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sab30 10-10-2006 08:38 PM

Florida to Bahamas
In early January we plan on making a crossing from Miami Beach to Grand Bahama (west end). I would like to arrange it with one or more buddy boats. Does anyone know where and how you could coordinate with other sailors.

Thanks in advance

camaraderie 10-11-2006 12:09 AM

sab30...well...most cruisers leave for West End from W.Palm Beach and they typically gather to wait for a weather break at the north end of Lake Worth moving down to just south of the inlet before they go. Generally a pack of boat leave whenever there is a weather window so your best bet is just to head up there when ready and hang out on the VHF to pick up buddy boats.
If I may also suggest a slightly different trip plan...Leave WPB at night say around 10PM. The inlet is well marked and lit. Instead of West End point a bit further north to Memory Rock and you will arrive on the Bahama banks at daylight with PLENTY of water under you and no worries...and you can keep heading to Great Sale Cay and pull in by mid afternoon. The next day you can weigh anchor early and arrive in Spanish Cay or Green Turtle to check into customs and you will have saved a day...had a passage with no navigational hazards and avoided a night in a no-see-um plagued marina AND had an easy check in. The EXPLORER chart books are the ONLY ones to use!
Oh yeah...I can't stress this enough...BE SURE TO WAIT FOR WEATHER AND FOR SEAS TO SETTLE DOWN. Never leave with any northerly component to the wind. You sometimes have to wait for 2 weeks at that time of year so don't be in any kind of hurry.

Rockter 10-11-2006 01:33 AM

The biting insects are bloody awful in August. They will drive you below decks and you'd better have air conditioning. We didn't, and had to pace the dock.

If the wind co-operates, it is a very fast sail from Key West past Miami with a fast Gulf Stream (perhaps 3 kt) beneath you. We were blessed with a westerley wind that night.

The approach is very shallow and it takes some getting used to. Don't even think of going in there at night.... it's a cardinal rule anyway.

Vasco 10-11-2006 02:42 PM


Do you have to go to West End or are you going further. If you're going further I would suggest going from Miami to North Rock (just north of Bimini). You can get onto the Bahamas Bank easily here. Even in the dead of night. From there you can continue across the Bank on to Nassau to clear in. If the trip's too long for you in one hop or the Tongue of the Ocean acts up a bit you can hide behind Fraziers Hog Cay ( just east of Chubb) for a day or two until things settle down. There'll be lots of boat crossing from Miami in January but I don't think any of them'll be going to West End. Most of the boats heading that way go from Lake Worth. I'll be in Miami in December, we usually make it across before the new year but as many have said, it all depends on the weather.

sab30 10-11-2006 03:56 PM

I appreciate the info - Vasco thank you for the info. As I sat back and locked at the intended trip I was going to ask about just the leg from Miami to Bimini. We intend to cruise around for 5-7 days after arrival. Do you have a suggested itinary that would make for a comfortable vacation (assuming good weather) My wife doesnt mind the sailing but doesnt want to spend every day every hour sailing. I though you or others have completed a nice route that you could suggest.

Always thankful for any info...


Vasco 10-11-2006 05:47 PM


Do I read you right that you're only going to have about ten days? If that's the case I would not go to the Bahamas. I assume you have a sailboat. Sometimes you have to wait a week or two to get across the stream. But if you really want to go and only have a short time I would just go to Bimini or Cat Cay, clear in and go to the Berries. Chubb was closed last year and you couldn't clear in there. There's a new development being built there and I don't know if they're open for business yet. Clear in at Bimini or Cat Cay. Across the Bank to the Berries, sail and enjoy the anchorages for a day or two and then head back. Nothing worse than having a schedule. If I only had ten days in December I'd stay in Biscayne Bay.

jswwrites 10-11-2006 09:35 PM

I agree with Vasco - 10 days isn't very long for that trip in a sailboat, esp if you have to wait on weather. We always hopped over from West Palm to Freeport overnight, then on to the Abacos as soon as we'd cleared customs. But that's a couple of days to get there, farther to Eleuthra, and you'd practically have to turn right back around and go back. Hard to get on "Bahamian Time" on that schedule! How about the Keys? Closer, and you don't have to wait out the weather.

sab30 10-11-2006 09:49 PM

Yes we have about 11 days total. I thought that if we had a weather window it would be a good adventure to sail over for 5-7 days leaving a window to return. That was one of my questions is that if we are in the bahamas Im sure they are times when the weather may not clear for a couple weeks leaving us forced to risk a crossing in bad weather which I wouldnt do or wait it out which may cause serious scheduling problems for flights home from Miami. I never considered the keys but I think I may look at that as an option. Is there any suggested stops or a one week itiniary that you could suggest through the keys with that time frame in mind. Perhaps the trip to the bahamas should be put off until summer when there is a better chance of favorable weather or until we have a month to go in the I said I just dont want to get stuck over there (but Im sure not a bad place to be stranded) :)

camaraderie 10-11-2006 11:54 PM

Sab...Good choice not to go. The Keys are an excellent place to hang out for a week or so. Your draft will somewhat determine where you can go and wheter or not you will need to do the Hawk channel or bop inside to explore. If your draft is around 5 feet or less I would suggest that to start your trip you try the Hawk channel to Key West as quickly as possible if weather permits. Then you can explore Key West and head back with the ability to duck inside if the weather gets snotty without worrying about your time line.
If your draft is closer to 6 feet...your options are more limited and I would simply go to the Rodriguez Key anchorage and then Marathon and putter around in the offshore reefs as weather permits rather than get too far from home and risk getting socked in.
Is your boat IN Miami or are you proceeding there from somewhere else. If the latter...don't miss out on Miami or Coconut Grove either!

sab30 10-12-2006 12:25 AM

Thanks Camarad...

Her draft is 5 ft. The boat is in Miami-South Beach but we will be on land for 3 days prior to do some touring around the area. As I said we have 10 full days devoted to sailing so I would like to take advantage of that as much as possible. I looked at the map and concur that down to Marathon and back would probably provide some good sailing without having to get too stressed about a schedule. How about information on good marinas in Key Largo, Islamorada and there a refererce page with reviews??

Thanks again

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