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  #11  
Old 03-18-2009
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Six,

When do you plan to take your trip and for how long?

I've crossed the Gulf Stream lots of times since my first cruise from Key Largo to N. Cat Cay (Bimini) in 1999. This was my first real offshore passage and I still remember how nervous I was when FL finally disappeared over the horizon. I learned the importance of waiting for the right "weather window" on this trip.

I strongly second the advice you've already received. Visit the Bahamas, fall in love with the incredible water colors, learn to love conch and Kalik, and just kick-back and enjoy life. The Bahamas are among the finest cruising grounds you'll ever explore.

Pick up an Explorer or Maptech chart kit and perhaps Steve Palividis' "Northern Bahamas Cruising Guide".

Have a blast!!!
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  #12  
Old 03-18-2009
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We plan on going mid May and doing 4-5 days. I live in SW FL but my sailing partner lives in Portland OR. Either way, one of us is flying cross country. That's why we are considering Catalina or Bimini. My read is that Catalina would be easier for a first time passage but Bimini would be more fun!

Anyone recommend a bareboat charter outfit they have used in Miami or Fort Lauderdale???
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  #13  
Old 03-19-2009
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4-5 days is not worth the trip to he Bahamas IMHO. You can charter one way from Miami to the Keys with FYC, and that's pretty. Lots of snorkeling in warm water. 10 days, and you can do the Exumas in the Bahamas.

Go straight to Nassau, check in, and straight over to Allen Cay. From there it is hours to your next destination. Each destination getting better, and better each time. You will be able to make Thundeball Grotto at Staniel Cay where Splash, and Thunderball movies were shot.

From there shoot across the bank, and up the tongue of the ocean all a good on the quarter sail......i2f
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  #14  
Old 03-19-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SiXeVeN View Post
Hey all,

I have primarily coastal cruising experience. Mostly short day or weekend hops from marina to marina. However, a friend and I would like to plan a mild offshore trip. Something where we get into more 'blue' water.

We are thinking either San Diego to Catalina island or possibly Miami to Bimini islands. Anyone have any thoughts on if one is better than the other for a 'beginner' trip? Any other trip you may recommend? I don't think either are a difficult trip by any means (I have daysailed further distances) but since neither of us has done an offshore(<30nm) trip....

Any advice would be appreciated.
I would respectfully suggest that the two itineraries you submit here will offer you very little additional experience in "offshore" sailing beyond that which you already have from your coastal cruising. An idea you might want to try is one which we have been using for many years in the Bluewater Cruising Association Bluewater Cruising Association, Vancouver, BC, Canada called the VICE (Vancouver Island Cruising Experience).

Every year a number of boats assemble off the west coast of Vancouver Island and sail west into the Pacific for three days, then turn around and head back in. The intention is to give the skippers and crew a real-time look at how they and their boats handle an offshore experience. So far this year we have sixteen boats planning on sailing out from Ucluelet in the first good weather window after the 5th of July.

Even if you sail out for only two days, or even only one before turning around, you will gain much valuable experience on life aboard a small craft offshore, and this is experience that cannot be gained from a day trip.

My thoughts, anyway.
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  #15  
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I can't speak for the right coast trip, but I've done LA/LB to Catalina numerous times in my Cal 25. Catalina is lovely. It's a fairly straightforward trip. As former USCGAux in LA, I can say that a lot of people make that trip that have no business leaving the dock. No reason reasonably well prepared sailors coun't do it first time in an unfamiliar boat.
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  #16  
Old 03-19-2009
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I have sailed to Catalina and I have sailed to the Tortugas. (sorry for the cruddy pics, I had to scan them in...)






Catalina is not bad, but I would take the Tortugas over it any day. If you are in SW Florida, you can catch a Bluewater Charter out of Tampa that runs down there or if you have your own tub, you can do that too. You have some great reefs, an awesome fort, and outstanding snorkeling and diving in the Tortugas. It is one of my favorite places that I have been.

It is an overnighter. It is 121 km from marker 1 coming into Ft. Myers Beach. But, it will get you some good offshore time. You do NOT want to get caught in a northern out there, so watch your window closely. THe water does not get much deeper than about 130 feet, which makes for nasty waves in a northern blow!!

Brian
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  #17  
Old 03-19-2009
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For anyone looking for an educational bluewater experience, I concur with Dan on paying for a berth on one of John Kretschmer's offshore experiences. There are also some other folks that do the same thing, and will give you a similar level of experience. One is Mahina Expeditions, and the other is Paul and Sheryl Shard. Another good resource is Hank Schmitt and Offshore Passage Opportunities. They are the biggest crew/boat networking outfits in the country. Hank does paid for passages on his Swan, and he coordinates skippers looking for crew, and vice versa. Sometimes the passage is a paid position (DOE), sometimes it's free, and sometimes you pay...

Catalina or Bahamas? Hey, you'll have fun either way.
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  #18  
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Wow, a lot of good info. I am intrigued with the Vancouver concept. My buddy is next door in Portland and I like the concept of some true bluewater experience.

I'll have to talk that over with my sailing buddy. We only have 4-5 days (damn jobs ....although glad I got one in this economy ) so we would likely only be able to do 2 days out 2 days back in.
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You might consider an alternative to sailing from San Diego to Catalina, that would be sailing from Long Beach to Catalina. This can be done in an afternoon easily and you do not fight the prevailing NW winds as you will coming from San Diego. My wife and I are beginning sailors (~1 year) and as part of our Basic Cruising course made this trip. The course was three days. The first was around the Long Beach harbor. The second day the instructor accompanied us to Avalon. Upon arrival the instructor left on the ferry back to Long Beach and left us with the boat. We kept the boat the rest of the week and sailed around the island. At the end the week we returned to Long Beach and the course was complete. We did this with 3 months sailing experience and had no difficulties and a very nice vacation. If you like more lively environment I would go to Avalon. If you like a more layed back environment I would suggest Two Harbors. Both of these locations are very friendly to the sailing public. If you do not have a dingy you can call a water taxi 24/7 and they will come to your mooring to pick you up (there is a fee of course). If you want the longer distance sailing experience I would suggest that you might look to return to the mainland via San Diego. The wind will be in your favor and if you have problems there are a number of harbors along the way to get you out of harms way.

I am sorry that I have no experience on the east coast yet but I will be working on it in the near future.
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