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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 08-24-2013
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Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

Starting to plan an offshore passage from NE Florida to the Abacos. My preferred route is all offshore avoiding the 'standard sail south to Ft Lauderdale and head east'.

The plan is head east out of St Augustine to cross the stream then head south east to leave Little Bahamas Bank well to starboard keeping in deep water to gain enough southing to then make landfall from east to west in the Abacos.

I've never sailed this route before and would like to hear from anyone who has.

Thanks!
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

I know of a boat (we sailed out of St Augustine together) that tried it. I believe it was a PS31. We met them later coming up from Biscayne... Not sure they made it :-) But maybe they did and they shot back to the states... In the few minutes we were on the radio as we crossed paths, they indicated they just ran out of time and had to go back home (NC). FWIW
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

I have only made one round trip to the Abacos so FWIW. The ICW is not bad from St Aug to Lake Worth and can be done with some offshore jumps, staying close to shore to avoid the stream. I crossed from L W and did not fight the current and made Little Bahama Bank N of White Sand Ridge. Then on to Great Sale etc. And plan to do the same in the future. From what I have seen and read coming in the cuts in the Abacos can be a problem in some weather conditions. No way to guarantee good weather when you arrive. I think you have a 30 ft boat, more info on the boat and your and crews experience may help with responses. Dan S/V Marian Claire 30ft

Last edited by marianclaire; 08-24-2013 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

We used to hug the coast from Jax to Fort Pierce, arrive afternoon. Refuel/water if necessary, anchor then a nana nap until 6-30. Eat and leave about 7-30 straight for White Sand Ridge at sun rise. You then have all day to get to Great Sale. Biggest issue at night wasn't cargo ships per se but tugs pulling container barges on long tows.
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

You could probably do it motorsailing but you would be in to both wind and current with the possibility of having to enter during a rage.

Sensible option is to leave in the evening from West Palm Beach timing it to make it on to the banks at 10 am. Spend a peaceful night at Great Sale Cay then check in next day at green Turtle cay.
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

Leaving from St. Augustine, you would have to sail pretty far to the East to get clear of the Gulf Stream. It's center axis is at about W79*30' at about N30* (St Augustine), so that is a plan of questionable wisdom.

A much better plan is one described by TQA in this thread. Leave St. Augustine and sail down to Palm Beach. Do it non-stop, or you can come in at Canaveral or Ft. Pierce or both. Then wait for a southerly to go across the stream and the bank. That could take some waiting or you could get lucky and be able to jump right away. Coming down should not be much of an issue as the prevailing winds are easterlies. And life could be worse than sitting on the hook in Palm Beach just North of Peanut Island waiting for a southerly.
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

When do you plan to leave? September through November is hurricane season. November starts the Nor'Easterners, so you need to pick a window.
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Nothing wrong with your plan if you have the time...EXCEPT...make sure there will be no large swell running from the east. Those swells can make the passes into the Sea of Abaco a killer, literally.

When the swells build up against the reefs around the passes you get the aptly named RAGE running.

Also, they are not well marked like the inlets in the usa. Charts are known to be innacurate. Time your arrival for mid morning to mid day so you can see into the water ahead. Do not try it at night or late afternoon with the sun in your eyes.
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

Thanks...too many missed my point I think...I don't want to hug the coast sailing south or do the ditch going south. The goal is to sail offshore, open ocean for several days heading east and enter the Bahamas from east to west.

Would like to hear from anyone who has done the passage in this manner. 7 to 14 days offshore is fine.

Thanks.
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Old 08-24-2013
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Re: Sailing NE Florida to the Abacos

I did it in the opposite direction. About 240 nm. I crossed the stream at right angles to avoid any north bound traffic. Nice ride. I was going to do it traveling to the Bahamas but poor weather had me traveling south, inside on the ICW.

I don't see any problems with it. Of course crossing the stream needs to have a good weather window. But the stream is only 45 nm off St. Augustine and then about 50 to cross it so a 24 forecast gets you to the other side. After that it's just like any other blue water passage. 3 days should get you to the Little Bahamas Bank. I'd go in that way to avoid any poor weather trouble getting through one of the passages. Also, I'd be should to keep far enough east to stay in the cone of the Bahamas that blocks the gulf stream. It flows right up to the banks.
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