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Old 03-02-2018, 05:09 PM   #1
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Bahamas Itinerary and Q's

This June my girl and I are going to take Louisa down the ditch (she has never seen the whole thing) and get to S.Fla then jump over to the Abacos. I have been over there several times, including on Louisa, but always in the winter/spring months as that is the quiet time for my work. Weather then was iffy at best and snotty at worst. I hear summer is much more likely to be calm, until you get tropical storm systems, but hopefully they will hold off til later in the summer. My girl is a teacher, so come early June she is OFF work!!

So the plan is to spend maybe a week picking through the Abacos, which I know well. But then....??? Maybe south to Eluthera?? I've never been there.

From there to Berries (been to Great Harbor, liked it much)?? Or a wild thought was from Eluthera west and then pick thorough the channels in Andros to the west side?? Are those channels passable for 3'draw?

Ultimately we want to end up in the Fla Keys, which we could do by crossing the Cay Sal. But that I think is pushing it as while she is a tough WV girl, I don't like exposing her to that much open water and risk so far from civilization.

So probably go from the Berries west to Bimini then to northern keys.

Boat particulars: 38' single engine, max range at 7.5kts about 1200nm, range at 20kts about 500nm. 3' draw, exposed prop (I know). Max duration due to water, food, ice (and beer) about 3days comfortably. Will have a small dink and little outboard.

Q1: What is the bug situation out there in june? Skeeters, no-see-ums, flies with big teeth??

Q2: Worth it to go to Eluthera after exploring Abaco? Other must see stops in the area S. of Abaco?

Q3: Anyone gone through the channels crossing Andros? Or is that skiff only territory?

Just getting into planning stages.
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Old 03-02-2018, 06:38 PM   #2
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Abacos a great place to start. Grand Bahama might be worth a day or so on the way to the Abacos. Abacos-Spanish Cay, Green Turtle, Bakers has gone Private, Orchid, Man-o-War. Maybe pick 2 or 3 of them, then Marsh Harbour. From the Abacos, we recommend Harbour Island. Romora's is our preferred stop there. then perhaps a little time around the south of Eleuthera.

The Exumas and Long Island and all is great but a lot of travel to get to a few places. You'll have to judge your time.

Now, I'm going to strongly suggest an area many will not and that is Nassau. Yes, it's a city, got it's negatives, but it's also thriving with Bahamas flavor. And, I don't know your girl's likes and dislikes and easy for me to spend your money, but if she likes Disneyworld, she'll love Atlantis. That might be a short surprise for her with the park, with all the attractions there, one dinner in a fine restaurant. Yes, just a big resort that could be anywhere, but that's where it is.

The Berries. Hurricanes weren't kind to them. I was a huge fan. Perhaps worth a couple of days still, maybe to relax and recover from Atlantis on the way back home.

Bimini and Cat Cay are for most just stops of convenience. Cat Cay is easy for clearing in and out since they are so tourist unfriendly.

Cat Cay to Miami and then down to keys works well. Obviously you can go across and as far down the keys as you wish to start, but why battle the Gulf Stream plus Miami is such a good starting place just to follow the keys south.
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Old 03-02-2018, 07:12 PM   #3
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Ski - I've lived on Andros in Fresh Creek for 21 years and would advise you not to attempt transiting the bights without a local guide...tides are too tricky and many shallow, rock bottom areas. It is a beautiful cruise and will save a lot of time going to the Florida Keys. If you decide to take this route, I can provide you names of the best guides on the island I consider good friends. As for leaving Abaco, I recommend heading south to Eluthera & Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, Royal Island (Tiger Woods/Nicklaus are building a golf resort), Tarpum Bay and then head west to the Exumas, then Andros or Berries. Be advised there are no full service marinas on Andros, even re-fueling is a challenge.
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Old 03-02-2018, 10:11 PM   #4
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We have done this trip many times - my favorite part of boating. We almost always go in June and July as the weather is much more reliable and the water is perfect temperature

Stop at west end or lucaya grand Bahamas to fuel and clear in. Then go to green turtle cay, then treasure cay, stop for a day or two or do a day trip to nippers on Guana cay then elbow cay. We like both hope town marina and sea spray. I would say green turtle and elbow are always the favorites as there is so much to do in the area. Marsh harbor to re supply but I would say that's it

Then go to harbor island. We always stay at romora bay. Way more laid back and very close to the most amazing pink sand beach. We usually stop at Atlantis and spend a few days in Nassau before heading off to the exumas fuel up and resupply

Then I would strongly urge you to go to the exumas. Staniel cay, big majors, and compass cay are the best of the Bahamas. There are so many activities and islands and anchorages in the immediate area. The water is simply amazing. Like nowhere else in the Bahamas or fl keys. Not much going on in the berries. Just a stop over although chub cay is open and was redone in a very nice high end fashion. The marina restaurant is quite good.
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Old 03-03-2018, 07:01 AM   #5
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I have done similar trips to the Abacos, always in July. This July I'll lead a group of three other boats over who have never been.

At the speed you can run, I would go Stuart direct to Green Turtle first. It's about 150nm and then slow down for the rest of the trip. There is really nothing in West End waiting for you except for high dockage.

I would also think twice about travelling down to the Exumas from Abaco. You would have to go out Little Harbor Cut at the south end of Great Abaco and then it's at least 50nm in open Atlantic water to Spanish Wells.
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Old 03-03-2018, 08:50 AM   #6
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Thanks all. Going to get the charts out and look seriously at the Exumas. Also going to forget the part about going though Andros and Cay Say. Too remote for comfort.

Provided it is calm, should have no problem going from Elbow to Harbor Island, I did Berries to Elbow a couple years ago in less than a day in semi-snotty conditions running about 18kts. We will try to pick our window.

Time to get out the charts..
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:13 AM   #7
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Looks like questions 2 and 3 are pretty well covered. Question 1 about bugs ... yes they can get pretty bad, like most places though really only around dusk and dawn . The more rain you get the worse the bugs will be. If you are going to grill during bug hours then get yourself some bug repellant clothing.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:35 AM   #8
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Specifically on Eluthera visit (not by boat), it is a beautiful, laid back island sparse population. For boat rentals, they recommended local guides similar to reasons mentioned by Jim.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:51 AM   #9
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Ive been down to Andros a few times even took the southern passage to the west side, not recommended (the northern pass I tried and couldn’t make it). Actually Andros offers nothing but fishing, Cay Sal the same. Harbor Island is more fun than Spanish Wells.

Abacos are very touristy unlike the Exumas but I haven’t been to the Abacos in years, spent time around Long Island, Cat Island And smaller islands plus the Exumas. I avoid Nassau, too much like Miami. LOL. I go to the Bahamas to get away.

Ski when you have your dates let me know as we are heading over at that time too.
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:29 PM   #10
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Abacos are very touristy unlike the Exumas but I haven’t been to the Abacos in years, spent time around Long Island, Cat Island And smaller islands plus the Exumas. I avoid Nassau, too much like Miami. LOL. I go to the Bahamas to get away.
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Wifey B: Ski and his girl are tourists. Saying no to touristy places is like saying "I won't eat at that restaurant because too many people go there." Ski has to figure out what his girl will enjoy which likely is a mix.
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Old 03-03-2018, 02:37 PM   #11
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I have made this trip many times - trawler @ 8 kts. Here is my input:


-anytime after April produces the best weather and seas. Summer is calm and very hot. The busiest time is the summer.


-Miami to Bimini. 45 miles. (or from Ft. Lauderdale a little longer) I love Bimini. Very laid back but now they have the fancy new resort for the high living. You can anchor for free in the main harbor.


-Bimini to Brand Bahamas. Stay in a marina in Lucayan Harbour (Bell Channel)Short stay is all you need.


-transit through the Grand Bahama canal. Need a draft less than 5'. High tide no problem.


-overnight on the hook at Great Sale and then on to Allan Pennsecola or Moraine Cay.


-Green Turtle Cay is next. On the hook in White Sound) or at the marinas (Green Turtle Club or Bluff House, love them both). Or anchor in Black Sound.


-Treasure Cay is a nice spot, great beach. Expensive marina but there is an anchoring area. Fab beach.


-then you have your choice of the entire Abacos. My favs are Marsh Harbour, Elbow Cay (Hopetown), Guana Cay (both town harbour and the bay at Grabbers).


-I like Little Harbour but need less than 5' draft. Say hello to Pete for me.


-A trip over to Eleuthera is only about 45 miles from Little Harbour and well worth it. Harbour Island is the best but you have to transit the Devil's Backbone reef which you should use the local pilot to do if it is your first trip. Two great marinas (Valentines and Ramoura) or you can anchor off very conveniently.


-from Eleuthera it is an easy trip down to Nassau and the Exumas if you have the time. Also well worth it.


-you will need the current cruising guides which are all up to date and very useful.


Hope this helps and Good luck.


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Old 03-03-2018, 03:04 PM   #12
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I can only add that June 1st starts high season for Bimini and the Berry’s. The sport fishing lights. Great Harbour and a lot of Bimini was booked last year for June and July. You can always anchor out though. The marina in Chub (Berry’s) is again open to the public from what I hear but no first hand knowledge. Check for fishing tournaments. I know there’s one in June at GHC and I would avoid it then.

You’re picking great time of year!
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Old 03-03-2018, 04:12 PM   #13
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Wifey B. “Wifey B: Ski and his girl are tourists. Saying no to touristy places is like saying "I won't eat at that restaurant because too many people go there."

I’m not telling them not to go there (except Andros) just what to expect. I disagree with your analogy. If you like touristy Fine, just know that going in. Living in Miami I abhor touristy others may not but they should know what they are in store for.
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Old 03-03-2018, 05:57 PM   #14
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Wifey B. “Wifey B: Ski and his girl are tourists. Saying no to touristy places is like saying "I won't eat at that restaurant because too many people go there."

I’m not telling them not to go there (except Andros) just what to expect. I disagree with your analogy. If you like touristy Fine, just know that going in. Living in Miami I abhor touristy others may not but they should know what they are in store for.
Wifey B: I agree and that's why I said Ski needed to think of what she'll like or not. I don't know her age. I know we travel with a lot of younger females and we all love Atlantis.
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:40 AM   #15
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Thanks, all. She is not into the "touristy" things, but if she shows interest in something like that, I will happily change course. 15 years ago, She had spent months exploring Baja, Mexico and New Mexico in a VW Vanagon camper. My boat is very basic compared to most here, but is luxury compared to the Vanagon. It does have gennie, hot water, AC, standup shower, decent galley, refrigerator and freezer. We have taken multi day local trips, including some offshore, handles all like a trooper.

We only rarely engage in restaurants considered to be "fine dining". Usually cook simple stuff or stop at places that could be considered "dives", but with good food and locals. Simple Simple works. Neither of us have ever been to a resort or on a cruise, prefer off the beaten track.

We are gonna hit Nippers, though!!

I got out my Explorer chartbook, it is the "near Bahamas" version, looks like to get Eleuthera and Exumas I need another book. On the list.

Another Q: I have Bahama charts from C-map in my old laptop that has a dead screen. I bought this in 2015 from Rosepoint and had it downloaded. I've got to get the maps onto this new laptop using CE. I guess I need to contact RP to do this??

Oh, and clarification on Q1: Bugs. What type is the primary problem? Gnats, skeeters, flies? I know in the Keys it is usually gnats and skeeters. Different strategies for different bugs. My girl and I do NOT like bug problems.
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Old 03-04-2018, 09:12 AM   #16
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The bugs I think are called noseeums. They come out in the late day but only in some locations. We never have a problem anchored or while on the boat but more while at an outdoor restaraunt. I never get bit but my wife does so it depends how you taste. She puts on a spray on her legs if we go to eat outside somewhere

The explorer charts are the Exumas and Ragged Islands. Take care when coming into staniel cay yacht club as the current rips and there is a marked on charts reef you must navigate around. Similar coming into compass cay. Pay close attention. If you go through Nassau to exumas it's an easy trip on the banks and usually pretty nice seas that time of year

If you fish the trip to harbor island and Nassau from abacos covers some pretty stellar fishing grounds
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:00 AM   #17
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Garmin uses explorer charts and they are the best for the Bahamas, I still have the original paper drawn explorer charts. You can get Garmin Blue Chart on your iPad or iPhone plus other handheld devices. Yachtsman Guide to the Bahamas is also a good book to have with hand drawn charts. Steve Dodge has a great book on the Abacos.

Bugs (noseeums can go they screens) are worse at sundown times with no breeze, on those evenings I don’t anchor too close to land. Take some Deet just to be safe.
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Old 03-04-2018, 05:08 PM   #18
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Neither of us have ever been to a resort or on a cruise, prefer off the beaten track.


I got out my Explorer chartbook, it is the "near Bahamas" version, looks like to get Eleuthera and Exumas I need another book. On the list.

Another Q: I have Bahama charts from C-map in my old laptop that has a dead screen. I bought this in 2015 from Rosepoint and had it downloaded. I've got to get the maps onto this new laptop using CE. I guess I need to contact RP to do this??

Oh, and clarification on Q1: Bugs. What type is the primary problem? Gnats, skeeters, flies? I know in the Keys it is usually gnats and skeeters. Different strategies for different bugs. My girl and I do NOT like bug problems.
shoot, with that kind of range, head to San Sal! Anchor at Grahams Harbour and raid the club med to see touristy white people and nite life. Climb the kerosene lighthouse. Do you dive, or snorkel? They have 30 lb grouper that follow you around.

BUGS... avoid "rural" Andros. the bad bugs there are horseflys. And, I'm a fan of Andros, btw. Camped and dove cave there. Oh, and, it's all rural
more on BUGS. You are anchoring out? Staying aboard with or without a/c? Wife and I have maybe 300 nites out, on boats generally more primitive than yours (no 120V/no air cond) all thru the Bahamas. We ended up making no-see-um screens and used alot of forced air.

It's all good; make a lot of stops. Normans, shroud, the hermitage, the glass window, thunderball cave, little harbour, ; overall, the berries are my least favorite, followed by nassau, bimini and abacos (FL east). But, even those are far better than what I will be seeing all this week.


ps; I'll catch flak for this, but don't boat to Key West. Drive there and rent a moped. Spend the boat fuel WELL east of that one.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:08 AM   #19
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It's all good; make a lot of stops. Normans, shroud, the hermitage, the glass window, thunderball cave, little harbour, ; overall, the berries are my least favorite, followed by nassau, bimini and abacos (FL east). But, even those are far better than what I will be seeing all this week.


ps; I'll catch flak for this, but don't boat to Key West. Drive there and rent a moped. Spend the boat fuel WELL east of that one.
Bimini is Miami east. The Abacos are at least still somewhat quiet until you get to Marsh or Elbow.

By all means do drive to KW instead of boat. After several KW trips, I will never again head down there unless I'm mandated.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:25 AM   #20
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My folks live in Cudjoe, so that is why a leg is planned in that direction. I highly doubt the boat will go the additional 20 miles to KW. I partly grew up in the Keys, and what KW has become is sad. Still has its charm, but just over run by the cruise ship patrons and the economy has evolved to little more than that needed to supply them with t-shirts and drinks.

Regarding anchoring and bugs: Yep, anchoring most nights. We've got AC and gennie. What we do in summer in NC is to close up boat in the late evening and run the AC for a couple of hours to chill and dry out the boat, then right before bed shut everything down. Usually boat stays comfortable til dawn that way.

In NC, the noseeums tend to be bad in the cockpit or anywhere outside, but only a few times did they want to go in the pilothouse, even with the back door open. Not sure if their southern cousins will be so polite. We will handle it somehow...
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