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My wife and I are planning a trip to the Bahamas from the Ft Pierce area of Florida next spring. We have not sailed to the Bahamas before and could use some tips on how to get the most from our trip. We will have only a month to get there and back, so time spent in searchig for things, or doing paper work stuff is time not well spent. If we could join some others also sailing in this time period we may well be ahead of the game.
 

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The most accessible part of the Bahamas (the Abacos) may be the least desireable for you. They are more susceptible to the fronts that will still be barreling thru the Bahamas in the Spring, and the water will be the coldest. My suggestion would be to move quickly down to the Key Biscayne area (or pre-position the boat, if possbile) with the plan of crossing to Cat Cay, then crossing the Banks the next day to arrive at & clear in at Chubb Cay. Immigration/Customs is now very simple in the Bahamas, if somewhat pricey at $100 per boat (no less for shorter cruises like yours). From Chub you have the Berry''s to explore, Nassau only an easy day sail away, and you can return with a fair wind & good f''cast via the Abacos if that''s your choice.

I would highly recommend the Explorer Charts by Monty/Sara Lewis. The Yachtsman''s Guide is the ''bible'' tho'' info is always dated & they''ve never met an island business they didn''t like, so don''t take their advice like it''s from Consumer Reports. <g> All the nav aids on the Banks & at Northwest Channel were replaced (if they were still there!) by the USCG in late 1999, they are all first-class, and NW Channel Lt. even has a back-up lighted buoy - this is one reason I recommend this route. (The Explorer charts should have an addendum on these aids'' positions; you can also get the scoop from the USCG web site). Finally, Steve Pavlidis publishes guides on the Bahamas that feel a bit closer to the island culture and we found mostly accurate - tho'' ANY guide can have a typo or some bad poop resulting from the author''s fatigue or nav gear.

A month is not a lot of time given the need to watch weather; expect only 50% of the days when you can move the boat, and subtract from that a portion of days when you won''t want to move. But half a loaf is nothing to complain about!

Jack
 
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