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Old 08-16-2011
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Bahamas Bound, Help!!

We live on Florida Gulf coast and have sailed our 35' Ericson for about 6 years. We're planning our first crossing to the Bahamas and a 3+ month stay this coming winter. We are planning on leaving for the Keys sometime during the last couple of weeks of Nov. Would appreciate any and all advice from those of you who have made the trip especially those of you who sail there each year. Which is your preferred route and starting point?? In which month or week have you had the best luck crossing, all weather conditions permitting?? What is the current entry fee and time allowed to stay there?? Thanks for any input.
Chip
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Old 08-16-2011
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There are a large number of threads on this topic that the search function will soon find.

Key points WAIT FOR A GOOD WEATHER WINDOW and be prepared to go when one arrives because it won't last long.

If you choose Bimini DON'T ENTER EXCEPT IN GOOD LIGHT. Many boats have gone aground missing the channel.

I like leaving West Palm Beach at night, timing it so as I arrive on the banks at 10am to 11 am and make for Great Sale Cay where I spend a comfortable night [Q flag up ] and check in next day at Green Turtle Cay.

Fees from noonsite.com

Quote:
Entry fees must be paid by all visiting yachts and are as follows:
- $150 for all vessels under 35 feet
- $300 for vessels over 35 feet


These fees are inclusive of a 12 month cruising permit, 3 month fishing permit and departure tax for up to four persons (captain plus 3 crew). Each additional person (over the age of 6) will be charged departure tax of $15 per person. These fees are not applicable to dinghies and life rafts imported via such vessels.

One should be sure to obtain a receipt from the clearing officer.

Extensions to the fishing permit cost an additional $150 for 12 months.

The cruising permit may be extended for an additional 2 years on application to Customs and payment of a fee of $500 per year's extension (further details above in the Customs section).

There are no overtime or other charges.
So shrink your boat a little.
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Old 08-16-2011
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We had fantastic positive experience entering at Morgan's Bluff on Andros. Leave Key Biscayne (?) just south of Miami at first light on a day with predicted south wind or no wind - NO NORTH COMPONENT to the wind crossing the Gulf Stream!!! On the Banks by dark, so no problems with rough conditions; we passed north of Bimini and anchored in the little harbor off Morgan's next morning around 9 AM. This harbor is untenable in a north wind, but you're not crossing the Stream in north wind, see above. In any other wind condition, this is a wonderfully calm harbor. Clearing in was very easy here, as they don't get a lot of people. And, you can anchor in the harbor for free; we've heard of some places that charge as much as $100 for a slip just to clear Customs.

After you clear in, you can get a beer and fresh conch salad from the bar
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Old 08-17-2011
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Hmm, I was told $300 for the permit, didn't know about the $150 for <35'

This trip is looking better...
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Old 08-17-2011
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Get the set of "Explorer" charts for the areas you're planning to be in - not only are the charts extremely accurate, but the notes are really a detailed cruising guide - where to eat, phone numbers for services, locations of anchorages, info on customs & immigration - well worth their cost!
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Old 08-17-2011
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We usually enter as TQA advises, but more often out of Fort Lauderdale and on to the bank at Indian Rock Cay to Great Sale, then Green Turtle. This crossing is a little further than from Lake Worth Inlet, but much more favorable current from the Gulf Stream. We definitely follow WingNwing's recommendation of using the Explorer Charts. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 08-17-2011
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Who can explain exactly if or how often you can return to US and then return to Bahamas on same cruising permit?
Pete
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Old 08-18-2011
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The first time in the Bahamas I think the Abacos is the place to go - a little more like cruising in the US than the remote areas of the Bahamas but still the Bahamas. Here's a website to check out if your interested in the Abacos.
Cruising to the Abacos, Bahamas.
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Old 08-22-2011
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Are there any free electronic charts of the area? BSB format?
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Old 08-22-2011
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Coming from the Gulf coast, cross under 7 mile bridge in the Keys and stay in Marathon for a weather window. No need to go all the way up to Miami. We went from Marathon straight to Bimini in 15 hours using the Gulf Stream. A lot of people go to Rodriguez key and cross from there.
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