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cheapboxofwine 11-19-2007 11:33 PM

First time sail to Bahamas
Our family of four is on a trip now traveling the ICW on our sailboat. We started in Wisconsin in September and are currently in Southport, NC--it's nearly Thanksgiving. Our original intention was to end the trip in Florida sometime Dec./Jan. before we move back to Sweden. I personally am enjoying this trip so much that would like to extend and see some other waters and keep the new experience going. We have met a great family on the ICW that we are buddying up with and they are encouraging us to go to the Bahamas. It feels like we are just getting started and a relaxing time of clear blue water, warm sun and sand sounds very enticing after 30-40 mile days of grinding down the ICW. So, my question to you readers, is what is it like to sail from Florida to the Bahamas? What can a newbie expect on the great wide ocean for 20 hours or so? Are the Fla. Keys just as interesting? I say this now, but we would only be able to travel until Jan/Feb. before we have to ship the boat to Europe from Florida. My husband is the experienced sailor and it would not take much to twist his arm to go. I am new to this as are our daughters age 6 and 4. Thanks.

camaraderie 11-20-2007 01:01 AM

Have no fear...A wonderful time awaits you. The crossing will only take you 8-10 hours then you will be in SAFE waters...and it is beautiful there with MUCH MUCH better water than the Keys and you can swim and fish and lobster and see beautiful reefs with just a snorkle and hang out with a wonderful group of cruisers.
The only thing you need to do to be safe is to WAIT FOR WEATHER...
1. Don't cross the Stream when there is ANY wind out of the north.
2. Don't cross the stream when there s ore than 10 knots out of the East
3. Don't cross the stream when there is more than 15 knots out of the rest.
4. Always wait for 24 hours of favorable wind to let the stream calm down before you you need a 48 hour good weather report.

Get EXPLORER brand chartbooks and the Steve Dodge Guide to Abacos for best routes and best information.
Go and will not regret it!

cheapboxofwine 11-22-2007 01:48 PM

Thanks for the advice regarding weather conditions and support for the Bahamas over the Keys. We will continue our trek South and see where it takes us!

Happy Thanksgiving!

voyagersail 11-29-2007 02:34 PM

I agree with Cam. I'm an experienced blue water sailor now, but I remember our first Gulf Stream crossings to the Bahamas too. Wait for the right weather, always know where the nearest safe harbor is & go - you won't regret it. Heck, I liked it so much I kept going & now I'm 1/3 of the way around the world.

You didn't mention what kind of boat you have. Is it well-found? Are all the reefing lines rigged? Does it have an inner forestay & staysail? Proper anchors? A good engine? Do you know the age & pedigree of the rigging? etc, etc. If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then have fun!

Vasco 11-29-2007 03:35 PM


Hundreds of boats do it every year from MacGregor 26's to 100 foot yachts. Timing and weather is everything. If you jump off from Miami you'll be in good company. Many boats stage there and cross when windows occur. We usually go from Miami or lower Biscayne Bay and it usually takes us about 30 hours to get to Nassau where we check in. We then head south to the Exumas and beyond. In my view sailing in the Bahamas can't be beat. After the trek down the ICW it'll be a treat to drop your hook in waters where you can see it set or sail (or motor) across the Bank where you can see the conch (there's still conch there) on the bottom as you zip by.

davit 11-30-2007 10:48 AM

Great Advice... What are the recomendations on going from St Augustine, FL to the Abacos? Definately wait for the weather window. no gulfream crossing with north wind or above 15k. Ho about west end as a check in? Marsh harbor? Perils and advice wanted and asked for. Davit

camaraderie 11-30-2007 11:44 AM

Davit...from St. Augustine...the advice is to sail south to at least West Palm...then cross the stream. You can check in at West End if you make a day crossing.
My preference is to leave at midnight for the Memory Rock waypoint...arrive in daylight onto the banks and keep going to great sale cay. From Great Sale cay anchorage...then go toGreen Turtle Cay the next day and check in there. Wait for good weather for the Whale Cay passage and they you can head to Marsh Harbor. Cruisers net is ch 68 8:15 daily on the VHF once you get to Green Turtle.

HerbDB 11-30-2007 06:41 PM

I am also a first timer to the Bahamas. We crossed from Lake Worth Inlet (West Palm Beach) direct to Memory Rock like the previous poster recommended. We left at 3:00 AM and crossed onto the Bahamas Bank at Memory Rock at Noon. We continued to the Great Sale Cay anchorage arriving there at about 8:00 PM. There is no problem traveling on the bank after dark if you have a GPS.

We cleared customs at Spanish Cay the next day. This is a great place to clear in as long as you call ahead to make sure the customs lady does not leave before your arrival. The marina does not charge for tying up to clear in and customs comes to your boat. Spanish Cay is a private resort with a marina and airport. It is their off season and we had the resort pretty much to ourselves. They welcome cruisers during the off season to help justify keeping a customs official on island. This is quicker than anchoring out and dingying in to Green Turtle.

We stayed for two nights to rest up.

Herb DuBois
on Split Decision in Marsh Harbor, Abacos

camaraderie 11-30-2007 06:45 PM

Herb...glad you had a good trip over. I like to leave W. Palm around midnight to arrive at Great Sale in daylight. If you see another Cat called Mothra while there (typically in Hopetown)...say hi from Camaraderie! Have fun!!

HerbDB 12-01-2007 08:43 AM

My son and I are going to start Scuba lessons here in Marsh Harbor tomorrow, but after they are finished we are going to check out Hope Town, Man o War and Guana. I will look for your friends and say hello.

We are looking for spots to take family members when they visit us here this winter. The first group arrives on Dec 16th. This includes some children, so we are looking for beaches with nice swimming and safe snorkeling.

If anyone has suggestions, I would welcome them.

Herb DuBois
on Split Decision in Marsh Harbor, Abacos

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