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Old 09-19-2010
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vacation in the bahamas...

I moved my boat to St. Augustine a few months ago thinking that it would be nice to take her to the bahama for a couple of weeks vacation. To be honest, I didn't do any serious research, it just sounded like being on the east coast would make the trip much more practical than had we placed the boat on the gulf side of florida (We live in Orlando).

So, I've started looking at the logistics, and it looks like it would be difficult to pull off. The people I've talked to here say that going outside, direct from St. Augustine would be very difficult due to the gulf stream. I was hoping to sail south, staying inside the stream, and crossing at the last minute, but getting no encouragement to do so.

Moving the boat down to Lake Worth for a shortest crossing over looks like a 5 day trip down and another 5 back.

I could move the boat down over a number of weekends, and the same to return, but even then, the cruising guides I'm reading say one has to be patient and pick the correct weather window for the trip (No north component to the wind), and not to try to do it on a schedule.

Well, we have no choice. If we do it, it'll be on a schedule.

I'd appreciate some personal accounts and thoughts about devoting one's 2 week vacation to sailing to the bahamas.
SV lagniappe
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Old 09-19-2010
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We crossed from just south of Key Biscayne. We waited for weather to clock out of the north; and didn't make a move until it was out of the east. The point of departure was through Angel Fish Creek, just north of Pumpkin Island ( a nice spot to wait for weather ) You have to take into account that you will be crossing the Gulf Stream, and sailing a vector to stay on your rhum line.
From Angel Fish it was about a 50m crossing. We left at midnight and arrived at Gun Quay Light around 4pm. You don't want to arrive anywhere in the Bahamas in the dark or with the sun in front of you, unless you have local knowledge.
Under ideal conditions - rarely - you could cross the stream on one day, and spend 12 days gunkholing, and return on the 14th day. Chances are that you won't have the weather window and will become impatient, and make the crossing with the wind out of the north. People do it, but it isn't a good idea.

I suggest you save a little cash and fly into the Bahamas and charter a boat. Spend your time snorkling, spearfishing, drinking, eating and partying. Or... you could bank more holiday time and have a very memorable experience. Otherwise take at the very least 6 weeks. This would make taking your own boat worthwhile. Stock up on premium rum in Nassau. The Berry Islands are very nice, as is the Exuma chain.
My all time favorite anchorages were at Ships Channel Quay (top of the Exumas) and Joes Cut (top end of Long Island) Even if you have the time to make it down to George Town, I would advise you to skip that scene. It's very easy to get sucked into spending too much time there. I did, and regretted it. I should have gone to the Turks and Caicos instead.

Have fun, and make sure you have a large water capacity. Take extra jerry cans if you have to. Rig a way to collect rain water from the deck if possible. Make sure you have a good inflatable with at least 6hp. Spears. Snorkels, weight belts, fins, shorty wet suit.

I hope you weigh all you options..

Last edited by maarty10; 09-19-2010 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 09-23-2010
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I have done 10day trips from Miami to Staniel Cay numerous times for family members on vacation. You can go outside, and stay close to shore after a beeline through the shoals at the cape. The closer to shore after the cape. The more help with a back current.

If leaving in the winter you may have along wait to cross the stream. I always found June to be a great month, but it holds light wind sailing throughout the trip.

We did 4 seasons in the Bahamas. The farther south in the Exumas you go the sweeter it is. Along the way there are numerous anchorages per day before Staniel that are not to be missed....i2f
20 MPH ain't fast unless, you do it in a 1000sq 3/2 house on 10foot waves
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Old 09-23-2010
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I go every year, usually in December or January and come back late May. I've been starting from Fernandina Beach the last few years. I would say two weeks is a bit tight in the winter as you have to wait for a window. If you go outside you can get to Lake Worth a lot faster but two weeks is not enough time for the Bahamas in winter and you'd be worrying about the weather all the time.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.

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Old 09-23-2010
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If I were in your shoes, I would bite the bullet and take the boat on the outside directly to the Lake Worth Inlet. If you stay close to shore, there is a south running counter current that will help. That trip will take two to three days depending on wind, weather and of course, size of the boat.

Once in Lake Worth, pick your weather and cross to West End. From there head out east and you can enjoy the Abaco Islands. I have done that trip a number of times from Cape Canaveral. It works out great.

On the way back home, get in the Gulf Stream and enjoy up to a five knot current north. I would go directly to St. Augustine. With the boost you get, it doesn't make sense to head back to Lake Worth or anywhere else in between.

Capt Tony
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Old 10-08-2010
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I too have my sailboat in St Augustine, and we’re headed to the Abaco’s in late June. Some have said Lake Worth inlet and some have said that cause’ the Gulf Stream push northward, Ft. Lauderdale is the best place to head over to West End.

Which in your opinion is a better crossing point?

As to West End

Looking at the charts, I see a small channel a sailboat might use to get on the bank... Is it bigger than it looks on the charts? Has anyone made this passage?

Some here in St Augustine recommend going into the Bahamas Bank further north and not registering in with the Bahamas until we get to Green Turtle or Treasure. And some have said to head from here east, until crossing the Gulf Stream, then SE to approach the Abaco’s from the north directly, skipping the bank.

What’s your opinion?

Many thanks


FYI: I’ve Captain boats, over to the Bahamas many times in the past, but they were always powerboats so the Gulf Stream did not play into consideration .
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Old 10-08-2010
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Why would you spend another day traveling south against the Gulf Stream, which is closer to shore the further south you go, just so you can get a boost while you head north again? Save the day and go out of Lake Worth and just point your bow a little south of your destination and let the Stream carry you to your West End.

Some years ago, I crossed from the Lake Worth inlet in a 20' boat while my cruising companions in 30' boats continued down to Ft. Lauderdale. They did not catch up to me until Green Turtle where I sat for a day waiting for them.

There is an entry onto the bank north of West End. I have used it several times. You have to be careful if your boat has a deep draft. Once on the bank, head to Great Sail Cay for an overnight stay. From there you can head south or just enjoy the more remote northern Abaco Islands.
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