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Old 05-15-2017, 10:10 AM   #1
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First trip to the Bahamas--need a plan.

To clarify, we chartered in the Abaco's a few years ago, but this will be the first time going in our boat, crossing the Gulf Stream, etc. Thinking about a two week trip, maybe longer. Wanted to go in June but it looks like it will be mid July now. Wanted to get back to the US by August. I worry about hurricanes.

Anything special I need to do to make sure my boat is ready for the trip? It seems to be in pretty good shape-- AGM batteries two years old, electronics updated, have a PLB but no EPIRB. Have an Inreach spot tracker I got as a gift but have not really used yet. I don't have any paper charts-- just the Garmin plotter and an iPad, which won't have cell service I assume. I now have a new transmission and shaft, stuffing box packing, cutlass bearing due to some issues I had. . I don't have any solar so will have to run the gen to keep batteries up. I'm having some work done and wonder if I should install a couple of panels? Probably not worth it for just this trip.

As far as where to go, was thinking about crossing from Lake Worth (boat is in Stuart now) to West End, but really don't know where to go from there. Back to the Abaco's?
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:32 AM   #2
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If the Abacos get the Dodge Guide instead of charts. If elsewhere get the Explorer chart book for that area.
You can rent an EPIRB from BoatUS on a weekly basis.
Prepare a ditch bag.
Do try crossing on a Saturday if you can as it will be easier to either find a buddy boat or have plenty of other boats within hailing if needs be.
When you get to West End buy a BaTelCo SIM and a data plan (currently $35 for 15GB). Then tether your iPad to your phone.
We have done the Abacos on our own boat multiple times, rented a house and center console over there, and chartered from Moorings in Marsh. So any questions, fire away.
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:37 AM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. 01. As I type this I'm sitting in Alice Town, Bimini. C'mon over. Since our ONLY recent experience is now AND my memory is poor at best, I defer to those with more extensive travels to comment. I only wanted to "rub it in" a bit.

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Old 05-15-2017, 10:52 AM   #4
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Ditch bag! There's something I forgot. Thanks for the rec on the Explorer chart book and cell phone card.

Don't I need some flags for something?

RT-- Awesome! How is your trip so far? Are you continuing on from Bimini?
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Old 05-15-2017, 11:02 AM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. 01. As I type this I'm sitting in Alice Town, Bimini. C'mon over. Since our ONLY recent experience is now AND my memory is poor at best, I defer to those with more extensive travels to comment. I only wanted to "rub it in" a bit.
Are you AND your boat there?
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Old 05-15-2017, 11:44 AM   #6
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Don't I need some flags for something?
Yellow flag for quarantine?
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Old 05-15-2017, 11:50 AM   #7
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The Navionics charts have many more tide stations than the Garmin charts.

You can also put Furuno Time Zero charting on your iPad which will allow you to use the Explorer charts in digital form.

If you like beer bring lots of it.

Make sure you aircon systems are in tip top shape. And bring spares for them.

If you like diet sodas they can be hard to find in places.

Bring frozen bait if you like to bottom fish. As well as a chum block or two if you have the space.

Don't forget extra batteries.

If you are going to be using your genset a lot bring the proper spares and tools for it.

Two weeks is not enough time. If you are limited to that, consider having someone deliver the boat to and from do you get the maximum time in the islands.
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:07 PM   #8
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Where is your boat in FT Pierce? I will be down next week.

My boat is at Fort Pierce City Marina. Here's what I do. No reason to leave from Lake Worth. The Fort Pierce inlet is a good one. I leave from there and go over to the Little Bahama Bank entering at White Sand Ridge. It is about 60 miles. Once on the banks it is semi protected water about 12-18' depth. Then it is 40 miles or so to Great Sail Cay. If you have good weather, and your boat can make 100 miles in a day that's the way to go. You will find a good protected anchorage at Great Sail. Take a swim, and enjoy the evening.

Then it is about 30-35 miles to Spanish Cay where you can check in. It's about 30 more miles to Green Turtle Cay where you can check in at New Plymouth. The Abacos are beautiful, and easy cruising. The Sea of Abaco is almost like a lake except for Whale Cay Passage. If there is a "rage" going off shore, I think with your boat you can catch the tide right and go inside of Whale Cay. Ask for local knowledge of the Don't Rock channel.

Menzies gave good info about the Dodge Guide and other navigation info. Also, the current additions of C-Map cartridges have the Dodge info preploted. I don't know about Garmin.

It will be hot in July, but there is usually some breeze. I like May and June for over there. The weather is usually good, and the hurricanes have not started up. There is a radio net that cruisers will chime into. It will give the weather forecast and navigation info. I think it is 8:00 am on channel 69.

Have a great trip, Capt.
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:19 PM   #9
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Menzies gave good advice. Get a guide book instead of charts, you will need a quarantine flag and a Bahamas courtesy flag

Abaco's are a great part of the Bahamas. You have protected water, blue water, lots of little settlements from Marsh Harbor to Man o War, lots of deserted islands and good air connections if needed. Services are pretty good for the Bahamas too.

If that's too civilized the Berry's aren't too far, and for some real different flavor Spanish Wells is very different and not too far.

Exuma is awesome, really awesome, also quite a ways South.

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Old 05-15-2017, 12:42 PM   #10
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Greetings,
Mr, 01. "How is your trip so far?" Well, you nailed it, AWESOME! In addition to the yellow (Q) flag you need a Bahamian courtesy flag as well.
We're staying put on this trip as the Admiral is in need of R&R so she sits on the beach and does her thing and I sit in the shade sipping coconut water (chilled). We'll be heading back to Ft. Lauderdale, weather willing, on the 19th or 20th...Yes, Mr. TB, on our own keel.

We're at Bimini Blue Water Marina on recommendation of Mr. Oliver (and others)-thank you all; right in the center of Alice Town and a short 10 minute walk to the beach on the west side of the island. We've been here before a couple of times but this is the first time we've actually been able to explore and meet the locals. Liquor store is about 3 minutes away on the route to the beach, three grocery stores within 5 minute walk, ATM machine next to the liquor store.

Read the thread Ms. Donna started as to what to bring. There are a number of good suggestions in that thread as well What did you wish you brought?

I also met another TF member here, Mr. steveg353. Great fellow with a charming and attractive mate. Safe travels Steve...

Gotta go. The cinnamon buns were supposed to be ready at the bakery at 12:30. Hope there are some left...
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:48 PM   #11
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We are either going to Cuba (first choice) or the Abacos this year. Abacos are very touristy with plenty of marinas and towns to get supplies. We prefer the out islands but you could spend two weeks easily in the Abacos. You can find mechanics locally but parts will probably have to be flown in from Ft. Lauderdale on daily flights. Lots of nice diving, swimming, fishing, partying at bars, ect. Have fun.
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:51 PM   #12
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And Garmin uses Voyagers Charts, I still have those drawn on paper charts.
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:55 PM   #13
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First trip to the Bahamas--need a plan.

Don

Boat is in Stuart now getting some work done. Was planning on bringing it back to Ft Pierce to that city marina. I really liked it.

I thought I needed to leave from a more southern point to take advantage of the Gulf Stream?

Capt Bill

Thanks for the pointers. My AC systems are original to the boat (almost 10 years old) and I'm not sure what shape they are in actually. They cool the boat well is all I can say.

I can go longer than two weeks but thought I should be out before August?

Keysdisease, et al

Thanks for all the pointers on the flags and destinations. I think the wife might fly out and meet me somewhere so that might influence my destination.
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Old 05-15-2017, 01:25 PM   #14
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I wouldn't worry about early August hurricanes besides from the Abacos your only a day of two from Florida.

I think Don has you crossing about due east so your not going against the stream and once on the banks heading se. The stream has about a 3 knt northly flow so unless your really slow just go and have fun, set your cross tract on the gps.
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Old 05-15-2017, 02:06 PM   #15
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I wouldn't worry about early August hurricanes besides from the Abacos your only a day of two from Florida.



I think Don has you crossing about due east so your not going against the stream and once on the banks heading se. The stream has about a 3 knt northly flow so unless your really slow just go and have fun, set your cross tract on the gps.


Do I need to figure how to set the AP to allow for that current somehow? Or do I just plug in the waypoint and it does it automatically? I've never had to worry about a side current yet obviously.
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Old 05-15-2017, 02:07 PM   #16
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I think it's channel 68.

You can get better weather info off the internet IMO.
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Old 05-15-2017, 02:43 PM   #17
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Most modern machines will auto correct firbyou, I have my auto pilot plugged into the GPS so I just set it and go to sleep. ��
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Old 05-15-2017, 03:09 PM   #18
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Don't over think the Stream, it's strongest in the center and weaker near the edges and you won't be in it long enough to make any real difference. Just use "go to waypoint" and pop another refreshing beverage.

Having made the crossing (MIA to Bimini 50nm) on compass /RDF / Loran and GPS I think more people have missed their landfall from overcompensating for the stream than under.

In a sailboat in light air, then you need to do some compensating, powerboat, even a displacement trawler with todays nav aides, just point it and go

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Do I need to figure how to set the AP to allow for that current somehow? Or do I just plug in the waypoint and it does it automatically? I've never had to worry about a side current yet obviously.
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Old 05-15-2017, 03:13 PM   #19
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Oh , well, I think I can handle that. I like the refreshing beverage part. 🤙
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Old 05-15-2017, 05:01 PM   #20
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Re crossing the stream. You can of course put in the waypoint and have your AP handle it - but by doing so you will actually cross in a shallow northward bending curve. You are best deciding the coordinates of your required stream exit point and add in a degree for every hour you will be in the stream. So if in the stream for four hours aim four degrees south, then after an hour bring it up one, after two bring it up another etc. You will find that you have navigated a shorter course.
You can either do this manually or plot a route that handles it.
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