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  #1  
Old 01-03-2013
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Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

Hi all,

Planning for summer vacation. Our thoughts are to leave SE Florida and head to the Bahamas around the 4th of July. The cruise would be the weekends bookending the holiday...and the week between. That would be a total of 9 days total, but would need to include time to and back from the Bahamas, as we keep the boat in Fort Lauderdale. We would be joined by 1-2 couples.

Our boat is a Beneteau 343 that is fairly up to date on safety equipment (lifesling, radar, plenty of pfds, EPIRB, a couple of plbs, up to date charts). We do *NOT* have a watermaker aboard, but can hold 120 gallons of freshwater. I have a Honda EU2000 generator and a dinghy with an outboard that uses gasoline, so the plan is to travel with at least 10 gallons of gasoline. My fuel tank is 20 gallons of diesel, but I plan to carry another 10 gallons in jerry jugs...giving us a range of 300+ miles on motor alone, but we plan on sailing a lot if the wind gods provide.

So what I need help with is this:

1) ITINERARY
  • Need a list of places to visit - ie "Do bimini, or do the abacos, etc"
  • Anchorages
  • Things to do (ie visit the wreck of the Sapona)
  • Approaches to tricky locations/anchorages, etc

2) Things to prepare for
  • Provisioning
  • Locations to provision/fuel while under way
  • Recommended cruising guides/books/documentation
  • Recommended gov't/regulatory things. I know I'll need a customs decal again (let mine expire last year) as well as a cruising permit for bahamas. Last time I went to bimini, they let me in with a $150 permit for 90 days...has this gone up?
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  #2  
Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

not a single reply after 8 hours. Guess I have to go to the other forums
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Last edited by night0wl; 01-04-2013 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

For a 2 ~week cruise Id recommend the Abacos.

With the proper weather window ... Leave Ft. Lauderdale for West End (Old Bahama Bay Marina to check in and overnight) or direct to Sale Cay via Memory Rock - about 24 hrs. and then check in at Spanish Wells, etc. Leave from Ft. Lauderdale well before dawn to cross the memory rock in good daylight ... its all 'visual piloting' at Memory Rock.
From there are plenty of anchorages from Great Sale all the way to Marsh Harbour and Hopetown (not to be missed). Only difficulty will be needing a good weather window to pass the Whale Cut between Guana Key and Marsh Harbour. Powell Cay, Manjack Cay, Guana Cay (Nippers !!!), Green Turtle Cay, ManOWar Cay, Anglefish Cay, Treasure Cay (harbor), Marsh Harbour, Hopetown. Hopetown is not to be missed ... its shallow getting into Hopetown, just wait for tide and scape bottom a few times; take the southernmost channel into Hopetown for the (relative) deepest pass. Pick up a mooring inside Hopetown Harbor (fee).
Snorkling is good on most reefs and there is a small 'fantastic' reef (Mermaid Reef) within walking distance from the 'Jib Room' in Marsh Harbour, on the (inland) Sea of Abaco ... for when its 'rough' on the 'outside'.

If this is your first time to the Bahamas, suggest you get the Explorer chart book for the Abacos ... contains all the dos and donts including the Gulfstream crossing, etc. The EXPLORER charts are probably the ONLY charts that come close to accurate for these waters. The newer Garmin Chartplotters also come preloaded with Explorer Charts for the Bahamas.

When Crossing the Stream follow a MAGNETIC course to West End and ADD ~15-20°M ... to your course to compensate for the Gulf Stream Flow this will produce an S course and will give the fastest passage across. If you follow waypoint to waypoint on a GPS you'll buck the stream and wind up too far north of West End. Coming back head for Lake Worth and SUBTRACT 15-20° from your magnetic course.
The best advice I can give for this crossing ... when you go out the inlet and look at the far horizon, if you see what looks like 'elephants' marching in phase along the horizon, do a 180 and go back and anchor.
;-)

Last edited by RichH; 01-04-2013 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

I do not recommend taking your boat to the Bahamas during Hurricane season.

Not at all
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
I do not recommend taking your boat to the Bahamas during Hurricane season.

Not at all
Fourth of July weekend and arounds abouts is Abaco race week. Lots of our local boats go there. Yes, storms are a risk, but having been in Florida for almost a decade now, I've learned that the August/September/October ones are the ones to look out for. Early season storms aren't as bad (knock on wood). Look at this year...Isaac & Sandy. August and later.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
For a 2 ~week cruise Id recommend the Abacos.

With the proper weather window ... Leave Ft. Lauderdale for West End (Old Bahama Bay Marina to check in and overnight) or direct to Sale Cay via Memory Rock - about 24 hrs. and then check in at Spanish Wells, etc. Leave from Ft. Lauderdale well before dawn to cross the memory rock in good daylight ... its all 'visual piloting' at Memory Rock.
From there are plenty of anchorages from Great Sale all the way to Marsh Harbour and Hopetown (not to be missed). Only difficulty will be needing a good weather window to pass the Whale Cut between Guana Key and Marsh Harbour. Powell Cay, Manjack Cay, Guana Cay (Nippers !!!), Green Turtle Cay, ManOWar Cay, Anglefish Cay, Treasure Cay (harbor), Marsh Harbour, Hopetown. Hopetown is not to be missed ... its shallow getting into Hopetown, just wait for tide and scape bottom a few times; take the southernmost channel into Hopetown for the (relative) deepest pass. Pick up a mooring inside Hopetown Harbor (fee).
Snorkling is good on most reefs and there is a small 'fantastic' reef (Mermaid Reef) within walking distance from the 'Jib Room' in Marsh Harbour, on the (inland) Sea of Abaco ... for when its 'rough' on the 'outside'.

If this is your first time to the Bahamas, suggest you get the Explorer chart book for the Abacos ... contains all the dos and donts including the Gulfstream crossing, etc. The EXPLORER charts are probably the ONLY charts that come close to accurate for these waters. The newer Garmin Chartplotters also come preloaded with Explorer Charts for the Bahamas.

When Crossing the Stream follow a MAGNETIC course to West End and ADD ~15-20°M ... to your course to compensate for the Gulf Stream Flow this will produce an S course and will give the fastest passage across. If you follow waypoint to waypoint on a GPS you'll buck the stream and wind up too far north of West End. Coming back head for Lake Worth and SUBTRACT 15-20° from your magnetic course.
The best advice I can give for this crossing ... when you go out the inlet and look at the far horizon, if you see what looks like 'elephants' marching in phase along the horizon, do a 180 and go back and anchor.
;-)

I've done Bimini a few times, but not the Abacos. Is 9 days enough to reach and enjoy Abacos..then get back? I have a 2010 explorer near bahamas, will likely update it. I wont have 2 weeks proper (14 days). We'd also leave out of Port Everglades. ON the way back, I'd assume I need to head for Haulover INlet in order to land at Port Everglades. I'm aware of the guidance to not enter the stream in anything from the NOrth over 10 knots. Heck, in our club races, you can SEE the change in sea state...so I try to hug the stream or stay right outside of it in order to catch some of the 3-4 knots when its ripping north.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

Even from the far eastern Abacos you're only 36-48 hrs. of sailing to get back to Ft. Lauderdale and find a hidey hole.
Just keep an eye on the NOAA 'ocean prediction center' forecasts and listen to Chris Parker on CaribWx on SSB @ 4.045 mHz USB at ~ 7AM for 'surprises' that are beginning to form.

For early July its a pretty far remote possibility that there will be a 'Caine that far north.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

Anyone use the ActiveCaptain route sharing feature? Any suggested routes on there to follow/modify for my own plotter?
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

A total of 9 days (allow 4 for the crossing and wx windows) will leave you only with 4-5 'easy' days in the Abacos.
All depends on the weather and the general 'flow' that will delay a safe/easy crossing of the Gulf Stream.
Going west to Ft. L will require bucking against the GS ... I think it better to cross to Lk. Worth inlet and then either take the small countercurrent down along close to the beach or take the dreaded ICW south from Palm Beach.

Last edited by RichH; 01-04-2013 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Need a Bahamas Cruise Itinerary

RichH Has it right! The Abacos via Memory Rock then an easy nite sail to Great Sale Cey. When you awake you are in paradise! Don't go ashore as you need customs first,..
,just sail around to Green Turtle key. Do customs, then sail the Abacos...and don't miss the 7 mile beach at Treasure Cay. All the places he suggested are perfect!
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