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  #1  
Old 05-20-2008
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South Carolina to the Bahamas

Hello to everyone! I am new to the sailnet forums and would like a couple of pointers on cruising to the Bahamas.

I live in Charleston, SC and am planning on taking my 22 foot Catalina south to the Bahamas.

Given the size of my vessel, I am planning on sailing the intracoastal waterway the entire way south. But crossing the stream is the only thing I haven't done before, and would like a couple pointers.

I understand that people wait for favorable wind at some places in Florida, like Virginia Key and outside of Miami Beach. I would like to wait with a group and cross over with them, where would be the best place for me to go so that I can follow some people over?

Also, where do I check-in and get my paperwork in order. I plan on sailing around the Bahamas for the following couple of months and know I need to get some sort of a cruising license. Can I get that in Freeport, and what is the process?

Thanks ahead of time for any and all help!
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Old 05-20-2008
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FollySailor-

There are quite a few threads on crossing the Gulf Stream and making your way to the Bahamas. A search for Abacos will likely find many of them.

Jimmy Cornell's website, www.Noonsite.com will have detailed information on checking in and such for most of the countries you'd be interested in sailing to. I"d highly recommend you check them out.
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Old 05-20-2008
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A lot of people cross over from Lake Worth as well.
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Old 05-20-2008
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Folly...as a former owner of a Cat22...let me say that what you are planning is in my opinion quite risky and I do not think it is a good idea. I hope you take a life raft with you. Not saying it can't be done...just that the degree of risk is high. That said...if you ARE determined to go you have two choices:
1. Leave from south of Miami (NoName Key) and cross to Bimini for check in ($150 for 6 mo. cruising permit). And then work your way to Chub Cay and down through the Exumas.
2. Leave from West Palm Beach/Lake Worth Inlet and cross to West End Grand Bahamas for check in and then proceed to Great Sale Cay and the Abacos chain. (recommended!) Cruisers anchor at the north end of Lake Worth and wait for the right weather and then tend to move closer to the inlet as they get ready to cross, often in a group. You cannot expect anyone to cross with you since you will be so relatively slow...but at least you will have folks in radio range...assuming you have a full power VHF.

The check in process requires a passport and your boat registration and $150 for your size boat. Raise a yellow Q flag and hail customs and immigration on channel 16 as you approach either harbor and they will give you instructions. Have a Bahamas cruising flag to raise after you get checked in as they tend to take this seriously as a matter of respect.

There are EXTENSIVE threads here about crossing the Stream and cruising the Bahamas. Use the advanced search function above and enter Bahamas as a key word and my screen name and you will find a lot of them.

My advice...explore the KEYS in your Cat22 and wait for a more sea-worthy boat to tackle the Bahamas. But good luck in whatever you attempt.
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Old 05-21-2008
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Crossing

We have crossed in 18 footer wait for winds from southeast to southwest less than 15 kts prefer 10 kts and if going to Abaco hit westend, since you maynot be able to make Westend by dark, we normally leave around 9-10 pm and arrive at west end at 8 or 9 am, it is best to not get there at night.
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Old 05-21-2008
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camaraderie -- I'm just curious (not trying to be argumentative), why do you discourage such a plan?

Is it because the boat is too small? Are there any boats that small that you would not view as being too risky?

My (perhaps naive view as I haven't done much ocean sailing) would be that if you wait for the right weather window and have the appropriate safety gear (EPRIB, life raft, etc.) it could be done with minimal risk. How far is it? 50-100 nm if that? So that is probably a ~ 18 hour sail or so? Seems like you could be fairly confident of a weather window for that period of time. On the other hand, I'm not particularly familiar with a Catalina 22. I've done quite a bit of sailing in Lake Superior with a Catalina 30....

I have been reading Sensible Cruising by Don Casey and one of their big points is that too often people make excuses that their boat isn't big enough or doesn't have xyz piece of gear etc. So maybe that is tinting my thoughts on the matter....

One thing I have thought about doing is chartering a boat out of Miami and doing the crossing over to Bimini. Is that a foolish idea? Sometimes you don't really know what condition a charter boat will be in... might have to wait too long for weather...
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Old 05-21-2008
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A Flicka is about the same LOA as a Catalina 22 and far more seaworthy... BTW, I have friends that have made the hop across to the islands from Florida in boats smaller...like the Compac 16.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 05-21-2008
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Epic...There are lots of small sea-worthy boats that can make the trip over and indeed the Cat22 could too if everything works out. But...the Cat22 is a centerboard boat with light ballast and an outboard. It is easily tipped over and won't come back up and squalls are common over the Stream that can easily overwhelm a boat like the 22 and render the outboard useless in steep seas. Hence my warning. Obviously some have a higher tolerance for risk than others. My experience here is that those folks who ask such questions here tend to be quite inexperienced as offshore skippers and not fully appreciative of the risks. So...I speak my mind and they as adults can make their own decisions.
If you want to do the trip in a Flicka or a Bristol channel cutter or Compac or similar you will have my blessing (not that you need it) .
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Old 05-21-2008
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Crossing

A safe crossing is easy if the boat is in good shape, as long as you have good weather and the crew has enough time at sea under their belt, if they only have lake and harbour time do some coastal sailing, Chs to Savanah, then Jax and Daytona Old addage....If in doubt, don't go out.
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Old 05-21-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
Epic...There are lots of small sea-worthy boats that can make the trip over and indeed the Cat22 could too if everything works out. But...the Cat22 is a centerboard boat with light ballast and an outboard. It is easily tipped over and won't come back up and squalls are common over the
Ok, that certainly makes sense. I didn't realize it wasn't self righting...

That's kind of a scary thought, to broach and end up turtled in the middle of the gulf stream...
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