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Old 04-03-2010
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Gulf Stream Crossing

If you were making the Gulf Stream crossing would you be better off going Miami to Bimini or West Palm Beach to West End? Please share your experience. Thanks.
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Old 04-03-2010
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I think this depends on your destination in the Bahamas and the draft of the boat. If you are going to the Abacos or have a deeper draft boat, you can enter further north and clear customs at Spanish Cay or Green Turtle Cay, unless you just want to visit West End. This avoids having to go back outside and reentering the bank after clearing at West End. Here is a site that discusses the issue. Also a great source of information. Abaco Bahamas Cruising Information

If you are heading to the south Bahamas, you may want to use one of the more southerly points of entry. I'll let others comment, but have noted that many bypass West End and Bimini when heading south.

We departed Lake Worth Inlet at about 2:45AM and crossed Memory Rock about noon. We continued across the Little Bahamas Bank and anchored about 8:00PM behind Great Sale Cay. The next day we cleared customs and immigration at Spanish Cay. Here is a link to our trip photo log. Split Decision

It was a great trip, I am sure you will enjoy it.
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Split Decision

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Old 04-03-2010
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Out of curiosity, what's the draft of Split Decision?
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Old 04-03-2010
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Split Decision draws 5'2" according to manufacturers specs. With all of the gear on board, I always figured on needing 5'6" at least.

We did not have too many issues with depth in the Abacos. Most of the destinations have charted deep water routes on the charts, although Hope Town is pretty tricky at low water.
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Old 04-04-2010
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HerbDB,
Fantastic pictures, this is what boating is all about, FAMILY TIME !!
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Better to try and fail than not to have tried at all !
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Back to Herb's original question. Where are you headed to in the Bahamas. If Abacos, West End, etc. If Nassau, Binini, etc.
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Old 04-05-2010
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Be advised that the entrance to Bimini has radically changed due to shifting sand/shoals, etc. The Explorer charts show the NEW entrance as the old "shallow water" approach. One boat several weeks ago used the "old" (southern) approach, went aground and sunk in the swells. Go to explorercharts.com (updates) for the NEW gps coordinates for a passage into the Bimini 'new' entrance .... and then strictly follow your VISUAL PILOTING SKILLS by 'reading' the water for entry into BIMINI - suggest you enter in DAYLIGHT ONLY. Until things 'clarify' if you have a deep water boat, consider to enter Bimini only on a high / rising tide and wait 'outside' until a 'deep water' boat enters the harbor.

Last year my passage across "Memory Rocks' just north of Settlement Point / West End found damn little water under my 6 ft. deep keel. Until I 'know better', I'll cross the Little Bahama Banks at Memory Rocks at near full high tide.

With all the present enhanced NE trade winds, and a few 'northers' (cold fronts) thrown in just for fun .... best probably is still to go from Ft. LadeDah (Ft. Laudanum-dale) to West End ... then on to the Abacos. If Bimini, then Angelfish Cut (Lower Biscayne Bay) or Fowey Rocks to Bimini is probably the best 'angle'. unless there is NO wind.

(He writes this as he's still waiting in Bimini after 1 week of solid mod/strong easterlies. Nevertheless the PEOPLE in Bimini are GREAT .... be sure to stay away from the effete HoiPoli in Bimini Bay / 'Hilton Resort' on N. Bimini).

You dont want to be making a crossing across the stream with a large N/NE swell running, etc. or N component wind of greater than Force 3. If Possible, listen to "Chris Parker" of "Caribbean Weather Center" on SSB 4.045 mHz USB @ 0630AM for latest/current weather/crossing updates, etc. NOAA is routinely terrible/unreliable for 'gulfstream' crossings.

:-)
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Old 04-06-2010
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Hello, AlanBrown. I am not sure which will be the destination yet. In the planning stages a year away. Whichever way is somewhat easier, I am currently searching the width of the Gulf Stream. Right now I like West End because after Bimini you have the tongue of the ocean which looks like another long pass. Lots to consider. I want it to be a challenge in a small s/v but I don't want to be against the odds.
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Jay,

Crossing the Gulf Stream from Miami to Bimini, or from Ft. Lauderdale to West End, is a choice all Bahamas cruisers must make. Their decision is usually based on what parts of the Bahamas they plan to visit. (By the way, crossing the Gulf Stream marks a milestone in most cruisers' lives. For many of us, it is our first experience making an offshore, overnight passage.)

For example, if their goal is to visit the Exumas and the southern Bahamas, then the Miami-Bimini-Chub Cay-Nassau route is the most common one to take. If the weather's good, expect your GS crossing to take around 12 hours to Bimini (60 miles @5 knts.). From there you've got almost 70 miles across the Banks to Chub and another 40, or so, to Nassau. Some cruisers will opt to anchor out on the Banks overnight, while others will push on through to Nassau.

This route is probably the most popular one taken during the Fall/Winter months as cruisers are seeking to reach the warmer weather found in the Exumas as quickly as possible.

If visiting the northern Bahamas is your goal, then head over to Grand Bahama (West End). From Ft. L., crossing time should should take around 10 hours. From there it's about 40 miles to the anchorage off Great Sale Cay. From there it's another 30 miles to Spanish Cay, or 45 to Green Turtle Cay. You can clear customs at both locations.

The Sea of Abaco is a very sheltered and scenic cruising area. This route is a popular one for cruisers wishing to see the Bahamas from north to south. It is also popular in the Spring as many of the folks who wintered in the Exumas come north to the Abacos on their way home to the States or Canada.

One final thought.

When planning a trip to the Bahamas you cannot overlook the effect that weather will have on cruising schedules, especially during the winter and early spring. Be prepared to wait for weather windows and factor this into your cruising schedule. Waiting a week, or longer, for the right weather is not at all unusual.

Keep planning and refining your trip. Don't hesitate to pickup some cruising guides and chart kits.

Good luck!
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Excellent info. Thank you for taking the time to write.

I am taking a month off work to get to Turks. I will challenge alot of things but not the weather or time.
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