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Old 12-23-2008
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Andros in the Bahamas

Has anyone here visited Andros in the Bahamas? What would you recommend as a port of entry that is easy to enter and well protected? (5'6" draft) Trying to avoid having to go to Nassau...
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Old 12-23-2008
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Planning a trip there this summer myself. Not a lot of info. about Andros in the blogs, or so I'm finding out.

Suggest you pick up a 2009 copy of Steve Pavlidis' "Northern Bahamas Cruising Guide". Mine arrived the other day and it has in-depth info. about the 5th largest island in the Caribbean. I ordered mine from the publisher, Seaworthy Publications, orders@seaworthy.com. Cost around $60.

As far as clearing in at Andros, rather than Nassau, you'll probably want to use Morgans Bluff. Have read good reports on the SSCA website from cruisers who stop there routinely.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 12-23-2008
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From what little I've heard there isn't much at Andros except bonefishing and flies. Never having been there personally I can't, as they say, "confirm or deny".

If you're coming from the Miami area, Alice Town in North Bimini is a Port of Entry, is an easy days sail and VERY casual as to formalities. Warning! Cash only for the cruising permit. There is an ATM right across the street from the Customs House. Nassau, in addition to being a lot more formal, is out of the way for Andros. Bimini to Chub Key to Andros is a better route.

I'm assuming you will be sailing only during daylight. If you get a very early start it's possible to go from Bimini to Chub Key in a day and there is a decent anchorage just outside the entrance to the marina there. If you can't fit in a long day you will have to anchor out on the bank. I have found the crossing to NW rock can be uncomfortable. The water from the Tongue of the Ocean and the Northeast Providence channel all goes onto the Bank there, dropping from 1000 feet plus to about 20 feet and if the current is running the wrong way it can get pretty rough. To get to Andros, however, there isn't much choice unless you go the long way around. I go to Nassau so I prefer going north around the Berries. If you sail all night you can get from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau that way in about 35 or 40 hours. That route is Bishop Rock around Great Stirrup Key and down the Northeast Providence channel. There are anchorages at Great Stirrup and Little Harbor Key but I have never used them.

Good luck and happy sailing,

Dick Pluta
AEGEA
Nassau, Bahamas

I haven't been to Andros so I can't comment on anything there. Morgans Bluff, however, on my chart doesn't show as a port of entry and you would have to anchor off for at least a couple of days to get there. North Bimini, Cat Key and Chub key are all Ports of Entry.

Dick Pluta
AEGEA
Nassau, Bahamas
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Old 12-23-2008
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Thanks Dick.

Would there be an issues sailing at night in that area? In looking at the charts I'd be tempted to go straight all the way to Fresh Creek (Andros Lighthouse Marina) as an alternative to Nassau and then hop easily to the Exumas after some rest.

Heard anything good about that port of entry?

I also wonder if it's deep enough to approach the Exumas from the West in that way.
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It depends on what area you are talking about. If you are leaving West Palm, for example, you can go to within a mile or so of Nassau and never see less than about 2000 feet of water.

If you cross from Ft. Lauderdale and come on the Bank at Great Isaac Rock it is also a safe crossing direct to Northwest Channel but, as I said earlier, I don't like that route. I prefer to go about 25 miles from Great Isaac on the course to the Northwest Passage and then head slightly north of east around Great Stirrup and down the Northeast Providence Channel. It's a little longer but deep water all the way. Once I go off soundings which, with my depth sounder is about 600 feet, I don't see bottom again until just before the Nassau harbor entrance. If you have competent crew it's an easy ride through the night. And a beautiful one, I might add.

Depths across the Bank run about 40 feet so you don't have to worry about draft. A broker I knew in St. Augustine told me her husband sailed with Ted Turner and they used to race Maxis across here, so I guess it's not too bad.

I have no personal knowledge of Fresh Creek but you certainly won't make in daylight without a stop, either on the Bank or around Chub Key. Your choices are limited. Leave Florida, pass Bimini and anchor on the Bank or stop at Bimini and Chub Key. As I said earlier, I don't like the NW Passage. It's narrow and surrounded by reefs. The last time I was there, two years ago, the markers were gone. If you go that way I would certainly want to pass there in daylight...and have my chartplotter on.

From Fresh Creek I can't say much for part of the trip but it looks OK on the chart to Highbourne Key, where I have been. I go south SSE around the Yellow Bank to Highbourne. You have to pick your way past Highbourne but once that is done you're in the Exuma Sound, which is deep all the way to the south end of Eleuthera and, to the south, Cat Island. As always, once you're near land you need the Mark I eyeball turned on and tuned. I haven't been much past Highbourne and day sailed in Exuma Sound from there.

That's all I got. Good luck and best regards,

Dick
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What is your intended destination, and from where? I have some experience in that area excluding Andros.......i2f
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I guess I'm just looking for a stop to clear customs on the way from West Palm Beach, FL to Allan's Key in the Exumas. Trying to avoid Nassau, though.
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I have anchored out in Bimini to get cleared. They tried to force me to get a slip. I told them I just need to be stamped, and I am gone, or I will clear in Nassau. They stamped me.

I have anchored, and taken a berth in Nassau. When anchored I climbed the wall at customs, and did my paperwork. They will come to the boat while in a slip.

Nassau is a good place to top off ice, and small items before the Exumas. Everything until Georgetown will cost a leg, and or arm in between. I would prefer leaving from Miami if Exumas are you destination. Less fight against the stream, and a much shorter distance.....i2f
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Different story. The Allans Cay I know is in the Abacos. Waaaay north.

Dick
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Oops! Allens Cay down by Normans. Sorry.

Dick
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