Originally Posted by lmitchell
I was under the impression that if I watched the tides and the passes, that your draft shouldn't be that big a concern... even in the Bahamas.
You're quite right.
I draw 5 1/2 ' and go nearly everywhere in the Bahamas. I sail with boats that draws a bit over six feet and they have no problems. If you wish you can take the route many do from S. Florida across the Great Bahamas Bank to Chubb and then to Nassau then down the Exuma chain to Farmer's Cay where you'd have to go out into Exuma Sound to go further south. Most sailboats doing the Exumas take this route. All the commonly used cuts from the sound to the Bank will take 6 ft. easily. Six feet in the ICW is a lot more nerve wracking than six feet in the Bahamas. If you want to do the Bahamas, a six foot draft should not be a problem.
I have seen boats with a seven boat draft regularly cruise the Bahamas. You just go where you can. Deep draft boats anchor a bit further out than shallow draft boats. In some areas in the Bahamas you might have to wait a bit for the tide but generally it's not a problem.
The ICW is another matter. Six feet in many spots (Atlantic ICW) can be nerve wracking at times, especially in Georgia. There's usually is a bit more than six feet in the shallow spots but the problem is finding where the water is, more often than not it is not in the center of the channel. Unfortunately it's not like the Bahamas where, in most cases, you can see the water.
Draft of over 6 feet might be a concern if your home sailing grounds are such that you cannot return or leave your home base at low tide with 6 feet. As far as the Atlantic ICW and the Bahamas goes, I wouldn't let a deeper draft up to seven feet stop me from buying a boat if everything else was satisfactory. It wouldn't be a deal breaker.