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Old 12-20-2018, 05:29 PM   #1
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Running at night on the Bahama Banks

I'm moving my big boat over to the Bahamas in March and keeping it there until August.

I will be towing a second boat behind me and have been weighing the merits of stopping at Great Sale Cay versus continuing all the way.

From Stuart until we get on the bank, we will run fast and the smaller boat will fall in behind me. This will be a 16kt crossing so if we leave around 0530 we should get to White Sand Ridge by 0900. From there we still have another 100nm to go to our destination.

The plan is to slow down to 8kts or so and tow the smaller boat the rest of the way.

100nm at 8kts. puts me pulling into the marina between 2130 and 2230.

It would certainly save us a day's worth of travel by running at night.

I have run the banks several times during the day but never at night and it looks like the sun sets around 1830 so that would mean about 4 hours in the dark.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-20-2018, 05:59 PM   #2
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I've run the bank several times, at least twice at night. The open part of it, no problem. Came in to anchor on the back side of Sale at night, no problem. But I would not try to go into any channel or harbor at night.

Run slow as you see fit, find a decent anchorage and get some sleep. Then pull into marina in daylight.

Not much difference showing up at the marina at 2230hr or 0800hr.
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Old 12-20-2018, 06:00 PM   #3
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We’ve run from Bimini to Great Harbour or the reverse at night 3 times with no problems. There have been a couple of boats anchored out but they’ve been well lit or off the track. We keep the radar at less than 3 miles and keep a good look out.
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Old 12-20-2018, 07:11 PM   #4
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But I would not try to go into any channel or harbor at night.

.


The odd part of this is that I have run into this harbor/ channel at least 20 times at night!

Just never across the banks.
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:18 AM   #5
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Really not much out there to cause a problem
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Old 12-21-2018, 08:01 AM   #6
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I’ve just seen too much big stuff floating in the day to ever run fast at night anywhere (especially after being stranded in the middle of the Chesapeake one night in a friend’s boat after hitting a floating wood pallat at night at speed that got hung up un the prop).

But, short of floating debris, another anchored or moving vessel (e.g. like a mailboat) there isn’t much to hit out there. I used to run the Bahamas banks (and a lot of other places in the Bahamas back when I was in my twenties) at night. I don’t much any more, but I don’t see it is particularly life endangering to do it on the Banks (except maybe the Yellow Bank, and not really, even then) except to running gear, if you keep the speed down.

A friend of mine just tore both his lower units off a few months ago in the Abacos running fast at night, a mile from his house, by hitting a rock he knew about and thought he was well clear of.
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Old 12-21-2018, 08:36 AM   #7
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Check the Regs and see how you must light your boat and the towed boat. We dont want a boat traversing between the stern of your boat and the towed boat.
Also look at the day time 'thingies' (brain fart.)
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Old 12-21-2018, 09:45 AM   #8
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I'm good with the daymarks and night lighting. I towed a 16' boat over with my this past July but we ran during the day - and it was summertime!
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Old 12-21-2018, 11:30 AM   #9
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If you have gone into your harbor of choice like 20 times at night, you are probably good to go. On the bank, I just followed the charts and depth never spooked me. Most Bahamian ports I went in it was a first time for me, so the sketch factor was high and I only did them in daylight.
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Old 12-21-2018, 11:38 AM   #10
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Yeah, I would NEVER Go into Grand Cay/Rosies at night!
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Old 12-21-2018, 11:47 AM   #11
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If you have gone into your harbor of choice like 20 times at night, you are probably good to go.
I once ran a rental boat back from Elbow to Green Turtle Cay at night without any lights using only my navionics app on my iphone for navigation. We got caught by a setting sun and the fact that 1930 hours Bahamian is a lot darker than 1930 hours Florida time.

Came through don't rock passage with no issues but 4 months later during the day I almost ran aground doing the same thing...


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Old 12-21-2018, 12:53 PM   #12
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One other factor to consider and that is customs. I would lean toward crossing and then clearing and then the following morning completing the trip. Many from South Florida run to either West End or Bimini the first day and clear. While many do, technically you cannot legally anchor prior to clearing.

You have from March to August and yet you're willing to complicate things by trying to make it all in one day. While the bank at night doesn't concern me that much more than day, I'd still not choose to travel at night. We don't like to enter ports at night, other than a very few we're very familiar with.

My recommendation is to pick a good entry point that gives you two decent travel days and target it on day one. Clear, relax, then have an easy time on day two.
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Old 12-21-2018, 01:37 PM   #13
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I asked Customs about anchoring, they said it was fine prior to clearing provided you did not land. That was one person's opinion, though.
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Old 12-21-2018, 01:51 PM   #14
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Ski I got the same information on anchoring before clearing customs. But don’t try it in Canadian waters, don’t ask me me how I know that !
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:10 PM   #15
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I have also been told that I could go to the marina and clear the next morning as long as I wasn't going to go anyplace else.

This was in Green Turtle
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:16 PM   #16
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Why are you rushing to get to a marina that will be closed? What's your hurry that you want to run such a long day? Where are you headed to clear customs? You destination may or may not be tide dependent. If you lay up on someone's fuel dock you will be asked to move as soon as they open. Customs never opens till after 9am. That said running the main passageways at night is no big deal, just make sure you are properly lighted and don't expect the total boats to be!
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:46 PM   #17
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Why are you rushing to get to a marina that will be closed? What's your hurry that you want to run such a long day? Where are you headed to clear customs? You destination may or may not be tide dependent. If you lay up on someone's fuel dock you will be asked to move as soon as they open. Customs never opens till after 9am. That said running the main passageways at night is no big deal, just make sure you are properly lighted and don't expect the total boats to be!
Tingum,

Molly already has a slip set up for me so I won't be on the fuel dock. The big "push" is so that I have time to get back for a commitment on two days later. If I push through that gives me some wiggle room with a day extra if I get delayed. My business partner is going to fly our plane down and pick me up the following day, whatever day that is (You replied on another forum about our airplane purchase.)

Maybe I'll just crash at your place! I think I scared one of the renters there when we went by there back in November.

If we split up the trip that means one of two things -

1. Stuart to Great Sale, which gets us there around 1530, leaving a lot of daylight on the table, then the next morning another 8 hour ride.

2. Stuart to somewhere east of Great Sale, stopping around 1830 around Foxtown, then the next morning a 3 to 4 hour ride.
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:47 PM   #18
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All Iíve got to add to the good advice thatís already been given is to no longer trust the new garmin/ navionics nav apps. We just arrived in the abacos and several of the known skinny areas are now showing more than adequate depth. You mentioned donít rock so you are probably already aware of the fact that itís 3.5í at low tide. Previously the navionics charts were accurate here but the new updates show 8í 4Ē which is dangerously off. To the south they average over 4í higher as well. Odd thing is the garmin on our dink plotter and the old blue chart app still have this area right.
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Old 12-21-2018, 04:40 PM   #19
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In that case go for it. Once around sail rocks it's a straight shot past center of the world rock to angelfish point, all great radar targets, then just run about 1/4 mile off Great Abaco past Cooperstown and Manjack Channel, then you can head straight for GTC, 20' of water most of the way with nothing to hit except Center of the World rock!
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Old 12-21-2018, 05:07 PM   #20
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Why not split the difference and drop the anchor inside Crab Cay? Gives you an easy run the next day.
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