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Old 10-26-2020, 12:13 AM   #1
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*Blue Water* Bahama cruising?

I think of Blue Water cruising as way they hell out there. Like Oceanic, or at least a few hundred miles out. Minimum. Lately I've seen some posts describing Bahama cruising as "Blue Water". Bahamas are 50 miles off Florida. Why is it considered Blue Water cruising?
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Old 10-26-2020, 05:10 AM   #2
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I think of Blue Water cruising as way they hell out there. Like Oceanic, or at least a few hundred miles out. Minimum. Lately I've seen some posts describing Bahama cruising as "Blue Water". Bahamas are 50 miles off Florida. Why is it considered Blue Water cruising?

Because the water is blue? I'd say it's a miss-use of the term. But heck, lots of people use words and terms incorrectly.
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Old 10-26-2020, 05:28 AM   #3
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Oh, like "Trawler" ...... people use terms as they either understand them or heard them and are repeating, etc....

I could go with blue water for the Bahamas....not "ocean voyaging". The boat needed to get to the Bahamas doesn't have to be "bluewater" but having one makes the trip a lot easier in some respects
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Old 10-26-2020, 05:48 AM   #4
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Of course if you catch the Gulf Stream on an off day that 50 miles will feel like 500.
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:05 AM   #5
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There's a definitional gap in the categorization of cruising. Call it blue water or call it passagemaking, the implication is you're outside the horizon of reliable weather forecasts and you are left to deal with whatever cards you're dealt from the weather gods. For Bahamas bound cruisers, crossing the Stream contrasts sharply with the normal decision tree of running the ICW or going outside for the day to the next destination. I agree - "Blue Water" is a stretch for me too, but that's fine. People can call it whatever they want

I personally like the term "Coastal Passagemaking" to denote longer runs within a fairly reliable 3 day weather window. I suppose you can run from Maine to Alaska like this and mostly remain within about 400 nms of a safe harbor if needed. It does require decent understanding of weather.

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Old 10-26-2020, 06:13 AM   #6
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Cruising the Bahamas and simply crossing to Bimini 50 miles from Florida are 2 different animals .

While yes not truly "Bluewater", it ain't the ditch either.

I think most Bahamas cruisers prepare differently when planning a Bahamas cruise than they do for a coastal run for various reasons, some matching Bluewater reasons.

Many will leave the Bahamas just like altering direction on a voyage because of storms, even shift island sides for cold fronts....some of which were storm force winds in poor heavy weather anchorages.
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:32 AM   #7
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Cruising the Bahamas can be both inshore (e.g. Sea of Abaco), off shore (crossing, running from Lucaya to the Berry's, New Providence, then Exuma), and Blue Water running to some of the Islands in the Far Bahamas and Caribbean.

The point made was good, if you get caught in the Stream or Exuma Sound in unexpected weather you will be very glad to be in a "Blue Water Capable" boat, based on most definitions.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:45 AM   #8
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I have heard how it’s not uncommon to take a center console to the Bahamas so getting there isn’t necessarily “bluewater” in the sense many mean. However, one definition I read described bluewater cruising as where one is subject to the vagaries of unanticipated weather and that self reliance is a prerequisite. There are some who have no mechanical, electrical or electronics skills nor an desire to acquire any and I’d never get on a boat with anyone who professes that attitude.

Under this definition, it’s not precisely how many miles out one is but rather, if something goes wrong do you have the ability to address the problem because SeaTow isn’t going to come save your sorry ass? You are on your own, can’t duck out of bad weather or “beat the storm home” or limp back to your slip. And there are places in the Bahamas and even more so in the T&C where one needs to be self reliant.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:50 AM   #9
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I guess it depends where you leave from. If you go to/from Beaufort NC or Norfolk VA then I'd call it a Blue Water passage.
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Old 10-26-2020, 09:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cigatoo View Post
Of course if you catch the Gulf Stream on an off day that 50 miles will feel like 500.
Yes it does.....
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:44 AM   #11
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Like to think about this using the membership requirements for the OCC( Ocean Cruising Club). They require a passage of open water passage of at least 1500nm across a sea or ocean with no land falls. That implies-
Greater than 5 day passage so longer than you can receive a meaningful reliable weather forecast when leaving. Hence the need to be prepared for at least force 8 and a way to receive weather routing data while on passage.
It also implies a total belt and suspenders approach to all key systems including propulsion, fresh water, food, hygiene, electricity sleep as well as navigation and communications. (SSB, satphone, personal/ship AIS/epirbs etc.)
It implies having sufficient fuel, water, filters, spares, food to allow passage to take at least one third longer than expected.
It implies having the skill set, materials and tools for the vessel to remain functional without outside support.
It implies the vessel will be outside SAR rescue for the majority of the transit. In other words outside 200nm as most SARS helicopters are 400nm (200nm out and 200nm back even with a brief time on station). So if you call you will have either fixed it, are dead or in a raft by the time they show up.
It implies you are off any continental shelf for the majority of the time. Waves break either from extreme height, conflicting wave trains or ground effects. Given only 1/7th to 1/8th is above sea level once off the shelf ground effects which are the major cause of breaking waves coastally are no longer operating. Conflicting wave trains and wind against water is much less likely as well. Major exceptions like the Gulf Stream or intra island rages exist but are local and predictable.

Trips from Florida to any part of the island chain (Bahamas to Trinidad) are not blue water.
Not off a shelf for any measurable significant time.
No transit greater than 5 days.
Not outside SAR range.
Have access to outside support.
Minimal communication issues.

Often coastal weather is more problematic than open ocean. Simple things like setting a drogue or sea anchor or lying a hull or hoved to are often not a viable option when coastal. But the entire thought process of blue water v coastal prep and execution is different. Both can be done safely or not. Both can kill you. But they are different.
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:58 AM   #12
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I would consider Bermuda to be Blue Water.

I would NOT consider Bahamas to be Blue Water.

JMHO
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:53 PM   #13
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There is defenitely some blue water elements to Bahama cruising for ex: IMHO You do not want to tow a dinghy across the gulf stream or in the North east channel. There is no american coast gaurd or sea tow. You need to carry several extra days of provisions, fuel and water because some islands do not get the supply barge when they are suppose to. They will occasionally skip islands or break down. I have gotten to the Berries Islands before and had to wait three days for the fuel barge and then one day they make you wait for everything in the tank to settle before they will start pumping it.

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Old 10-26-2020, 05:18 PM   #14
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There is defenitely some blue water elements to Bahama cruising for ex: IMHO You do not want to tow a dinghy across the gulf stream or in the North east channel. There is no american coast gaurd or sea tow. You need to carry several extra days of provisions, fuel and water because some islands do not get the supply barge when they are suppose to. They will occasionally skip islands or break down. I have gotten to the Berries Islands before and had to wait three days for the fuel barge and then one day they make you wait for everything in the tank to settle before they will start pumping it.

Bud
What is the skinny on the Gulf Stream? (short version)
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Old 10-26-2020, 05:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hippocampus View Post
Like to think about this using the membership requirements for the OCC( Ocean Cruising Club). They require a passage of open water passage of at least 1500nm across a sea or ocean with no land falls. That implies-
Greater than 5 day passage so longer than you can receive a meaningful reliable weather forecast when leaving. Hence the need to be prepared for at least force 8 and a way to receive weather routing data while on passage.
It also implies a total belt and suspenders approach to all key systems including propulsion, fresh water, food, hygiene, electricity sleep as well as navigation and communications. (SSB, satphone, personal/ship AIS/epirbs etc.)
It implies having sufficient fuel, water, filters, spares, food to allow passage to take at least one third longer than expected.
It implies having the skill set, materials and tools for the vessel to remain functional without outside support.
It implies the vessel will be outside SAR rescue for the majority of the transit. In other words outside 200nm as most SARS helicopters are 400nm (200nm out and 200nm back even with a brief time on station). So if you call you will have either fixed it, are dead or in a raft by the time they show up.
It implies you are off any continental shelf for the majority of the time. Waves break either from extreme height, conflicting wave trains or ground effects. Given only 1/7th to 1/8th is above sea level once off the shelf ground effects which are the major cause of breaking waves coastally are no longer operating. Conflicting wave trains and wind against water is much less likely as well. Major exceptions like the Gulf Stream or intra island rages exist but are local and predictable.

Trips from Florida to any part of the island chain (Bahamas to Trinidad) are not blue water.
Not off a shelf for any measurable significant time.
No transit greater than 5 days.
Not outside SAR range.
Have access to outside support.
Minimal communication issues.

Often coastal weather is more problematic than open ocean. Simple things like setting a drogue or sea anchor or lying a hull or hoved to are often not a viable option when coastal. But the entire thought process of blue water v coastal prep and execution is different. Both can be done safely or not. Both can kill you. But they are different.
Your first premise of membership of the OCC defines blue water needs to be proven before the rest of your post is valid.
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:14 PM   #16
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Ok used that as an example. Feel free to dismiss that. Rather use the body of the post.

Greater than 5 day passage so longer than you can receive a meaningful reliable weather forecast when leaving. Hence the need to be prepared for at least force 8 and a way to receive weather routing data while on passage.
It also implies a total belt and suspenders approach to all key systems including propulsion, fresh water, food, hygiene, electricity sleep as well as navigation and communications. (SSB, satphone, personal/ship AIS/epirbs etc.)
It implies having sufficient fuel, water, filters, spares, food to allow passage to take at least one third longer than expected.
It implies having the skill set, materials and tools for the vessel to remain functional without outside support.
It implies the vessel will be outside SAR rescue for the majority of the transit. In other words outside 200nm as most SARS helicopters are 400nm (200nm out and 200nm back even with a brief time on station). So if you call you will have either fixed it, are dead or in a raft by the time they show up.
It implies you are off any continental shelf for the majority of the time. Waves break either from extreme height, conflicting wave trains or ground effects. Given only 1/7th to 1/8th is above sea level once off the shelf ground effects which are the major cause of breaking waves coastally are no longer operating. Conflicting wave trains and wind against water is much less likely as well. Major exceptions like the Gulf Stream or intra island rages exist but are local and predictable.

Or please offer an alternative to discuss. My focus was on how you prep. What boats are suitable. What you can expect. Personally thing blue water is more difficult and dangerous. Personally don’t think that’s true. Rather think it’s two different experiences requiring different skill sets and approaches. Personally think in many respects think coastal is more demanding.
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:14 PM   #17
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Greetings,
Mr. BG. If I may regarding the Gulf Stream (GS): Do NOT go anywhere near the GS if the wind has ANY north vector in it!!!! If you've had a "north" blow of any strength or any extended period of time, you may have to wait (days) for the seas to calm down.
Other than that, depending on where you leave from the east coast, you will either be able to use the GS to shorten your passage OR run against it and lengthen your crossing.
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:30 PM   #18
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What is the skinny on the Gulf Stream? (short version)
https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/...reamspeed.html

For the crossing from West Palm to West End Grand Bahama I would guesstimate that you are in the main part of the Stream for about 40nm (total crossing 56nm. Since it pushed North anywhere from 3-5 knots you need to use offsets or good electronic plotting to run a plumb line.

The issue mentioned is when you have a northerly pushing against this flow, it can get very steep, very confused, very quickly.

Some eegits (me) have tried to beat a front to get across with very unpleasant results.

However, for me, the most dangerous time is when folks who have a schedule to meet (e.g. back to work, a wedding) decide not to leave the boat there and fly back, but pound on.

When I was working we used to go for two weeks. Looking back we were so lucky in that the weather always cooperated with our crossings. Though we always went during the school holidays in July. The winds consistently start to blow from the south beginning in June so the chances of good crossings are better anyway.
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:58 PM   #19
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Ok used that as an example. Feel free to dismiss that. Rather use the body of the post.

Greater than 5 day passage so longer than you can receive a meaningful reliable weather forecast when leaving. Hence the need to be prepared for at least force 8 and a way to receive weather routing data while on passage.
It also implies a total belt and suspenders approach to all key systems including propulsion, fresh water, food, hygiene, electricity sleep as well as navigation and communications. (SSB, satphone, personal/ship AIS/epirbs etc.)
It implies having sufficient fuel, water, filters, spares, food to allow passage to take at least one third longer than expected.
It implies having the skill set, materials and tools for the vessel to remain functional without outside support.
It implies the vessel will be outside SAR rescue for the majority of the transit. In other words outside 200nm as most SARS helicopters are 400nm (200nm out and 200nm back even with a brief time on station). So if you call you will have either fixed it, are dead or in a raft by the time they show up.
It implies you are off any continental shelf for the majority of the time. Waves break either from extreme height, conflicting wave trains or ground effects. Given only 1/7th to 1/8th is above sea level once off the shelf ground effects which are the major cause of breaking waves coastally are no longer operating. Conflicting wave trains and wind against water is much less likely as well. Major exceptions like the Gulf Stream or intra island rages exist but are local and predictable.

Or please offer an alternative to discuss. My focus was on how you prep. What boats are suitable. What you can expect. Personally thing blue water is more difficult and dangerous. Personally donít think thatís true. Rather think itís two different experiences requiring different skill sets and approaches. Personally think in many respects think coastal is more demanding.
Thanks hippo. I agree with the gist of your premise re: Blue Water. You are far from help and have limited insight into weather so must endure the consequences.

Bahamas is a great milestone trip for many, and it can be difficult. And reprovisioning can be inconvenient. But that does not make it Blue Water. Just makes it a step up in coastal cruising.

My opinion, of course.

Peter
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:13 PM   #20
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Let me give you this thought.

Ever hear someone point to a sailboat and say - "that's a blue water boat!"

In my sailing days it was a well found boat with a full keel. For example a Hinkley.

So for me, it isn't the remoteness of the environment, and how far away you are from help. It's how the boat can handle what is thrown at it.

That could be 30 miles off Hatteras. 130 miles east of Bermuda, 30 miles off West Palm, running down the West Indies, or even crossing the Great Lakes.

Blue water to me is a definition of a vessels ability to handle seas - no matter where you may find them.

A blue water boat could run into mechanical, or rigging trouble five miles off Jacksonville and Sea Tow could be there in half an hour to tow it in - it is still a blue water vessel - with issues once fixed!
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