Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Bahamas, timelines? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 34 Old 3 Weeks Ago Thread Starter
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Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Bahamas, timelines?

Good afternoon everyone,

My family and I have been working closer to our plans to sail for a year or two. We are starting in Lake Huron and would plan to shuffle through the Erie Canal (most likely at Buffalo) then down the ICW to Florida and then launch from Lauderdale to the Bahamas. Before I commit much more planning I need to make sure my time lines make sense. These are VERY broad knowing break downs\weather change everything and the whole point of taking a year or two off work is to not be rushed.

1) Lake Huron -> Erie Canal = Depart mid\end of August, Buffalo start of Sept.
2) Erie Canal -> Hudson River = Depart Mid\End of Sept, complete before it closes Oct 15th
3) ICW -> Head south = mid Oct\Start of Nov. and take our time to best avoid Hurricane season, arrive Florida somewhere around mid December
4) Florida -> Bahamas = Launch late December
5) Cruise Caribbean = December through March

Decide at that point what our plan would be.

Does this make sense?

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Last edited by MarkofSeaLife; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:22 AM.
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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

Going to do this on your current boat (your profile says Mirage 33)? If so, at least you know the boat. Basically plan sounds OK to me, other than the last part. Getting from the Bahamas to the Caribbean islands is not the easiest route (lots of upwind). Most leave from Norfolk or points north and head to Bermuda. Then a second hop from Bermuda to the islands.

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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

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Originally Posted by Guyfromthenorth View Post
...arrive Florida somewhere around mid December
4) Florida -> Bahamas = Launch late December
I think this might be an ambitious turn-around time. Of course it depends on how well the boat and crew hold up to that point, but it seems like this is a good spot to pause for some rest and refit. In the best case, you may want to consider planning a longer pause, just in case the weather is unfavorable for the crossing. Worst case, you're in FL during peak holiday/snowbird season so professional services may take a bit longer than usual or expected.
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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

Grab this book, if that’s your plan.

https://www.amazon.com/Gentlemans-Gu.../dp/1470146967

Lots of folks seem to enjoy the ICW, but spending a month inside like that, hailing bridges, sounding for shoaling, etc, sounds like torture to me. I’ve done parts, never the whole thing.


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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

Thats a lotta motoring and engine hrs.
Check on shipping prices to fl.
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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

Thanks everyone. Shipping the boat 1700 miles sounds pricey but also alot less fun.

The Florida->Caribbean jump is flexible. I guess I just planned that late December\January sometime we would be cruising around the islands there. WX windows and all that make sense, and it seems like a short jump from Fla to the islands from what I can see and understand.

Yes we plan on doing it in the M33. Yanmar 2gmF engine that runs like a top (famous last words) and has been freshwater kept its whole life so she's got some snot left in her. I just replaced the entire stuffing box and cutless bearing so it should be ready to turn some miles. Anywhere I can sail obviously would be ideal but I'm not an experienced ocean sailor so I don't imagine picking my way too far offshore to take the outside unless I had to (being realistic here, east coast northern-ish atlantic in November doesn't sound like a safe bet for my level).

I guess for us it's predicting the seasons and knowing it will always take longer than expected to do a trip so we've tried to add in a decent amount of time.

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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

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Originally Posted by JimsCAL View Post
Going to do this on your current boat (your profile says Mirage 33)? If so, at least you know the boat. Basically plan sounds OK to me, other than the last part. Getting from the Bahamas to the Caribbean islands is not the easiest route (lots of upwind). Most leave from Norfolk or points north and head to Bermuda. Then a second hop from Bermuda to the islands.
Sorry I may have worded it wrong. I'm bad (being a northern guy) of just referring to the whole island chains off FLA as the "caribbean". We pictured figuring out a route similar to FLA->Bahamas->Abacos->Exhumas->Turks and Caicos etc. Maybe Cuba or head off towards BVI's. That's a long way off and lots of time to plan though.

Some youtube videos, nothing fancy


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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

I know of a couple that just finished that trip in an Aloha 32.
- Sarnia, Erie, ICW, Bahamas, return.

They left first week of September 2018 and just got back to Sarnia this week (end of June 2019).
They went Miami to Bahamas first week of January, jumped back first week of May.
Similar time frame to what you just described.
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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

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I know of a couple that just finished that trip in an Aloha 32.
- Sarnia, Erie, ICW, Bahamas, return.

They left first week of September 2018 and just got back to Sarnia this week (end of June 2019).
They went Miami to Bahamas first week of January, jumped back first week of May.
Similar time frame to what you just described.
I may have met them early feb at rock sound. I asked if it was a niagra 35 and they set me straight. Youngish canadian couple
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Re: Plans to cruise for a year from Great Lakes to Caribbean, timelines?

First up, lets be absolutely clear your goals because your plan does not fit one.

You absolutely mean "The Caribbean" to mean the Bahamas?

Lets ensure you know. Look it up in Google. Then use the correct terms.

If your goal is the Caribbean you want to leave from Beaufort North Carolina, especially on a smaller boat.

If you want to go to the Bahamas you want to leave from Ft Lauderdale.

I have sailed from the Bahamas to the Caribbean and it isn't an easy trip... and took as long as the nice gentle trip from North Carolina.


If you are going to the Bahamas then your plan to go down the ICW is fine. Its an easy motor the whole way. You do about 50 nms per day. All hand steering.

All your dates are far to late for me. Even northern Florida is very cold in November. But you are from the north so your cold might more fridged than I like.
I feel its safer to be south of the Chesapeake by October 1st because of equinoxial storms. The old adage was go immediately after the Annapolis Boat Show... but then they moved the boat show 2 weeks later.

Quote:
1) Lake Huron -> Erie Canal = Depart mid August, go as quick as you can to be in Norfolk by 25 September (If you want a more relaxed time schedule go now.)
2)
3) ICW -> Head south from Norfolk = October 1st

4) Florida -> Bahamas = 1st December
5) Cruise Caribbean = December through May.
Best places along the route to spend a few days: NYC (79th St Boat Basin); Norfolk Virginia; Beaufort North Carolina; Charleston South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia (18 miles up the river but worth it, park on the town dock on the riverside in the centre of town); St Augustine, northern Florida.

I found that the winter came down from the north at greater than the 50nms I could motor down the ICW... and when the fog lays in on that narrow, winding, shallow trench it can be quite difficult

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