to the Abacos. There are TWO options for this passage out of West Palm:
1. Get an early start and cross to West End/Old Bahama Bay and check in and get a slip at the marina. Takes about 10 hours to cross. Next Day negoiate the tricky Indian Cay passage on a 1/2 tide rising and head to Great Sale Cay anchorage 50 miles away on the banks. the first 3 miles of the Indian passage are the worst and you need to be very careful. After that a piece of cake.
2. Leave West Palm Beach Inlet close to midnight. I know...scary! But in good weather, the inlet is WELL lit and wide and easy to exit. This will put you on target to reach the MEMORY ROCK PASSAGE onto the Bahama banks in DAYLIGHT. Memory Rock carries at least 9 feet of water and no worries all the way as you carry on to Great Sale Cay and anchor in mid afternoon...without checking in to the Bahamas. Just fly your Q flag!
The next morning...head on to the Abacos and check in at Spanish Cay or Green Turtle Cay...and you are IN the Abacos!!
I prefer the second method but the first is more commonly used. Just have good waypoints plugged in from the dodge guide or Explorer chat books for the Indian Cay passage as Nav Aids tend to go missing and there are several turns to make in the first few miles.
From the Abacos...to get to the Exumas, the easy way is to leave out of Little Harbor and do an overnight sail to Royal Island Eleuthra. From there is is a day sail or two along the Eleuthra bay side to Rock Harbor Eleuthra. A great little place. After that it is another day sail across the tongue of the ocean to the Exumas...(the Land Sea Park is a great stop)....and then on down to Georgetown. All easy.
The Georgetown to T&C route is a bit more open water than your Bahamas cruising to that point will have been, but is not hard as it is nearly south and you can make stops along the way if you need to pull in for weather or just want to visit some of the less trafficked cays and islands. I would stop at Turtle Bay marina on the north side of Provo T&C since you have the whole family aboard. This will be a nice return to USA style ameneties and food shopping before you head south again.
The passage from T&C to the DR is about 24 hours and open water AND hard on the wind. You must wait for the right winds for departure and hold your line close hauled or you end up in Haiti! Not a difficult passage...but boisterous!
The hardest part of the trip is from the Luperon/puerto Plata area in the DR to Puerto Rico with the Mona Passage crossing. It is 350 or so miles dead into the prevailing winds and seas which are GENERALLY in the 20-25knots on the nose and 6-8 foot seas. During our sojourn in Luperon, we saw numerous boats leave the harbor headed east and limping bak in several hours later finding progress impossible.
I'm sure you've read VanSants book on how to do this...if not, you should. We did not do it his way...we simply waited a long time for a lull and then motorsailed for 3 days. Chris Parker's service was invaluable for this "window" planning. Either way...it is the one part of the trip where you need to be very sure of your boat and your skills as no help is available.
Puerto Rico is great and once there, you can make day hops along the south coast to the VI's without much problem. Turn right at Virgin Gorda and at last the winds will fill your sails on a reach down the island chain.
I have no experience heading from the southern Bahamas to the WESTERN caribe but believe it to consist of longer and more difficult passages due to currents and prevailing winds. Most people use the wind to get down to Trinidad and then have it at their backs as they make their way to the Western caribe...but perhaps someone else here can give a more experienced perspective on this.
Hope the above is helpful to your planning.
Very helful indeed - thank you. I have not yet read VanSant's book. It seems he's a controversial character and the book also. However, I guess it won't hurt to see what he has to say...
I really appreciate the advice. We are West Coast sailors and although we're used to current races and passes, huge tides and frequent gales, we're not used to constant tradewinds - especially not trying to go upwind.
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