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Old 12-12-2016, 07:29 PM   #1
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Powering Key Largo To Cat Cay or Gun Cay

As soon as the kids are out of school Memorial Day, we're taking our power cat from Ft Myers to Bimini around from the keys and then back through Okeechobee on the way home. About 16 days or so.

I have a couple questions that may be aided by your collective expertise.

Has anyone stayed at Ocean Reef Club without a member setting it up? At $6/ foot it's expensive but it is a nice place and worth it to me. Only been there by land in the past.

I see elsewhere that sailboats motoring at five to six knots drift about twenty five miles north across the stream so they set a course east or even ESE. I make 8 knots minimum so I presume much less drift, correct?

Has anyone cleared in at the Cat Cay Yacht Club? They indicate that non members can pay to stay one night and do the check in with Bahamian Customs.

Any advice on a quiet anchorage with beach access for kids anywhere around the Bimini chain? My wife sort of demands 1 night in a nice marina to each night at anchor, so Marina suggestions are welcome too.

Returning we plan to leave from West End and drift north to above Ft Lauderdale as we then need to get to Stuart to enter the ditch across the lake.

Any and all guidance appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 12-12-2016, 09:05 PM   #2
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The differing allowances for "set" between a six-knot boat and an eight knot boat crossing the stream are not all that great, I think. The calculation process you probably know - measure the distance to run, establish the velocity of the current, calculate the length of time your vessel will be set down by the current, multiply, and steer up from your intended destination point by that many nautical miles.

The velocity of the Gulf Stream current is at its greatest near the center axis, which the Miami NWS marine forecast office predicts each day. In general, it's out near the middle of the deep blue stream. Note that northbound ships seek out the axis, as skippers strive to get the maximum push from the current. (You won't see many southbound vessels out there in the middle). Note also that the northbound vessels are booking it - they tend to come up on you a little faster than you might have been expecting.

Yes to clearing in at Cat Cay. It's usually pretty low key, especially during the summer months. The nearby alternative is of course Bimini itself, which is a little more hectic, but a lot more magical, which adds to the experience, especially since you're bringing your kids. Cat Cay is a resort, while Alice Town (on North Bimini) is an authentic out-island settlement. Hardly as funky as it used to be, especially since losing the beloved old Compleat Angler to fire, and the end of Chalk's daily seaplane service, owing to a catastrophic crash. But it's still Bimini.

Don't miss snorkeling on the famous old concrete shipwreck on the bank south of Bimini.

A day anchorage with a nice (for the Bahamas) beach can be found off the west end of South Bimini, and under calm conditions, I've overnighted there too. Drop the hook so that you stay north of the final approach to the runway on South Bimini. The snorkeling is mostly just sand bottom, although there used to be an airplane wreck on the bottom, mostly buried in sand in about fifteen feet of water.

It really doesn't matter where you go - you and your kids will have a memorable blast!
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Old 12-12-2016, 09:09 PM   #3
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The differing allowances for "set" between six-knot boat and an eight knot boat crossing the stream is relatively minor, I think. The process you probably know - measure the distance to run, establish the velocity of the current, calculate the length of time your vessel will be set down by the current, and steer up from your intended destination point by that many nautical miles.

The velocity of the Gulf Stream current is at its greatest near the center axis, which the Miami NWS marine forecast office predicts each day. In general, it's out toward the middle of the deep blue stream. Note that northbound ships seek out the axis, as skippers strive to get the maximum push from the current. You won't see many southbound vessels out there in the middle. Note also that the northbound vessels are booking it - they tend to come up on you a little faster than you might have been expecting.

Yes to clearing in at Cat Cay. It's usually pretty low key, especially during the summer months. The nearby alternative is of course Bimini itself, which is a little more hectic, but a lot more magical, which adds to the experience, especially since you're bringing your kids. Cat Cay is a resort, while Alice Town (on North Bimini) is an authentic out-island settlement. Hardly as funky as it used to be, especially since losing the beloved old Compleat Angler to fire, and the end of Chalk's daily seaplane service, owing to a catastrophic crash. But it's still Bimini.

Don't miss snorkeling on the famous old concrete shipwreck on the bank south of Bimini.

A day anchorage with a nice (for the Bahamas) beach can be found off the west end of South Bimini, and under calm conditions, I've overnighted there too. Drop the hook so that you stay north of the final approach to the runway on South Bimini. The snorkeling is mostly just sand bottom, although there used to be an airplane wreck on the bottom, mostly buried in sand in about fifteen feet of water.

It really doesn't matter where you go - you and your kids will have a memorable blast!


Thanks for the great advice! We will be sure to do old school Bimini as well as Cat Cay...
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Old 12-12-2016, 11:09 PM   #4
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Dave: Make sure of the cost at Ocean Reef YC in Key Largo before you go in there. We were charged $374 for our 36 ft. several years ago for a single night stay, elect. & water, and that was as a guest of a member. They told us they only charged for 34 ft.. Nice place but not at 11 bucks per foot.
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Old 12-13-2016, 06:42 AM   #5
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Dave: Make sure of the cost at Ocean Reef YC in Key Largo before you go in there. We were charged $374 for our 36 ft. several years ago for a single night stay, elect. & water, and that was as a guest of a member. They told us they only charged for 34 ft.. Nice place but not at 11 bucks per foot.


I have been told a similar amount. Not as bad as the $600 at Little Palm Island, at least. Ha!!!
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Old 12-13-2016, 09:33 AM   #6
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Ocean Reef is beautiful, but a bit highty-tighty for our taste. We cruise up to Miami and anchor behind Key Biscayne (Nixon Beach anchorage usually) and then jump over to Bimini early the next morning. This gives us plenty of time to clear in and enjoy the day.

I have never cleared in at Cat Cay, but yes it absolutely can be done. You can even pay a landing fee if you don't intend to stay there the night. The process at Cat is a little more simple compared to Bimini, but Alice Town has it's charm.

If you clear in on Bimini the Immigration Office is on site at the Big Game Club and Customs is a short walk across the street.

When we cross from Key Biscayne to Bimini I just set the autopilot and let it do the work. The heading is almost exactly 90 degrees. I have seen it working against us hard on our return crossing though. On our next trip we might run up to Elliot Key and just cross from there allowing it to give us a little push.

By all means... don't miss this opportunity to take the kids! We have made so any priceless memories over there in the Bahamas and continue to do so.

Here is a video of one of our early trips (our old boat was an express cruiser):


Three of my four kids are moving out and/or off to college now, so our cruising dynamics are changing. Over the years we have lengthened some of our Bahamas trips to 2 months and cruised the Exumas.

Here is a long video outlining our Summer 2014 trip:


Here is a short highlight video of our trip this summer:
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Old 12-13-2016, 10:10 AM   #7
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Those are some great videos! Great family times.

You live on the boat full time?
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Old 12-14-2016, 08:26 AM   #8
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Those are some great videos! Great family times.

You live on the boat full time?

Thanks! They were a joy to make! And yes, we live aboard full time. We find dirt dwelling to be overrated.
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:59 AM   #9
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Powering Key Largo To Cat Cay or Gun Cay

How often do the college age kids come back with you to cruise?

My wife thinks the college kids will want to come cruise with us in the summer or on breaks, but I have my doubts. If that's the case we will need a bigger boat. Our boat cruises 2 fairly comfortably but four is crowded.

Edit:

David-- sorry for the highjack. You trip sounds like loads of fun.
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Old 12-14-2016, 10:37 AM   #10
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Anchor at Honeymoon Harbour if the weather allows.

Personally, "Ocean Grief" is not worth the money.
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